scapegoated

The Bigger They Are…Why Narcissist’s Target Big People

In my practice, I see a fair amount of people who have been scapegoated in their families of origin. There is a conspicuous bigness that scapegoated people seem to possess. I mean ‘big’ in the size and strength of one’s body and personality.

Over time I have come to conclude that the ‘size’ of scapegoated individuals is no accident. A malignantly narcissistic caregiver chooses targets that are most threatening and/or worthy. A good target is someone who could potentially make the malignant narcissist feel ‘less than’. Having more – through no fault of their own – of what the narcissist values can put the kid in their crosshairs. Just as Snow White was despised by her own mother (in the Brothers Grimm version not Disney’s) for being the fairest in the land, so goes the plight of the child born having more of what the narcissistic caregiver wants for themselves.

This blog post starts a three-part series on the frequently found literal and figurative size of scapegoated survivors of narcissistic abuse. These kids’ size whets the narcissist’s appetite for destruction. The scapegoated child must work to hide their true size from their abuser and themselves. This results in tragic sacrifices to the scapegoated victim’s quality of life.
Today’s blog post covers the specific trait of having a large physical stature. The second part of the series will address the trait of having a strong personality. The third part will describe how therapists can work with such people to know it is now safe to be their full size – physically and/or personality-wise.

Why Malignant Narcissists Target the Biggest People They Can

A malignant narcissist’s mission is to believe they are better than others. They promote and protect their grossly inflated sense of themselves at all costs. We all want to be thought well of but this drive towards healthy self-esteem is typically integrated with our wish to connect with other people. For most of us it is more important to be ‘in relationship with’ than to be always be better-than. This is not the case for a malignant narcissist.
These people have sworn off of actual human relationships. Instead of connection they seek an implicit or explicit sense of domination of others. Actual tyrannies are usually hard to come by in today’s world – standing presidents aside. Most malignant narcissists must then find whatever fiefdom they can to subjugate who they can. Being the head of a family with a weak-willed partner and young children offers just such an opportunity.

A malignant narcissist can look to their children as potential targets for domination. All the better if the child possesses qualities that the narcissist feels threatened by. The narcissist can use the child’s in-born needs for nurturance against the child. They will select the child who has the most because that offers them the biggest boost to their fragile self-esteem.

An important note about why malignant narcissists are the way they are: I want to caution readers – especially those who have been scapegoated – from wading too far into the waters of the narcissist’s psychology. If you have survived such treatment then you know that the rule in such a relationship is that all matters is what the narcissist thinks or feels. Recovering from their reigns of terrors often involves turning a blind eye to what made them the way they were/are. Instead the focus can be on how you think and feel with less and less regard (err….worry?) of what is going on with the narcissist. This is why these blog posts focus more on the inner lives of those who have been abused by narcissists rather than the narcissist themselves.

The Conspicuous Physical Size of the Scapegoated Child

So now we know why a malignant narcissist will keep their eyes out for traits in their children who threaten their fragile sense of dominance. Let’s turn to the qualities of people who get scapegoated and what they must do to endure life in the narcissist’s cross-hairs.

A child’s physical strength is often targeted by a malignantly narcissistic mother or father. A kid who possesses the build for physical strength can draw the ire of such a parent. Physical strength is intuitively associated with power. I suspect that this basic association can be made by the narcissist and he may then work to undermine the child’s sense of his own power via his strength.

Chet* was a powerfully built kid. He loved wrestling with his friends and typically won these matches. His mother was a sadistic woman who saw his physical prowess as a threat to her draconian authority in the family. She would call him ‘husky’ and tell him that he ate too much and too fast. When Chet was in third grade (as described here) he developed the distorted belief that he was fat when in fact he was just strong. This belief resulted in him going jogging at a young age and watching what he ate. In essence, he began activities that – at his age – worked against his possession and development of being physically strong.

