The Subtle Narcissistic Abuse Tactic : Comparison
Once I knew about narcissistic personality disorder it explained my father’s general behaviour but not the ways he abused me.
Until I could pinpoint how he had abused me, I couldn’t move forward.
There were many subtle ways my father abused me, this is why it was so difficult to see. It was also something that I was used to, my normal.
In my lifetime I had attracted a lot of toxic friends, partners, colleagues and bosses. I thought that this was just a coincidence. Now I realise that it was because of my toxic upbringing.
I struggled with anxiety, stress, depression and suicidal thoughts, throughout my life. But how this linked to my father’s treatment of me I didn’t know, even after I realised about narcissistic personality disorder.
It felt very important to establish how he had abused me, so that I could use this information to work towards healing.
The label of narcissistic personality disorder helped me see our relationship dynamic generally but I needed specifics. It was a huge relief to know that, despite what I’d been told all my life, the problem was him. But I needed a deeper understanding of what I’d been through.
I wasn’t physically or sexually abused. I wasn’t shouted at or called names.
My father’s anger was a cold anger. He would use the silent treatment to punish me. His body language and facial expressions would express his dislike of me.
He had many tactics to subtly make me feel not good enough.One of those ways was to compare me, always unfavourably, with others.
Comparisons with my brother
To compare me unfavourably with my brother served several purposes for him. It made me feel that whatever I was doing was not good enough. And if it was a mistake it was a huge failure, not a learning experience. It was cut and dried. I made a mistake, I was a failure. My situation or behaviour was a reflection of my own intrinsic unworthiness. And there was nothing I could do about it.
These comparisons also served to drive a wedge between my brother and I. Sometimes I would resent my brother, instead of resenting my father for making the comparison. And I know that on occasions my father would do the same to my brother against me. Our father fostered and nurtured resentment and jealousy between his children.
If my brother and I were at odds with other, due to his machinations, then my father was in control. We wouldn’t unite against him because we were too busy resenting each other. And if he triangulated us, controlled communications, then he could twist situations to serve his malicious purposes against either of us. When he controlled communications he could control how we felt about each other. Then he had power over us.
It is rare for siblings with a parents with narcissistic personality disorder to be close. It doesn’t serve the narcissist. They need family members to revolve around them, individually, so that they are easier to control. Unfortunately in my family my father succeeded, my relationships with my brother and half brothers is forever fractured.
Comparing to my friends
It wasn’t only my brother he would compare me to, he used his limited knowledge of my friends against me too.
I made sure that my social and family life were as separate as possible. I didn’t fear his embarrassing me. I feared him turning them against me. He hated this, he knew I did it because it took away a lot of his power. He never had any real information about my friends often he just used the limited things he had observed or heard. Alternatively, he would fabricate things about my friends, sometimes completely off the mark and sometimes not.
Often if I was excited or confident he would pull me back down by comparison with a friend. His formula, find something I was unsure or unhappy about and then compare me unfavourably to one of my friends. He relished my sadness and hurt, it made him feel good. Sometimes he would draw attention to my reaction as if he cared, but it was to witness my hurt and know that he had caused it. It gave him a power rush.
The comparisons were to make me resent my friends. If I resented them I might not want to see them. Without friends, I would be alone, and especially vulnerable to his abuse. Then I would be completely under his power and control, and he could punish me further by reminding me of my friendless state. What a power kick for him, he had caused it all and then he could continue to feed off my sadness by reminding me of it.
Comparisons with famous people.
If he didn’t have anyone else to compare me to, then he could use famous people. This gave him endless possibilities to make me feel inadequate.
One occasion I remember very clearly, he compared me to a very famous young woman. He asked me why I wasn’t more like her. I remember I felt very confused, his comment seemed to come out of nowhere. Now I realise that I was probably happy and it was to bring me down.
All of the comparisons he made reflected how much he valued money, career or reputation. His preoccupation being the bragging rights he would have if it were me, and attention he would get as my father. If the situation wasn’t quite as he made out, he didn’t care. The truth wasn’t the point. The only purpose was to make me feel like crap.
My father sought out every opportunity to bring me down by unfavourable comparisons. If I asked him about it, he would make a snide comment about my being very sensitive or not having a sense of humour. Or else he’d deny that there was any comparison, that I was the one making the link, and he meant nothing by it, he was just making conversation. He made me feel under his magnifying glass, that I was intrinsically flawed and not good enough.
This was crazy-making because it was never direct enough for me to address it with him. And that’s why he did it. It was deniable. And then he could turn it back on me, making me the problem for being too sensitive or for making the comparison. And if I reacted he got his drama fix, he caused the hurt and then could turn it all back to me. That’s how he knew that the dig had hit its target.
My father knew my weak points, which he exploited to make himself feel better. If he knew my weaknesses he knew the ways to bring me back down or to destroy any little bit of confidence I had. He had power and control over me.
During my childhood, I soon learnt that I had to tell my father everything, which led to an adulthood of oversharing. I was scared that if he found out something that I hadn’t told him his punishment would be to shun me. So, because I overshared my father had the perfect ammunition to control me. He would use that information to punish me. And so the cycle went on, me constantly giving him the information about me which he would exploit for his sick kicks.
By using comparison my father could exploit my weaknesses to get his sick kicks. He could deny that he was making the link, blame it on my sensitivity, witness my hurt and bring me back down. He would know when each of the digs hit the mark and get a kick every time. It would also serve the purpose of undermining and controlling the relationships with my brothers and friends. The more isolated I was, the more power and control he had over me. And that’s all a narcissist is interested in, power and control, however they can get it-even if that’s through their own innocent child.
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You are not alone, Clare x at https://comebackbrighter.com on May 7, 2020.