The Taboo of the Rejected Adult Child

Lets not talk about it ?


Lets deflect your attention from the detail of this?

as vast as the internet is,
and with millions of book available at a click

this isn’t really out there.
An adult rejected by a parent
yet the occurrences of it are not so infrequent as  to warrant this unusual silence.

If you search all the usual terms
rejected, estranged, disowned, narcissist , adult, child in whatever order you like you find almost nothing that refers to this.

There is a great deal about parental rejection of a young child, and a huge amounts on narcissists, and narcissists rejected by their adult children. But that one thing - that shining moment of rage and self preservation when the narcissist, perhaps realising they are loosing the war, throws in the towel and walks away.

It is a puzzling act on a number of levels as it seems to counter a lot of what we know about narcissists.
Their need for supply for instance. It is in this act though we see them at their least controlled and most desperate.
It would seem consistent that this form of estrangement is most often brought on by narcissistic injury

When the fear of  being less than perfect and the shock of being revealed is most likely to cause them to act in this quite extreme way.

"Narcissistic injury occurs when a narcissist feels that their hidden, 'true self' has been revealed. This may be the case when the narcissist has a "fall from grace", such as when their hidden behaviours or motivations are revealed, or when their importance is brought into question. Narcissistic injury is a cause of distress and can lead to dis-regulation of behaviours as in narcissistic rage."

This is a double whammy for the child of a narcissist.Not only have they survived and managed contact with their parent throughout childhood - but they have managed the relationship into adult hood. Having taken on-board the destructive nature of that relationship, acknowledge the damage it is doing they find ways of maintaining and minimising the damage to an extent they feel able to cope with - and then - they are rejected for their failure to live up to the narcissists standards.

It is a difficult thing to explain in conversation.

"Ah yes...
I was having this appalling and damaging relationship with my parent - but apparently I wasn’t good enough at it so they rejected me.
No, that’s right,  not only was I the long term victim of emotional abuse - my abuser actually ended it - not me.
Brass ring anyone?
Yes, there is in fact nothing in that which makes me look good in any way,
I am not strong enough to end an abusive relationship, I have been permanently rejected by a parent, and I am fully aware that criminals and abusers are often still supported and loved by their parents, so yes I'm feeling pretty shit about that too. "

My initial thinking went a lot like that and it was very difficult as there's no way to say this without doubt creeping into someones' perception of what you're saying. So you just end up either being forced to list some of the shitty behaviours you did put up with and watch the horror, and a good dose of disbelief and (subsequently respect) drain away, or refuse to, and watch doubt creep in for that reason. Loose loose.

It doesn’t seem like there is any to come out of this covered in glory, meanwhile your abuser has flounced off to have a very satisfying  drama session with anyone they can get to listen about how you are so awful that they had to cut you out oft heir life.

You feel you are in a no win situation, and so, with this in mind instead of using your support network for self affirmation , or drag it out into the daylight for a good dose of perspective. You feel shame and deflect, that familiar friend.

The trouble with what's happening is that you are not, in any common narrative sense, the hero.

A hero acts !

But that requires a little more thought.

A hero is actually quite intolerant - dragons for instance are not allowed to live in a special reserve which "our hero" goes out and earns money to maintain.
Evil step-queens are banished, our hero doesn’t spend endless hours in family therapy with them being sympathetic about their childhood.
The bad guys with the guns are bumped off one by one until our hero in a "boss fight" with extra special effects, emerges slightly wounded but victorious whilst the surviving bad guys are trucked off to prison / banishment / an alternate universe - so happy ever after can start.

and thats not what happened - the bad guy stole your part !

There you were - maintaining your dragon reserve and going to family therapy on your evenings off,  when the bad guy just upped and stole your story..

You got banished !

All that energy that you were putting into doing the morally right thing at huge emotional and perhaps physical cost to yourself just got wiped off the board like it never existed and you're stood on the wrong side of the gates in a striped outfit with a number on it wondering what happened.

There are two things going on here.

Your training to think of yourself a bad and inadequate is going to kick in, because this is the most fundamental and damaging rejection a person can suffer from.

Its the biggest baddest nastiest, "I'm not good enough," most people will ever suffer from - and it will go around and around in your head until it destroys you if you will let it.
Its the biggest baddest nastiest one except........

the other one...

The one where a child rejects the parent, and you have to keep this in mind when thinking about what just happened.

Your relationship had probably been "played" to a stand-off. All the rules were decided on, boundaries established and you were in a static place, or at least that’s what it felt like to you, maintainable if awful. Then the tiniest most ridiculous thing tipped it over into apocalypse status.

but actually that’s not right either

That’s what it looked like, but what had really happened is you had won and didn’t know it. That solid cold managed stand-off was slow death to your Narc, a Narc whose age means that there needs were increasing, their sources of supply decreasing and horror of horror - they were becoming dependent on you, their self loathing of that alone was enough to set this off and it really had nothing to do with whatever the trigger event would have been.

For them the trigger would have been a push, a push to make you bow again that you didn’t respond to. They were blowing the hurricane of their will against you to  get you to do something for their benefit (not yours - never yours) and you might not even have noticed, but you surely didn’t bend.

Impotent with rage they escalate, the horror of it, the infantilization of themselves, the lack of control, the shift in power and the fear of rejection by the child*
They move up the scale of controlling behaviours rapidly  until,  here we go - banishment, the ultimate punishment, requiring full abnegation of self to return from.

Their universe - a careful and fragile construction, cannot exist with the real and powerful you in it, so you are banished. This makes it safe and by putting up this barrier the Narcissist can entirely control the terms of "the return".
It also has the added bonus of making them, in a purely narrative sense, "The Hero."

I know I've talked about this point before. but its taken me a year to understand it even to this extent. I personally passed by this more than once before I saw the pattern. When I was estranged / banished, whatever you want to call it, the fear, the flapping, the loss of "normal" was easily enough to suck me back in, but each time round that normal was looking a little nastier, a little less liveable.

Now I'm building a new "normal", its not easy (understatement) and it would be nice to have some kind of idea of where its going worked out. I guess the consolation is though, its my story. This time I'm working out what kind of hero I want to be as I go along, because I'm definitely making myself the hero in this one!
Which is also challenging, but its a lot better than being the evil sidekick in someone elses.

 *always at the back of the mind of someone damaged enough to become narcissistic. The combination of huge ego, but very low self esteem means that they are only confident of maintaining relationships where they are in control. 
No control = No relationship
They cannot feel themselves to be vulnerable and maintain the delicate balance between ego and self esteem.