The Therapy is Dandy Guidebook to having a Narcissist for a Parent. Chapter 19.
An ongoing survival guide.
More often than any other dilemma facing an adult child of a narcissist, is whether or not to stay in any contact at all with the problematic, persistent narcissist.
Not too surprising is how the relationship with the narcissist parent is somehow always the trigger for the client to seek therapy. Whether they see it, their spouse sees it, or re-watching Terms of Endearment causes it, clients show up because of the narcissist.
A lot of the time, the new client has already made some kind of decision about how much contact to have with the narcissist. Based on that position, therapy obviously follows the appropriate course.
By my very informal count, most tend toward no contact at all. With very limited contact being runner up. Not too many of my past and present clients self report being in contact with the narcissist on a regular—let’s say weekly—basis.
And I think you know why. Having a relationship with a narcissist means having it on their terms. It’s emotionally invalidating at the very least, and, frankly, quite painful and totally disconnected from your true self at the same time.
The holdouts may be holding out for what I call the repair. The repair to the relationship. Instigated by the narcissist. Admitting fault. Taking responsibility. Emotionally, this is rare to happen. But repairs can take the form of financial assistance, or anything else the narcissist has lying around in some form to try to manipulate you with. To get you to stay. To get you to accept their bullshit. But rarely is the repair emotional in nature. And therefore it is not a real repair.
Sometimes a letter is written, or a speech is prepared where a client may want to hold the narcissist’s feet to the fire, and blame them for being a shitty parent. Rarely will a narcissist put up with that. They won’t finish reading the letter, and they will try to turn the tables on any discussion where you accuse them of being anything less than amazing parents.
If you want to truly repair the relationship, then the work is about you. Not the narcissist. Being angry is part of healing. Seeing the wisdom in how you can’t make a truly un-empathetic person feel your pain is also a pretty big deal. Don’t go throwing your energy and your power away for a trait the narcissist doesn’t have.
Do you want a repair? Or do you just want to be left the hell alone? Do you accept the limitations of your narcissistic parent and still choose to let them participate (sparingly) in your life (because you are a loving, mature adult and therapy is dandy), or do you let them make that decision for you?
Boom goes the dynamite.