Chet could not work completely against his genetic blueprint and developed into a very physically strong man. Despite this outcome, he did not have the inner sense of being much stronger than the average man. He knew unconsciously that realizing his actual size in the world meant bearing the full brunt of his mother’s envious hatred. He had been traumatized by the looming threat of what his strength meant to his mother and had to flee this realization of who he was as a person. His knowledge of this personal trait – precisely because it was positive – had to be avoidedin order to keep his mother as unprovoked as possible.

Chet’s case has been discussed elsewhere. He had to find shelter where there was none. The only way to do that with his physical strength was to convince himself he did not have it. He was like the reverse Emperor with no clothes. He had some really nice duds but walked around convinced that he was in the nude. This was all required because of how threatened his mother felt by his inherent strength and power.

Mario* had a horrifically sadistic narcissistic father. He quickly learned that his only shot at survival was to try to prevent his father from feeling challenged by him. He could do this with his own behaviors. Due to his remarkable intelligence and emotional resilience, he could inhibit displays that would outshine his father. What Mario had less control over was how he developed physically into an extremely strong and athletically talented young man. His father would call Mario a “skinny piece of sh__” as an adolescent. Mario felt some relief in this because he knew his father did not see him as a potential adversary in the realm of physical strength. His father could be extremelyphysically violent even without such an excuse. Mario would lift weights and seemingly develop his physical strength. Similar to Chet, he had some inner tactics that prevented him from knowing how strong he was becoming. When doing bench presses he would often have the feeling/image of the bar falling onto him and severely hurting him. He might also start a workout by telling himself that he is a “skinny piece of sh__”. Therefore whatever he accomplished in the weightlifting session was to not be so skinny rather than to augment the power and strength he possessed.

Mario had to marshal all of his energies to convince himself that his father did not feel threatened by him. At a deep level he always knew otherwise, and therefore was always in danger. Denying his size had 2 benefits at the time: 1) to protect his wish that his father was willing to care for him and 2) to prevent his father’s head-hunting reaction if he detected Mario’s self-awareness of his physical gifts. Mario had to deny to himself how everyone else in the world reacted to him. When coaches or friends would remark on his athletic gifts or presence he would have to eradicate the meaning internally. In 10th grade his high school football coach exclaimed how he was bound for a Division One scholarship if he kept up his level of play. At the next practice, Mario found himself feeling extremely concerned that he would make a mistake on the field. He would tense up and miss play assignments that he would have otherwise easily have made. By the end of his high school career he had started most games but had not stood out in the way he was capable.

Instead of excelling in his favorite sport – football – Mario had to direct his energies towards a pursuit that did not threaten his father – academics. Fortunately Mario was gifted in this realm too. He devoted himself to taking AP courses and studying for hours on end each weeknight and most weekends. Although he endured countless emotional and physical assaults from his father all the while – he emerged from this torture rack in position to attend a good university and start his recovery from his father’s sadism.

Living as a Big Adult with a Scapegoated Past

Adults who were physically imposing yet scapegoated by a narcissistic parent can perceive their bodies as defective, physically feel their bodies as unwelcome, and seek out people who endorse this view of themselves.

The only way to avoid danger with such a narcissistic parent was to perceive oneself as small relative to him or her. That coping strategy gets harder to implement when one’s literal size does not comply. Often the mind has to insist that they are not strong but weak, not formidable but pregnable, and not tough but fragile. These thoughts can be so practiced and necessary that they graduate into perceptions. At the start of therapy, Mario did not think he was ‘too skinny’ when lifting weights – her perceived it. He saw this supposed fact when he looked in the mirror. It was not up for debate. Similarly, Chet saw himself as fat when he looked at himself in the mirror or reflected upon his own body.

