Changing my perspective: looking for Significance within instead of externally

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Xena

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Hi, Y'all

I'm new here, so here's a little bit of background before I get on topic: I've been working my way OOTF for around 5 years now (NC for those 5 years with my NPDf and in the process of going VLC with my NPDm). During the last 5 years, I lost (i.e. realized I never had) the support of my dad and all of his side of the family. He's the undisputed GC of his family and I was immediately 100% blacklisted for finally standing up to him and his dangerous rages. I'm a parent now, so that served to open my eyes to the crazy. He's been like that for years, though, and I was just expected to put up with it. Through all of this, I was blindsided by my mom and her side of the family telling me it is up to me to fix it all in order to have the Hallmark Channel Happy Movie Ending that they require. (This would be me going back to being a doormat and my dad not having to take responsibility for his behavior  :no: ) My parents have been divorced for many years and have not seen each other for at least 10 or so years, but my mom automatically defended him without having been there to witness the dangerous rages, which were getting worse as he got older... 

Previously, I was the dutiful daughter who danced the dance on my assigned, pre-printed dance card. But now I am waaay off the dance card and it's ugly out there. There's no validation or support to be found in my FOO. So, I've been hunkering down and working on me, since I'm the only person willing/able to change in this situation anyway. I just recently realized one of the things that threw me into a tailspin for so long (I'm talking years, even after going NC) was I looked for my significance outside of me for validation, especially from my family. I was trained/groomed to do that by my FOO, but I'm just starting to realize the negative impact of this on my life and my recovery from these twisted family relationships.

I grew up with the belief that I could succeed and make it in life if I worked hard enough and did my best. While this perspective can be a positive thing, in my life it wasn't. My FOO very effectively taught me that if I was doing something amazing and brag-worthy, I would be lauded, paid attention to and included. If I was not doing something amazing, I would be set up on the dusty shelf and forgotten about, or negatively gossiped about (often where I could overhear it). I suffered a lot of neglect and was often left by myself growing up. I'm an only child - my narc parents legally separated when I was a toddler because having a baby didn't fix their bad marriage (this is according to a family friend who knew them then). To get attention, I had to be...doing something amazing. I worked really hard to try to do amazing stuff. It could have just as easily been getting-in-trouble stuff to get attention, but I'm a quiet nerd who likes to read books. Despite my college and work achievements, I never felt significant unless something amazing was happening. In fact, I think my career choice was a search for significance - if I do this, then I'll finally be significant, valuable, validated (subconsciously, of course - I didn't realize it at the time b/c I was in the FOG for sure).

In working through all of this, I now know that my significance comes from within and it is who I am, not what I do. So, what I do now flows out of who I am and not the other way around. This shift makes a really big difference and has helped a lot to free me from the guilt and from just getting stuck in the mud on my journey. I am convinced that this shift also changed how I present myself to the rest of the world and has helped get rid of the huge narc magnet I seemed to carry around with me before... If you are working your way OOTF, all of this stuff takes time, it takes work and it is an emotional roller coaster. If you keep at it, you will make progress and you will find good people out there. What I wrote above may not click with you in your specific situation, but something else will - have hope & keep on keeping on.

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biggerfish

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"So, what I do now flows out of who I am and not the other way around. "

I love this. I just read your whole post and it's making me smile. I can So relate. And me too about finding inner significance. Thank you for sharing where you're at.

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TriedTooHard

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Thanks for posting.  I hope to hear more from you. 

Its painful, but also freeing, to realize you never had your dad's family's support.

  After all the years of my dad's rages, in their homes and in public, while I, the quiet nerd, endured and achieved, I thought that my dad's family would have some empathy for me.  Instead, when my life started showing the stress, the most acknowledgement I got was "why are you too proud to come to us for help."  After I got that reaction, I tried harder to keep in touch, only to have my communications ignored.  My child was very young at that time, and I realized that they were only interested in him, not me.  If he came as a package with me, then he didn't matter either, but if they could exert some control over him and use him for supply, then he mattered.  At the same time, someone else from my generation caved in and basically handed her child over to them whenever they wanted.  Ten years later, I am so relieved I didn't fall into that trap.

Despite not knowing if all the achievements were really worth it, at least I had a good job and resources to fall back upon.  They were my "good enough" parent.  I hope you have the same in your life.

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athene1399

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Thank you for sharing! I am sorry you had to go through this, but am glad you are realizing that you are who you are and not what you do or what you have. :) You should be proud of yourself.

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sarandro

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Zena..I too am looking inward and your post also made me smile.

Your comment about having to achieve 'brag-worthy' status with your FOO struck a memory with me too.
The feeling of never being good enough...almost, sometimes....but not quite.

You are not alone.