Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: Invasion of Privacy

“I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

Greta Garbo

I live alone and it took me six months to break the habit of locking my bedroom door. It’s the first thing I noticed when escaped a narcissistic household into my new home. When you are on high alert most of your life, it’s hard to kick the habits you developed even when you live alone. I had never experienced unconditional privacy before and it took me a month to adjust to my new environment. I could finally write in my journal without worrying that someone would read it, and I didn’t have to escape someone else’s needs. I no longer had to cater to someone else’s twisted reality, where every act of independence was seen as an attack or disrespect.

The concept of privacy was foreign to me. I had always been monitored and controlled, and I didn’t know how to function without someone constantly watching over my shoulder. It took time for me to learn how to relax and be myself, without worrying about being judged or criticized. “Wow, I can do what I want when I want” the realization hit me like a moving train. I realized that being nosy was actually a form of abuse committed by narcissists.

It is common to be curious about other people’s affairs, however narcissists take it to an extreme by involving themselves without being asked nor welcomed. Because they view children as extensions of themselves, or property rather than individuals, they feel justified in committing invasive acts such as:

  • Reading their children’s diaries or journals. It feels terrible to have a space where you believed your personal and private thoughts were safe. Like someone just snatched the blanket over you and know you feel exposed and embarrassed. Narcissistic parents love to read their children’s journals. A narcissist does not feel you deserve to keep any information private from them and will justify it as doing it to protect you. It was not to protect you, it was to protect their own ego. It is ok to keep some information to yourself until you are ready to share. Only you have a right to your thoughts.
  • Walking into their children’s rooms at private times and going through their items/stuff. Just because your parents own your home does not mean it is reasonable for them to invade the space given to you without your permission. Everyone deserves their own territory to express themselves
  • Sharing the private business of their children with their friends. If you spoke to your parents expecting them to keep a secret and they did not, they broke your trust. It is very reasonable to be frustrated and angry about that. All relationships are built on trust, even then ones you a born with.
  • Sharing the hobbies, projects, and other interests of their children without their permission. Did you ever want to work on something in secret so you could surprise everyone, but your parent opened their mouth about your progress so you lost interest? That’s normal. You got your autonomy stolen from you. A complete loss of control and freedom over something you love. You can be angry.
  • Responding to text messages pretending to be you. A more recent and incredibly vicious behavior due to technology. They would have a meltdown if someone impersonated them or committed fraud in their name. It is not ok for them to do so to you just because they consider it less severe. It can absolutely sabotage your relationships with other people because they won’t be able to trust it is you.

To a narcissist, no information about their children is out of their reach. Every piece of information will be shared with their social group when they are bored or have nothing else to talk about. It’s much easier to belittle their children when they make a mistake, or to take pride in their children’s accomplishments even when they had zero involvement. Their children feeling violated and ashamed never even comes to mind.

The Human Emotional Need for Privacy

Privacy is a fundamental psychological need: It allows us to recover from harm and develop an individual identity

Aboujaoude said

Despite what propaganda you may have heard, privacy is a natural and essential need for humans to function normally. You may have heard the slogan, “what are you afraid of if you have nothing to hide?” It has almost nothing to do with having anything to hide. It’s about having a space where you can self-reflect and feel safe. A space where you can express your natural behavior without being judged by prying eyes. Imagine being a child playing in your room only for your parents to pop in to constantly judge what you do. Or to involve themselves in your personal play activities that you wanted to perform independently.

Research suggest that privacy is incredibly important to our mental health. It allows us to feel safe and secure, and reduces the effect of stress and anxiety.

You Are Allowed to Have Privacy

I’m sorry that you were shamed for wanting to have your own space. It’s important to remember that you were conditioned to think that way. Everyone wants to have some independence from their parents and time alone to think their own thoughts. The first step is to Overcome the core belief that you don’t deserve privacy. You deserve privacy just like everyone else. You are an individual, not an extension of your parents. You have the right to your own thoughts and feelings.

The second step is to realize that you’re not alone. Millions of other children have experienced the same thing. In some households, children are not seen as individuals, but as property. This is wrong. You deserve to be treated with respect and to have your privacy respected. You can start to build your own sense of privacy. This means finding places where you can be alone and where you feel safe. You should also try to build a mental list of people you can trust so you know what information to keep private.

The Invasion of Privacy Healing Process

The main effect of an invasion of privacy is the lack of trust in others and the unwillingness to share information even with close friends out of the fear that they may betray you. The first step is to explore your feelings that you’ve been bottling up. Maybe you were told by the narcissist that they were making you stronger/tougher. You were a child. You didn’t need to be stronger, you needed to feel safe. If you are still dealing with those issues then it certainly didn’t make you more emotionally resilient just more emotionally damaged. It gave you is

Narcissistic Abuse Response: Oversharing

Have you ever wanted to keep something private but it never stayed private so you gave up?