Surviving a scapegoated childhood can problematize their physical relationship with their own bodies. Mario and Chet would describe holding tension in their shoulders, lower backs, hamstrings, and triceps throughout the day. This sense of dis-ease within themselves would be especially prominent when tasked with sitting quietly for stretches of time. Plane trips, working at their desk, sitting at home without distractions such as TV all heightened their awareness of – and discomfort with – these tensions. Feeling unease in one’s own skin was adaptive in giving them a reason to feel inferior to the narcissistic parent. Often the latter would not have such misgivings towards their own bodies. They had to take an adversarial stance towards their bodies because welcoming their physical experience would have meant knowing something good about themselves – their physical power – and that would have provoked their parent.

Mario and Chet were always surprised to hear reactions to them that emphasized their actual physical presence. They found ways to write off the validity of these reactions and compliments. “They must not be seeing me as I really am”, for example. They would also seek out relationships and friendships with people who ignored or downplayed their physical presence. However, such relationships left them feeling static, sometimes depleted, and often unseen.

Final Thoughts

This blog post reflects a series of clinical observations and does not mean to claim that all scapegoated children were of larger physical stature. For those children who survived a childhood of getting scapegoated by a malignantly narcissistic parent, it is important to shed light on how their physical presence was received in their family (as a source of endangerment) versus the rest of the world. Big people are often assumed to know they possess their obvious power. Scapegoated children – and later adults – have had to forcefully not know this. Making sense of why such people have had to shrink away from their actual size is important to: 1) make understandable their inner experience, and 2) start the process of recovering their claim to what is theirs.

*All references to clients are amalgamations of people, papers, books, life that do not directly refer to any specific person.  

Jay Reid is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).  If you are considering therapy to recover from narcissistic abuse please contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Comments 27

  1. Viewpoint from a daughter of a narcissist borderline mother, who valued petite smallness in women. She constantly criticised my taller stature, my larger breasts, my fuller hips. She convinced me that my larger-than-her physique was disgusting…

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      Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like your mother indeed fits this bill. I hope that your continued awareness into her abusive tactics helps to discredit her baseless and intentionally distorted communications towards you.

      1. Jay, again, thank you — I think you will find that women who’ve grown up with narcissistic parents are going to have similar experiences as Ann’s in terms of having our size and/or other physical traitsrelentlessly critiqued.

        I developed an hourglass figure apparently way too early for my parents to handle; my father forbade me from dating and my mother overfed me till I had weight to lose; after I left the house and was small “enough” to be accepted into a dance company in college, my father would delight in sending gifts of jewelry too small for my big head (though apparently it’s a thing for standout performers to have heads relatively big for the rest of their body size) and dresses from expensive places, like Bergdorf’s, that were size 00 when the last time I was a size 2 I was about 2.

        As far as my mother is concerned, my hair was always wrong, my skin was wrong, my outfits were wrong — even though now she denies any of that critique ever took place.

        Again, thank you for your work — you demonstrate your own thesis in validating the experiences of your readers who thought they (we) were isolated for so long in a culture that has a tendency to overvalue the “positive” traits of the narcissist and the sociopath, as represented as those personality types are in the upper echelons of the Fortune 100 and 500 culture (something like 1 in 4, I think?).

    2. Same! My mother did that to me. I have memories of her telling me how fat I was at 7 years old , when In reality i was really skinny. My entire life she was obsessed with my weight. I’m very athletic , she is not. She loved to tell me how no man would ever want me bc of my weight.

    3. I had a lot of potential to be.gorgeous when I was a teen. I was.chubby however. I gained weight in order to not draw the jealous.bullying from my mother and older sister. When I did lose weight, they became bitchy.
      I had to hide so much to survive.
      When I became more myself as I grew older, my family became uglier, crueler, and colder.

