The frailty and unreliability of memory and the singularity of experience isolates each of us in our own unique universe.
But what happens when some people insist that theirs is the only version of truth? When instead of being able to appreciate that others understanding and memory of events differs from their own, they instead reinforce their boundaries so that they effectively have a forcefield - or transparent wall, surrounding them, within which they are only accepting of their own reality - like being in a snow globe.
Whilst thousands of alternate realities, life seen through different eyes and in different ways, stream past them, they snap and bite like an injured dog, defending their own small circle of light.
Normally - growing up - you share a reality with your parents and slowly you travel outwards - past their boundaries, individuating until your view is yours alone, and your reality is quite unique.
If one of your family is a Narcissist then they will be dominant and your reality is only allowed to be positioned with its center in their heavily defended circle of reality - or snow globe
( or sometimes entirely elsewhere - where you don’t really exist*).
Trying to leave the circle could be betrayal / wrong and therefore they defend against it. (Huge amounts of effort and use of controlling behaviors are invested in doing this.)
Living fully in the circle is not possible - because one persons reality cannot fully encompass the needs of two people.**
You are forced to live on the border,
1/2 individuated in your life,
1/2 subsumed in theirs,
- and entirely intermeshed.
Because you cannot fully own your life you become unable to own the things that individuate you
skills , talents, thoughts, interests...are not really your things to use.
As you grow as a child their own success as a parent is dependent on how they are perceived by others. As they see themselves as innately superior this naturally requires them to be seen as a "good parent" - and this means you, as their child, need to be seen to be emotionally close to them - to maintain a level of enmeshment with them.
You will also
Need to be seen to be a fully functioning adult, perhaps with a career that reflects kudos back at them.
You should not have so much independence that it allows clear individuation from them.
This means they can never be satisfied with you, because neither independence - nor dependence are satisfactory to them. It is a careful balance for the child leading to hyper-vigilance and close observation of the nuances of their parents needs to stay in that border zone, negating their own personality and needs in order to find the best balance of acceptability. Not the best position, but the least inadequate position.
The level of acceptability for a career would be -
Not so successful that it shows you did it without their help - lets describe that sort of success as "flukiness,"
Yes to a career which could have been them, under different circumstances.
If you manage this level of balance and careful navigation you may get to the point of having children - and then your really fucked.
But first you have to get there and that involves... selflessness.
[One of the key problems in dealing with abusive people, for the abused is deciding - in a conscious way, what suitable boundaries are.
If you have been brought up by them - your boundaries are not at all clearly defined - so you look around to see what other people are doing - its quite hard to have to make a decision about what’s normal after all.]
So once again
You look, and you have to keep what you do know in mind...
You know you can't live entirely in their circle of reality - your desperate need to individuate gives you that much information, and there will have been occasions when you have been close in and that's awful too.
I think of it like a hurricane, or a sandstorm in there, the closer towards the center you are the more of your " you-ness" needs to be stripped away to survive, and staying close in is very destructive to an adult -
When you look around other people are happily close in with their parents and families, so you keep pushing yourself back in thinking that might be normal.
Unfortunately, what you cant see - is that there is no hurricane in theses others lives. Their acceptance of each other allows all sorts of freedoms that don't exist for you. But that's not obvious - so you keep pushing back in wondering how they do it - and being worn away in the process.
In order to be in your parents lives and approach the core - you have to be stripped of "self " by disapprobation - of all that doesn't fit their version of reality.
Others may exist happily, acknowledging each others self in the same space, wandering back and forth without any apparent problems.
because you can choose how far you can push yourself into your parents space your failures to emulate others - or be sufficiently close to your parents for their satisfaction - will always be accompanied by your own guilt.
and equally but opposite
Failure to push yourself will have EXACTLY the same effect.
So inevitably you become consumed by self loathing, feelings of inadequacy and dissonance.
Welcome you have now earned a free pass to self destructive behaviors - after all its nice to have something to distract you from the other shit going on in your life.
Standing on the edge of the circle of their reality, buffeted by the competing gales of your own life, and their impossible to meet needs, takes a huge amount of emotional energy.
Then you have children...have we been here ? where the children live in your reality and then start to individuate?
At this point you are in crisis -
There is a tipping point right here -
(and this is when a lot of people move to very low controlled contact with their parents L.C. - or no contact, N.C. because its too bloody difficult to do much else.)
The demands of your parents are such that they expect you to exert control over your own child so that they too fit into their reality in the impossible "lack of individuality yet independent" position that is their preferred position for you both. So in what is now unconscious response to their needs you maneuver your child into an acceptable position.
Eventually you will be demonising the individuation of your child...all on your own-some, just like your parents did to you, for their parents...
and the cycle continues..
I appreciate that there may be flaws in his as an explanation - but as I am a visual thinker I have found no explanation of the cycle of abuse which illuminates my understanding of how abuse is passed on - I think of the theory I have shared here as "The Snow-globe Theory of Abuse" and it works for me.
If it doesn’t work for you - fine...I'm quite happy for you to have your own theory of how things work - I don’t after all..live in a snow-globe.
* It is quite possible for a person to cease to exist temporarily or permanently for a narcissist
**one parent will also be subsumed by the other and maintaining an "edge" position - hence Bystander parents and Enablers and hence my explanation of one reality as the dominant Narcissistic Parents one.