Coping With Flashbacks, Body Memories & Panic Attacks

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

A couple of days ago, I had a really rough afternoon.  I had 2 flashbacks.  Well, kinda 3 actually since the first 2 were one right after the other.  Not fun at all.  It made me glad wordpress lets you schedule blog posts so I could take a couple of days to just relax & heal!

I thought about it last night & thought it might be a good idea to post some ways to cope with flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks since coping with them all involves pretty much the same things.

First, I’ll explain each one for clarity’s sake.

Flashbacks are when a traumatic memory comes to the forefront of your mind, & you feel as if you are reliving it.  The memory threatens to overtake you- the fear, anger, the sorrow overwhelm you & it can be nearly impossible to tell reality from the memory.

Body memories are quite similar to flashbacks, except instead of you feeling the emotions of the traumatic memory, you feel the physical sensations.  You may not even remember the traumatic event, only how it made your body feel.  If you were in a cold place when it happened, for example, you may suddenly feel cold even though the temperature is 75*.

Panic attacks are anxiety related, & happen when anxiety becomes too much for your body to handle.  Suddenly your heart races, your blood pressure rises, you become increasingly agitated, & you may feel like you’re having a heart attack.  (I was sure I was having a heart attack when I had my first panic attack in 1996.)  The attack may last a few minutes, then gradually dissipates, & you feel drained for the next day or so.

While flashbacks, body memories, & panic attacks are all different, I’ve found ways to cope with them successfully are quite similar.

All three require something to keep your focus on the here & now, where you are safe.  To do this, you need things that involve your senses.  Strong scents & extreme textures seem to work best for most people.  I like the scent of lavender (it’s also used in aromatherapy to calm anxiety) & Sweet Honesty perfume.  When I was quite young, my paternal grandmom gave me a bottle of that perfume, & I’ve loved it since.  It brings back a memory of her, plus it’s a fairly strong scent, so it helps keep me grounded.  I have 2 small vials (the type perfume samples come in) with each scent in them & keep them handy at all times.  Regarding textures, I like something either extremely soft or very rough.  Focusing on how those textures feel helps to keep me focused on the “here & now” rather than the traumatic memory or anxiety.  Snuggle a stuffed animal, touch some rough carpet, hold an ice cube in your hand or snuggle up in a very soft sweater or blanket.

You also can focus on what is around you.  Focus on whatever details are around you.  If you’re at the park, for example, focus on the feel of the breeze blowing on your face, or the shapes & colors of the leaves on trees.  If you’re sitting on a chair, really feel the texture of it & focus on it.   Whatever you can do to keep your mind not focused 100% on the flashback, body memory or panic attack  helps to take some of its power away.

Remind yourself that you are safe.  The trauma isn’t happening to you again- it’s only a nasty memory that can’t hurt you.  If you’re near a mirror, look at yourself in the mirror & reassure yourself that you are safe.

Don’t close your eyes.  This can make it harder to distinguish reality from memory during a flashback.

Breathe slowly & deeply.  In & out through your nose.  Feel your chest & stomach take in the air, then slowly release it.  Be aware of when your heartbeat slows as you calm down.

Create a small container of items that can help you during these situations.  Those small vials I mentioned that are used for perfume samples?  Get a couple of them & fill them with whatever scents help you to feel safe or bring back a happy memory.  Include something that feels good when you touch it as well, such as a small river rock or polished gemstone.  Keep this small bag of items with you at all times so when flashbacks, body memories or panic attacks happen, you can be prepared.

As frustrating & painful as flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks can be, there are some ways to cope with them.  They can be managed!  Above are some ideas that can help you, & I hope will inspire you to come up with some more ideas of your own.

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Helping Someone With C-PTSD

Helping someone with C-PTSD isn’t easy for either you or her.  The symptoms are so frustrating, & can be embarrassing.  Mood swings, extremely high anxiety levels & muddied thinking are not fun to live with or manage, nor are they fun for someone to witness.