Do you know someone who simply can not keep a secret to save their life? They may have been abused by narcissistic parents. When children grow up with no concept of privacy, and are conditioned into believing that there parents are entitled to know everything about them, they may develop the belief that they don’t deserve privacy at all. Thus as a response to prevent any further abuse or conflict, they may overshare as a proactive way to ward off their parents. Over time, they may do this with anyone. If you have a tendency to speak all the thoughts as they appear into your head, you are oversharing.

This can include sharing intimate details about their lives, their thoughts, and their feelings. It can also include sharing traumatic experiences or venting about their problems to anyone who will listen. Also known as “trauma-dumping”. When children are constantly being violated and their privacy is not respected, they may learn to believe that they have nothing to hide. They may also feel like they need to share their experiences in order to get validation or support.

You may not realize this, but oversharing can make people feel uncomfortable and it can damage your relationships. It can also make you difficult to trust, because they may worry that you will share their personal information with others. Oversharing can be a difficult habit to break, but it is possible. With time and effort, you can learn to protect your privacy and to build healthy relationships.

Narcissist Abuse Response: Extreme Privacy

Do you only speak when spoken too and do not share any form of information even in intimate relationships?

Some children who grow up with narcissistic parents often develop a strong sense of privacy. This is because they have learned to view the world as a dangerous place where they are constantly being judged and criticized. They may feel like they are being watched and evaluated all the time, and they may be afraid of being exposed or humiliated. It’s a defense mechanism to prevent the constant feeling of being self-conscious. They view everyone as their parent, silently watching and negatively judging them.

This defense mechanism is very hard to overcome even when recognized. Even mundane questions like “who was on the phone?”, “What’s in the package”, and “What are you thinking about” can seem problematic to share from somebody suffering from extreme privacy. They may also be very protective of their belongings and their personal space.

The Recovery Process

The first step to overcoming any problem is to be aware of it. This may seem obvious, but it’s often the hardest step to take. Being aware that it exists, doesn’t always translate to being aware how it exists. Let’s apply this to extreme privacy as an example. When someone asks you an intrusive question what level of angry do you get? What are the things that make you feel like you are being judged or evaluated? Do you get minorly annoyed or legitimately frustrated? How important is the information you are keeping secret?

If you are struggling with oversharing, there are things you can do to help yourself. First, it is important to understand why you are oversharing. Are you trying to cope with past trauma? Are you seeking validation or support? Once you understand the reason for your oversharing, you can start to address it.

Once you know your triggers, you can start to avoid them or to develop coping mechanisms. When you start to feel self-conscious, challenge the negative thoughts that are going through your head. Remind yourself that you are not being judged or criticized, and that you have the right to privacy. As you start to build trust with others, you will be more likely to share your personal information with them. When you know that someone will respect your privacy, you will feel more comfortable being yourself.

Oversharing Recovery Exercise

Try this method. Find a notepad and pen or use an note taking app on your phone. Get in front of a mirror and pretend that you are about to talk to your closest friend. Start the conversation as you normally would and transcribe all the thoughts relating to you onto the paper as you say them. Once you’re done with your imaginary conversation, take a note of all the information you wrote down. Think about how much of that information is actually useful to the person you intended to talk to. Would you feel comfortable if someone shared all this information with you? Circle all the unnecessary details. Repeat the exercise writing less and less each time. Eventually, you should know how much to share with another person.

Extreme Privacy Exercise

Go to a public place where people are likely to be having conversations. Pay attention to the conversations you overhear. Think about the information that people are willing to share with their friends. Write down or type up the information that you hear. Take note of the information that you would be willing to share with your friends, and the information that you would never share. Ask yourself why you would or would not share certain information. Consider what the other person might do with the information that you share.

What kind of information do people tend to share with their friends? What did you learn about the information that people are willing to share with their friends? What did you learn about yourself and your own comfort level with sharing information? How might you use this information to improve your communication with your friends? What are the risks and benefits of sharing information with friends?

Privacy Provides Autonomy: It feels Amazing

Always remember that privacy is essential for our mental and emotional well-being. It allows us to feel safe and secure when we can control our own environment. No far of judgement and no threats. We would not be able to function due to stress and anxiety without privacy. In today’s world, privacy is under threat from many different sources. Technology is making it easier than ever for people to track our every move and to collect our personal data. For those of us who suffered from narcissistic abuse, this can feel like a personal attack. We need to recognize our issues and move on.

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