Mirror Child

When you grow up in a household where you are not allowed to become an individual
where all your attempts to develop who you are,
and find some self worth of your own
are criticized, and belittled,
you stop seeing yourself.

because the self you have - is not your true self
it is only the self you are allowed to have -
someone else's choice of who you are
a poorly constructed and distorted reflection of yourself.
A mirror child.

What you seem to do is submit to becoming defined by your parent and this means your self worth, self esteem, understanding of yourself and your capabilities are all formed outside yourself.

You don't know that this is not normal.
Just understanding that there are other ways of being will evade you - after all its not something that children talk about in the playground. Not even something most adults would understand in discussion unless it was something you had been through yourself - and perhaps even fought with on a daily basis throughout your adult life

Its pretty certain if you have been through this that you will have struggled with it, its not something that is easy to live with - or accept - If you are going to get over it you will have had to become conscious of it having happened to you, understood the mechanism whereby it has happened -  and then - if you are brave enough - you will have started the long painful path to rebuilding yourself.

The reason I would describe someone who has experienced this as being a mirror child is because the effect of this outside definition of yourself is that you are unable to hold a consistent image of yourself in your mind. It can change quite dramatically depending on your most recent or strongest reactions from other people.

When you do not have is a complete and balanced picture of yourself it is like looking in a shattered mirror.

If you were a normally individuated adult you would expect to see a reflection of yourself.
You would recognise yourself and could accurately describe yourself. Sure - in the moment you might be a Little more or less optimistic - but you would have a clear perception of yourself.

Life is not like that for Mirror Children. It is not even as if the glass is just shattered but as if each piece of the image you see is not even one complete part of the whole. The image itself has many parts missing and several that overlap inconsistently. If someone else has provided you with a small reflection of part of yourself it will be distorted by their perceptions and unreliable.

This confused and untrustworthy jumble is what you are making your self image out of, and you will try to hold all these parts together in your head as your perception of 'self'.

It may well be that if you are asked questions about your personality you are likely to quote what someone else has said about you rather than be confident of your own perception of yourself. You are also going to be very selective about what you say and allow others to know about you. You will probably have a filing system of words and phrases you will repeat to yourself to allow you some kind of definition. Some of these may be safe to trot out in public - you will know which ones, because you'll be a master of 'reading' other people. You will anticipate which comments will be safe to use and out they will come, accurate or not.
Inside your head you may have a different set of descriptions which define you. you may still be quoting people but the things you say in your head are the things you wont say out loud, and if all of those descriptions are from a background which includes enough emotional abuse to get you into this situation in the first place then that's a whole nasty heap of self insults you will have to hand.

My top five would be:

"I hate myself." ( or you - about myself)
"I'm so stupid."
"I'm so ugly."
"I cant do this."

Followed by the all telling - and why I didn't listen to myself saying this I really don't know - all time favorite

"I don't want to be this person."

That's really going to hold you back in life.

Its desperately difficult when any interaction is capable of changing your view of yourself and putting yourself in a position of being judged can be hideously frightening.
So if  you recognise this whole list of horrors you will probably be using a handy little technique to be friendly but isolate yourself:


A classic way of dealing with the family secret of Narcissism and also a very effective way to make sure you end up with no personal support and propping everybody else up.