If you live with a partner who has C-PTSD, your life isn’t easy either.  You are living with someone who just wants to be “normal” but can’t be due to this disorder.  You are affected, too, by the awful symptoms.  Watching someone you love suffer yet not knowing how to help is a terrible & helpless feeling.

Below are some ways that you can help your loved one who has C-PTSD.

  1. Research this disorder.  Learn all you can about the symptoms & treatments.
  2. Ask your loved one questions.  Just be sensitive in how you ask questions.  Avoid sounding judgmental or critical.
  3. Show her that you are interested.  If she complains of nightmares, ask what they were about.  If she says she doesn’t feel well, ask why.  She needs to know that she can talk to you about her battle with C-PTSD without fear of you judging her.
  4. Don’t expect her to control symptoms 100% of the time.  As much as she may want to, she can’t hide all of her symptoms all of the time.
  5. Don’t pressure them in the recovery process.  There’s no time schedule. And remember, most people with C-PTSD or PTSD never recover, they only learn to manage their symptoms.
  6. Help her to feel loved, without expecting loving gestures in return.  She probably will offer them often, but there are times she won’t feel able to do so.  It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you- it means she has C-PTSD.
  7. Try to be helpful & supportive.  Do what she asks promptly, & try to anticipate needs.  Be observant.
  8. Offer distractions.  Suggest going out to dinner, or going to a movie, or some other activity she enjoys.  Focusing on this disorder constantly is simply depressing!  Distractions help both of you from becoming too depressed.
  9. Try not to smother her.  Be there, but if she wants to be alone, leave her alone.
  10. Find support for yourself, too.  Talk to a counselor or friend you can confide in.
  11. Take breaks.  You need to take care of yourself so you will stay healthy (physically & emotionally) & so you can be strong for her.

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Empathy vs Apathy

I’ve had a few conversations lately with people who have shared with me that no one cares about the trials they’re going through.  Some have health problems, very serious ones at that, yet even their own families don’t care.  Or worse yet, their own family members accuse them of faking their illness for attention or for drugs.  Others have suffered great loss, even including death of a loved one, & are reminded frequently that they need to get over it (as if that’s possible when losing someone you love?!).  And still others have endured abuse, either at the hands of their parents or a spouse or both, yet people in their lives act as if it’s no big deal.  They say heartless things like, “Shake it off & move on!”  “What’s wrong with you?  That happened a long time ago- you need to get over it.”

This kind of thing sickens me.  It makes me lose what little faith I had left in humanity.

It also clearly shows the difference between empathy & apathy.

According to merriam-webster.com, empathy means, “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings.”  Also according to merriam-webster.com, apathy means, “the feeling of not having much emotion or interest : an apathetic state  1:  lack of feeling or emotion.” 

Empathy should be running rampant in society, especially considering how much suffering is happening constantly in the world, yet instead, apathy seems to be an epidemic instead.  It’s truly sad.

There is such a thirst for compassion from people who are suffering, yet instead they are met with apathy & indifference.  Or, possibly even worse yet, comparing their pain to another’s.  Comments such as, “That’s not so bad.  I had it much worse than you.  You should be glad you didn’t go through what I did!” can be devastating due to their invalidation of one’s pain.

I want to encourage you to work on being more understanding & empathetic.  There is such a great need for empathetic people, & empathy also seems to promote more empathy from others.  (You will get empathy in return for giving it from most people.)  You can’t help everyone in the world of course, but you never know how much you are truly helping another person.  You may be like the first ripple in a lake- one tiny ripple creates more & more ripples that go out into larger & larger circles.

Displaying empathy will help other people, often more than they can put into words.  Why not try it today?  Empathy is also in the BIble- God commands His children to show empathy to one another.  See the following Scriptures…

Matthew 7:12“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (ESV)

Ephesians 4:32ESV “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (ESV)

Romans 12:15  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV)

How do you develop empathy?

