Shame is a dreadful, intolerable feeling, a visceral reaction that goes deep inside of us. Often, children carry their shame into adulthood, especially if they are raised by narcissistic parents. When we feel ashamed we want to disappear, to hide where no one can find us.
The narcissistic parent expects perfection from his child. A child learns how to feel about himself through the loving attachment of the parent–the empathy, affection, acceptance of the son or daughter as a unique human being. The good parent accepts his/her child’s true authentic self.
The narcissistic non-parent expects the child to mirror him perfectly and to obey without question and become a source of narcissistic supply. This occurs frequently through the narcissistic parent’s tapping into what he perceives as a child’s “good qualities” — physical attractiveness, high intellectual capacity, athletic prowess, social skills.
The child with this highly dysfunctional parent is never permitted to be his authentic self–that wonderful spontaneous, creative, joyful individual that is expressing the real self. Instead, the concealed narcissist projects shame into his small child from the beginning–telling them that they are always wrong, stupid, unworthy, worthless. The messages the child receives are: ” You must do what I say perfectly or you will be severely punished because you are bad.” “You are an embarrassment to me, a disgrace, a nothing, a nobody.” “All you do is make mistakes. What is the matter with you.” “You are a cry baby. Stop your whimpering, you stupid kid.” These and other horrid messages are hurled at the child each day. Sometimes they come through nonverbal cues, looks of disdain and hatred in the face of the narcissistic parent directed at the child.
Children raised in this psychological environment of being demeaned and humiliated feel deep shame inside themselves very early.
On the surface the concealed narcissistic parent is all smiles, lovely manners, impeccable image, lauded, praised and worshipped as an outstanding human being by professional peers, social acquaintances, other family members not privy to their dark, cruel secrets. Those who do not know this mother or father would never guess that beneath the surface is a psychological and emotional monster who is terrorizing and shaming his children.
I hear from many children of concealed narcissists who have suffered throughout their lives with inflicted shame. They have a very difficult and challenging road that they travel to healing, recovery and the fulfillment of their creative and spiritual gifts.
I have spoken to and heard from many of you who are in the process of healing the shame that has bound you and are on the road to rediscovering your true self and leading the life that you deserve. Remember to put the emphasis on taking very good care of yourself for the first time. Continue to pay close attention to your intuitive gifts and your creative energies.