    4. Hi Ann, I can totally relate to your experience. Taller than my beautiful, socialite, narcissistic mother, I was bullied relentl essly about my looks when young, told I was plain, ugly defective, alien , ridiculous. Competed with and compared to her constantly I was the ugly duckling, thought so by other family members too.. I hid in ‘ ugly’ ( their term for a natural look)as a teenager ( behind my hair and glasses, in long hippy clothes) feeling vulnerable , despairing and angry. I blossomed in my twenties , when a man I loved ‘saw’ me and loved me back. Then I was thought beautiful, and my mother became strangely fawning ( mixed with bouts of extreme verb al and emotional abuse). This continues forty years on. My mother, now an ageing recluse, shuns others with her narcissistic rages, but is also lonely and vulnerable and it’s hard not to pity her. I’m struck by these power issues in Jay’s article. The narcissist ( bully) needs to despise your power , whatever th a t may be , and make you despise it too as it threatens their own. They see things in terms of power, those who have it and those who don’t . You are under them or over them , never equal.

  2. Jay – I continue to be in awe at the clarity you bring to the table. This article is yet another slam dunk.

    Many thanks for your service.

    Best,

    Max

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  3. Yes, this really makes sence. My mother abused me the most for I was strong-willed even at six years old. I looked her straight in the face (had to look up for she was towering far above me) while showing no emotion at all when she yelled at me she wished I never was born and I had the devil in my face (pure projection I learned much later). Inside though I was so basically hurt, devastated but refused to give up fighting for myself (unconsiously ofcourse as a kid).

    It soon showed I was talented in drawing. At age nine the teacher send me to the higher classes to show my drawings (quite anoying actually) and she- and other teachers regularly published them in the school-papers. This evolved in high school into painting and getting advice to follow an art education. Ofcourse she never ever promoted, complimented or endorsed my talent (my father did occasionally) at all so I was hardly aware of it. Never felt it was something special at all.
    The day she heard of the advice she erased a large oil-painting I just finished on an old door-panel (when I was 14 years old) with the excuse that door-panel was her’s and I wasn’t allowed to use it. Terrible.

    At 15 I started learning to play guitar. Same story. She played some terrible (far too loud, basic) piano. Within two years I was playing guitar and singing along the tunes I learned. No encouragement or compliments eigther. She encouraged my younger brother (age twelve) to smash my guitar into pieces against the wall after a minor quarrel we had (he was her Golden Child at the time). She physically, forcefully prevented me to let this happen (my father wasn’t around as always when things like this happened).
    Still she could not kill my drive to play music and to sing. I went on to learn a lot more on the guitar. Had some succes in places and high regard of other mucisians. Ofcourse she never ever gave me any credit for this too.
    Sometimes she asked me to play a song for her and then I got so nervous for I anticipated her devaluation (I know now).
    Her style was; halfway the song she would interupt and ask me to play another song.. How sick can you get.

    This played out in all my endavours I took on. Having secured the highest scores in a KLM(aero) engineering education she didn’t gave me any credit but told me she spoke to the highest CEO of KLM to get me through and secure me a job there (all just made up ofcourse but I didn’t realize back then. Who would do such a thing?).
    I didn’t realize I had a completely disordered malignant narcissitic mother. It still just all made me sad and confused. I still wasn’t beaten yet but started wondering and searching for why things happened. I had no clue at all.

    My searching brought me to the opportunity to start an education as a psychiatric nurse. Ofcourse my mother objected and did everything to change my mind. But I persisted. I’ll spare you the details how my mother tried to obstruct in all ways possible to her to let me fail.
    I’ve got my diplome after 4 years hard work with not one score beneeth 6 and most above 8 (Holland is scale 1 to 10) and all positive reviews from my teachers and colleges. She just refused to attend my graduate-ceremony with the excusse she had no proper dress to wear for this occasion(!).

    She didn’t stop here ofcourse. She relentlesly tried to devalue my work, my choices with friends and girlfriends. Trying to shame me for what I did all the time. Trying to make me feel guilty about almost everything I did.
    Smearing me behind my back. Triangulating me with my brothers, sisters and extended family (I wasn’t aware back then). And still I craved for her love and recocnition for I still wasn’t aware about Narcissism and Malignant Narcissism.
    This disorder is hardly learned to students in psychiatry and they are very rare to show up in psychiatry the way they act in general society.

