I fear this will big a big area in which many people will need counselling for as we come out of lockdown. I took the opportunity to do a CPD course earlier on this week in order to update my knowledge in this area. On both a personal and professional level it was enlightening. So many people recognise all too easily, physical abuse and sexual abuse, but emotional abuse can be so subtle you don’t realise until it’s too late that you have been “had”. It can be like a mill stone around your neck and for a long time you may even dismiss it as not being real. The results for the victim can be psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post traumatic stress disorder.
Victims of narcissist parents often become rescuers which means they are constantly trying to people please, they struggle to say no, and they want to fix everyone else’s problems. The fixer may think they are everyone’s friend and the person people go to when they need advice until they go through a counselling process and the penny drops. They discover that being the rescuer is part of the problem. It throws into question all of your relationships on every level.
The tutor called it “the silent killer” which seemed quite a strong statement to use but as the day progressed I can now see that that statement is so very true. The other thing that struck me as a non judgemental therapist is that there are two sides, and actually the perpetrator is often the victim of narcissist parents and the only way they can cope with life is by adopting these traits of behaviour, so I want to make it clear that if you see aspects of yourself in this blog then rest assured that I am just as willing to work with the narcissist as I am with the victim. Counselling is not about fixing but rather empowering the individual and abusers are people too who also need help.
There are two types of narcissist. The covert and the overt. The covert and the overt often attract each other so it is likely that if you had one parent as a narcissist then you likely had two parents, however, they would be very different in their behaviour towards you. With the overt at least you know where you stand. They can be described as cruel, they undermine you, bully, tease, belittle, criticise, cause confusion and are controlling. You know the script though and it is consistent so you sort of know where you are. If I had to think of someone in the public eye that would fit this I would probably use Donald Trump as an example. Most world leaders are overt narcissists. To get to that level of power they would need to be.
The covert is very different. They are manipulative, they tell you what you want to hear, they move the goal posts, love is conditional and they are very inconsistent. It is worse in a way because you never quite know where you stand. They reel you in and their passive aggressiveness usually gives them away. They can come across as weak and pathetic but underneath they are completely different. They can make you feel so guilty. Mariah Carey may be used here as an example of a covert narcissist. Coverts think it is their god given right to be treated like a princess. It is important to realise that the narcissist may not know how else to survive. But if you stop playing the game with them you can get yourself out of the drama.
It is also important to point out that people can flow into traits of narcissism without being a narcissist. Ask yourself when you are with someone are they radiators or drains? The worst you should feel is no different when you have been with someone. At best you should feel better.
If you feel drained when being around someone then it is time to look at the relationship and stop feeding it. The moment you stop feeding the narcissist, they will dismiss you and go elsewhere. It is important to realise that you are not their rescuer, and unless they are willing to change you will not help them. Ask yourself, “how is this relationship making me feel?” There is always a two way process going on and the victim can bring out the behaviour in the narcissist. It takes two people to be in an abusive relationship and the only way to get yourself out is by stepping out of the drama.
It is a choice to stay in victim mode. I understand that walking away from a relationship can cause a complicated grief process. It may be that the perpetrator is a family member and you are unable to walk away, but you can learn coping mechanisms and part of the solution is responsibility and acceptance. Getting out of victim mode will change your mindset and going through the counselling process will help you with this. It will help you move from victim to survivor and then onto thrive. Surviving is okay but it is not good enough. To thrive means you are in control and can talk about your past freely without getting upset or having any emotional attachment.
Ask yourself is the relationship healthy, unhealthy or abusive?
If any of this has triggered something for you please feel free to contact me. You can do this through my contact page. I am able to offer online counselling at the moment and have found that some client’s prefer it. I can offer this though zoom and WhatsApp. But if you want to wait I will hopefully be able to offer face to face again soon.