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Parent Your Orphaned Self After Narcissistic Abuse

Uploaded 5/27/2023, approx. 16 minute read

Remember the dual mothership principle?

The narcissist tries to convert you, his intimate partner, into a substitute mother, a maternal figure.

At the same time, the narcissist idealizes you the way a mother idealizes her baby or her infant.

Then the narcissist grants you access to your idealized image and you fall in love with yourself through the narcissist's gaze.

You become his mother, he becomes your mother, and you both have a chance at a second childhood.

The narcissist's aim is to separate from you and become an individual, to acquire personhood.

The way he couldn't do with his original mother.

And your aim is to experience the oceanic feeling of being unconditionally loved, embraced and accepted, contained and held like never before.

And this is the dual mothership principle.

Consequently, when the narcissist inevitably devalues and discards you, his attempt to separate from you as a mother figure, when this happens, you feel orphaned. You feel as if your mother had just died. You feel like an orphan.

Only you do.

The narcissist doesn't lose his mother when he loses you.

And the reason is that narcissists interact only with internal objects, not with external ones.

So when the narcissist loses you in his life, when you walk away, when you break up with the narcissist or vice versa, when he discards you, as far as he's concerned, nothing meaningful has happened because your introject, the internal object in the narcissist's mind that represents you remains intact and idealized.

Also the narcissist would try to devalue this object, but I have different other videos dedicated to this issue.


Today we're going to discuss the aftermath of narcissistic abuse.

You feel orphaned. You feel that your mother had just died.

How to cope with this? What should you do?

In one word, you should parent yourself, you should become your own parent.

My name is Sam Vaknin and the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, Revisited in the Wine, a Wine-Guzzling Former Visiting Professor of Psychology.

Keyanti for those of you who are wondering, not blood, keyanti.

Okay, shoshanim, vishvan paneeem, yeh to mim, yeh to mot.


Today we're going to discuss the orphanhood stage after narcissistic abuse and what to do about it.

The first thing you should do to counter this feeling of bereavement, abandonment, neglect and self-disappearance in a way. Suddenly you can't see yourself through the narcissist's gaze. You're no longer entombed in his hall of mirrors. You're no longer amplified and idealized.

And so this is very difficult because you are still in love with this idealized image. It's a massive heartbreak.

And the first step in the process of re-parenting or parenting yourself, the first step is to see yourself.

You need to be seen. Remember to be seen is a survival strategy. Baby who is not seen by mommy very fast becomes a dead baby.

Babies need to be seen and they develop a series of behaviors and strategies intended to attract the mother's attention and to retain her presence until they form much later in life object constancy.

So to be seen is a primordial equivalent of an instinct or a drive or an urge and it's with us for the rest of our lives. It's a lifelong lifespan phenomenon.

When the narcissist disappears, when he leaves you or discards you or when you break up with him, there's nobody there to see you. You feel unseen, not seen. You need to remedy this as fast as you can because people internalize not being seen. When people are not seen, when they become transparent to other people, they feel as if they had died and then they develop suicidal ideation.

Being seen is the thin line that separates life from death. We are all relational and social creatures. In the total absence of others, we cease to exist.

Ask any prisoner who spent time in solitary confinement.


And so first stage, see yourself.

How do you go about seeing yourself?

Well, write a journal, document yourself in writing, visually, video, audio, anywhere you see fit.

Just keep documenting yourself, your life. Start a diary and then revisit yourself.

At the end of every day, reread what you had written or rewatch the video you have made or shot.

Then a day later, revisit the same pages and a month later, revisit the same pages.

Make sure there's continuity between your entries, self entries. This way you will reconstitute and reconstruct your identity and your self or assemblage of self states.

You see, when you're not seen, this creates emotional dysregulation and an identity disturbance.

One of the major problems of borderlines is that they're unable to internalize, interject other people's gaze. They have interject inconsistency.

So they become very dependent on external regulation. All their internal processes are outsourced to the intimate partner.

Similarly, the narcissist is unable to tell the difference between external and internal objects. And though the narcissist is capable to some extent of internally organizing his object and the relationships between them, he is also dependent on a form of external regulation known as narcissistic supply.

If you are not seen, you're not.

So you need to be seen.