    Only the narcissists who lost all supply too long or permenently, tend to show up in institutions. They get diagnosed with all kinds of different disorders; Borderline, Hystrionic, Antisocial, Paranoid psychosis with narcissistic delusions (beleaving being Jezus, Napoleon and the like), depression, addiction. Not that they all were narcissists ofcourse but I believe many of them were in hindsight.
    They stand out there also by their constant need to be the center of attention and care without any regard to other peoples needs or any decent bounderies towards their caretakers or other patients.

    To come back to your topic. Indeed, in general they all act the same. They all love to get attention in general but pick-up a power-play with those they deem supreme supply and who challenge their delusional supriority.
    They just have to fight those ‘superior’ people with all destrutive means to keep their self-illusion/delussion intact.

    My mother never bothered to challenge or obviously abuse a younger sister of mine. She just totally ignored her. My sister just kept very silent and avoided all the hassle as much as she could. Being the appointed ‘ugly’, ‘stupid’ daughter (by her mother) she early on reqocnized her place in the family appointed to her, by her.
    It was her way to avoid the awfull abuse she had witnessed to be placed on me I think. The only one who deared to stand up to her and to choose my own ways despite all the put-downs and sabotage she played out to kill my spirit and future. My younger sister ended up in a religous secte. I understand.
    Hope she has gotten some of the love she never had.

    Yes, they go for a challenge, not for a person who doesn’t reflect their own inflated grandiosity in some way but for those who tend to reflect them. And if they notice they (themselfes) are less talented or able in any way, they feel the urge to destroy this. They just cann’t stand the light of someone else shining. They are true vampires. They are dedicated to kill the light in all to let their darkness fill the universe.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. It broke my heart to read the abuse your mother has enacted on you and your sister, and that your sister joined a religious cult.

      Maybe this doesn’t mean anything coming from a stranger, but I’d like to say like your mother never did: I hope you continued to pursue your art; it is impossible to extinguish your creative spark. I hope you use it to change the world for the better.

      My art was also robbed from me by a narcissist who was pretending to help me. We can rise above this. We can get our work back, our voice back, and our soul back. Stay strong and pity the narcissist for suffering so much they did this in the first place- what a hell they must be living in.

  4. I don’t know how you do it but you definitely have a depth of understanding of the issues scapegoated children faced in childhood. Thank you

    1. I agree! I’ve looked and looked for resources that describe the scapegoated child’s experiences, as well as resources that are specific to helping scapegoats recover. This is the best I’ve found, by far.

  5. I am very grateful for your blog. It’s the first one I read and I thought it was great.

    I was the witch’s scapegoat. I am not large but have a strong temperament and character. I am also the adventurer of the family and who likes challenges.

    My mother was very cruel to me, she did not hit me too much but she did abuse me psychologically. She told me that she was the ugliest of her daughters, the darkest and that she was not good at dancing.

    I am the fourth of five children. we are 3 women and 2 men. But children # 3 and # 4 were the scapegoats. Although my brother (son # 3) was extremely shy. I guess it was the same thing.

    In my life I suffered beatings, psychological abuse, discrimination from everyone. Of some members of my family more and others less. Just as I suffered attempted sexual abuse by my mother’s affair and an uncle on her part. They could never do anything to me, but the psycho-emotional damage remained. I tried to commit suicide when I was 22 years old (25 years ago) but now I am happy that I did not succeed. I had a lot of insecurity as a teenager and now at 47 years old, it has been a few years since I began to enjoy my true self. But I still need to improve.

    I had to pay for my university degree, to avoid depending on my family and shortly after starting university, I went to live in common union with my partner. I have 21 years of knowing my husband. We got married 15 years ago and it was a great feat to be together. My wicked mother and sister made sure they didn’t accept it. There were no reasons, they treated him after 8 years of relationship with him.

