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Let’s face it—narcissism in all of its many forms can be extremely damaging to anyone on the receiving end, but when you are a defenseless child who simply longs for the unconditional love of your parent, the wound of narcissism is deep and lasting.
Children who are raised by narcissists are the quiet survivors of standing amid their caregivers’ psychological warfare. They are the children who are emotionally neglected, improperly mirrored, and never validated. They do not show up to school with physical beatings and bruises, but rather the unseen wounds of the psyche and their innate sense of worthlessness at their core.
When they go home and attempt to share their day or week in class, their efforts are not celebrated but rather expected and they are often left feeling like that impossibly high standard that is set for them will never be attained because the bar keeps getting higher. Children of narcissistic caregivers often receive the underlying message that they are either f**king up royally or they are just meeting the standard. It is rare if ever, they are left feeling like they did something good or worthwhile.
Of course, there are many things we learn from our narcissistic caregivers, but in my own healing and helping others heal from their childhoods there seem to be three main themes that we take on and that end up bleeding into other areas of our lives.
1. The less needs I have, the better.
This internalized message is one that rears its ugly head in various places from intimate partnerships to the work environment. It can also show up in your ability to care for yourself properly. Only when we start doing the internal work to heal this bullsh*t belief do we begin to see all of the ways we have settled in life-from the partners we choose to how much money we make to our overall health and well-being.
2. The less emotions I have, the better.
This kind of goes hand in hand with the belief about our needs, but let’s face it-human beings were created to feel emotions. Chances are good that you have no idea how to name your emotions or how to properly feel them because you based how you felt on how your caregiver felt. If they were happy, you were happy. If they were angry, well, you’d better do something to make them happy again.
I want to let you in on a little secret—your emotional landscape is where life gets in. When you allow yourself to feel your emotions and you start to re-parent the part of you that has no clue what to feel other than happy or sad, your entire life changes. You start seeing life with more color, more depth, and more passion than you ever realized was possible.
3. I have no value or my value is solely based on what other people think of me.
This one here is a doozy to work through and own up to. Curious about how much you value yourself? Look at your finances and your love life. What if I told you that your energy and your time are valuable? Have you ever negotiated your salary? What about when it comes to your love life? Have you ever laid out your terms and conditions in partnerships? What do you settle for? I can guarantee that if you have been raised by a narcissist you are settling for far less than you are worth.
Look, this isn’t about being the victim and blaming our caregivers for what they did or did not do, but rather taking radical responsibility for letting go of the beliefs that do absolutely nothing for us. We must be willing to understand whether the metaphorical rope that was handed to us as children is still worth hanging onto as adults and deciding once and for all to release it—bloody palms and all.
We must be willing to see the wound, own the fact that we unconsciously kept that negative record playing on repeat in our subconscious, and choose to go back to the start within us. We need to be willing to re-parent the little one that did not receive healthy love. We must learn how to love ourselves in a healthy way before we can fully embody our inner power and start taking up the space we rightly deserve to take up in the world.
The psychological aftermath of being raised by a narcissist might always present in subtle ways here and there, but that narrative does not have to run the course of your life. The truth is, it is more than okay to have needs, your emotions are valid, and you are a valuable human being simply by existing.
The truth is, you are enough, and you have always been enough.