Starving in a Land of Plenty
Both the empath and the narcissist have the hunger, but they deal with it in very different ways.
One of the first things that bound me to my narcopath was the familiar hunger we both carried with us. It was as if our lives consisted of always standing outside the banquet hall, starved and emaciated, freezing in the rain and snow, not understanding why there was never space at the table for us, always needing nourishment but receiving only crumbs. I knew he understood that hunger. I thought we were the same.
But I am an empath, and he is a narcissist-sociopath. Before I fully understood the dynamic, I knew it was a match driven by something more powerful than we could resist.
My narcopath ex-husband was empty in a way that was very different from my own emptiness. His quest for fuel was insatiable and tragic, but I only required one source — him.
The constant need for external validation, for eyes and ears to hear and see, the thirst for attention and affection, the hunger to feast on their adoration — it all consumed his life and destroyed his authentic self. He could not survive without his many sources of fuel and supply; I could not survive without him. We both felt invisible without some external validation. Without it, we would cease to exist, we would be unseen, unheard, and unworthy. Our value as individuals was contingent on feeding the starving inner child who did very little but scream and cry to be fed.
Narcopaths retreat to a place of forgetting where they disappear into a false world leaving behind everything and everyone.
So, out of fear, shame, and desperation, he bound that little boy and sewed his lips shut and put a cloth around his eyes and stuffed his ears before silencing him forever in a dark oubliette— a place of forgetting. After essentially disposing of his little boy for his own survival, his own self-preservation, he emerged with the most charming smile, dimples and twinkling adorableness as a mask, and entered the world with all the charisma and charm one could possibly possess. The horrors buried deep inside, the cold corpse of his true self entombed and destroyed forever, all emotion effectively extinguished, he tackled the world.
With a vacant space within and a chronic emptiness, he quickly adapted and easily learned. The hollow space was constantly demanding to be fed, so he figured out how to use his talents to procure the food. It fashioned him into a predator, constantly on the hunt for food. A sweet and kind predator who drains his victim dry in the most courteous and charming way possible. I’ve seen him rise from feasting, bloody chin, impish smirk, and disappear into the shadows of his deception.
Faking and mirroring and pretending so much that even he himself believed this new target might just be the one to fill him forever, fill in all the blanks, and essentially provide the identity he could never possess. But eventually, he will need to find a new source yet again when the current supply has nothing else to give. His intentions were never filled with malice or harm. He possessed no true emotions except contempt and envy. He just had to eat to survive, to stop the hunger. If there were any collateral damage, that’s just how it had to be. He had learned to survive by shifting the blame and making himself believe they were somehow victimizing him. He had to move on…through no fault of his own. He was always sweet and kind and wonderful, so they should be grateful to have enjoyed someone so wonderful while they could. My ex told me I should be grateful that he gave me 16 years of my life. Hearing that from the husband you thought would be there till the very end is almost too unbelievable to imagine. From his perspective, a guy just gets hungry and has to feed. It’s nothing personal. It’s survival.
When you have been left behind and cast to the side, you have no choice except to turn inward and do the hard work that needs to be done to heal the source of your vulnerability and toxic programming.
And then there was my little girl standing in the shadows, constantly screaming and crying to be fed, starving and terrified, wanting to live, to be seen, to be heard. Her presence, always carrying so much fear, shame, and sadness, always lonely and desperately seeking some intangible end to the pain, her presence was always with me.
But I didn’t tie her or bind her or gag her and imprison her in a remote oubliette in order to effectively silence her through abandonment thus murdering all my emotions in the process. My emotions were amplified beneath the shield of stoic composure and resignation. The depth of those feelings was immense. Some of them were so painful, I found any way I could to silence them knowing full well that they were still there demanding to be acknowledged.
So I learned how to feed her.
The people who raised both of us probably had the emptiness, too. Their legacy was the hunger of soul, the starvation of self, the thirst for identity and wholeness. But they never found it and summarily passed it on to us so we could in turn make it our legacy for our own children. It was a generational curse in a sense. I called it the “faim du cour” or hunger of the heart. We all possessed it, or rather I should say, it possessed us.
Hunger like this isn’t just something transient. Hunger can have a ripple effect that is difficult to understand; furthermore, it has a toxic effect on people and leaves an indelible mark. Standing on the outside looking in has a soul-crushing consequence that lasts a lifetime.
So what can be done to finally become whole and become seen and become healed? Here are 10 things to help you get started.
- Awareness, Creativity and Re-Scripting
- Kinesthetic/Spiritual Repair
- Name and Stamp the Feeling with Love and Acceptance
- Self-Partner and Advocate for Yourself
- Educate Yourself about the Abuser
- Create Healthy Boundaries and Build Borders When Necessary
- Cultivate Resilience
- Avoid Triggers and Build Support
- Practice Mindfulness, Meditation, and Positive Mantras
10. Feed Yourself!
When you feel hungry, these are the ideas to consume in order to fill in all the gaps and holes in your own self. It is hard work and can be done unless you are a narcissist/sociopath. The success rate of these Cluster B individuals finding peace and self-actualization is slim to none. You can’t fix them, but you can fix yourself. And when you do, there will be real and healthy people waiting for you.
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