Thursday, March 8, 2012


I recently found the following tweet on SIL's twitter page:

I'm proud of myself for making progress, 
even if no one notices...

I wanted to share it with you, Dear Reader, because I think the message behind these words is a painful one and, given that SIL is a little budding narcissist (working diligently to follow in her NM's footsteps) it is also indicative of the dysfunction from which she came and can not seem to escape.

Perhaps there are people who would read this statement and be lulled by it's superficial glaze. I am not one of those people. To me, this statement screams sadness, loneliness, desperation, and self-loathing. It reveals deep and profound psychological wounds, and displays the value of SIL's self-worth. Despite the message she is trying desperately to convey, these are the words of a very emotionally-crippled individual.

This statement, to me, reads as a call for attention, rather than as evidence of true pride. Now first, we have to define our terms: I realize that there are two basic definitions of pride; one having a positive connotation (as in: an inwardly directed emotion of pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself; having or showing self-respect or self-esteem; a sense of personal worth; in this sense, it is the product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging), the other having a negative connotation (as in: an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris; self-important, disdainful, imperious, presumptuous, conceited). To be clear, the kind of pride I am referring to, and indeed the kind of pride that I think SIL is referring to, falls under the first category (of the positive connotation), rather than the second.

According to Wikipedia (bolding for emphasis, mine), "Philosophers and social psychologists have noted that pride is a complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a sense of self and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions (e.g., that pride is distinct from happiness and joy) through language-based interaction with others...In this sense, the opposite of pride is either humility or guilt; the latter in particular being a sense of one's own failure...When viewed as a virtue, pride in one's appearance and abilities is known as virtuous pride, greatness of soul or magnanimity." I find it intriguing that, in order for a person to feel true pride in oneself, she must first have a developed sense of self as well as the ability to feel humility or guilt over her failures.

These are prerequisites that no narcissist will ever be able to fulfill, resulting in the narcissist's version of pride, which is ALWAYS a false front designed to protect an undervalued self.

And in the case of SIL's declaration, that is precisely what we are witnessing here. First of all, to be using Twitter as her medium for display, SIL is countering her intended message with a more subtle one: that this is not a statement of pride, but a call for attention. I would say that, any time a person feels the need to publicize her pride, then her pride is more a false-front than it is a genuine feeling of deep self-respect. Pride, by definition, is an inwardly-directed emotion, not an outwardly-directed one. Under such a definition, SIL would never have felt the need to make such a statement.

Furthermore, when a person feels true pride, there is no further requirement on the part of others to either acknowledge or validate that feeling. In such a case, a person could make a statement: "I am proud" or "I am proud of my accomplishments" or "I am proud of so-an-so's accomplishments" without the added observation or commentary that "no one has noticed" said accomplishments. Instead of conveying a message of self-worth, SIL's tweet tells us that her pride is false, she longs for attention from those individuals she feels are not offering it to her, and that she has a sense of injured merit because of their ignorance.

In my opinion, her "tweet," which can be seen as the briefest of looks inside her damaged psyche, is a definitive indication of her own internal struggles and her lack of self-development. She doesn't have pride because she was never taught to develop it in a healthy way. Remembering that her NM also uses a display of pride as a means to put up a false front, it is not surprising that SIL has learned to do the same.

One final note: Like so many of NMIL's messages, SIL's trails off into a deep emotional void with the use of her ellipses...


  1. The "even if" was the hinge that, for me, exposed the masked longing for acknowledgment. That it would be better if others noticed, but even if they don't, she's still proud. The "even if" trail off says more than the "I'm proud," it modifies the whole thing. As a tweet, it's most certainly a cry for attention and recognition - fishing for supply just like mommy does.

    When your sense of self depends on others, it has no solid footing. And when you have no positive influences in your life, people who support your healthy development, it's damn near impossible to find that solid footing.