    I see myself as a Holocaust survivor, a resilient and capable woman. The vast majority of things, goals, studies I have achieved by myself. That includes self-therapy. Fortunately, there are people like you in the networks who have helped us a lot to understand, heal guilt that is not ours and understand each other to continue our lives in the best possible way.

    Even artists like Arnold Schwarzenegger had some narcissistic parenting and incredibly they came out on their own.
    Now I’m almost 48 years old and I look very young for my age. I’m fitness, I estudied an Education degree, leart English, som French by myself. I have many skills and gifts like cooking, drawing, etc. So, I learnt that there’s nothing I can’t get if I really wanted. As an English teacher here, in México, I have helped young students with tips to get ahead and achieve what they want in their life, in a positive way for them. I hope to help more people in my way in this life, like you.

    I can only say thank you very much Jayreid

    Aly Barbie Q

  6. I feel alone after reading the comments. Though we share experiences from the narc parent, to me these people are “lucky” because one other sibling shared some abuse. I was the only scapegoat of the 4 – the others are her darlings who’ve been rewarded with her love, attention, gifts, money etc their whole lives while I (the only one who did everything for her) was treated like crap, never had my birthday acknowledged, never married or had children due to her neediness and chasing away anyone I ever met, watched at Christmas as all got gifts but me. I learned to never speak up about anything as then I was “greedy” or “jealous”. All I really wanted was her love (yeah, a card once in a while might have been nice too!). I know your lives were crap because the narc parent part is a torture, but at least you others don’t have to feel there’s something wrong with you because at least one of your other siblings also were abused. I fight every minute of the day to feel I’m not the problem.

    1. Oh man, I REALLY hope you cut contact with her. She sounds awful. For what it’s worth, I read that Narcs hate those who care for them and love those who don’t- so maybe your large heart was to blame for your mistreatment. Don’t ever lose your kindness and your empathy.

    2. JP – you are not alone. I have one sibling, but he has never been the target of my narcissistic mother’s abuse. He is only showered with gifts and “love” (if you can call it that) and she makes sure that I always find out about it. He is a lot like her and values possessions and appearances over genuineness and healthy relationships. She has stolen from me, called me the worst names, puts me down at any chance she has, humiliates me in public, makes up the most horrendous lies (and spreads them), and continues to find ways to take jabs at me (even though I have blocked her everywhere, she still finds a way). I was the one who always had her back, so I understand how you feel. She has resented my existence since the day I was born – apparently she got pregnant with me as one last ditch effort to keep my father from leaving her. Her best friend told my father this and he passed that info onto me. I was doomed from day one and never had a fighting chance. Any accomplishment in my life is belittled and minimized by her and I finally realized that no matter what I do, she will never be happy. That is only because she is miserable in her life and that has nothing to do with me. You are perfectly whole as you are and just because this person is your parent, they don’t get some magical place above other people. There are far better people out there that will appreciate you as you are and your kindness.

    3. You are not alone – I am the eldest of four daughters, the tallest, the strongest. My father physically abused me and beat me and my mother (the true narc) let him and didn’t remove me to a place of safety. She once told me that “It’s not a surprise you haven’t got any friends, you’re not a likeable little girl”…….My next sister (the Golden Child but not by her choice) recalls my father throwing a screwdriver at me but it missed, bounced off a cupboard and hit her a glancing blow. He was extremely distraught and apologetic but she called him out, saying that if he had hit me as intended, he would not have been concerned or sorry.
      So please don’t feel alone, even if you feel like you were the only one.

  7. While I am 5’2”, I have an athletic build and enjoyed being physically fit and active. My mom struggled with her weight and so would pick me apart any chance she could. While gurls at my school in the 90s were wearing crop tops and plaid mini skirts, I chose baggy clothes and felt I needed to hide my body to avoid attacks from my mom.
    After high school I went no contact and started experimenting with my clothing style and it felt SO FREEING!!!
    Thank you for this article. It feels validating.