  1. The most important thing you can do is listen (without interrupting!) to those who are speaking to you.
  2. Watch the other person’s body language for cues on how they truly feel.
  3. Ask questions during the conversation to gather more information.
  4. Consider the other person’s life experiences that help to form their perspectives.
  5. Imagine how you would feel if you were in that exact same situation.

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Birthdays For The Adult Child Of A Narcissistic Mother

I was talking recently with a good friend of mine who is also the adult daughter of a narcissistic mother.  She mentioned her birthday is coming up & how much she dreads the day.  It’s a trigger of painful memories & her parents use the opportunity to try to make her feel guilty for not tolerating the abuse anymore.

Wonderful way to celebrate a birthday, huh?  Sadly, she isn’t alone.  Many adult children of narcissistic mothers go through something similar on their birthdays.  A day that is supposed to be fun & celebrated turns into a day of misery instead.

My seventeenth birthday was among the most horrible days of my life.  My mother destroyed the little gifts that my first boyfriend/now ex husband gave me because she hated him so much.  She made me clean up the mess, & blamed me for “making” her do that.  I later told my father about it, & he went to speak to my mother about her actions.  She screamed at him for interferring, telling him to mind his own business, then when she was done with him, she screamed at me for tattling on her.

From that day on, I hated my birthday & tried to ignore it every single year.

Then in 2010, an old friend of mine sent me a message on facebook, & asked what plans I had for my birthday.  I told him none.  My father was sick & I thought I should be available in case he needed me.  (I never told him about my seventeenth birthday fiasco.)  He kinda chewed me out for not having plans & said I should do something for myself, even if it was just pick up my favorite lunch from somewhere.  Something clicked inside me & I realized he was right.  I thought about it & was angry that I let my mother steal so many of my birthdays.  I decided no more, & instead created a birthday ritual that I’ve done each year since.

The weekend closest to my birthday, preferably on Sunday, hubby & I go to our favorite place- a tiny bar on the water in a nearby town that is often quiet on Sundays.  I invite friends to come, & whoever can, joins us.  It’s never more than maybe 5 people or so, so I can handle the company.  I always say no gifts or cake but I get them anyway because I have awesome friends.  lol  We hang out, get something to eat & drink, listen to the jukebox (which is full of some really good old classic rock & 80’s music!) & watch the ducks & geese on the beach.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a very nice time.

What about you?

Do you realize that by not celebrating your birthday or even dreading it, you’re giving your narcissistic mother the power to steal your joy?  She doesn’t deserve that kind of power!  She has had more than enough power that she has abused over you!  You however, you deserve to have a fun, happy birthday celebrated with people who you love & who love you back.  Or, if you want to spend it alone, you deserve to spend it doing whatever you like to do that makes you feel pampered.  Or do both- party one day, alone time another.  It’s YOUR birthday, & that means YOU should celebrate it however is the most fun for YOU!

I know you can’t forget the bad birthdays, nor should you.  They are just a small part of what has made you the person you are today.  However, they shouldn’t be allowed to be the reason you continue to have bad birthdays.  You deserve so much better than that!

So what can you do to celebrate your birthday in a way that is fun for you?  What new traditions can you create?  What gift can you give yourself?  Is there a special meal you don’t indulge in often because it is too fattening, unhealthy or something that you can indulge in on your birthday?

I encourage you to think about these things, & create a new, positive & fun birthday ritual for yourself!  You are worth it!

