Following the death of her husband, Debby Gies is moving into her new condo in two weeks time and is extremely busy downsizing and getting her new home prepared. She is very much looking forward to writing a new column for July 12th when she is settled. In the meantime, a repeat on the thought provoking column on narcissism.
Envy, Jealousy, Bullying – A Path to Narcissism?
There’s nothing good about the green-eyed monster, envy. Envy is a side-effect for some who harbor resentments and suffer a feeling of lacking. And for many, this syndrome can lead to narcissism—created from the root of the bad seed of envy that nurtures itself, manifesting into desire and creating a must need to, out-do, outlast, outshine and all the other ‘outs,’ better than anyone else in their circles and beyond, to compensate for the envy and attention others receive, with a desperate want to be showered with adulation and praise to feel superior.
The distinction between envy and jealousy is: Envy is a reaction to lack of something others have which you desire. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something, or usually someone, to another cause or person.
But where does this envious or jealous behavior evolve from? What are the seeds that spawn such behavior?
I’m familiar with the envy and the jealousy syndrome, so I can speak confidently from experience. My mother was a champion at both. I knew my mother better than I ever let her know me. I also know her beginnings in life were defining reasons for the contributing factors aiding in the creating of both bugs in her character, and the eventuality of her narcissism.
People don’t just behave a certain way out of thin air. Behaviors are learned from studying or being a part of other’s behavior and then adopting those same behaviors. Bad behavior and anger grow from resentments, neglect, hurt, and lacking, which can result into rage-filled anger episodes that can ultimately become a long-term side effect in behavioral patterns as resentments pile and fester. These frenzied fits become an assault on the narcissist’s victim’s self-esteem over long-term.
An emotionally neglected child who is berated, ridiculed, or ignored by a narcissistic parent, may feel vulnerable and sometimes insignificant, as their own declining self-esteem gets chipped away at. Without proper nurturing and attention, these children grow up with a lack of confidence, and can possibly begin to harbor their own grievances for other’s accomplishments. This is a perpetual unhealthy existence for a child.
Those harbored feelings of inadequacy can lead them to follow suit and become bullies themselves. Bullies aren’t born, just as racists aren’t born, they’re bred. We are born pure. It’s the outside influences that help feed us as we develop that help shape our values and preferences. These acquired negative traits can derive from both the home and outside influences. There are a multitude of things that can contribute to the reasons for someone becoming a bully. And the usual reason for a bully’s actions will come down to one of these: they’ve been hurt, jealousy, or anger. And often, if these traits aren’t dealt with, they have a propensity to become a precursor to narcissism.
Bullies have been hurt. They’ve been ridiculed and made to feel inadequate at some point, so in retaliation, they project by placing their frustrations on others. Often, the name-calling by a bully is a transference onto someone else because of what someone has laid on them, or, what they imagined was laid on them. Bullies feel outdone and unencouraged, they project back on to someone weaker because they’re reminded of what they themselves are lacking in and want someone else to feel their pain. Whether in school where they’re made to feel stupid by peers, or even a bad teacher, or home where they may be teased and ridiculed and neglected, they don’t want to be reminded about what they are missing out on, be it good grades, a shiny bike, and as they age, a job, a family, a vacation, lavish gifts – they are frustrated they don’t have something others do, either emotionally and/or materialistically.
The narcissism develops and begins with visions of seeking to attain something to compensate for what they lack in. Narcissists require praise like we need oxygen. They have a need to be admired for their actions and possessions. Compliments and kudos are their fuel to validate they are no longer lacking. These are components to how narcissism grows.
A narc is an oxymoron – like two people in one. Two selfs – fraudulent, and dreamer. The dreamer self is what keeps them focused on their fraudulent motives and goals to attain superiority, often presenting a social side of their nature in public, evoking their fraudulent self of grandiosity, authority and dominance, while deep inside, they know who they really are, which perpetuates the persona of their fraudulent self.
Narcs must maintain their personas and egos daily. It is in fact, a lot of work for narcs to keep up the show, but a necessary defense mechanism for their ego to survive and thrive. What must go on in their minds? Pathological narcs are delusional about imagining things that never happened and twisting events that have actually happened, into a converted version that fits their narrative better. Pathological narcs are the most dangerous of all relationships. They imagine things – slights and accomplishments that don’t exist, and they believe them. The dangers presented can be anything from threats, guilt trips, blackmail, lies, excuses, and they are notorious for gaslighting anyone who threatens their bubble of superiority.
Narcissistic parents are my familiar territory, as I grew up with a narcissistic mother.