  8. Thank you for this article.
    You mentioned parts 2 and 3. Are those written yet? Which blog entries are they.

    Thanks again – best blog about this evil phenomenon I have ever come across.

  9. I relate to this 100%. I am not tall. I am only 5 ft. However I am extremely muscular and very athletic but I chose non competitive athletics such as weight lifting,teaching aerobics,running,biking,swimming,water skiing etc….My Narc mother despised me from the day I was born. She was jealous of my blue eyes and she was angry always with my father {he had blue eyes} so gave me his name for my second name and projected all her hate towards him onto me. I just grew up thinking I must be a bad person and did everything I could to please her and get her to really love me. It never happened. She told me throughout my life I was too fat or too thin or didnt wear enough make up or it was not right or my clothes were not right etc… You get the idea. I always felt uncomfortable in my own skin /embarrassed and ashamed of my body and face and early on discovered alcohol to numb the deep pain I felt. I finally was able to get sober for 3 years and had become a serious body builder. Not to compete but to channel my energy and feel good. I was also living as far away from the very sick family as possible on an island. Anyhow I got my massage license and through a series of cosmic events was asked to come work for a famous spa that catered to movie industry on the mainland. I would still be a 3 hour drive from the family who were all brainwashed to scapegoat me and so I was reluctant to go see them as I would arrive feeling good about my life and feel like a piece of shit by the time I left them. Anyhow my body is truly in top notch condition as I am working out 3 hours 5 days a week. I am being given more compliments a day than I can keep track of. By famous,not famous,old,young,children and adults. Ive been asked to train some famous folks but I declined as I was already so busy with massage- I had no time .I was asked to do a before and after shot in a well know magazine but the $ was not worth getting sick to a before state that they required. Which my “before” state was never out of shape.So I had a few clients in LA and every other week I would then spend the night at my mothers sometimes before the long drive home in the morning. One day I was departing my mothers house and was getting in my car and she said to me “Your arms are too masculine and big. They look like mens arms! Your boobs are too big {so too feminine /masculine???} and your shirt is too tight! You look ridiculous!” And she proceeded to laugh at me. So I found my whole happy self sink into my childhood shameful no good self once again. It was awful. I cried all the way home.There was nothing I could do to win her love. Even at the top of my game in all ways. I did confront her on this the following week but that is another story . Thank you for listening. A life time of feeling crazy as I could never point out the truth and scapegoated by all of them. so Ive never had anyone to talk to about this. I do not speak with anyone in my family anymore! I am now 64.

  10. Thank you for pointing this out. I’m female and have been tall since i was 13 (178 cm) while my narcissist mother is short. She and her relatives would comment on my height to the point where i felt like an outsider and like an alien. They made me feel ashamed over something i wasen’t even trying to show off nor something i saw as better than what others have. Meanwhile strangers amd new people would tell me i looked like a model very often. To this day, i struggle with feeling like an outsider among short and normal height people. Narcissists are cruel evil selfish people.

  11. Reading these stories, I can relate to a lot of you. I’m a petite woman who always wanted to be tall…so you tall ladies are lucky in my book!

    I’m short, but I’ve been treated the way a lot of you describe. I was made to feel ugly and ashamed of myself (a feeling that continues to this day).
    I was called “fat” repeatedly despite being thin. But there are times when I see myself clearly and realize that I’m NOT what abusive people said I was.
    I’m smart, I work hard, I’m kind, and yes…I’m beautiful too. This type of narcissistic abuse is insidious because it damages a child early in life.
    It kills hopes, dreams, potential.

