Narcissistic Shame Off-Loading
Growing up with a narcissistic parent is a scary, difficult experience. Narcissists suffer from a deep wound of shame. Some say the narcissistic wound is the DEEPEST wound. The shame is so severe that the system creates a construct to protect the individual from collapsing under the weight of this toxic shame. This construct includes ego-protection and delusion, it also includes projection. Projection is the off-loading of a negative affect (emotion) onto another individual.
An example of this is the narcissist who is irresponsible, selfish and unable to connect with their child. This individual cannot attach and be there for the child because their narcissism prevents them from SEEING someone else. The narcissist is dissociated from their own body and self. And thus, is unable to form a connection with their baby. On deep, dissociated levels, the truth is known. However, this truth cannot be negotiated with or faced by the narcissist’s brain or body as it is a threat to the survival of the organism.
However, this has to be faced/felt by SOMEONE. Unfortunately it is the children of narcissist who bear this heavy, heavy load growing up thinking that there is truly something wrong with them. In order to off-load this heaviness, the narcissist projects his own irresponsibility, selfishness, and shame of this onto the child. While the narcissist does not feel the sense of dread, fear, paralyzing shame and terror, the child does. While the narcissist does not question their actions, the child does. While the narcissist declares how amazing they are, the child battles with chronic self-loathing and doubt.
This, for obvious reasons is extremely detrimental to the growing, innocent child, whose patterns for human attachment are in the developing stages. The child’s brain and nervous system are unable to map a road for safety in their environment because the narcissistic parent is completely cut-off from their own body and self. There is no authentic attunement. There is no space for love and safety. There is no room for exploration of the self. Instead, the child is trapped in the abyss of mis-attunement, terror, internalized rage, and shame states.
For the child of the narcissist, adulthood is about learning how to attach in a healthy way to others. It’s about learning how to attach to one’s own body system. It is about learning how to rely on another person for safety, connection and love. It is about unlearning the patterns of self-loathing, isolation, chronic-pleasing behaviours. And, it’s about unfreezing the authentic self. It’s about cultivating the real life energy and re-invigorating the brain which was tortured and imprisoned by the malevolent, malignant abuse of a parent who did not have the capacity to love.