Don’t Let the Narcissist Define You

One of the most damaging things that happens to ACoNs is when the narcissistic parent tries to define them. The narc will try to define you to yourself, friends and other family members. This is part of the gaslighting treatment and we must diligently refuse to allow such lies to influence us. Let fools and flying monkeys listen to those lies, but never allow the narc to define you.

I once wrote a poem about how other people in my family told me how to spend my money and what music to listen to and how to dress and what foods to eat. I wrote how it bothered me to be controlled. This was not a saga of teenage rebellion against parental authority––I actually wrote this poem when I was thirty-four years old. It was a vague and shaky beginning to my awakening, but it would take me another ten years to fully wake up.

What was so weird about this poem is that I shared it with one of my sisters who told me it was a very selfish poem. She said it was all about me—

Me wanting to listen to whatever music I liked,

Me choosing to spend my own money,

Me eating whatever I liked,

Me dressing or wearing my hair however I liked,

And me worshipping God the way I felt led.

What’s really lame is I actually believed her. I felt ashamed for being so selfish that I tore up the poem and threw it away. I don’t blame my sister, she was only repeating the narcissistic things told to us growing up. This is the way we were raised–-to give up all of ourselves to please our family members. Well, I don’t buy into that game anymore. It was all part of the game I could never win.

When my sister called me selfish for wanting to live my own life, she was only being a flying monkey and repeating what our parents  had called her on multiple occasions. We were taught what we wanted was selfish, but complimented and told we were “thoughtful” if we did what they wanted.

Part of the problem is whenever I did things the narc didn’t approve of, they tried to define me as selfish or rebellious. Maybe this has happened to you. Have you found yourself feeling ashamed for being human and having human needs like desiring respect, fun and love? Don’t let the narcissist lie to you.

Any intelligent and mature person knows we all have choices and God himself gave us these choices. He doesn’t stop people from making even harmful decisions. Any form of control over another’s life choices by one adult toward another adult reveals a lack of God’s Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

The heart of the problem in every dysfunctional family is someone trying to define someone else and trying to box them into their expectations. And it doesn’t go away when we grow up.

When we care about social causes, they call us liberals.
When we tell the truth and it exposes their lies, they accuse us of lying.
When we refuse to let them walk all over our boundaries, they peg us as controlling.
When we stop allowing them to use us, they call us stingy and selfish.
When we find a grace-filled picture of God, they call us heretics.

The bottom line is even if we did everything they wanted and sold our souls to please them, they wouldn’t appreciate it and they would still be looking for some way to judge and criticize. That’s because narcissistic people merely want to use people until they drain them dry.

Many of us have been pushed into a corner by a narcissist who wants to control us. When we spoke the truth, they lied and tried to make us look bad so no one will listen our stories or want to hang out with us. They want to scapegoat us so we can feel banished from the camp and left alone to die. If this has happened to you, there is still hope.

Remember it’s the family scapegoat who gets away. Others continue this group fantasy because they want to feel better about themselves and they can only do this by thinking of someone they deem worse than them. Of course this slows down their own journey of healing and makes them unsafe to be around, but we can’t control what they do, they will have to wake up on their own someday.

We are now in a time that people are calling “post-truth.” This is certainly a sad development when we consider that Jesus said it’s the truth which will set us free. Jesus had no room for alternative facts. He called out the lies and said those who lie are from their father the devil. It is now time for many of us to stand even taller in our truth.

In this post-truth age, we might need to call out truth like Jesus did when he exposed the Pharisees. It’s true there could be danger in this. Remember Jesus was accused of being a law breaker for healing people on the Sabbath. True other-centered love often trumps the laws of the land. Jesus was accused of touching the unclean and eating with sinners and outcasts. Because of this, some called him a false prophet—others even suggested he was filled with the devil.

Jesus said when his disciples danced they were judged for being happy and when they didn’t, they were told they were too sad. Jesus knows what it’s like to play a game you can never win, but he refused to let others define him. He stood for truth and he is the ultimate Truth about God. So no matter what label people, pastors, politicians and activists wear, if they don’t look and act like Jesus, there is no truth in them.

My message to you is don’t let the narc define you. You are not the sum of whatever the selfish narc wants to make you look like. I love this quote that Mother Teresa put on her wall,

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

Not only is this the truth, but we can’t allow other people to make our choices and we cannot allow other people–especially narcissistic people, to define us.

You are not selfish to make your own choices. God gave you those choices.