Most of the damage from a narc parent begins in early development of their children, which, in itself, can contribute to becoming the catalyst for narcissism to be inherited if not checked. But not always, because it will depend on the emotional state of each individual child. Damage can lead to symptoms of withdrawal into oneself, creating a low self-esteem, becoming a people pleaser, and later, as mentioned earlier, can potentially manifest into bullying and/or narcissism transferred to their victims. The condition(s) will grow as the narc’s defenses escalate, leaving the child to form either a shield around themselves from others, or in contrast, a reactive personality, such as bullying in defense of the hurt that has accumulated from being ridiculed, belittled, and/or ignored.
It becomes a constant battle for a narcissist to defend their wounds with a growing determination to never be left out or hurt again. When a narc feels hurt or someone is outshining them, they unleash an inner rage which always resides within them, this is their defense used when being challenged or bested by someone else.
As a child of a narc, I will state that there are only two ways for us to develop. We either become like them or try to steer clear of them. Most children of narcissists require long-term therapy to unlearn the many familiar repercussions of low self-esteem, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy, which are common results of growing up in a narcissistic environment. For the lucky ones of us, we turn to another family figure in our lives for nurturing. For me, I was fortunate to have my Aunty Sherry, my mother’s sister, who was well-versed in her sister’s antics. Some of us will develop a curiosity to learn the whys of their parent’s erratic and grandiose behavior. I turned to self-help books in efforts to find an understanding of my mother’s behavior to help me to understand what spurs this kind of behavior, which notably stems from their own childhood abuse. They mimicked instead of ran away from.
Narcissists have no empathy and create and live in their own reality. A narc’s scars evolve from them being humiliated, hurt, or ignored at a crucial point in their own young psychological development. When they are later faced with situations where they feel challenged, they become triggered by other’s accomplishments. Our successes remind them they have failed or have been deprived of the same accomplishment, as though someone else’s success takes away from them personally, leaving them feeling small and insignificant as they constantly compare themselves to others.
In order to get along with a narc, they must feel that they are in total control and they must be in the forefront ahead of anyone else, and if they feel threatened in a moment, they will make us pay emotionally by slashing our self-esteems and try to make us feel inferior, using a common tool called projection.
Example: Trying to help my own mother with her health issues by recommending better diet and supplementation, got me this—one of her standard retaliatory lines: “You think you’re so goddamned smart.” This is a perfect example because once you learn how a narc operates, you can begin to take their lashings with a grain of salt.
Dissection of that statement: My mother lived in grandiosity, so recommendations to her were like being told. And being told by her daughter who had a lot more knowledge than her when it came to health, annoyed her. It made her feel she wasn’t smart enough to know this on her own – triggering her own feelings of inadequacy, plus, she interpreted my giving advice as though she were being told by someone more educated than her, worse, from her own spawn. Those things always hit a nerve with her.
Envy vs. jealousy:
Envy is a reaction to someone who has something the envier wants, and they can’t or don’t have. The envious one wants that life, job, dress, car, education, etc.
Jealousy is ignited by a loss of someone they can no longer have in a relationship – attention paid to them gone, a partner cheating on them, a friend who spends other time with other friends, creating a raging drive fueling them to go to any lengths to retaliate, and the ultimate reaction is revenge. Jealousy can apply to any relationship – one of the heart or a friendship, where the jealous person fears losing that relationship, driving them to react impulsively.
A narc is a jealous person and can take their jealousy to dangerous levels. Jealousy is formed from insecurity. And their jealousy isn’t reserved only for strangers and friends, but children of narcs are often emotionally neglected by a narcissistic parent. These children get no encouragement, no applause for accomplishments, and sometimes rarely a compliment, as that would mean it would take away from the narc. Narcs feel that by giving anything compassionate of themselves, it takes away from them, almost like their ‘score card’.
Pathological narcissism sets in when delusion and extreme behavior evolve and can potentially lead to dangerous abuse. These feelings are born from feelings of insecurity, and from being made to feel inadequate, evoking a void in them, leading them to feel resentful with entitlement by feeling deserving of what everyone else has.
A narcissistic parent’s actions don’t change for their children. Typically, a narc mother would like their child to represent everything the parent wanted to be – a great achiever, well-dressed, popular, etc. Alternatively, as in my case growing up, I sensed my mother’s jealousies for any of my accomplishments. Instead of her acting proud of my accomplishments, looking at them as a reflection on accomplishment for herself as a mother, she felt the opposite way, making me feel as though my accomplishments were a threat and competition to her grandiosity. At other times, when she had an audience and her children were around, she would only then take the opportunity to brag about an accomplishment to let that person know how wonderful her child is. But one-on-one it was a different feeling.
