Narcissist – The Eternal Child
When they are good… they are very very good…
And when they are bad… they are horrid.
Children can be selfish, wrapped up in themselves, in their own world and version of reality… so much so that they can’t see anyone else’s (especially their parents’) point of view. They have no empathy… and not much sympathy either.
They can be grandiose, prone to magical thinking, seeing themselves as special beings with supernatural powers. They’ll don a cape and fly through the house terrorising parents, pets and furniture.
They make stuff up, are expert liars often embodying the lie until it becomes the truth which they believe with such conviction that even a court of law and a jury of 12 peers would find hard not to fall for, declare them innocent… and they don’t have much of a conscience about it.
They may throw tantrums at adults when they don’t get what they want, and when they want something they get tunnel vision, this thing is everything to them and they must have it.
They scream for ice cream, get hyped and high on sugar, run around creating chaos, make a mess and don’t want to tidy it up after themselves – you do it if it matters so much to you.
They are laughing one minute and crying the next.
They can be overly sensitive, taking everything personally.
They love you more than anyone in the world, then suddenly they hate your guts and are never going to talk to you again.
They can be the ultimate drama queens and kings.
Give in to their demands and they’ll be blissfully happy for about five seconds, then the whole rigmarole may begin again like Finnegan’s beard.
Sound familiar? Am I describing children or narcissists?
When I was born the role of the child in my family had already been taken, that job was filled to bursting by my parents… and I could never do it as well as they did, they told me that repeatedly, telling me about themselves as children then comparing themselves to me – I sucked at it, they excelled, I might as well give up being a child.
So I took the only role available, the space which was vacant, and played surrogate parent… who wasn’t even allowed to be that because they wanted it all.
They wanted people to see them as amazing parents, the pied pipers of parenthood, the parents all parents wanted to be and children would want to have… and… I would be envied as their child… and therefore every child would want to be my friend just to be close to my parents, to have them by proxy, but no child would actually want to be my friend because I sucked… my parents were wonderful.
If I accidentally made a friend all on my own (of course that could never happen, no one would be my friend because of me, it had to be because of my parents)… and made the mistake of introducing them to my parents, or let on that I had a friend… my parents would home in on this friend and turn on the charm, not adult charm but their childish charisma, and seduce my friend away from me offering sweets and all things nice.
If I challenged my parents about what they were doing, guess what I got as a reply… something along the lines of – Grow up! – that’s rich coming from narcissists, from narcissist parents to their child.
They were only doing what came naturally… to a narcissist – to be the centre of the universe by whatever means necessary.
Narcissists are children. Twisted ones. They tend to get stuck in the narcissistic phase of development and never grow up – their body becomes adult, but the being inside of the body is always a child. An unhappy child who wants it all and by any means necessary to get it all.
The best film I’ve ever seen which captured this eternal child element of the narcissist is a South Korean horror movie – Hansel and Gretel (2007) – in it children lure adults to a perfect home and force them to play happy families… beware to those who refuse to play nice and cater to their fantasy.
Much of what narcissists do is instinctive, the instincts of a child which can be incisive.
They’re not as conscious as a sociopath, not as aware, and that makes a big difference. They sometimes seem to be very aware to us of what they do… and sometimes they are, but it fluctuates… that light bulb flickers… and confuses matters even more than they already are.
They aren’t sociopaths, they’re narcissists… the two disorders do have overlaps, just as BPD and NPD have… please be careful to ascertain which one you are actually dealing with.
If we think narcissists are more aware than they are of what they are doing to us than they actually are we can do ourselves more harm than good. Just as we overestimated their goodness, we can overestimate their badness.
Our idealised hero becomes our idealised villain. And we’re still a captive audience. Narcissists don’t really mind if you love them or hate them as long as you’re still fascinated by them, obsessed with them, make them the centre of your universe.
What they can’t abide is you being indifferent to them…
Children are natural narcissists, they’re supposed to be, it’s a normal phase of human development. Most children grow up and out of this phase, moving on to the next one fluidly.
Their perspective widens, they become aware of others, that others matter as much as they do. That we’re all connected, and those connections flow both ways.
They learn about other worlds besides their own, that other people live in other realities, and there is much to learn from exploring these.
Their grandiosity mellows as they realise that they can’t fly, aren’t immortal, that even though they may have a natural talent… it needs practice and there is much they still have to learn – they love learning, so that’s not a problem, in fact it’s fun (as long as their teachers don’t make it a drag).
They soon find out about the consequences of lying, the benefits of telling the truth – as long as those around them don’t prefer lies to the truth, and don’t punish the child for telling the truth and reward them when they lie (other people matter).
Their tantrums fade as they discover new ways of getting what they want, that they can live without things, that it’s not the end of the world if they have to do without, and that often when they get what they want they don’t want it anyway because it wasn’t all that after all.
They learn about earning things, working to get them.
Their tunnel vision opens up. Their perspective adjusts… that little cow is actually a big cow which is far away.
The screaming, crying, mess making, chaos causing, gradually gives way to maturity. They become motivated to tidy up their own mess, in their own way, for their own reasons, and sometimes because of how it affects others.
They become less sensitive, don’t take as much personally as they realise that sometimes things have nothing to do with them, they’re other people’s problems.
Their ability to love softens, wises up, and the swings between love and hate become less extreme.
Children are… children… and they eventually grow up…
But only if the adults in their environment allow the child to develop naturally, encourage and guide them with wisdom, respect and care for a youthful seed growing.
There are many theories as to how and why narcissists develop NPD. Considering that there are different kinds of narcissists, of NPD, the Overt and Covert being the most well known types, it makes sense that perhaps one theory fits one type, another fits another type, and so on.
