There is a theme that runs through responses that I receive from children of a narcissistic parent(s). The child is subjected to unbearable levels of ongoing abuse–scalding criticisms, withering humiliations in front of other family members and alone, routine secret physical beatings and other horrendous acts of brutality including psychological and literal abandonment. When the child lets family members know what is happening to him, this person is not believed. When the victim of a narcissist tells the truth about his dreadful pathological parent, he is not treated with kindness or understanding. The family is shocked; the victim is treated with disdain and often told he/she is the sick one or that this is all lies to get attention. The narcissistic mother or father gets a complete pass. A masterful coverup takes place and remains ongoing. The child victims become family pariahs. Often the suggestion is whispered that they belong in a psychiatric institution or are in need of intensive psychotherapy.
In some cases the narcissistic abuse has been so severe that the victim needs to work with an excellent psychotherapist to deal with the painful aftermath of surviving a narcissistic parent. The child of the narcissist is doubly abused—Once throughout childhood and another round when he or she tells the truth about the narcissistic parent. After all the entire family must keep the secret intact especially if the narcissist is highly successful, has a high profile, is generous monetarily with certain family members or cravenly sets one child against the other. Does the narcissistic parent feel any guilt about what he has done to his children. Certainly not! He does not have a conscience. If the marriage and the kids don’t work out, he/she moves on to the next opportunity. What about a younger prettier wife with whom he can make more perfect children? Whom does he think he is? a god? The answer is Yes! These individuals are despicable especially when they disrupt and in some cases destroy their children’s’ lives.
Many children of narcissistic parents do survive although they have suffered horribly. They are courageous individuals who never give up even when they feel like they can’t go one more step. They learn the lessons of survival well. Many of them become hypervigalent and suffer from anxiety and depression. Many benefit from highly skilled empathic psychotherapy and other healing modalities: gentle yoga, a form of meditation that works for you, journaling, exercise that you enjoy and spending time with Nature.
I want you to know that I Believe You. I know what you have endured. You are courageous. You deserve to lead the life that was given to you originally. Keep healing. You are taking the path less traveled–the one with fewer travelers, the way that has deep meaning. Here you will find the peace that you have sought all of your life.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.