Narcissistic parents who neglect their children emotionally will exude these usual behaviors: are uninterested in milestone accomplishments of their children, harbor covert jealousy, don’t encourage, shows no compassion, main goal is stealing the limelight, domination, and using threats and guilt trips as discipline. All these attributes help shape their child’s personality making the child feel nervous, inadequate, and insecure as they grow and venture into their own grownup lives. It’s a behavioral pattern that the child learns to adapt to – or avoid. These types of parents will either project onto their child everything they themselves wish to be, do, or have, and often will become jealous of all that child accomplishes throughout their life. The child grows up fearful of that parent – fear of reprimanding, threats, and punishments if they don’t obey the rules.
The tactic is known as emotional blackmail, a common method used for narcs to discipline children. This behavior will ultimately affect the relationships we, the children, gravitate to in future, similar unhealthy relationships, both, romantically and in friendships. These fractures narc’s children endure can lead to social retreat, lack of confidence, fear and insecurities, and no self-gratification for their own accomplishments. We become the product of who we grew up under, often depressed, nervous, anxious, and fearful. These repercussions can stick with that child all their lives unless they seek therapy – or in my case, self-help and a mentor.
The narc parent is a blamer on everyone else, nothing is their fault, with no regard for the fallout or the feelings of others. Two typical habits of narcs are, belittling of others to keep the spotlight on them, and denying the reality of a situation by twisting the narrative to match their perceived delusions. The narc parent’s lacking becomes the child’s problem.
Dr. Ramani – understanding a narcissist’s jealousy
My Mother’s jealousy of myself confirmed her disorder to me throughout my life. It began with her jealousy of my close relationship with my father. Then it grew into her jealousy for attention I was paid as I matured into young womanhood whenever we were out together and a male paid attention to me before her, and even when I began dating my now husband (who is incidentally, two years older than my mother was), and her flirtation with him upon first meeting. All her contrived jealousies were because in those instances, she did not hold the spotlight.
Dr. Ramani, Narcissistic Mothers
Children of Narcissistic Mothers need to educate themselves and/or get therapy to repair the mental damage inflicted upon them. The narc’s delusions should not become our realities. If we can recognize the signs of a narc that’s half the battle of learning that what they bestow upon us are derived from their inefficiencies, not ours. We need to recognize their symptoms so we can protect our self-esteems and find another path of nurturing and self-love so we don’t fall prey to falling into wrong relationships with same type of people and repeating what is familiar to us.
Recognize the signs of authoritative behavior, dominance, superiority complexes, emotionally unavailability, un-nurturing, blackmail, guilt trips, and mind manipulation. All these factors become an assault on our self-esteem. We need to realize we don’t owe our mothers a debt because they gave birth to us. We owe it to ourselves to learn the signs of a narcissist and how to adjust our sails when under their control. Narcissists won’t be told or controlled, it’s like pouring gasoline onto their open emotional wounds. We must learn how to protect ourselves from them. Sometimes, we must resort to drastic measures, such as, no contact as the years progress and we grow, as their toxicity never falters.
All situations are unique, but the symptoms never change. Because we can’t change them, we must find what’s most comfortable for ourselves to retain our own sanity. It’s called self-preservation and self-love—something I’ve spent most of my life working on, not just to survive emotionally, but to thrive.
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I’m including two more good video links here, for those wanting to learn more about narcissists and how they affect our personal lives:
Narcissism in a parent by Dr. Ramani
Pathological Jealousy and Narcissism – Why you can never earn their trust by Melanie Tonia Evans
©D.G. Kaye 2020
My thanks to Debby for this detailed analysis of the mother child relationship when it is marred by narcissism and jealousy. I know that she would value your feedback. thanks Sally.
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
“I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.”
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the recent reviews for P.S. I Forgive You
As soon as I saw what this book was about, I had to read it, and I am so pleased I did.
Because of the difficult subject matter, and my own history, I had to take a deep breath before I plunged in. Not only has this writer’s honesty and bravery helped me to understand my parents a little better, it has also shown me precisely what my sister has become. I’d missed that, and this explains so very much.
It is a sad fact of life that, all too often, the victim becomes the perpertrator, unless we have the insight and strength to do something about it. I have long joked that I’m the reverse ‘black sheep’ of my family, and it seems to me that Debby is too. For all our successes, and the miracle of growing into well-adjusted adults in spite of it all, we will never be accepted by a parent who demands that we live their lies, manipulations, and abuses. The same with any sibling who demands the same.
Some lines that resonated with me in particular:
Connect to Debby Gies