And if no one else can see you, if your narcissist had vanished from your life, because the narcissist monopolizes dysfunction, you're being seen increasingly only through the narcissist in your life until at some point he's the only person who sees you and he's the only person whose gaze has any meaning.

So he acquires a monopoly on you being seen when he vanishes, when he goes away.

You need to develop alternative sources.

Until you develop alternative sources of being seen, you need to do self-seeing.

You need to see yourself.

So as I said, document yourself. Revisit your documentation. Be your own friend. Literally talk to yourself. Make sure there's no psychiatrist around. Just sit and talk to yourself. Give yourself another name if you wish. Be your own friend and be your own mentor. Soul search. Become self-aware and self-knowing. Get to know yourself. Investigate yourself as if you were some kind of object.

Learn everything there is to know and to learn about yourself. Interrogate your parents, your siblings, childhood friends, former teachers, peers. Give it a project, a project of getting to know me and getting to love me and above all getting to see me.

This is the first element in parenting.

Parents see their children. They provide the child with an external gaze that allows the child to actually set boundaries, separate and individuate.

The child realizes that the parent's gaze is coming from the outside.

At that point, the child understands that.

It begins to understand the difference, begins to grasp the difference between inside and outside.

It's the parent's gaze that defines externality out there, the outside, allowing the child to become the inside, a person, develop a self, a constellated, integrated self.

Or in my work, self-states.

So being seen is crucial. Do not neglect this. Focus on this as your first stage.

Next stage.

Frustrate yourself. Deny yourself some pleasures. Do not indulge yourself. Do not spoil yourself. Do not pamper yourself. Do not allow yourself some concessions. Don't do any of this.

On the very contrary, discipline yourself, frustrate yourself, push yourself away from yourself, give yourself some space, allow yourself to separate and to individuate from the internal parent that you have generated.

So in the first stage, by seeing yourself, you will have created an internal parental figure.

The second stage is to push yourself away from that parental figure by frustrating yourself and giving yourself some space and time alone. Allow yourself this.

Separate, individuate, form proper boundaries with your internal parent.

Just reality all the time and get rid of magical thinking.

Now I have videos dedicated to these phases.

Separation and individuation. I try to find them and put links in the description under the video. Not over the video, under the video.

Okay. I'm just kidding.

Stage two.

Stage one, create an internal parent who will see you through whose gaze you can define yourself.

Stage two, put some distance between you and this internal parent by frustrating yourself and disciplining yourself as ruthlessly as you need.

Stage three, at the same time, always be your own secure base.

Empathize with yourself. Be empathic. Be attuned to your slightest needs and quivers of moods and emotions. Be caring, compassionate, loving, attentive and accepting. Be your own secure base, your own best friend.

Make yourself sure or assured of the following that no matter how far you go, no matter which crisis you endure, no matter what discoveries you make and no matter what person you end up with, you will always be your own best friend and your own secure base.

It's a crucial part of self-parenting and I'll elaborate on it a bit further.


The fourth phase is investing in and prepare yourself for reality.

The fourth phase is transitioning from the fantasy of an internal parent. Fantasy is a defense mechanism. It falsifies or reframes reality to some extent.

So we need to transition back to reality and that is the fourth and last phase.

The first three phases involve the generation of a fantasy, putting boundaries between you and the fantasy by disciplining yourself and frustrating yourself and so on and so forth and then becoming your own secure base, allowing you to exit the fantasy, explore the world and if and when needed return to the fantasy the way a child does when he abandons Mummy for three minutes and goes and explores his environment and then runs back to Mummy and hugs her legs.

It's always that she forgives his incursions. She doesn't penalize him for exploring and for abandoning her.

Be your own secure base and then move on to the last stage and the last stage is yourself and reality, your relationship with reality, physical reality, explore the physical reality, go on hikes, take walks, keep your eyes peeled, observe the street, look at other people, watch interactions, interpersonal interactions, go to a bar, go to a pub, go to a restaurant, go to a cinema.

Immerse yourself in community-like settings, explore your physical reality and your social reality.

It's kind of re-socialization.

The narcissist isolates you from everyone. It's part of the narcissist's coercive control. He isolates you from friends, from family and from your social support network.