Not all narcissists were created equal, they already know that… they’re all different even if they have similarities… they’re human, even if they don’t want to be.
So are we… human… so be gentle with yourself when trying to recover from a relationship with a narcissist. Give yourself time, cut yourself slack, and focus on taking good care of yourself, as though you were your own child, who has been hurt and needs TLC not recriminations… who needs to grow gradually, to the beat of your own drum, in your own time… not by the narcissistic ticking of a narcissist’s clock.
One of the things that narcissists have taught me is – Get to know yourself.
Really get to know yourself… including that stuff which makes you flinch and want to avert your eyes.
Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship in your life – that’s not a narcissistic thing, in some ways it is the anti-narcissistic thing because… much of how narcissists relate to others, much of the chaos they cause in life, in yours, theirs, and everyone’s… is due to them not knowing themselves at all, they’re frightened of who they are, they don’t know who they are… they escape from themselves through us, through our mirror, through us as a mirror image of them.
It’s strange, isn’t it, how we often spend more time getting to know others than we do getting to know ourselves. That we focus more on our relationship with others than we do on our relationship with ourselves.
Relationships with others are important… but so is the way we relate to ourselves.
How we relate to others can inform us about how we relate to ourselves… and vice versa.
We can learn a lot about ourselves from others… but some things we can only find out when we’re alone, with ourselves. Sometimes the spur to spend time alone, with ourselves, to get to know ourselves, all the nooks and crannies within, comes when a relationship with someone else causes us to hurt so bad that we retreat inside, curling up in foetal position.
We’re never just who we think we are, we’re so much more than that… sometimes it’s lighter, sometimes darker, sometimes better, sometimes worse… they’re all aspects of a whole.
Try not to be a narcissistic parent to your inner child…
Recently I came across an article, which I would hesitate to recommend due to certain aspects of it which didn’t sit well with me (that could just be me and my issues), but it had one paragraph which I thought was clever and of value:
“The Mirror Theory
I often suggest to my clients that every person who comes into our lives has been invited by us to show us something about ourselves.
So, assuming I’m right, if you have attracted a narcissist into your life, you may want to ask yourself how you are acting as a narcissist toward yourself. How are you neglecting yourself? How are you putting yourself down? In your own nice way, do you feel that you are better than others? Do you subconsciously put others down when you are feeling insecure about yourself? Not all the narcissistic traits may be mirrored in you. A good question to ask yourself is, What traits are the biggest problem for me, and how do I do that to myself? Then ask how you do it so subconsciously that you had to attract a narcissist to teach you a lesson.
This idea is a lot to absorb. It is what you need to shift from being a victim to owning your own journey. People who have dated a narcissist yet had the guts to move on are bruised emotionally and often collapse into being a victim. Because they are hurt, they feel even less confident of themselves, and that can lead to blaming themselves for staying in the relationship too long. They can become abusive toward themselves and actually perpetuate in themselves the narcissistic tendencies they had the courage to leave.”
Sometimes we only take a time out from life to get to know ourselves when… everything goes horribly wrong.
We find out how strong we are because… shit happened and it needed us to be strong to survive it.
We find out how good we are because… something bad tempted us to take a short cut, and we didn’t take it. Or we took it and learned the hard way, but we learned from it and… won’t be doing that again.
We find out who we are because… we lose ourselves, and have to find ourselves like a needle in a haystack.
So… we get to know ourselves because we’re forced by circumstances to do so. It’s not that bad, is it, to get to know yourself?
Sure, maybe you’re not as pretty as you hoped you were, not as nice, not as kind, not as good, empathic, sympathetic, altruistic, sensitive, as you told yourself you were… but sometimes that’s a good thing.
If someone comes at you with a knife, real or otherwise… being pretty, nice, good, empathic, sympathetic, altruistic, sensitive, won’t stop the attack or blunt the sharp edge of the cutting knife, but maybe embracing your ugly, nasty, bad, selfish, unsympathetic, biased, insensitive side will… stop it or know how to deal with it, with the subsequent wound, perhaps if only to avoid a fatality of self.
If you’ve ever taken a martial arts or self defense class, you’ll know that owning your dark side isn’t about being Darth Vader, it’s simply about tapping into the dark side if needs must, in extremis, and giving yourself a ‘don’t mess with me’ edge when walking around the streets of life.
You wouldn’t normally gouge someone’s eyes out… but if they attack you and put you into a strangle hold, you’re going to do it rather than let them kill you because you don’t want to hurt them or seem like a meanie. Do you really want your epitaph to read – too nice to live. Maybe you do. I’m not that nice…
My mother used to use that old musty, dusty bollocks while spanking me with the hard side of a brush – This hurts me more than it hurts you – yeah, right, so why tf are you doing it!?! She only stopped doing it once I stopped reacting and glared at her – I was about six years old at the time, and it scared the crap out of me to look at my mother with stone cold murder in my eyes, but it stayed her hand forever.
I’ve used that look to get me out of tricky situations as an adult – so maybe I should thank her for teaching me what narcissists teach their children – rely on yourself because others will take advantage of you if you let them.
Embrace the dark side…
But only as an ally for the light side.
Keep things in perspective, balanced… as far as is humanly possible.
I don’t think I would ever kill anyone… FFS, I can’t even kill an ant which bites me due to it accidentally landing on my toe while I’m walking… I’m walking here, not bothering anyone, wtf!?!… but… who knows… narcissists have taught me to expect the unexpected…
…especially once you get to know yourself.
A song which always reminds me of all of this is…
Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep… mama and papa have gotten the eff out of there leaving you, little baby, to figure shit out for yourself…
Hope this makes sense…
Over to you…