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“To Thine Own Self, Be True” (from Shakespear’s “Hamlet”)

I had the most incredible dream last night, & I wanted to share the valuable lesson learned from it.  :)

I dreamed that I saw my car parked in front of my parents’ home.  I was a few feet away.  My car is a lovely dark green with a matching vinyl top, but in the dream, she was painted (very poorly I might add!) white on the sides & yellow on the top, hood & trunk.  Somehow I knew my mother had done this.  I was horrified upon seeing this, wondering how was I going to afford the high price of having her repainted green.  I simply said, “God, what am I going to do?”  It suddenly started to rain a bit.  A nice steady rain.  The paint started washing off my car!!  Most of it came off easily but there were a few spots that I had to scrape at with my thumbnail.  Before I knew it, there was my ’69 Plymouth, all beautiful & green again!  In fact, she looked better than ever, now that I think of it…

I woke from this dream a bit shaken, since my car means the world to me.  She once was my Granddad’s car, then my dad’s.  Dad sold her in 1979 to a junkyard, & in 2005, I found her!  Wasn’t looking, but apparently God decided I needed a big blessing, & being a car lover, blessed me with my favorite car of my Granddad’s.  So anyway, dreams where this car is messed with in any way shake me up pretty badly.

Later, I decided to figure out what this dream meant, so I asked God & immediately, He gave me my answer.

Cars represent your life in dreams.  White & yellow are colors representing purity,  innocence, joy, positivity.  Rain represents cleansing.  In the context of this dream, this all translates to this:  growing up with a narcissistic mother, she did her level best to change me into what she wanted me to be.  In fact, still tries to do this even though I am now 43 years old.  My mother likes to present herself as a wholesome, wonderful person.  She wants me to act more like her, like what she likes, dislike what she dislikes, etc.  That is why in the dream she painted my car those particular colors, to make me more like her.  The rain was a result of me allowing God to wash away what others have done to make me into what they think I should be (my mother isn’t the only one who has tried to change me, but she is where the problem started).  Me scraping off the little bits of paint that remained represented me doing my part, cooperating with God, to get the person He made me to be back.

Isn’t that fascinating?

Since many of you who read my blog, website & books are also children of narcissistic mothers, I pray this encourages you as it has me.

Narcissists try to change their children, friends, relatives & basically anyone into what they think that person should be.  I believe it is especially painful for children, because as children, we are so starved for our parents’ love & approval, we’ll do anything they want us to do.  This also sets the stage early in life for you to believe you must please other people, even at the expense of losing yourself- changing your likes, dislikes, beliefs, how you dress, how you act & more.  It’s not right!  No one should have to change so much of themselves just to be in a relationship with another person!  If you do feel you have to change to be in a relationship with someone, maybe  it is time to reconsider being in that relationship.  At the very least, it’s time to consider getting you back & being the person God made you to be!

How do you get “you” back??

  1. To start with, stop listening right now to what others say you should do, like, how you should feel or think.  Their opinions really aren’t important!  Of course you want those you love to have good opinions of you, but if they disagree with some things about you, that is perfectly ok!  No one can be pleased 100% of the time.  If they try to make you feel bad for not pleasing them, that is a big red flag saying this person isn’t safe.
  2. Ask God to help you.  Ask Him to show you who He made you to be, to have the courage to become that person & to help you shed the person you became only to please others.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone.  Try things that pique your interest that you never had the nerve or opportunity to try before.  You may discover a new passion, or at the least, will start to learn what you like & don’t like for yourself rather than what others have told you that you should like or not like.
  4. Try different clothing.  I know this sounds silly, but your clothing affects your mood.  Buy clothes that make you feel good when you’re wearing them.  Better to have 2 outfits you like than 10 you hate because someone else wants you to wear them!

At first, these things can feel kind of weird & hard to do, but I can tell you, they get easier with practice.  I’m trying them myself, & have off & on for a few years now.  From my experience, the hardest thing to do is stay focused on doing things for yourself like this.  It’s so easy to slip back into the old, dysfunctional habits!  That is what happened to me- this dream made me realize that.  To avoid conflict with my husband, I’ve even gone as far as hiding the symptoms of my C-PTSD from him no matter how hard it is on me.  This dream made me really see how bad it’s been, & how it has to stop right now.

Be good & true to yourself, Dear Readers!  You are so worth it!  I pray that God will help you if you are struggling in this area.  <3

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Wet Blankets!

Good evening, Dear Readers!

