ACON stands for Adult Child of a Narcissistic Parent. So basically it means you spent your childhood in a very strange, fake environment, centred around the narcissist’s needs and wants.
First up forget about any notions you may have around the word narcissist. We are not talking about people who just like to look in the mirror a lot, or even people who are all about me, me, me.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD is a recognised state where a person has nothing in their consciousness beyond themselves.
Narcissists create all sorts of rules about how they want to be treated and how they think the world should be run, but they care little for these rules themselves and break them left right and centre.
The Narcissist has no sense of boundaries. Everything is their business and every possession is theirs by right. The whole world exists to entertain them, and anything boring, irritating, or too much hassle to them should be thrown away or be somebody else’s problem.
The most important thing in a Narcissist’s life is being the centre of attention.
Throughout childhood they will have got this attention by a variety of means, being pretty, rude, flirtatious, loud, dominant, however they can achieve being in the middle of everything. Once they find a partner they can dominate (or another narcissist they can twist around) some settle down and decide the best means of guaranteeing the supply of attention, the narcissistic supply, is to have children, who will adore them in childhood, fawn on them in adulthood, and support them in the narcissist’s dotage.
Children born to a narcissist have two functions: Love and Entertain.
This must be done at all times the narcissist wants it, and in the way the narcissist wants. However the narcissist does not tell the child how to do this. Rather the child is conditioned by a litany of what they are doing wrong. ALL THE TIME.
Narcissists rule by means of divide and conquer. Often having two children so they can set them against each other. Selectively choosing one “Golden Child” to help suppress the other. Not that the golden child is having a great time either. The are as confused as anything as the narcissist purports to love them more and be more “chummy” with them, but all the time still denies them anything that is any trouble at all for the narcissist, or is just downright boring for the parent to sit through.
Any child of a narcissist is trained (brainwashed) from an early age that anything the narcissist doesn’t want to do is boring, and only stupid people do <insert activity name here>, eg. Only idiots do sport. Only people with half a brain do art. And any genuine talent is stamped out with either faint praise (that’s nice dear, without even looking at the thing) or disgust (“is that it?” or “you call that a painting?” etc. etc.). Any activities the child is allowed to do (note. NOT encouraged to do) will be for one of two reasons – the Narcissist has been noticed not developing their child and needs a quick cover, or they want the child to outdo the child of some other adult they don’t like.
Should the child of the narcissist have the audacity to excel in any activity (or even be above average – narcissists love to be surrounded by average so they can feel superior) the activity will be stopped immediately. The child can only be praised as being the narcissist’s offspring. If there is any danger of them being praised in their own right it will be stamped out like the start of a forest fire.
All the time the narcissist pretends. They are the ultimate actor – to the extent that to the rest of the world they seem charming, graceful, loving, caring, the ultimate parent with the ultimate family. But behind the scenes the children (and often partners) live in sheer terror of the next mood swing, the next outburst, the next unfulfilled need, which will be their fault for not anticipating, and not already putting right! The narcissist lives a life of lies and deception, saying one thing and meaning another, and forcing this “wrong is right” mentality upon the children. Especially with emotions where however miserable the child is, they will be repeatedly told they are happy, happy, happy. But every hug (only given as the narcissist wants or demands) is for the narcissist’s benefit.
So what is the result of growing up in this reality? Well the child is left with little or no sense of self. They exist to serve. All the narcissist’s problems are theirs because they are not providing enough narcissistic supply, and they will be made very aware of this failing. They are conscious all the time of the emotional states of those around them, because any sadness, anger, dissatisfaction must be their fault. And it is their responsibility to fix it, as they have been brainwashed to do. They have little or no ambition. Their only purpose was to entertain the narcissist – anything they wanted or tried was rubbish, and never good enough for the narcissist. They are terrified of emotional contact, terrified of trusting, unable to distinguish levels of contact from others. They are in constant need of assurance (Was that ok? Did I say anything stupid? Did they like me? I don’t think they liked me.) and support, but cannot accept that assurance or support as genuine.
Some ACONs grow up to be narcissists themselves. And why shouldn’t they? They have been brainwashed into believing this is the right way to be and have no genuine contact with their emotions. Over time the real child became so buried a persona emerged to con the world everything is fine, and the damaged child still exists inside, frozen without development, so the needs and wants are still there, like a tantrum ridden 3 year old, the interior of the narcissist demands more, more, more, me, me, me. Make me happy, LOVE ME. But the narcissist can never get enough love.
And what about me?
5 years ago I started to realise I was an ACON. The specific details that revealed the true nature of my family are not important here, but their nature became very clear. I realised their behaviour throughout my whole life was wrong, and distanced myself from them more and more. The further I got, the clearer the picture became. The more distance I put between us the more I felt free. As I put my life back together I started to see them for what they truly are.
Unfortunately there is still baggage to sort out. The narcissist trains the child with the same kind of brainwashing that organisations like the CIA used in the cold war, and ISIS use today. Constantly overstepping boundaries, while insisting they are acting normally, constantly telling the small child wrong is right for the narcissist and both right and wrong are wrong for the child.
This programming can kick in at any time, and enrages me. Fear, shame and anger are all trigger emotions, and suddenly this monster emerges that has no sense of social mores and can only hurt as it thrashes around trying to alleviate its pain.
I am also always desperate to make everything better for everyone around me. Sometimes to great (extreme) annoyance. And I will not let it lie. It is as if I cannot rest until I have fixed everyone else’s problems (just as my narcissistic parents trained me to do for them).
Slowly I am trying to master this. The programming has a start point – usually when the child has stopped being admired for being a product of the parents, and becomes an individual – and so I am regressing myself back to find the triggers. The starting points. The beginning. Then I will slowly wind forward the events of my childhood through my current consciousness, my adult, aware state. The hope and the journey here is to re-adjust my sense of self and realise I was not always to blame, it was not always my fault, just as I try to apply those sentiments to everyday life now. And along the way I will slowly stop trying to make everything better for everyone else. And stop trying to fix the unfixable.
Sometimes all you can do, is all that is asked, and for an ACON, used to un-asked expectations, and punished for not fulfilling un-voiced desires, this is a very difficult lesson to learn.
If anyone is still reading, this finally leads me back to here. This site. This place where things that cannot be explained, the unusual and the unexpected are welcomed, discussed and embraced.
For two very specific reasons.
1) I have been not only been programmed to do so, I have an innate ability to sense emotional disturbances. Not just in people, but animals, and even things. (Yes things have emotions! I will post more in future blogs. Not that anyone will read them – anyone who tried to get this far is long since asleep or dead!)
2) I live in a state of hyper-vigilance. Having been brought up in constant a fight-or-flight situation I can perceive what most cannot, and what a lot of you here can. The world is nowhere near as finite or limited as they (you know - them) want us to believe. And I suspect like some of you, sometimes in the blink of an eye, the drop of a hat, those moments after caffeine, before or after sleep, when the dark is all around, or the light blinds, and we know there is more, more, oh dear God so much more.
These two, things I once thought a curse, and am starting to see as a gift (it’s a gift, and a curse, haha) bring me to here, to your experiences and opinions, to kin, and kith or hearted.
Perhaps none of the above matters. It is my journey, and I have reached yet another place along the way to stay a while and talk to other travellers. In the posts ahead I hope to explore where the road goes next, and talk, read and share with others who may all have different roads, but for all of whom I hope the destination is glorious.
Thank you for reading. Until next time - peace and long life.
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