    It also reminds me of that saying about a tree falling and nobody there to witness it. Does it make a sound? For folks steeped in narc disorder, it doesn't. I'm learning how to trust that I make a sound, whether or not anyone is there to hear it. It takes willingness and support from others, tons of encouragement, lots of accountability, and commitment to keep trying, even when I fail. And though painful, the rewards of living in truth far outweigh the comforts of delusion.

    1. Sigh. Upsi, your commentary is always so meaningful and poetic. I rather feel like your comment summed up my post more brilliantly than my post summed up my post.

      Anyway, dead on. You've completely nailed it.

  2. You are so dead on with your analysis! It's scary how your SIL is misinterpreting her own motivations. I wonder if she really believes she is sendinging a strong, confident message with this tweet? Is she self-aware enough to feel the insecurity or need for attention that drove her to write this tweet?

    What she meant (maybe subconsciously) was very different from what she wrote: "I want to feel good about myself, but no one is helping me do that" or maybe "I am craving attention, but no one is giving it to me"

    If the Ns in our lives are so disconnected from even their own true feelings and motivations, then hoping or expecting that they will someday realize how they are treating us and maybe even change their behavior is just that much more of a mirage.

    All of the awful, hurtful, damaging things that these N’s do to us (ignore, neglect, engulf, control, demean, dismiss) I don’t even think they are motivated to do any of this TO us. I think they are doing it FOR themselves, to fill some need that they may not even be consciously aware of.

    This one really got me thinking, because I have been chewing over a similar issue this week. The "love yourself" tone of that tweet is what I'm afraid my NM may be embracing in response to my recent LC.

    My NM told me a couple of days ago that she went to a therapist and was put on something, because she’s been having a hard time emotionally these past few weeks. (I went somewhat LC in January)

    Goodness only knows what she is telling her therapist. It’s probably “for weeks my daughter hasn’t called me” rather than “my daughter only calls twice a week now, and I am upset that she isn’t calling me daily like she always has”

    I’m just praying this therapist doesn’t empowering her, telling her to take charge and demand the time and attention she thinks she should get from friends and family, etc. Ack!

    1. Kam - As with Upsi, I'm really impressed by your analysis! I am digging your theory that SIL is misinterpreting her own motivations. I think that she really does believe that her tweet was sending a strong and confident message because not only does she lack the ability to identify and acknowledge her truly poor self-esteem, but her poor self-esteem was in fact validated when other people "re-tweeted" the comment!

      In other words, it's her poor self-esteem that is actually being validated by at least some of the people she's looking for acknowledgement from. So instead of acknowledging HER and her accomplishments (which is really what she seems to be asking for) they are acknowledging and almost applauding her poor self-worth.

      I also think you're spot on in your analysis that a narcissist's inability to connect to their own feelings/motivations is very indicative that they will likely never see the value/worth in others. You are absolutely right, Kam, to say that they hurt other people as a means to fill some void within themselves. Even the abuse they dish out isn't "for" their victims, it's for themselves.

      As far as your dilemma with your NM: My first red flag was that she felt the need to share with you that she's been put on (meds? Did she say that, or was it implied?) because she's been having such a "hard time." Talk about major guilt trip! It made me feel that she has covertly placed the blame on you for her negative feelings, expecting you to shoulder them, and with the long-term desire that you'll cave on your status of LC.

      I would say that no matter what, it's a guarantee that your NM is not telling her therapist the truth - no doubt he/she is being fooled with NM's half-truths and partial lies. If I had to make a guess, I would say that the fact that this therapist is continuing to work with your NM is reason enough to believe that he is empowering her. What therapist could honestly work with a person who is manipulating them?

      I hope that your NM doesn't play more of her games, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did.

  3. correction:
    I’m just praying this therapist *isn't empowering her

    Bleh sorry about the typo. My brain and fingers don't always stay in synch!

    1. No worries! I'm the same way. :o)

  4. This poor little narc-in-training is reaching outside of herself for validation and in doing so she reveals that, just like a chocolate bunny, she is hollow inside.

    1. Wow. That is sadly and amazingly accurate.