Growing up with one narcissistic parent is emotionally soul destroying. Growing up with 2 narcissistic parents is even worse. A few years ago when I had a proper psychological assessment done, doing a variety of diagnostic tests such as the Rorschach Inkblot Test & Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), my psychologist told me that I had the lowest score in self-confidence that she had ever seen. At the time, I didn’t know what to make of that, only that I definetely knew it to be true..
Since moving to Germany with my husband, I have had to face this huge issue of self-confidence in a way that I am really not comfortable with. Learning German has never been an interest of mine or a desire in any way. I know that it would be useful for me to learn, as I live in the country and many other people would love to have the opportunity I do, however I hate feeling like I have to commit to something that I really dislike.
I sort of compare it to having to learn Algebra at school which I HATED and didn’t see the point of. I grew up bilingual ( Greek/English) and was never interested in learning a 3rd language. I loved other things more such as Art & Psychology. Whenever I had to do Maths in class I would feel stupid and worthless. I would feel extremely self-conscious when the teacher would make me solve a problem in front of the whole class, especially because he knew I could not do it..He was mean and seemed to pick on me often..nobody wants to look and feel stupid in front of a whole class of 11 year olds.This particular time, I wasn’t able to solve the algebra equation and eventually burst into tears because I just couldn’t do it..Partly because I hated being the centre of attention and partly because I felt stupid. I remember how deeply ashamed I felt.
This feeling of deep worthlessness and stupidity was instilled in me by both my parents..They both had a unique way of making me feel awful in terms of my intelligence..
My mum would always say ‘You can’t do that, it is much too hard for you’ or ‘what if you fail?’She wouldn’t even give me a chance to try something out..She made me fear things before even attempting them..My Dad on the other hand, was the one who sat down with me after school and tried to help me with my homework. He was a perfectionist and extremely impatient and too focused on my ability to do something the way he expected me to do it..Whenever we would do Maths or Physics homework (both subjects I wasn’t good at) he would get angry with me because I wasn’t getting it and would ask me ‘Why can’t you understand this?..It is easy, you have to understand’!The angrier he got, the more I would shut down and melt into a puddle of helplessness and hopelessness..He didn’t have to call me stupid, because his constant questioning, increasing impatience & anger was making me feel stupid..This would happen over several years until it got so bad I had to have a tutor help me with it, instead of my Dad. I ended up crying so many times with my Dad, feeling intrinsically bad, flawed, stupid, not good enough etc etc..This deep feeling of shame is still with me until this day and is triggered very easily..I did have better experiences luckily with other teachers later in school, who explained things to me in a calm manner and had no problem whatsoever with the fact that Maths was not really ‘my area’..
The reason I am talking about all this is because of an incident this evening. My husband and I had to visit this Greek translator to get some German documents officially translated.When we got there, he spoke in German the whole time expecting me of course, to understand as well..I always smile because of my akwardness of not understanding German and then make it look worse for myself when they discover I don’t understand. The translator then asked me why I hadn’t learnt German yet, especially since I live in Germany and since my husband is German! He was shocked that I hadn’t learnt it in the 2 years I have been living here, especially because he said it was very similar to the Greek grammar..I understood where he was coming from and I am very much aware that my life would be much more enriching if I did learn, however I have a very low frustration tolerance when it comes to learning something I hate and secondly feeling stupid when I struggle, is something very triggering for me due to my childhood abuse..
When my husband and I got home, I started crying as I was deep into an emotional flashback..The translator’s tone of voice, his Greek and of course the words he was using triggered me into being back with my Dad and feeling completely hopeless..I could physically feel the emotional pain in my chest and tummy..I curled up on the bed and had a good cry and my husband told me that it’s ok and it really doesn’t matter as much as I feel it does..I told him it hurts and he said it will pass..There have of course been other people who can’t understand my resistance to learning the language..and have told me more than once that I should learn it.It upsets me every time because I know it is true..
I guess I still have work to do on my confidence and shame based flashbacks..I also have to believe that I could learn German, if I were to really give it a shot rather than avoiding it..I keep hoping that we will move back to England, so I don’t have to try but the reality is that I will have to learn whether I like it or not..Maybe just as an experiment for growing my confidence. Maybe If I can prove to myself that I can learn something I have absolutely no motivation to learn, then maybe this will increase my confidence and also reduce my shame based flashbacks..