Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all……..
The Narcissistic Alienator is a difficult character to cope with. Difficult because when you are being alienated from your children by a Narcissist you no longer really exist in their world and character because what they are is a player in a movie all of their own making.
No-one really exists in the Narcissists world, not you, not the children and certainely not they. What exists is merely a projection, a mask and howling black void of need which is the key driver in the world that you find yourself in. Let me explain just briefly.
Narcissistic wounding is a complex personality problem in which the growing child has failed to receive the loving attention that builds a sense of self and a personality which is integrated. To become whole a child must have positive reflections from the adults around him all through his life and he must feel that his needs come before others for significant periods and that his needs are legitimate. The Narcissist is unable to provide that for her children and so they often grow like her, hungry for the approval and attention that they can obtain but unable to do very much with it when they get it other than see it as currency (sometimes called supply) with which to convince themselves that they are good people. The more they get the better they feel. Unfortunately, very quickly, when you are giving a Narcissist the currency they need from you, you are diminishing your worth to them. As Groucho Marx famously said ‘I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member’ and so it is with a Narcissist who is unable to love anyone who gives them the love that they demand from them.
Narcissists have a pattern of behaviour which is quite distinct. They cut off from people very quickly and switch their attention elsewhere. They may disappear out of your life only to return when their latest supply of attention runs out or displeases them. When they return they will focus on you for a while, you will do because you are a source of supply even if an old and outworn one. When they find a new source they will disappear again.
Narcissists do not really exist when they are on their own. That is because the mask that they wear (false personality) is kept in place by the supply that they gain from other people. Mirror Mirror on the wall, so long as someone is telling them they are the fairest of them all, they exist. When there is no-one there, the mask is at risk of slipping and the howling black void behind it begins to make itself known. Somehow Narcissists know that their personality is not solid, not real and being social butterflies flitting here and there helps them to keep the mask in place. Pity them but do not be taken in by them, these people are as cold as ice when they want to be and they can act without compassion. They do so because they have not learned the critical human relationship skill called empathy. They do not understand that other people have feelings, only their own desperate driver for supply is worthy of any consideration in their mind.
Narcisstic parents risk bringing up Narcissistic children and if they achieve their summary dismissal of you through alienation when they decide you are no longer useful, your children are in danger. Children of Narcissistic parents are especially at risk because the alienation reaction over empowers a child and corrupts the hierachy of relationships, convincing them they are better than you and therefore able to dismiss you. This mirrors perfectly the Narcissist who diminishes and dismisses anyone who is no longer useful for Narcissistic supply. Fighting alienation in children where they are being parented by a Narcissist is essential to protect them from developing similar traits.
As always I word this with caution. You are not a Psychologist or a Pstchiatrist and neither am I. Diagnosing Narcissism is not useful unless it is being done by professionals as part of your court case. Telling someone that they are a Narcissist or trying to convince your family court professional of the same is not going to get you anywhere. But if you recognise these traits you can do things to protect yourself and your children.
Protect you first of all. This is because the Narcissist alienates the children by isolating you and placing you at distance. Do not ever expect to be able to win over a Narcissist who has dismissed you and do not expect either to understand them. There is no way of understanding them other than as people who will use you and dismiss you if you let them. So do not let them. Make sure that in everything that you do you keep clear blue water between you and that person. Respond formally to their overtures, in writing so that you have copies for the court case. Do not expect to appeal to their empathic side, they do not have one. Do not expect favours unless it is to help them. And most of all, recognise that what they do to you they are also going to do to their children. Narcissistic parents cannot love their children in any normal way. They cannot see themselves as separate from their children or responsible for their children. Role reversal, in which the child is responsible for the parent’s wellbeing is common with Narcissistic parents because the only purpose the child has on the planet is to reflect back to the parent their worth. This is why Narcissistic parents are at risk of creating Narcissistic children, their children learn from the earliest ages possible that to get any of their needs met they must first please the parent. That becomes part of the fabric of their learning about relationships, that one must demand to have ones needs met first before ever considering meeting anyone else’s needs.
When you protect you first you being to build a psychological moat around you which cannot be crossed by the Narcissist. When you do this you are more able to make strategic attempts to rescue your children. More than any of the other groups of alienating parents however, you are likely to find your children dumped on your doorstep one morning because the Narcissist has had enough of them. Remember, what they do to you they will do to their children, they do it because they cannot help it. When the children get older and can no longer provide sufficient supply, they risk being unceremoniously ejected from the Narcissistic parent’s life, which can leave them bewildered and terrified. If you open the door one morning and find them there on the doorstep, bring them in and warm them up and provide for them the consistent responding to their needs that they are desperate for. A lifetime of being pulled close and then rejected takes it’s toll and you can provide for them something that they desperately need.
Many children of Narcissistic parents are rejected in the teenage years when they begin the process of individuation and movement away from dependency on their parents. This is a normal task and those who have had enough normal interaction with other adults will embark on it unconsciously. The shock that they receive when their normal efforts to separate are met with catastrophic rejection is wounding in itself and can cause them to abandon all efforts to individuate, conforming instead to the commands of the parent to devote their lives to mirroring them. A child in these circumstances has lost the opportunity to take their lives into their own hands and is likely to need a great deal of help in future years to build the belief that they have the right to do that.
As the fairy story that warns us of the Narcissistic alienator goes…
Once upon a time there lived a lovely little princess named Snow White. Her vain and wicked stepmother, the Queen, feared that some day Snow White’s beauty would surpass her own. So she dressed the little princess in rags and forced her to work as a scullery maid. Each day the vain queen consulted her magic mirror, “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”… and as long as the mirror answered, “You are the fairest of them all,” Snow White was safe from the Queen’s cruel jealousy.
Woe betide the child when the mirror answers otherwise.