Narcissus is driven by loneliness. It seems to suit him, and he is quite happy with his independent position. Isolation from people, distance — that’s all about him… But if you only knew how much suffering is caused by his inability to be in relationships and the feeling of his own clumsiness in them.
His childhood experience of being unwanted and abandoned is the organizing fantasy he lives with all his life. Within it, the narcissist is not wanted by anyone. No one cares about his feelings, opinions, or judgments, no matter how hard he tries to be important and smart. And so, in this inner desert, he tries to find belonging with anyone, while feeling almost certain that the endeavor is hopeless. This is complicated by another typical pattern of behavior. Once the narcissist finds this “someone” with whom a relationship would be possible, he will go to great lengths to devalue it. To what end? To avoid giving the other person too much “power” over themselves.
A client of mine very accurately described her experiences within this narcissistic “desert”: “I don’t fit in anywhere. I don’t fit in anywhere. Everyone is normal, and there’s something wrong with me. I always end up being a stranger and like I’m at a distance. Everyone’s easy to talk to. Everyone manages to be around other people. And I’m the only one who has to make a tremendous effort to stay even remotely close. I want to be around people, but I’m afraid of their reactions and evaluations. I’m afraid of criticism and rejection. But in the same way, I’m also afraid of intimacy. I won’t just be considered and rejected. It’s even worse if I’m “swallowed” and used. And I won’t be able to protect what is so important to me.”
The narcissist is not just defending his loneliness. He is defending his right to not belong, to be unloved and self-sufficient, for which he has fought with himself for so long.
For the sake of surviving alone and coping without hope of support, he has built up an armor, under which hides fragility and a very strong need to be needed.
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If you recognize yourself in these descriptions, try to see this.
- You have a reason to feel the way you feel. It would be just fine if instead of attacking yourself with “I’m flawed because I can’t be in a relationship,” you would take care of yourself and accept that you may be afraid to approach people.
- To do this, you will have to acknowledge the reality of your previous relationship experiences, which obviously lacked attention to you and your needs, as well as respect and secure attachment. And at times, you may have felt that there was no room for you, just as you are. And that feeling still lives inside of you.
- Basically, recognize the fact that it’s not you who is bad, but that you actually lack the experience of close relationships to draw on.
Once upon a time, there was a Little Narcissist.
Relationships didn’t work out for her. But her career did. She felt stable and confident in it. And it even seemed to her that she didn’t need a relationship at all. And if it became quite sad or dreary, Narcissotchka simply doubled her workload. Although before it seemed that there was nowhere else to go.