The Therapy is Dandy Guidebook to having a Narcissist for a Parent. Chapter 20.
An ongoing survival guide.
In Chapter 19, I brought up the idea of the repair. I feel it needs more discussion. So, here it comes.
I’m not saying it is impossible to achieve. I’m just saying it is very, very hard.
My own initial reluctance to talk about the subject zeroes in on why this is so difficult. The fact we are discussing a thing called the repair strongly suggests the existence of another thing below and henceforth called the wound.
We are all wounded by narcissists. Some of us then become narcissists ourselves. Some of us become codependents. Some of us just become confused and emotionally muddled. All of us have wounds though. Maybe even on a regular basis, today, right now, this very second, a narcissist is sticking a knife in that emotional wound.
So a repair means getting the hell away from that knife, right?
Telling people they are wounded is not an ideal way to spend your time in the office. What I mean is, we seem to be as a people moving away from acknowledging that problems exist and that they exist in real time, and that it will take real solutions to solve said problems. For example: narcissism, global warming, income inequality, civil rights for every human not just white males in power who work at a bank. Professionally, psychology is trying to feed people things like positive psychology or solution focused interventions. Things that avoid spending time with pain or emotional meaning and rushing for a tidy solution. A coldblooded superhero who can rescue the townsfolk and shoot the bad guys just like Clint Eastwood used to do. Culturally we have slowly slid into a place where sympathy for our neighbors, let alone empathy, is in short supply. Financially, it is easier to buy pills or booze or videogames or (fill in the blank), than it is to get professional mental health services from a qualified professional that doesn’t set you back over 100$ a session (4 sessions a month being $400—I can’t afford that; can you?) People are quick to judge and self judge a wounded person (even themselves) as a victim.
I’m not doing that shit here.
What I am suggesting is that before moving to the repair, an adult child of narcissists has to acknowledge and process the wound.
And that takes work. It takes therapy for many. It takes patience and acknowledging your own history and experience. It takes awareness and it takes a concerted effort at trying to understand how you organize your emotional experiences and how you attempt to get your needs met.
Those are all things no narcissist is really going to care about. So don’t share those with them.
Awareness and needs. Those are two concepts you will get sick of me talking about. Because you (and everybody else) have both and probably do a bad job keeping track of them. My primary preoccupation as a therapist is to pay attention to your relationship to both of those concepts, in real time, at the moment, emotionally, intellectually and all other ways.
The wound is real. It is there. No one can bandage it up but you. That new Triumph Cruiser in your garage isn’t going to make it go away.
Things to keep in mind about the repair:
- The only part of it you can control is your self and your behavior. Don’t have expectations that others will change (especially the narcissist).
- If you can’t afford therapy, then read all the books previously recommended on narcissism here.
- Allow yourself to grieve for your loss and your wound.
- Surround yourself in the present with good friends, positive environments, and anything else that makes you feel good. You will need all of these.
- Figure out your needs, and why they aren’t being met.
- Your awareness of the wound(s). Paying attention to your awareness about yourself and your wound is essential.
Next time: Round 3 of the repair and the wound. Welcome to the Therapeutic Thunderdome! Two men enter, one man leaves!