I was bought up in a typical household dynamic where one parent is a Narcissist.
My Father: The Narcissist, self absorbed, no capacity to empathise, manipulative.
Nothing new there.
What is often forgotten or unspoken of, is the other side to the coin…
My Mother: A dependant, anxious, somatiser. Again, completely self absorbed. Almost always the victim, even when she is the predator.
It was a typical narcissistic/co-dependant relationship.
As a child, I was unable to see the true nature of my mother. For what tends to happen is that when the love and affection that a child needs is spread too thin, the child will look for any morsel of love he can get. This is what sets the ground for the idealisation of the father and devaluation of the mother, or vice versa, which sets the child towards the foundation of developing the narcissistic personality themselves.
What can we learn from this typical dynamic we grow into?
For many years, I wondered why my mother would stay with my abusive father. I could not understand why she wouldn’t walk away, nor why, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, she would believe that my father treated her well.
From a Kleinian understanding of the “splitting” prevalent within personality disorder, it is necessary to understand what my father detested about himself.
My father hated the idea of being vulnerable or weak. If he was sick, he would tell no-one- it gave too much evidence to his own mortality, that he was in fact just like everyone else…his ego wouldn’t allow such an appropriate human exchange.
He detested the idea of being poor. Despite he himself coming from a poor background, he spoke fondly of how he rose himself and his family from such harsh realities…without his guidance and wisdom we would all have nothing, or be nothing.
Finally, he resented stupidity. He was a highly educated man, constantly comparing himself to those with lesser qualifications than himself. A man who could never be wrong, or faulted, due to the letters following his name.
What of such interest then, that the woman he “loves” was less intelligent than him, poorer than him and more weak and vulnerable than him.
Interestingly, I do believe my father does love my mother. But the reason for why they are together, why they complement each other so well in their narcissistic/codependant relationship, is that he needs her to hold parts of himself he resents.
He needs her to be poor, so he can feel rich.
He needs her to be weak, so he can feel strong.
He needs her to be stupid, so he can feel intelligent.
I believe insight is everything- so let me challenge you…
What is it that you need the narcissist in your life for, so that you can feel….?