A beast of burden is defined as an animal who carries heavy loads or must do very hard work.
Narcissists often put their children, spouses, siblings and others in these roles as human beasts of burden. In effect their children, spouses and siblings are their servants.
The narcissist is imperious. He/she is the ruler in every “relationship.” Children of narcissists lead their lives at the mercy, whim, impulse, psychopathology of their highly disturbed parents. The narcissist gives orders–quite literally–and those close to him/her are expected to obey on the spot. Growing up, children depend on the parent for survival. They have no alternative. Being raised by a narcissistic parent, the child has no real support, validation, emotional closeness, feeling of security or protection or sense of entitlement (unless he is the golden child and adored). Children growing up with a narcissistic parent(s) describe that they felt like prisoners in their own homes. Often they hid from the narcissistic mother or father, fearing that they would have to tolerate one more screaming session, accusation, humiliation, volleys of criticisms and threats. These children live under emotional and psychological siege. They have trouble sleeping at night. They feel unsafe in their own homes. Some suffer from constant free floating anxiety.
The narcissistic parent is highly demanding of what he or she wants and must have. Angry commands must be responded to. Chores must be done perfectly on the spot. Nothing is ever good enough for the narcissistic parent. He/she always finds flaws and the child is at fault. This is the narcissist’s serious delusional state not the child’s.
The child of a narcissistic parent is likely to marry a narcissist, repeating the psychological pattern of abuse.
The narcissistic spouse is impossible–making outrageous demands, throwing criticisms right and left, making the partner feel unworthy and defective. Many spouses of these narcissists stay married to them. They continue to take the psychological blows and to become human beasts of burden who will do the bidding of the narcissistic partner, regardless of how depleted, exhausted or frustrated they are. They are devoted to someone who is hurting them. They feel the stress and pain in their bodies and the mental distress—yet they continue in these roles, often throughout the marriage. When the narcissist gets too bored with someone he/she can kick around too easily, this person will be discarded and replaced.
Some narcissistic spouses keep their human beasts of burden indefinitely. They have found someone who is loyal, will always fulfill their every need–regardless of its outrageousness and continue to adore and provide the narcissist with cascades of narcissistic supplies.
Adult children of narcissistic parents have a long road that they travel to recovering their true selves and repairing their psyches from their exposure to emotional and psychological battlefields. Many find wholeness and inner peace through a variety of practices including guided meditation, gentle hatha yoga, exercise that works for them, finding support from those whom they trust and understand what they have endured, through creative spontaneous writing, music that soothes them, acupuncture that puts the patient in the parasympathetic nervous system, etc.
Those married to narcissists who awaken to the truth that they have been the victims of narcissistic abuse, sever these relationships, go through the divorce process and begin to put their lives back together in the ways that are healing to them. They no longer live under the control of a narcissistic partner. They are human beasts of burden no longer. Their role now is to lead the life that they deserve–to awaken to the fact that they are entitled to inner peace, a healthy sense of entitlement and a strong knowing that they are more than good enough. Remember that if you have been in one of these dreadful marriages, you can and will heal.