The title of this post might seem a little odd, or “out there”, but if you’ll allow me to expand upon it a bit, I’d love to share this insight I discovered recently. As a survivor of, in this case narcissistic parenting, our mind can be confused about what is true and what isn’t. However, the same thought process that I’ll work through here can be related to other types of abuse as well.
There can be countless contradicting thoughts that work to minimize the real truth we should be embracing. The Real Truth is, we were robbed of the childhood that we deserved. When a parent is not fully present, doesn’t validate and encourage us, and just generally give us what we need both physically and emotionally, we have missed out.
It’s through no fault of our own. The person that gave birth to us, the people who raised us, failed on some number of levels, and that has affected us to our very core. It has stayed with us for years, decades even, and transformed us into something we never intended to be. It’s only through acceptance, putting in the hard work, dealing with the reality of our trauma(s) that we can re-engineer ourselves into the person we deserve to be. The person we want to be.
I like to refer to my guilt complex as the “Guilty Gremlin”. This little dude is in my head constantly trying to tell me that, “your childhood wasn’t that bad”, and “you should be grateful that you had it as good as you did”. Those types of thoughts are a total mind screw for someone who is trying to recover from we see as a traumatic childhood but what others might not perceive it as such.
Growing up, my parents weren’t rich but they made a pretty decent living. I lived in a nice house (not a mansion) but it was more than adequate. I had my own room, a TV, my own phone, and I was able to decorate it mostly as I chose. Actually as it turns out, my decorating the room the way that I wanted was a way for me to keep my parents out. They didn’t like my posters of RATT and Motley Crue very much, so they didn’t venture upstairs all that often.
Anyways, being mostly an only child (my siblings were grown and out of the house by the time I was in elementary school), I was able to have some nice things. I grew up ATC’s, a dirt bike, a cool stereo, and my Dad helped me buy my first car.
So the Guilty Gremlin dances around in my head and sends out these messages like, “Hey you had all this cool stuff, just be grateful you weren’t like so and so”. “Your life wasn’t all THAT bad, you got to go on vacations and eat out”. Those types of thoughts, which are true, do not minimize the fact that I was invalidated and ridiculed constantly by my mother.
Having all kinds of stuff doesn’t diminish the hurt that I experienced.
Let’s look at this from a different example. How about the truths that, yes my mom did come to my rescue once or twice, when I really needed it? She did come to band and choir concerts at school. Should those instances just completely negate the Truth that she constantly berated me for my attitude, my clothes, my hair, my music, my work ethic?
The Truth that she never validated me for the time that I took my life back, and started be the person that I always dreamed of? To live the life that I was born to live? When in fact the Truth is that she tried to tear me down constantly and make me not be who I was becoming and who I wanted to be?
She never approved of anyone that I dated or hung out with, they were turning me into a worldly person that she and God didn’t approve of. These people were my friends, who accepted and validated me. They treated me the way that I wanted to be treated. My mother never did that, and that is the Truth.
What about the Truth that she said I just needed to “deal with it” when it came to bullies? The Truth that I was left in tears in 1st grade as I was made to sit in the corner and be laughed at by all the other kids, without even having my stuffed animal for comfort?
What I’m getting at here, is that guilt complex or Guilty Gremlin in our heads tries to minimize us and tear us down just like our abusers did. In fact, it’s an extension, a direct result, of those past abusers.
It doesn’t matter if you were dirt poor or lived in a mansion or anything in between, what you experienced was real! No matter what walk of life you grew up in, the real Truth is that you were robbed of something you deserved. You deserved love, validation, safety, encouragement, and positive reinforcement.
Unfortunately, all too often we got just the opposite: invalidation, no safe place physically or emotionally to run too, discouraging words and negative reinforcement.
Your Guilty Gremlin, like mine, will try and tell you that it wasn’t that bad. It could have been so much worse. That’s all just a bunch of crap! Nobody’s trauma should be minimized because of what we had vs what someone else didn’t have. Nobody’s trauma should be minimized because our parents or guardians did some good things for us.
The real Truth is that we were raised in a way that nobody should be subjected too. Your abuse, your trauma, is validated, as is mine. That Guilty Gremlin has no business making us feel otherwise.