    I have a narcissistic older cousin who was constantly praised for her beauty, while my family told me that I was ugly and inferior to her.
    I knew in my heart that this wasn’t true, but they wanted me to hate myself. Telling me my face is ugly (it’s actually quite pretty) and that my legs are too fat and my hair is bad.
    When people put you down, it says more about who THEY are. I’m trying to accept myself after years of being told that I’m unworthy.
    My family sabotaged me at every opportunity as well…they told me I wasn’t smart, pretty, or talented at anything.
    I wasn’t allowed to simply be a normal girl growing up. My confidence was shot because of all the abuse and bullying.

    All of you have something special to offer. This is why some people tried to tear you down. They saw your potential and wanted to destroy it.

  12. Also, I think “big” can refer not necessarily to a person’s size, but their potential for greatness. I am not big at all in size, but I think some people saw that I had potential to be somebody and they didn’t like it.
    Call it “Tall Poppy Syndrome” or “Crabs In A Barrel”…some people are just nasty and envious.

    I was an extremely light-skinned girl in an environment of mostly dark-skinned people (I’m biracial). This can create lots of issues and there was racism directed at me. When you grow up around narcissists/abusers, you have to learn self-love and self-acceptance because other people won’t give it to you.
    I remember as a young girl, people would actually tell me that I had no right to feel good about myself.
    How sick is that? They wanted me to hate myself and have no confidence.

    Sometimes we have to look in the mirror, smile at ourselves, throw our shoulders back and be unapologetic about who we are.
    Don’t be afraid to take up space in this world. Not in an obnoxious way…but in a way that says “I matter. I deserve to be here. I’m as good as anybody else”.

  13. Another thought I had…when your self-image or self-concept has been destroyed, you have to work on changing the narrative you were programmed with.

    If people tear you down your whole life, you start to believe it. I saw a quote by an author named Dorothy Nolte about how children live what they learn.
    If children are programmed to have a healthy and positive view of themselves, that’s helping them to succeed in life.
    It will also allow them to connect with others in a healthy, affirming way.

    But if what they are often told about themselves (both directly and indirectly) is destructive, they will spend a lifetime trying to heal from that damage.
    I’m proof of that. Again, I was also perceived as “big” despite being small…and it took a toll on my self-esteem, which is what they wanted.
    So the real issue is (to me) not the actual size of a person. It’s the way the abuser brainwashes you into hating yourself.
    It’s like a type of mind control. They plant seeds of self-hate and insecurity. They set you up for failure.
    @Lori, your comment about your mom reminds me of my late aunt. She often said that I looked “ridiculous”.
    It’s nothing more than a way to attack your self-esteem and bring you down. I can relate to how it made you feel.

  14. Yep, they undermine and destroy any way in which you excel that they can’t steal credit for. I was a good student who usually tested above 90th the percentile, but by the time I was a high school senior I only managed to get into one AP class. I got trophies in the eighth and ninth grades for having the highest class grade in English and Spanish one year and either English or Spanish the following year but my dad said nothing. Losing the spelling bee in ninth grade was my first realization it had been any big deal to have previously won because the auditorium gasped. Then two weeks later I realized my dad was the only person who hadn’t asked me what word struck me out.

    Now my little golden half-brother (named Robson though I am Robert) who “didn’t test well“ is a PhD college professor at a geographically and professionally undesirable school who forges his own online reviews and gets evaluations from students that say they’re afraid to be alone with him during office hours. He ran straight to our dad with that and got told “I’m sorry you have to deal with that shit son, hopefully you’ll get better students next semester”. As despicable as my dad was my mother was always many times worse and I’m pretty sure my brother’s mother was as well. He left us each alone and unprotected from them both and only used his freedom from the encumbrance of us to fuck up yet a third marriage.

    Anyway man, your content is extremely helpful. Yours shouldn’t have robbed you of the enjoyment of football any more than mine should’ve robbed me of scholarly enjoyment. He also stole/wrecked a profitable business and inflicted a betraying sibling who has no integrity but is if nothing else absolutely the golden he deserved

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