You need to re-socialize and re-acquire the mores and rules of conduct and heuristics, rules of thumb of society. You're like a baby again. The narcissist regresses you through his maternal gaze. The narcissist renders you a baby, an infant and you need to learn everything from scratch. You need to learn to walk. You need to learn to talk. You need to learn to think. You need to learn to emote. You need to learn to regulate yourself. You need to learn to interpersonally interact with other people. You also need to absorb the culture around you, a process known as acculturation. You need to acquire skills. You need to do research. You need to educate yourself. You need to train yourself.

This is the phase of reintegrating with reality because the narcissist's shared fantasy is the equivalent of a mental asylum. It's a total institution. There's no exiting it. There's no interaction with anything outside it. It's isolated. It's a bubble.

And so you need to get grounded. Surround yourself with people who would help you to get grounded. People who are not prone to fantasylability, dysregulation, demands, people who would accept you as you are and help you to function in society and in the world at large.

Above all, love yourself.

I have a video dedicated to this issue on this channel. I'll summarize it for you.

Self-love is a healthy self-regard. It is a pursuit of one's happiness and of favorable outcomes.

So self-love is intimately connected to self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the ability to act efficaciously, efficiently on the environment and in the environment in order to extract beneficial outcomes.

So love yourself.

Regard yourself. Guard yourself. Exit. Exit your bubble.

Regard just in order to pursue happiness or contentment and to guarantee favorable outcomes.


And there are four pillars, four foundational stones, foundation stones of self-love.

Number one, self-awareness and intimate, detailed and compassionate knowledge of yourself. Kind of a SWOT analysis, strengths, weaknesses, other people's roles and threats.

Element number two in self-love is self-acceptance, the unconditional embrace of one's core identity, your personality, character, temperament, your relationships, experiences and life circumstances.

You need also to learn to forgive yourself.

Self-forgiveness.

You need to learn to subdue your harsh inner critic and set aside introjects which are not yours, other people's voices, introjects which are not friendly, introjects which seek your demise and self-defeat, set them apart and silence them and to identify and interact exclusively with your authentic voice.

Your authentic voice may be critical but never self-destructive.

Element number three, pillar number three in self-love is self-trust, the conviction that you have your own best interests in mind, that you're washing your back, that you have agency and autonomy, that you're not controlled by or dependent upon other people in a compromising fashion.

And the last element in self-love is self-efficacy, as I said, the belief gleaned from and honed by experience, that you're capable of setting rational, realistic and beneficial goals and that you possess the will with them, the skills, the capacity to realize outcomes commensurate with your aims.

Self-love is the only reliable compass in life.

Experience usually comes too late when its lessons can no longer be implemented because of old age, lost opportunities and changed circumstances.

Experience is also sometimes pretty useless, not two people or situations are the same, you can't extrapolate it safely.

But self-love is a rock, a stable, reliable, immovable, immutable guide and compass.

The truest of loyal friends is self-love.

The only concern of self-love is your welfare, contentment and functioning. Follow it to wherever it may lead.

Remember, the narcissist imitated, created an imitation, an emulation, a simulation of self-love for you. He misled you to believe that what he's offering you is an opportunity to love yourself, but it wasn't of course.

Loving an idealized image of yourself is as far from loving yourself as possible because this idealized image usually has very little to do with you and a lot to do with a narcissist's need to subsist in a fantasy that is acutely exploitative, self-serving and abusive.

Don't go there, do not try to love yourself the way the narcissist made you love yourself. That was a big mistake and it led you to this mourning and grieving and bereavement and orphanage, self-imposed orphanage.

The narcissist made you love your idealized image and made you consequently hate yourself because you are always very far from your idealized image.

Loving your idealized image generates, ironically, self-love but also self-hatred. It results, in other words, in ambivalence.

Do not love yourself the way the narcissist made you love yourself. Do not regard yourself in an unrealistic light.

Remain grounded in reality and when you get to know yourself well, love yourself as you should have done from the very beginning.

Loving yourself the right way would have been a bulwark, a firewall, a guarantee against falling in love with a narcissist.

Appropriately made selection demands realistic or reality-grounded self-love.

By getting to know yourself better, you will also be protecting yourself and defending yourself against future entanglement with abuses.

So get to work.

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