I had an interesting experience a while ago…

My mother called me under the guise of telling me about a Stephen King movie coming on TV tonight.  I knew about it already, what with him being my favorite fictional author, as many of you know.  Plus it’s a new one based on a story in his book “Full Dark, No Stars” which I really enjoyed.

Anyway she took this opportunity to remind me (as she has probably thousands of times before) that she doesn’t understand what is wrong with me- why do I like scary stories?  She certainly doesn’t like them & has no idea where I got my taste in such things!  And did I know she saw the movie “Psycho” at the drive in when it came out, & it terrified her?  Have I ever seen it?  Yes, & it’s among my favorite movies.  “GASP!!  I just don’t understand what’s wrong with you!”

Same speech, different day.  As usual, it annoyed me.

I finally thought to ask God why did she feel the need to do this?  More attempting to shame me for liking an author she doesn’t approve of (even though he’s been my favorite since I was 8 & read “Night Shift” for the first time)??  He showed me that the motivation is to spoil my fun in watching this movie.  Often her comments are made to shame me, yes, but when she calls to let me know one of his movies is coming on TV soon, it’s to spoil my fun in the hopes that I’ll give up liking this “horrible” author’s works & start liking the more happy, light & fluffy authors she likes.

*sigh*  Yea, that ain’t happening.  lol

Suddenly I realized she’s done this wet blanket thing so many times, as has my narcissistic mother in-law.  When I got my first car, a cute little Buick Skyhawk, my parents took me to the dealer.  Since I only had my learner’s permit at the time, my mother rode home with me, & complained the entire way (about 10 miles).  “This car is too small!”  “There’s no leg room!”  & other untrue & snarky comments.  It spoiled my very first drive in my first car.  When my husband & I first started dating, his mother suggested she & I go to lunch & shopping.  I said fine, when?  Her response?  “You WILL be taking Eric’s car instead of yours, right?”  I was surprised & said “No, I’ll be driving mine.”  (she doesn’t drive).  She said “Oh.” & changed the subject.  This exact conversation happened a total of 3 times before she gave up since I wasn’t taking his car & insisted on taking my own.  It also set the stage for 8 long years of nasty comments about how awful my Oldsmobile was, how expensive it was to maintain & how I should just junk it, all because it simply needs a paintjob..

There were many other similar incidents with both of them, but I’m sure you get the point.

Amazing isn’t it?  Amazing how narcissists think they know best what you should like.  And, they can’t accept the fact that you might like something they don’t or vice versa.  They act like it’s a crime, or a direct attack on them if you are different than they are, or have an interest they don’t.  And, by golly, you better straighten yourself up & only be interested in what THEY deem worthy!

It’s amazing to me that any human being can be so insecure that they will hurt, anger & try to mold another person into liking/not liking the things that they do.  How is it a threat to them if you like something they don’t?!  Who cares?!  Everybody is different, it’s a simple fact of life, so why does this even affect a narcissist?!

They are simply that insecure.

While narcissists may appear overly self-confident, the truth is that behavior is to convince not only other people but also themselves that they are wonderful, special people, & not the lowly, unworthy person they really feel like they are deep down on the inside.  So, if you don’t like something they do, then they take that as you don’t approve of them.  On the opposite side of the same coin, if you like something they don’t, they also take that as you not approving of them or you thinking you are better than they are.

Narcissists simply can’t see this situation as 2 different people having different tastes.

Remind yourself of this next time the narcissist in your life insults you for not liking something she likes, or for liking something she doesn’t.  As always, her behavior speaks volumes about her, not about you!  <3

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Self-Care

Have you ever noticed how when you’re stressed or depressed, self-care becomes a huge chore that you avoid even though these are the times you need it most?

I keep realizing this.  I’ve been going through a lot of really challenging things lately, making the C-PTSD flare up badly.  I keep neglecting to take care of myself, even though I need to do so. It’s frustrating, because I know lots of things that will help me feel better.  I also know I should be doing them.  Yet, I have no clue why I’m not doing them more often.

