I was told many lies about myself while growing up within my my FOO (family of origin). I have no doubt this had everything to do with my developing Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD), and lifelong severe anxiety.
Why personality disorders are so difficult to cure.
Personality disorders (PD’s) are formed very early in life, normally before the age of six–which is the reason they are so hard to cure. Because the child’s personality is still in a malleable state (meaning it hasn’t fully formed) until around age 5, PD’s become an integral part of the personality and therefore can be extremely difficult to eradicate because they were formed so early the child doesn’t believe it’s a problem, just the way things are. Their misery seems normal to them. They know nothing else.
Of course some PD’s are more amenable to treatment than others, and sufferers of some PD’s, such as Avoidant, Dependent, and sometimes Borderline, are much more likely to seek treatment than those with, say, ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), NPD (narcissism), or Schizoid PD.
Lies I was told growing up.
As the family Scapegoat (and occasional Golden Child which I’ll explain later in this article), here are some of the lies I was told while I was growing up:
“You’re too sensitive!” — This one’s the Big Kahuna for many of us ACONs, especially if we’re also HSPs (highly sensitive people) by nature. “You’re too sensitive” isn’t so much a lie as it is a verbal twisting of a wonderful gift and ability to see the Truth into something…more resembling an embarrassing defect. Narcissistic lies sometimes appear in the form of turning something good into something shameful and bad, and vice versa.
“You have no sense of humor.” (see above)
“You don’t really want that.” (the parent is telling the child what they really think–this will just cause confusion and identity issues for the child)
“No one wants to know how you feel.” (so we learn to swallow our pain and lock up our emotions)
“You cry too much.” (I had to unlearn this–unfortunately I unlearned it too well and now find it difficult to cry even when I know I need to)
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” (invalidation and devaluation)
“You know you don’t really think that.” (massive mindfuckery)
“You don’t really want to join the swim team. You know you don’t like competition.” (see above–the real message here being “you are a weak, pathetic, scared loser” to really drive the message home)
“You’re too fat/heavy/even ‘obese’ (I was never more than 120 lbs at 5’4” as a teenager)
“They don’t like you because you’re always so unpleasant to be around.” (Real nice)
“You never smile and it makes your face look unpleasant.” (Fake Narc smiles look even more ‘unpleasant’)
“You read too much.” (okay…would it be better if I snorted Smarties instead or went around throwing rocks through the neighbors’ windows?)
“You know you’re not really good at that.” (whenever I wanted to try something I hadn’t tried before)
“You know you can’t do that, let me do it.” (I wanted to wash the dishes when I was 6)
“You’re too idealistic” (mmmkay…and that’s a bad thing?)
Because I was raised as an only child (I had half-siblings who did not live with us), I also served as the Golden Child. So I also heard lies like,
“They’re just jealous of you because you’re prettier than they are.” (even as a first grader, I knew this was bullshit).
“They’re just jealous of you because you’re smarter than they are.” (my grades weren’t much above average, in spite of having a high IQ)
“You are more talented than they are.”
“We have better genes than those other people.” (Narc genes?)
“You come from a better family than your friends do.” (I call bullshit on that.)
You were the best dancer in the school play.” (I have two left feet and even my dog would have known that was an outrageous lie).
It doesn’t stop when you go No Contact.
These are some of the lies told about me by my mother to her sycophants (the ones I’m aware of):
“She’s a loser just like her ex-husband” (Nice.)
“She always makes such terrible choices.” (True, but there were extenuating circumstances at those times she would never understand)
“If only she had done what I told her.” (If only I had had the courage to take a few risks-I am extremely risk-averse)
“If only she had listened to me.” (Again, if only I had taken a few risks and not been so afraid of my own shadow)
“She’s a nothing.” (I guess that’s why people tend to always talk over me, look through me, and never hear what I have to say in group or social settings–where I FEEL like a nothing)
“She was ruined by her ex” (this is a half-truth…but RUINED? Really? Let’s tone down the hyperbole, shall we?)
“She will always be poor.” (and the poor are always with us, right?)
“She will never achieve anything.”
“She can never stick with anything.” (This has actually been true but has gotten a lot better)
“She has mental problems.”
“She is sick in the head.”
Conflicting messages as Scapegoat/Golden Child
Black-and-white thinking (idealizing/devaluing) and outrageous contradictions prevailed in my FOO.
As both Scapegoat and Golden Child, I was receiving two sets of messages (sometimes both at the same time), such as, “You know you don’t really want that, because you’re too sensitive, you hate competition and you are smarter than they are.”
I think you get the idea.
Being raised with conflicting sets of messages and being treated as beloved/rejected child at once was incredibly crazymaking.
Borderline Personality Disorder (or even narcissism!) and Avoidant Personality Disorder (I have both BPD and AvPD) both seem like logical, almost sane reactions to having been raised with two conflicting sets of messages–I was either all bad or all good, with no in between.
And finally, it doesn’t end there. Raised by narcissists, I married one even worse. A narcissist so malignant he made my parents look like empathic light beings in comparison. I was trained to be Supply and was WAY too good a student. If awards were given for Learning How to Be Narcissistic Supply, I would have been valedictorian.
Lies my psychopathic narcissist ex-husband told me.
Following are the lies my malignant narcissist sperm donor told me about myself and also told all the flying monkeys he had succeeded in turning against me (some of who included my friends) over 28 years. This led to my PTSD and clinical depression (where I had to be hospitalized for suicidal ideation). Most of these were projections of his own character flaws onto me.
“You are selfish/self-centered.”
“You always overreact to everything.”
“You never listen to me”
“You don’t care about me or my problems.”
“You have no empathy for me.”
“You are narcissistic.”
“You are becoming just like one of them” (he was referring to Republicans, who he hates)
“Oh, so now you’re living the high life?” (when I took in a roommate while he was homeless)
“You are a b**ch, c*nt, Tw*t, whore.”
“You are stupid.”
“You have no common sense.”
“There’s something wrong with you.”
“You’re just like your family–all crazy.”
…as well as a constant barrage of hateful sarcasm at my expense, whether there were people present or not. If I objected to this mean spirited “humor,” I was told–WHAT ELSE???–I was “too sensitive” or “have no sense of humor.”
Because of having grown up in the midst of a labyrinthine web of lies, and then marrying into another one, I have always valued Truth. That’s why I put a premium on complete honesty, at least in my writing.
Not that I don’t ever lie–we all do, it’s part of the human condition. But I am very aware of dishonesty when I see it and won’t hesitate to call it out in others.