You are not a grudge holder for asking the narc to make things right if they want to have a relationship.

You are not being petty to ask them to be honest with you and about you.

You are definitely not a liar for telling the truth to refute the narcissist’s lies.

You are not unloving to ask for what you need.

Let the narcissist deal with their own bad choices, you are not responsible for their choices.

And you are not selfish to go no contact when people treat you with disrespect and animosity.

If you are a Christian, allow Jesus to define who you are–but please don’t let the narc define you.

8 Replies to “Don’t Let the Narcissist Define You”

  1. Thank you. You have no idea how much your experience resonates with mine. I really appreciate your newsletter.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was beyond beautiful! And has my heart doing all sorts of things. Sadness, Love,Joy and more Love.Thank You for sharing your thoughts.And I found your poem reaching out beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Cherilyn

    Excellent post again, thank you. The bits about truth-twisting (the “When we do X they call us Y” and the last section in particular) really hit home with me. They caused so much confusion in my early life. As a high schooler I had my own ideas (this is normal! someone needed to send my parents the briefing) and was therefore systematically labelled “argumentative” and “confrontational” and “opinionated” by my family of origin whenever I expressed a different viewpoint to their own pet viewpoints. It was a false label, of course – it was they who were intolerant of other viewpoints and disrespectful of other people’s rights to their own opinions – but I believed the description for a long time.

    First wake-up was when I met some of my middle school teachers ten years later and apologised to them for having been a rebel and difficult and argumentative, and they said, “What??? We appreciated your honesty and your willingness to speak up, and you clearly thought about things instead of just parroting mainstream opinion. We’ve always remembered you with a smile.” That was a world-changer, since according to my mother I was always in awful trouble at school because I was badly behaved. I said, “Well, what about being in trouble?” and my ex-maths teacher said, “It’s part of middle school and I remember one incident in particular where you got detention because I had to be seen to be treating everyone the same, even though those boys were really awful and you were telling a few home truths. That bothered me for years after and was really unfortunate.” Well, my jaw just dropped to the ground, at this totally different evaluation from these other adults who had known me at the time… and I had internalised an unrealistically negative view of myself as a teenager, even though it was not as negative as my parents’ view, but still it had been skewed.

    Another wake-up call came in my late twenties when a counsellor said to me, “You have a conflict-avoider pattern.” And I was going, “What??? My family always said to me that I was always looking for an argument.” …and it turns out this had made me quite unassertive about my personal boundaries. Just what narcissists want in their children, of course. But it’s like discovering that what you thought was north is actually south.

    Since I’ve gone no contact with my parents, I’ve had an email sermon telling me that people should still be able to get on even when they have different opinions. Well, wow! I told them, “Sounds nice, but I never actually gave you a blood nose over a difference of opinion, but you did me, and hit me and belittled me as a young person, and called me “stupid” and “disrespectful” for having opinions different to yours.” It’s so amazing how people like that always twist things and point back in your own face behaviour that is actually theirs, not yours. I don’t know how they don’t see it themselves. We have politicians in this country who are just the same in their public lives, and treatment of others, and my jaw just drops at their hypocrisy.

    Of course, according to my parents, “That was so many years ago, can’t you let it go?” …they have never apologised or expressed genuine regret at hurting me, systematically, not just once or twice because human and imperfect. It’s straight from the playbook, I almost have to laugh when I re-read your posts on narcissism. And they don’t understand that the relationship is still broken, that they’re still disrespectful and hurtful, albeit not by hitting me, but that’s only because I went to the police about that as a high schooler. And, there are still plenty of other ways to denigrate another person…

    Pointless to say it more than once, and as I don’t see any real signs of change in any of their attempted contacts, I ignore those contacts – as I told them would happen if I just saw more of the same. I’m not going to waste any more of my time. That time now goes into more useful causes…

    It’s interesting you mention Jesus and the Pharisees. I discovered the gospels at around age fourteen and was endlessly fascinated by how Jesus handled the Pharisees, how gutsy he was, how he saw straight through them and told them so. As a young person confronted with bullying and injustice on several levels, including in the so-called “safe haven” of your biological family, that was so thought-provoking and inspirational and comforting. As was the idea that God was not a Pharisee! 🙂

    Best wishes again! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Andrea,

    Yes, what a relief to know God is NOT like a pharisee or a narcissistic parent!

    I love all of your wakeups! I do see recovery as a progressive journey. One we are always on to learn new things. Thank you for sharing!

    Peace and freedom to you!



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