Have you ever done this too?  For some reason, it seems to be human nature.

Self-care is of the utmost importance, but no more so than during challenging times.  It’s easy to neglect yourself during those times, but focusing on even just simple ways to be good to yourself is so rewarding.  Walking barefoot in the dewy grass, listening to bird’s singing early in the morning, sit by a roaring fire with a mug of herbal tea or glass of wine on a snowy evening, a bubble bath, playing with/snuggling your pets or buying that new book you’ve been wanting can help to improve your mood.

Also don’t neglect a beauty ritual, Ladies!  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborate.  I personally keep mine very simple.  I exfoliate my skin often in the shower with my own concoction of equal parts ground oatmeal, cornmeal & salt, then follow this with a nice lotion.  I use shampoo & conditioner that I love, & hand & nail products that soften my hands & strengthen my nails.  Frequent manicures/pedicures also are part of my beauty ritual.  These little things help me to feel pretty, which is always good for the mood.

The next time you’re going through some stressful times, I hope you won’t push your self-care & beauty rituals to the back burner again!  You are worth it!  Take good care of yourself!

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To Stay In Relationship With A Narcissist Or Not

I’ve liked quite a few pages regarding narcissism on facebook.  This morning when I got online, several of those pages were singing the praises of having no contact with the narcissist in your life.  “It’s the only choice you have!” they say.  While that sounds logical, & often is the best choice, sometimes for various reasons, there isn’t an option to have zero contact.  Sometimes, people had children with a narcissistic partner, & while they can separate or divorce this person, they still have to have some contact due to having children with this person.  Others may live with an elderly narcissistic parent & they can’t afford to move out.  Still others may be in a situation like mine where I have chosen to limit contact drastically because I don’t feel severing all ties is the right choice for me at this time.

People who are unable or unwilling to go no contact are the people I want to talk to today.

Please, please, please- don’t let anyone pressure you into going to contact with the narcissist in your life.  No one knows your situation like you do, nor do they know what you are able to handle.  You alone need to decide when & if booting the narcissist out of your life is the right choice for you.  And, when making that choice, you need to think & pray about this situation carefully.  Never make this decision in the heat of the moment, because you may regret it later.

If you decide not to cut ties with the narcissist, there are some ways to deal with them.  Granted, there will always be frustration, hurt & anger when dealing with any narcissist, but you can cut back on these things.

  • Remember, the narcissist’s hurtful behavior isn’t about you- it’s about her.  Her lack of empathy, judgemental ways & verbal abuse are all on her.  They don’t mean there is anything wrong with you!  Don’t believe her when she tries to make you feel bad, ugly, stupid, wrong, crazy, etc.  Know your worth, & don’t let her determine how you feel about yourself.  No one so dysfunctional should determine your self-worth!
  • Set & enforce strong boundaries, & be prepared for them to be met with hostility.  Narcissists don’t like anyone trying to have boundaries, since they like to overrun them.  She will  be angry with you for daring to have boundaries, & will try to make you feel crazy or selfish.  She may even give you the silent treatment to punish you for doing so.
  • Prepare for what you know she will do.  For example, I know my mother hates my car.  It once belonged to my granddad (her father in-law), & later my father.  She will criticize it at any given opportunity, often by saying “I’d never own a car that YOUR grandfather owned!”  At the moment she said it, I was too angry to think of it, but later I came up with the perfect comeback- “Really?  You owned this car for 3 years.  Could’ve fooled me.”  What nasty thing does your narcissist do often?  Think of a good way to counter it!  Ask God for some creativity- He’ll give it to you!
  • Keep calm in the presense of the narcissist.  Don’t let her see your anger or hurt- she will feed on such things & become crueler.  Stay calm until after you are no longer in her presence, then pray, vent to a safe friend or relative, journal or whatever helps you get out the anger & hurt.
  • Get good at self care.  Dealing with a narcissist is exhuasting, physically & mostly mentally.  Take care of yourself.  Get plenty of rest, do things that restore yourself, nurture your relationship with God, participate in relaxing hobbies you enjoy, spend time with people who genuinely love & care about you.

