My wife and I sat on the couch talking. Somehow the topic of my sister came up. She is my mother’s golden child, meaning that she became enmeshed with my narcissistic mother as a child. Today she is both enmeshed and a narcissist.
My wife said to me, “You remember how your sister held up our wedding?”
I shook my head, confusion registering on my face.
My wife was at the back of the church, waiting to walk down the aisle. I was in a room off the main sanctuary and had no idea what we were waiting for. Apparently everything was being held up because my sister had not arrived.
My wife, at the back of the church, saw everything when my sister walked in the door. My sister sauntered past my wife without apologizing. Then she made a loud joke that all 126 guests could hear.
Laughing loudly at her own joke, she went and drew the attention of as many males as she could. She didn’t care that the ceremony was behind schedule. She just wanted to drink in as much narcissistic supply as she could hold.
How We Feel Guilty About Everything
A minute or two after hearing this story I looked at my wife.
“I feel guilty and a little panicky,” I said
“That shows how you were held responsible for things beyond your control,” my wife said.
“And the extent I was held responsible,” I said.
Part of the false image that a narcissist constructs is the belief that he or she can do no wrong. So when things do go wrong, the narcissist’s child gets the blame. The narcissist heaps guilt upon the child. This is done so many times that before long, the child starts to feel guilty for everything.
As an example, I used to feel guilty for anything that went wrong at work and took responsibility even when I played no wrong in the mishap. My taking blame was carried to extremes one day when my supervisor and I became embroiled in a heated exchange. She made some inappropriate statements during it.
I went home that night feeling guilty about the argument. The next day when my supervisor and I sat down, she said she was sorry. I said, “No, no. It was my fault.”
She disagreed and said she was to blame. But I shook my head vigorously and stated it was my fault.
A slight smile crossed her face and she said, “OK.”
I stared down at her desk top for the rest of the conversation. Guilt filled me from toe to head. I was living out my narcissistic parents’ legacy by taking responsibility for wrongs I didn’t commit and feeling guilty about what happened.
Chances are you’re doing the same thing. And I’d be willing to bet that you are as sick of the guilt as I am.