A few weeks ago I was having dinner in a nearby restaurant. The environment was comfortable, well appointed and service oriented. I had been looking forward to this evening because I knew about their high quality food and Italian ambiance. There was a large table of people a short distance away. It appeared to be an extended family situation. I heard a cry coming from a baby (less than two years of age) sitting next to a man whom I believe was his father. The cry grew louder and I noticed that not one member of this group was paying any attention to this child. It was as if they were unable to hear his rising hysteria. There was no move or gesture toward this little fellow. He threw back his face and neck and screamed loudly for some time before his father turned without any emotion on his face and began to quickly scoop food into this child’s mouth. During this time none of the members of this group made a move or looked the baby’s way.
The crying grew louder and louder. The man whom I believe was the father turned away from the child and ignored him for at least five minutes. I was alarmed and wondered what the hell was going on. I thought about telling one of the waiters about what was in plain sight. I wanted to rush over a number of times and pick up the baby and soothe him and never give him back. The other restaurant guests appeared to be ignoring this horrible painful emotional meltdown. The cry became primal, like an animal that is pleading for its life and losing the battle. Finally after at least fifteen minutes the father or father surrogate picked up the baby. This procedure was done stiffly, without any emotional attachment or concern. It appeared that the dad realized that a scene was occurring and wanted to avoid a further public display. The baby stopped crying briefly. Soon dad put baby down and the screaming resumed–head and neck back with full throttled crying—endless waves of severe distress. The dinner guests at the table finished their meal and left with the crying baby. I do not know what happened to the baby after the party left the restaurant. I would not be surprised if they let him scream indefinitely until he got on their nerves so much that they put him in a room far away and let him cry himself to stupor and finally sleep. This scene is indelible in my mind. It was so real yet completely ignored as if it had never happened.
I am thinking about the cries of children of a narcissistic mother or father or both that are responded to with a slap, a sneer, a snarl, a threat or a removal to a room where the child cannot be heard and therefore will not disturb or disrupt their needs. No thought is given by narcissistic parents to the emotional and psychological needs of their children. Children of these parents exist only as narcissistic supplies for them. They are not loved or valued for themselves. If they are chosen by the narcissistic parent it is because they are attractive, bright, talented, etc. and can be molded as their perfect mirrors. Some children of narcissistic parents are completely ignored and abandoned. They must fend for themselves to survive.
“A narcissistic parent is incapable of empathy, the ability to understand or care about how someone else is feeling. The focus of the narcissist is selfish and insular. A life dedicated exclusively to self cannot encompass a genuine love of one’s children.”(From Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life)
I hear from children of narcissistic parents through my blog and book. Their psychological pain and the abuse and deprivations they have endured are immense and often overwhelming. So many of them are healing from this painful legacy. They have great courage and are committed to a healing themselves and do this hard work each day. They are finding their true selves through many healing modalities. Excellent psychotherapy helps them to work through the pain of the past, release it and redefine themselves. The practice of some form of quieting the mind or meditation puts the individual into the calming part of the nervous system where all healing takes place. Others discover their unique creative talents in a form that works for them. They have courageously pushed the reset button on their lives.