Sunday, December 4, 2011

On Being Wanted: Existential Debt and Existential Fear

Children from narcissistic families often grow up feeling their purpose in life was to please their parents.

Having been created with this purpose and having your very existence predicated upon it takes this to a whole new level.

I didn't know I was donor conceived when I was growing up. But when my aunt told me this only six months ago, I wasn't really surprised. It felt like the missing piece of the puzzle.

I'd always been told indirectly, you see, that I had to be especially grateful and happy about having been so very wanted. They got me, after all, after 12 years of marriage, 20 years of dating, when they were 39 and 40 (why I never enquired into this miraculous birth can be explained only by the deep knowledge that I wasn't supposed to). Which meant they were better parents who loved me more than anyone else out there.

And which meant I owed them much more than normal kids owe their parents.

I hated hearing this even when I was younger and didn't know what I know now.

Now I realize the depth of my existential debt. Created after 12 years of marriage. To a profoundly narcissistic social father. As a last resort, at the latest possible moment (fertility treatment is still not readily available to women over 40 in my country). Amid what must have been a great deal of ambivalence. I should be grateful - he let me exist, after all. That's actually how I do feel - only now it's out in the open and clear to me why I've always felt this way and tried so hard to please him and tried even harder not to displease him.

Even now, I keep feeling like if I do anything to anger him, he'll somehow take my very existence away. This is something I hadn't come across on other blogs by adult children of narcissists - this absolute, gripping, existential fear. I knew there was something else, something dark there, but couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I rationalized this fear: he'll try to take my kids away (although he's shown very little interest in them), he'll get me fired (he doesn't even really know where I work), he'll throw my family out of our home (he could legally do that, but he's renting out my apartment for money, so it would make no sense at all for him to do that - but I've spent many a sleepless night obsessing over this danger).

But it boils down to this: he allowed me, grudgingly, to come into existence. He created me and owns me. I'd better not displease him, or he'll undo it.

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