I hope these tips help you if you are unable or unwilling to sever ties with the narcissist in your life.  <3

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Responding vs. Reacting

Good morning, Dear Readers!

As I mentioned in my last post, last Friday, my mother called, & as she so often does, attempted to push my buttons.  A part of me wanted to just jump through the phone & smack her.  I mean really- trying to shame me by acting like I’m the only person in the entire world who likes Stephen King’s writing just because she doesn’t like scary stories?  Sheesh..  how stupid!  Anyway, I refused to show her I was angry, because that only pleases her & makes her meaner.  Instead I either pretend I didn’t notice the snide comments, or respond calmly albeit a bit sarcastically.  With the Stephen King comments, for example, She ended her tirade with “I don’t know where you get your taste in books!  I don’t like anything scary!”  (she likes fluffy, light stories only) In a somewhat cheerful tone, I simply said, “You obviously don’t know any of us Baileys then.  There is not one Bailey I know of who doesn’t like scary stories.  Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker- you know, the GOOD authors.”  My mother responded by changing the subject.  HA!  She wasn’t amused that I didn’t respond in anger & I made a valid point.

My point of telling you this is that there is a very big difference in responding & reacting, & if you have a narcissist in your life, then you need to learn the difference!

What I did in the above story is respond.  I know this is a topic that comes up often (it’s an attempt to shame me for being different than her), so I have learned to prepare my responses ahead of time.  I maintain an air of calmness, even though inside I may not feel so calm, & speak my peace.

Reacting is much different.  Reacting is what you do when you don’t think or prepare ahead of timem.  When someone pushes your buttons, you react by yelling at them.  This is what narcissists want you to do- they feed off of the fact that they have so much control/power over you, they can make you so angry or even lose control.  If they can make you look crazy by yelling at them while they stay calm, all the better for them.  They get that power, plus they make you doubt your own sanity.

See the difference??

If you too have a narcissist in your life, then you need to master the art of responding & lose your reaction for your own mental health.  In order to do this, you need to know your narcissist.  What topics does she frequently bring up to hurt you with?  Does she use the same method with several topics?  How does she expect you to react to her antics- with anger?  Tears?

Once you know what to expect, that is half the battle!  From there, you can prepare various ways to respond.  I do this by asking God for help.  Help me to stay calm in her presence & help me to say creative things to let her know her game isn’t working- I’m not ashamed of myself for being different or feeling guilty because I don’t agree with her or whatever her evil goal is.  It’s worked wonderfully too!  Usually things just happen & I haven’t prepared myself other than to pray before seeing her.  My recent response to my mother’s nasty comments because I like Stephen King’s work was one of those incidents.  A few days prior, as I wrote about in this blog entry the other day, I learned that saying, “well ain’t that nice” was also effective, & it was also a spontaneous event.

Learning to respond rather than react has been very beneficial for me.  It has eliminated many topics that my mother used to use to try to hurt or invalidate me with.  It can do the same for you!  I doubt there is ever a way to completely eliminate all of a narcissist’s weapons of verbal destruction, but this one will eliminate plenty of them! I encourage you to give it a try.  What do you have to lose??

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

My Narcissistic Mother Fired Me! Setting Boundaries With A Narcissist

Good morning, Dear Readers!

It looks like my caregiving days are over with my parents.  My mother called me the other day & told me how my father’s health has suddenly taken a turn for the better.  He was doing a little light yard work & other things.  She asked him if he could resume doing the laundry (she claims her back is too bad to carry the laundry or maneuver those basement steps).  She told me he said sure, he can do it, so I don’t need to come by on Sundays anymore.

