Covert narcissistic siblings can tear a family apart, pitting one sibling against the other and vying for influence and specialness with the parents. The covert narcissist, unlike his grandiose, magnetic, larger than life brother or sister narcissist, this concealed type is very slippery and difficult to detect. Often he or she becomes the child and later the adult who is needy and at the same time, gives preferential treatment to mom or dad to get whatever he wants. The covert narcissist has a gift for making others feel sorry for him. He prays on the mercy of others and misuses and distorts the true reality.
There is a type of narcissistic mother who organizes her life around her ambitions not her children’s psychological and emotional needs.
There are large numbers of mothers who must go to work to provide for their children. Some of them are divorced and the sole responsible parent. They both work and take full parental responsibility. These women put their children first even though they must work very hard to provide for them.They love their children and this is reflected in their kids’ deep love for them.
Many women are highly ambitious professionally. They possess the tools to high level success: drive, use of their fine intellects, formal education, talents, ambitions, fearlessness and confidence in themselves. They choose not to have children because their primary life trajectory is succeeding on the highest levels in business, academic, medicine, government, the corporate world.
Narcissistic mothers whether they have professional careers, work outside the home or stay at home, give birth to their children but don’t raise them. It is difficult for some people to understand why these women have children unless you understand the narcissistic mindset. The narcissistic focus is on the external—creating and maintaining the Perfect Image. Having a couple of children is part of their Image Portfolio.These women can be on the high end career track or those who have chosen not to work formally. They spend their days focusing on themselves: enhancing their physical appearance, constant social activities, etc. Their schedules are full and include very little time with their children.
Some narcissistic mothers are filled with avarice (“excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain”) ; they are obsessed with getting more. There is no end to their insatiable wants and musts. The narcissistic ego is boundless. She is perfect; others have enormous flaws. She is always right even when she makes huge mistakes that cause intractable pain and psychological damage to her children.
Children of narcissistic mothers suffer horribly under the cruel yoke of this self obsessed, unempathic parent. The pain often lingers after they have become adults. So many adult children feel guilty and take the blame for their mother’s countless cruelties, deprivations, torments, bullying, shaming, exploitation. Many of these adult children discover the pathways toward healing their psyches and minds. I have discovered through a number of years of contact with these children that they are often among the most understanding and compassionate individuals I encounter. They have survived with grace and a loveliness of spirit that heal them and others who cross their path.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
This is going to be your year for clearing out all remnants of narcissistic abuse from your life. Yes, you can do this. Narcissists eventually eclipse our lives in the most malicious ways. They take away our feelings of hope, creativity, spontaneity, sense of beauty, psychological strength and a grounded sense of self.
Make a determination that you know who the narcissist in your life is an was—a mother, father, sibling, current spouse, ex-spouse. This highly pathological person is never going to change so give up on that concept. You cannot get around these people. They are always overstepping our boundaries and insinuating themselves upon us. They are dictators who rule by intimidation and use a series of carrots and sticks to keep us in place. They know our emotional vulnerabilities, especially our fear of abandonment and lack of assertiveness to stand up for ourselves against their bullheadedness.
Don’t share your plan with the narcissist. Keep it quietly and safely protected in your own thoughts. There it will grow as you become stronger. Becoming physically stronger and healthier in whatever ways you can is very important. Eat the right foods and exercise in a way that makes sense for you. Take time to be by yourself whether that is reading a book, watching a special delightful video, going to a movie, writing a few sentences each day unedited. Feel yourself being transported by music as you enter a world of beauty that quiets the nervous system. If you like yoga do a few gentle poses each day to remain limber and strong. Doing poses breathing through the nose, you learn how to focus your attention in a quiet but powerful way. You also become familiar with living in your body and appreciating its design.
Conversations with friends either in person or on the phone can be very entertaining and informative. Texting is also a great source of playful distraction and respite.
Focus on studying what you love—regardless of the subject. I recently watched a lecture by the great physicist Richard Feynman and was blown away by his enthusiasm and love for learning. His joy was absolutely intoxicating. He had no limits to what he was seeking and wanting to learn. He is truly inspiring. After his death he lives on in the brightness of his eyes, his grin, his joy at being alive and his indomitable spirit and unlimited intellectual curiosity. Get in touch with these facets of yourself and appreciate what is inside of you–an endless source of creativity, fascination with learning and a thirst for experiencing beauty in every form. Pay attention to what speaks to you alone. You will get an answer from your intuition.
Be patient with yourself. After so many years with the narcissist(s) be kind and don’t make self judgments. Give yourself time and space. Self renewal takes place at your pace. If you find yourself slipping, know that you will come back and continue along your new pathway.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.