Narcissistic parents and the journey out of pain.
A significant portion of the work I do in shamanic journeying, soul retrieval and wound healing is facing and releasing the core wounds of: mother wound, father wound and abandonment wound. They are all so vastly different, and manifest in different ways depending on the exact situation of each person. Often, they feel impossible to heal from. I would say that the vast majority of the people I work with, have already been to all kinds of programs, therapies, therapists, counselors and more. And still, they struggle to find peace. They struggle to define self-worth for themselves. They carry very heavily, the weight of "I'm just not ever going to be good enough".
At the core of this belief is the not having received UNCONDITIONAL love as a child. That is why true wound healing doesn't come about in "therapy". Help can come. Behaviors can change. But deeply loving yourself unconditionally is not the goal in therapy.
Think of the two year old who excitedly brings the mom a dripping messy finger painted picture in excitement awe and glory, met with a scowl, a yell, sometimes a punishment or even a physical hit. This intersection of emotions is at great odds - excitement and joy, met with shame. Shame is the most unbearable of emotions, and if you look around you, closely, you will see we live on a planet full of people carrying enormous shame that developed in their own childhoods, and are likely, passing that on unknowingly, to their own children.
There are many different ways that these wounds are created as I mentioned, but one very common way is in the Narcissistic parent. As a baseline, know that something called "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" in and of itself is not all that common. It is a huge checklist of behaviors which must be present to actually be considered NPD. But there are many others who have a number of the telltale signs of narcissism.
But here are some behaviors you can look at to see if there was or is in fact, narcissistic tendencies in a parent, using mother for example here, but you could substitute spouse, boyfriend, friend, boss etc...
When you discuss your issues with your mother, she diverts the discussion to talk about herself.
When you discuss your feelings with your mother, she often tries to one-up you with her own feelings.
She wants to control your choices and have things her way.
She acts often like a victim or martyr.
She wants you to act different from how you really feel.
She competes with you.
She has to have things her way. The Thanksgiving meal, the celebrations, things are how SHE wants them. You have a feeling like "I don't want to upset her so I will just do it her way". This often extends into things about YOUR life, like telling you what cake to serve at your wedding, what clothes to wear to a job interview, or any other area of YOUR life.
She may act jealous of you.
She supports careers, physical appearance, boyfriends, etc... that reflect on her ability to be a “good mother".
When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce, pregnancy) she reacts with how it will affect HER, rather than you.
Typically conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers).
Probably denies her own feelings.
Blames things on others, including the other parent, or even your siblings. The narcissistic parent has a "favorite" child and encourages competition between children, whether overtly or covertly.
The child of a narcissist often feels responsible for their mother's ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness).
Narcissistic mothers are frequently critical of you.
She acts like the world revolves around her, and what is happening in her life is what is important.
It may feel difficult to be a separate person from your mother.
If a number of these are YES, you are likely in the web of a relationship with a narcissistic parent. This can be a very painful place to be. A place where you feel like you are the problem, you have to fix things and make it "alright" and you have to change who you are. Common in relationships with narcissists is the idea that "this is just who they are, and so I need to accept it." That kind of belief is a guarantee for a lifetime of pain, lack of self-worth, failure to achieve dreams, and struggle in intimate relationships. It undermines the whole of your foundation.
In beginning your healing journey, the first step is to recognize that this is the reality. Take a deep breath and understand that the unraveling of the damage may take a while. But it CAN and IS done through patience for yourself and your process, and working with someone who can understand you and guide you through the healing.
art by PHRESHA