I’ve been fired!  lol

I’m not sure I believe that my father is suddenly doing so much better than he was.  It hasn’t even been one month since he had that mild stroke.  He’s had really bad dizzy spells & weakness since.

I have a theory on his sudden “miraculous healing.”  My mother would rather make him suffer (she knows he won’t disobey her) than respect the boundaries I put up last Sunday.

As I mentioned before, I told my parents last Sunday that I have arthritis in my knees & climbing their basement steps to do their laundry in addition to doing my own thing hurt me.  Going in, I knew it would, but didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was.  This meant I wasn’t sure how reliable I was going to be in my helping them (when dealing with this situation with a narcissist, turn it around to how it affects them!).  My mother has said for years now she wants her washer & dryer moved upstairs, yet has continually dragged her feet on accomplishing this task. I offered to help clear the spot where she wants them, & help get this task done.  She said she couldn’t do it, had (lame) reasons why, & deflected off the topic.  (When my husband spoke to her on the topic, she even brought out the crocodile tears!)  When I said my knees were bad, she shut me out entirely, so I spoke with my father on the topic.  I said if they won’t get the washer & dryer upstairs, then I have a number for the county.  A social worker will come & evaluate their needs, & let them know what sort of help they qualify for.  Even if they don’t qualify, I have more numbers for home health care aides who aren’t very pricey.  My parents don’t need much help, so it wouldn’t cost much at all for a little help.  My father was all for either solution, & since my mother wouldn’t listen to me, he said he would talk to her.  Apparently he did…

When my mother called on Friday, she said my father told her I have bad knees & asked skeptically, “Is that even true?”  WHAT?!  I told her yes, & as I’ve said many times, I’ve had arthritis in my knees since 2002 when I was 31.  She asked if the doctor was talking knee replacement, & I said I haven’t seen a doctor in years about it because I don’t have insurance. She then told me how if I would just lose weight, it’d help.  I was shaking at this point due to an emotional flashback.  Growing up, my mother was so hard on me about being “fat” (even though I wasn’t), I developed anorexia when I was about 10 & it later morphed into bulimia which I lived with into my teens.  At 43 years old, I was shaking with fear & anger just like I did as a child, waiting for her to say the terrible shaming things she used to say to me about how fat & gross I am.  Thankfully, it didn’t happen.  Instead, she went on to tell me how much worse others in her family have it with their knees & how a knee replacement is no big deal (bet she’d feel differently if she had one!).  The rest of the conversation was not any better.  Constant snarky, cruel comments followed, criticizing all kinds of things about me.  The volume of the criticisms was impressive, even by my mother’s legendary standards.

This is my mother’s new narcissistic rage.  Gone are the days of her screaming in my face, calling me awful, degrading names as she did when I was a teenager.  Now that she is older & frailer, & I am stronger than her, she won’t do that.  Instead, she uses the common weapons of narcissists- invalidation, criticism, gaslighting- as often as she possibly can work into the conversation.

Why the rage?  Because I set boundaries.  Rather than seeing them as me taking care of myself while also trying to take care of my parents as any emotionally healthy person would, she saw it more as me being disobedient or disrespectful to her.  She is so accustomed to being blindly obeyed by everyone, that she simply cannot handle someone not obeying her wishes.  I think the plan was for me to continue doing for my parents, & ignoring my own physical pain.  She loves to be waited on, just like her mother, & she believes I owe it to her, as her mother also believed of her children & grandchildren.

Anyone who thinks their narcissistic mother will mellow with age is sadly mistaken.  Yes, it can happen, but it is rarer than the spotted owl.  In my personal experience plus what I have heard talking with other daughters of narcissistic mothers, they get meaner.  Just because they don’t scream in your face anymore doesn’t mean they are nicer!  Getting older only means their tactics change.  They are still as evil & hurtful as they ever were.

On a positive note, I did get an inspiration for another blog post out of that awful phone call that I’ll share tomorrow.  It’s full of good information that can help you in relating to a narcissist.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism