Coming from a pathological family, with the psychopath, narcissist or sociopathic parent as the center of the family universe, can create a negativity that says the glass is always empty. We are left to ‘problem solve’ throughout childhood and adolescence in survival mode, while enduring overwhelming amounts of daily abuse. We are not taught to create solution to problems but to avoid them, as this keeps the mask of the pathological parent and family secure.
As adults, through God’s grace, we come to awareness about how sick and pathological our families are. Most often, this awareness occurs through the extremes we experience in a love relationship with a disordered one.
We begin to note that the behaviors exhibited by our partner’s are severe and extreme, whether it’s manipulation, gas lighting, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, financial or spiritual abuse of any kind, something about their behaviors and our reactions to it, awaken us to the truth about psychopathy, narcissism and sociopathy.
If we are not carrying a Cluster B personality disorder of our own, the hope for awareness, I believe, will increase. This awareness presents an opportunity for validation about our experiences with our pathological parent, family dynamics, roles, etc.
It becomes clearer to us over time, and as we get older and continue to choose partners that are disordered and situations that are highly dramatic and chaotic, including friendships.
Depending upon how intense the relationship, it can take one relationship or several more, each one increasingly more pathological and sick than the last, before we can see the pattern of our own behaviors and choices, clearly, as well as the behavior of our partners and parent/family.
Coming to awareness about our family background after the break up of a romantic relationship, can be shocking to us. As we explore the reasons for the partnered relationship demise, in desperation, we stumble upon information about the disorders. And as we process the relationship, we begin to see that our lives may be full of Cluster B’s, including our own family of origin (FOO).
We find ourselves feeling only slightly validated after reading about the behaviors exclusive to the Cluster B, but there is so much more to sort through on an emotional level for an adult child of psychopaths, narcissists and sociopath. Recognizing the behaviors in our family of origin, we begin to ask questions, see abuse tactics used by the parent and the roles that we and our siblings played and continue to play.
Adult children who are intuitive and empathic, may find that even their siblings are disordered or extremely emotionally troubled in some way. When we dare to confront, on some level, the family dynamic, directly with the pathological parent or with the siblings, we may find ourselves under attack, manipulated, gas lighted, the focus of the family problems from the beginning.
We may see reactions as we confront our parent or other family members while asking questions and trying to ‘correct’ the ‘problems’ that are spontaneous, sudden and extreme. Unprepared for battle in all our pain, anguish and confusion, we are not validated, but find ourselves invalidatedmore.
We have not yet digested that they are incapable of validation, that they too are lacking in conscience and empathy. What we are seeking in safety, or with hope, is anything but safe and can be very dangerous to us. While a survivor might know that something is wrong, that her ex partner is definitely disordered, when it comes to this reality about the family, things are far more enmeshed and skewed, viewing life from the original and distorted pathological lens. . .
Many survivors with pathological parents, come to me upon this discovery in reading my work and connecting the dots, already embroiled in extraordinary amounts of abuse from the parent or family, as they begin to think about no contact and escape. Most have already begun to confront their family members about the family dynamic, some are in such dangerous situations that it’s not possible to do so, yet the confusion and pain is intense for them.
They are beaten down from not only a pathological partner or close friendship, but also from years of exploitation, manipulation and other forms of abuse from family members. Often the pathological parent is on the ‘war path’ with the survivor and has engaged siblings or other family members to activate their roles to an all time high in order to invalidate and silence the perceived threat, the survivor as one about the open the pandora’s box of family abuse and secrets.
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