Recently, something Jessie brought up in response to one of my comments on her blog reminded me of a topic I'd like to discuss in length here. Jessie wrote, "My other favorite that my mom uses is 'Your family will always be there for you.' Ha, they've never been there when I really needed them before, why would I expect it in the future?" This comment about her NM's use of that phrase, reminded me that narcissistic parents are ripe with many such familial cliches that they use to demand their children get in line, or else. These particular phrases always have a flavor of guilt to them, that likely lingers in the back of an ACoNs mind, reminding him that his FOO is supposed to come first. And, not only is his FOO supposed to come first, but his intense loyalty to them should come at the expense of his FOC. This concept gets tricky though, because the people who pushed that particular idea on him started doing so from the get-go without ever having really grasped what the idea of "family" truly means. Narcissists are famous for preaching concepts that often sound good in theory, but that they don't understand, or care to understand, the true underlying meaning of.
I've come up with a list of other commonly used cliches used by narcissistic or otherwise abusive parents meant to induce a sense of familial loyalty in the target (*I invite others to offer examples that I can add to the list*):
-I/We miss you
-I/We love you
-I/We still love you
-Blood is thicker than water
-Family is forever
-Family is important
-I/We just want you to be happy
-I'm/We're just doing this for you
-I'm/We/re doing this for your own good
-I/We just want what's best for you
-I/We/Your family will always be there for you (Releasing Jessie)
- I worry that you will regret how you've treated me (Releasing Jessie)
-He/She's your brother/sister
-I'm your Mother/Father
-Let's go to family therapy, just you and me
-[Loved one who has passed away] always thought you were special/smart/loyal/etc
-I/We thought you were better than this
-You'll be sorry when we're gone (Mulderfan)
-We don't have much longer (Mulderfan)
-I won't be around much longer (DD)
-Why do you need a therapist when you have us? (Vicarious Rising)
-You'll regret not playing/being nice to your mother/father (Vicarious Rising)
-I don't want YOU to have any regrets (DD)
-Man up and defend your family! (DD)
-Who are you going to have after you push everyone away? (So My Life/Free To Be Me)
-When you are able to move on and forgive, we will be here waiting for you! (So My Life/Free To Be Me)
-Why do you hate me so much? (So My Life/Free To Be Me)
-I/We don't ask you for much
Oftentimes, ACoNs suffer (for lack of a better word) a sense of misplaced loyalty to their narc-parents, as a result of hearing phrases like this over the course of a lifetime. According to Wikipedia, misplaced loyalty is loyalty placed in other persons or organizations where that loyalty is not acknowledged or respected; is betrayed or taken advantage of. It can also mean loyalty to a malignant or misguided cause. On that note, I think it's safe to say that a narcissist is definitely a malignant or misguided cause. When dealing with narcissists, one must always consider the source of such trite turns of phrases. Coming from anyone else, some of these ideas do not necessarily mean that you are being hoodwinked. Coming from a narcissist, these types of phrases mean certain death.
DH has had many of the above statements lobbed at him in the past three years, as a result of his attempts to break away from his FOO, establish healthy boundaries with his FOO, and call them out on their generally subtle manipulations. I have always been annoyed and disturbed by DH's NPs' use of these common phrases because it's been so obvious to me that his ONLY role in their life is one of a slave, servant, scapegoat, or black sheep. They push the idea that he owes them by mere fact that he is biologically their child, but don't believe that they owe him by mere fact that they are biologically his parents. In their world, the door don't swing both ways.
As Jessie pointed out, narco-parents push their agenda of what it means to be family without honoring the words they throw at their children and adult children. They claim that familial bonds are sacred but they never practice what they preach. The one in particular that really got under my skin was the "I/We miss you" line that DH got (and continues to get) in every email, letter, card, or other form of correspondence. Why? Because it doesn't make any logical sense and it's only purpose is to invoke DH's sense of misplaced loyalty. Take NMIL's use of that phrase: she always used it at completely inappropriate times. When is it appropriate to use the phrase, "I miss you?" Generally, when you haven't seen someone for a long time, like when they move away or go on a prolonged vacation. Technically speaking, NMIL did not interact with DH nearly as often as she had interacted with him prior to Jonsi coming along; but not only was that normal given the fact that DH was starting his own life away from NMIL, but there did not have to be a reason for her to miss him on the level she was implying.
In the card she gave DH on our wedding day (which was inappropriate enough, even if she had genuine loving things to say in it) she ended on the note that she loved him and missed him and just wanted things to get back to the way they were before. In any type of greeting card, that type of language, and in fact that type of sentiment is completely inappropriate. But in a wedding card, it's downright perverted and speaks to her evil intentions. And that certainly wasn't the first or last time we saw that kind of attitude. In nearly every email Naunt sent, she concluded that she "missed" DH. Often, when EFIL left voicemails on DH's cell phone, he also indicated how much he "missed" DH. Childhood
They didn't "miss" him the same way a loving, genuine person would "miss" him. I mean, there isn't anything wrong with missing a person you don't see as often as you used to, but when you continually use that phrase as an accusation in order to get that person to abandon his new life and family, it all just starts to sound preposterous. Is it possible that they miss him on some level? Yes. But again, not in the same way a loving, genuine person would miss a loved one. If EFIL and NMIL and the rest of their fucked up gang have any sense of "missing" my DH, it's because they're holding on to an idea of him that disappeared the day he met me. Perhaps not entirely, or all at once, but the DH they knew is gone. He can not be the [DH's childhood nickname] that they expected him to be. He had to grow up and abandon their unhealthy cause. In order to truly leave them behind, he must work every day for the rest of his life to change his old thought-patterns and behaviors to ones that are healthier for him, for me, and for his children. DH's NPs only miss seeing the image of themselves they saw reflected in his eyes. They miss the control they had over him. They miss the DH who would let them walk all over him. They do not miss HIM because they don't really know him and never will.
Beyond that, I find it pathetic that they claim to miss a person who gave them multiple opportunities to stop missing him. You don't have to miss someone who willingly offers you the chance to change. You don't have to miss someone who tells you precisely what he needs from you in order to be a part of his life. You don't have to miss someone who lives less than an hour away. You don't have to miss someone who is still here. He's here. He's always been here. They just never saw him.
In the end, all they manage to do is pay lip service to concepts that they will never understand, respect, or honor.