As I prepare my third ebook: The Narcissist Parent: Sanity and Survival for Self-Care This compelling essay from the New York Times Opinionator/Couch column, written by psychotherapist Orna Shachar, caught my eye. The author does an incredible job of capturing one of the ways the narcissistic parent affects the child and how the child, now adult, “is” out in the world. In this case, how he is with his therapist. Of course, the case of “Daniel” is not everyone’s experience who grows up with a narcissistic parent, but the author does such pitch perfect job of describing the loneliness and fear:
I think to myself that this hate is his essence. It keeps him alive, intact. Without this hate he is impotent and dead.
…and later, this:
“To perceive the aura of an object we look at, means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return,” [Jewish scholar Walter] Benjamin wrote. His words bespeak the moment of mutual recognition…At times, Benjamin imagined this gaze — this reciprocal regard, willed into being — as one that could restore the body to a primordial time before it was severed from unity with the mother, one that would return everything to its rightful place. There would be no cracks through which little boys like Daniel would fall unnoticed, no little boys purposely left to die like Oedipus.
I do not typically read comments, but I found myself reading these. Several people asked if the piece was fiction; others found it amusing. More were baffled, like this dynamic couldn’t possibly be real.
If you’ve been deeply affected by a narcissist you know it can play out this way. Likewise, you also know that the wounds manifest differently, too: where you are the one who is the object of the hate but instead of internalizing and lashing/acting out (like Daniel), you only internalize.
Yes, the wound is there. But so is the potential to heal.