As a first step in addressing this issue, is the need to admit to oneself, who is the narcissist that has effected, or is currently effecting one’s life. There are several important considerations for the survivor: perhaps the survivor has been previously unconscious to this reality, are actively in denial, are aware of it but have chosen to ignore it, and try to move away from the person, or are currently actively engaged with such a person. If you are facing this for the first time, you may ask yourself if you have frozen pockets of pain, which is also referred to as emotional numbness. Given the varying levels of narcissistic abuse, people will experience and relate to this in different ways.
Consider the following analysis of the narcissistic person, from the perspective of Annie Reich (Psychoanalytic Contributions, 1973):
According to Reich, the narcissist has weak sense of their “self”, and a fragile ability to maintain self-esteem. They have an ongoing dependence on other people, experienced narcissistically. Associated with this vulnerability were repeated fluctuations between primitive idealization and overvaluation of the self and/or of others, and
corresponding reciprocal fluctuations between intense self-hatred and self-devaluation and contempt and devaluation of others. Reich also discussed the specific types of anxiety, particularly annihilation anxiety, severe separation anxiety, and hypochondriacal anxiety; the vulnerability to depression and shame propensity [2, 3].
If you are in a relationship with such a person, or have been and not yet healed from it – it is common and understandable to want to hide your painful reality from others. It is logical to feel generally unhappy in life, and to even become an expert at hiding and keeping secrets of your difficulties. An abuse survivor can have all the trappings of a good lifestyle, and still feel that they just “don’t measure up”. Just being aware of this makes one feel so raw and vulnerable. For some survivors, seeing through one’s own denial cannot be done in one sitting, or alone.
The pain and fear at the anticipation of frozen pockets of pain beginning to thaw, old anxieties and needs, not yet processed or faced beginning to surface, can be looming and daunting. So many survivors of narcissistic abuse can appear to be strong and competent. But internally, there is a sense of being out of touch and unfamiliar with trusting what is safe and real ? plagued by guilt, anxiety, depression, and strong feelings towards authority figures. Such strong feelings can be the likes of distrust, rage, fear, passivity, complete submission, a deep need to hide or be dishonest to protect themselves. Such emotions and behaviors make sense considering what the survivor experienced in relation to the narcissist ? with varying degrees depending on the person and circumstance. Although these maladaptive behaviors are understood, there is suffering that they instigate: living in constant fear and dread of ‘being found out’, chronic avoidance of the authority figure, uncontrollable rage and/or the need to be in charge. The following exercises are simple, and based on spiritual principles.