It seems that my article on “The Narcissist Within” might have pushed a few buttons in readers who have a great need to see the “external narcissist” as the evil villain and themselves as the innocent victim.
The victim/villain roles help to alleviate any personal responsibility but they also take away our personal power. If we succumb ourselves to the role of victim, we become someone who was done wrong and have little power to make it right within ourselves.
For starters no matter what I write I want you to know that I do not condone the behavior of the narcissist. He or she is not innocent or free of responsibility. What I attempt to do is to take you on the spiritual journey within to see where you might be attracting the demon lover or narcissist into your life. This is the part that is your responsibility. You can’t change the external narcissist but you can change your inner landscape that has previously caused you to be vulnerable to narcissistic abuse.
Sam Vaknin uses the term “inverted narcissist” to describe the victims of narcissistic abuse which is really the same idea as the narcissist within. It is the parts of ourselves that we have cut off from. It is our shadow side. It is those feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, incompetence, and a deep sense that we may somehow be unlovable. There are also the feelings of jealousy, superiority, and inferiority.
Initially we may be unaware of these repressed feelings within ourselves, just as the narcissist is unaware that he has a dark side. The only way he sees his dark side is to project it from within his own shadow out onto the person standing in front of him. He then takes his frustrations about his own shadow out on the projection. “I have projected all that I hate about myself onto you and now I will punish you for these weak, pathetic, qualities.”
If we didn’t have some of those qualities within our own shadow the projection of the narcissist would not stick. It would have no place to go. If he has a deep feeling of worthlessness in his shadow and you have some of that as well, then when he suggests that you are worthless his suggestion latches onto that part of you that resonates with it. You may be a very intelligent person who has done well in school and at work but there might be a memory from a parent who led you to feel you were stupid. You suppressed this memory and over compensated for the feeling by achieving in school and in the work place. You have proved to yourself that you are NOT stupid, but there is still a wounded part of you from childhood that might feel like you are, because Daddy said so once and it hurt you deeply.
When the Narcissist; the King or Queen of projection, comes into your life he learns you are sensitive to being referred to as stupid. So he uses your sensitivity against you by continuing to reinforce the possibility that you are really stupid. Your achievements are completely over looked. He can’t look at you and say. “You were an honor student in school, and you are excelling at work so you must be smart.” Instead he will focus on something trivial such as “You couldn’t remember to pick up milk on the way home, you must be stupid.” If you weren’t sensitive to this suggestion in the first place he wouldn’t have this kind of control.
I remember having a conversation with the ex wife of a narcissist I spent many years with. She told me that he used to find places on her body where she was fat and point them out to her. She was very sensitive to being perceived as fat. She wasn’t at all overweight but had the fear of being fat and was constantly trying to control her weight. She told me he would grab the flesh on the underside of her arm and other strange places and tell her “you are fat here, and you are fat here, etc.” I found it strange he did this to her because he never did this to me. However I had completely recovered from an eating disorder and my feelings about this was not my weak spot. However I did have a feeling of being unlovable in my shadow and he played on that one.
When I refer to the narcissist within, I am in no way implying that you are the narcissist, although often we feel maybe we are the narcissist because of the destructive inner emotional landscape we find ourselves in after being with a narcissist. We have perfectly owned the projections of the narcissist and have come to believe we are those projections. Although we have been taken to the deepest pain within ourselves and our own feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy have been triggered, our feelings are really quite exaggerated. It is similar to having a cancer that begins as a small tumor and when constantly fed, over time, it grows to destructive proportions and sometimes even annihilates the host.
Although we may begin with trace amounts of those dark emotions we may, after having danced with the narcissist, find ourselves drowning in a sea of darkness unlike anything we have ever experienced. The projections of the narcissist become the fuel that feeds our own dark emotions. This is why it seems he dumps his emotional baggage onto us and we take it on. We come to believe on many levels that it is about us, it is somehow our fault. Our willingness to own the whole thing is the perfect compliment to the narcissist’s unwillingness to own anything at all.
The more we know what is in our own shadow the more we can bring our repressed parts into the light and they will no longer have power in our lives. The more we own the parts of ourselves that are not necessarily attractive, the more real we become and the less we will find ourselves dancing in a narcissistic illusion.