Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue is a little discussed phenomenon.  It happens when someone continually puts other people’s needs first while ignoring their own, & eventually burns out.  It can happen with caregivers, people in helping professions such as nursing or teachers, & also with adult children of narcissists.

Adult children of narcissists learn early in life to ignore their own needs & put their parents’ needs ahead of their own.   Their parents demand it & doing so means the child has less of a chance of facing a narcissistic rage, so it becomes a means of survival.  Sadly, this sets in place a pattern of behavior that often lasts into adulthood.  A lifetime of ignoring your own needs for the needs of others can take a toll, both physically & mentally.

Some signs of compassion fatigue are as follows:

  • Being irritable.  Anyone who is tired can be irritable.  But, when you are beyond tired, irritability is pretty much a given.  Little things that normally wouldn’t bother you suddenly can seem like a huge crisis.
  • Anxiety is also common.  Being too tired can make a person feel “off.”  When that person is off, anxiety is more likely to happen, especially if the person in question already has issues with anxiety.
  • Lacking motivation.  How can a person be motivated when they are exhausted & sick of doing for everyone else?
  • Trouble with sleeping can happen too.  Have you ever heard the phrase “too tired to sleep”?  It does happen.  You may find yourself unable to sleep when normally you don’t have that problem.  You also may wake up frequently during the night or have unusual dreams or nightmares that disrupt your sleep.
  • Depression is also a common problem.  Some people are very sensitive to others, so when they need our help often, we can get depressed.  We feel badly for them because they can’t do things on their own, or the problems they tell us about make us sad for them.
  • A big red flag to compassion fatigue is feeling numb.  When you hear of someone having a serious problem, you simply feel nothing.  You just don’t care, even if the person with the problem is someone you love dearly.  This numbness can happen when you have cared too much for too long.
  • Headaches can happen as well.  If you never had migraines, they may start.  At the very least, chances are your head may ache on a regular basis even if you never suffered with frequent headaches before

If you can relate to any of these signs, then it’s time for you to take a break.  You need time to reevaluate your situation as well as to relax.

If at all possible, take some time to yourself & pray.  Tell God how you feel, ask Him to show you what to do in your situation & then listen to what He tells you to do.  He may not tell you obviously by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord”.  It may be much more subtle such as you suddenly getting the urge to resume a hobby you once enjoyed or spending time with your closest friend that you haven’t seen in a few months.  Whatever you feel you should do, then do it!  It WILL help you!

Also do things that help you feel nurtured & comforted.  Indulge in herbal teas, buy yourself that new CD you’ve been wanting or snuggle up in a soft blanket & watch Netflix all day.  Little things like that can have a surprisingly positive affect on your emotional state.

Take a break if at all possible & do it frequently.  Everyone needs breaks & there is no shame in it. And, while you take that break, refuse to think at all about what is causing this compassion fatigue.

If you’re a caregiver, arrange for help.  Tell your family you need help a couple of days per week or whatever you need.  If they refuse to help, look into professional in home care.  Contact your local Department Of Aging or Social Services.  They may be able to help you or at least point you in the right direction.  Local churches also may be of some assistance, whether or not you’re a member.  Also, don’t forget the library.  Libraries are truly a wealth of information.  My local library has a lot of very helpful pamphlets right inside the front door, & many of them pertain to caregiving.

Balance is the key to avoiding compassion fatigue.  It may feel strange & hard at first, but you need to set reasonable boundaries.  You have the right to say no sometimes & to set limits on what you do for others.  After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you help others?

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Are You Thinking Of Reconnecting With Someone?

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You Have The Right To Go No Contact!

Although the title of this post may sound like common sense, it may not be to everyone.  Or, you may logically understand that yet still don’t feel you have the right to go no contact with the narcissist in your life.  Narcissists are very good at destroying how you think, even making you feel you have to have that abuser in your life.  (God forbid you think in a healthy way!  You’re so much easier to manipulate if you are dysfunctional!)

 

I just want to remind you today, Dear Reader, that you absolutely have the right to protect yourself.  You have the right to set healthy boundaries & expect them to be respected.  You have the right to enforce consequences when they aren’t respected.  You have the right to expect to be treated with civility & basic respect.  And yes, you have the right to end an abusive relationship.  It doesn’t matter if that abuser is a friend, significant other, sibling or even a parent.  No one has the right to abuse you!  NO ONE!

 

I understand that many people who read my blog are in situations where they are unable to end their abusive relationship for various reasons.  I certainly am not trying to make you feel bad for your position!!  Everyone’s situation is different.  But, of all the reasons to stay in such a relationship, the false belief that one doesn’t have the right to end it should not be one of those reasons!

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For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse & Their Spouses

After years of being in all kinds of relationships with narcissists (family, friendship & romantic), I realize I’m different than your average woman.  This happens to victims of narcissists.  Even once we realize what has happened to us, we’re different because of the experience.  Trauma has a way of changing a person.

Those changes can be for the better, such as when we are able to recognize abusive people quickly & set boundaries with them.  The changes also can be for the worse.  Sometimes dealing with those closest to us, especially our spouses, can be difficult even when it shouldn’t be simply because of our past experiences.  I am hoping this post will help victims & their partners to understand what is happening so they can work through the problems together.

Victims are taught not to have needs & feelings & if they express any, narcissists shame them for having them.  This can make it incredibly difficult to open up to anyone, even someone we love who isn’t a narcissist.  First, a victim feels wrong & ashamed for feeling or needing whatever they do.  Then that person is terrified of being shamed or invalidated for having them.  Even if someone has been nothing but kind to a victim, the victim still can fear that person’s disapproval or rejection.  If your partner is that way, please don’t take it personally.  It isn’t your fault!  It’s a side effect of narcissistic abuse.  Please just be patient.  Listen without offering advice unless you are asked for it.  If you don’t understand something, ask questions without sounding judgmental.

Being overly negative happens sometimes too.  Partner, it’s not your fault!  Healing from narcissistic abuse is a long, arduous, painful journey.  Sometimes it gets to be too much.  It feels like everything is bad, even when it truly isn’t.  It can be very easy for a victim to get mired down in negativity.  Please do NOT tell this person to cheer up, others have it worse or get mad.  That will only add to the negative mindset.  Maybe suggest going out to dinner or to the park- some small gesture to distract the victim could be helpful.  Make your loved one feel loved & safe.  Let her know she can talk to you if she wants to, but doesn’t need to if she doesn’t want to.

Along the lines of being very negative is making small things a big deal.  When you feel overwhelmed in trying to heal, or if you have C-PTSD or PTSD like so many victims of narcissistic abuse, sometimes you feel you can’t handle one more thing.  Then when that one more thing comes along, it’s too much & you blow up.  Even something as simple as misplacing a pen can push you over the edge & you snap at your spouse who had nothing to do with the missing pen.  If this is happening, try suggesting some down time to your spouse.  Suggest lunch out with a good friend, or you both go somewhere you enjoy like the movies.  Even a brief reprieve can be helpful in regaining a better perspective.

Many victims project the image of not needing their partner.  People who grew up with narcissistic parents had to be very self reliant.  It became a way of life.  Even if a victim has shed that behavior, if there is any issue in the victim’s marriage, self preservation kicks in & this behavior comes to the surface.  As the person who sees this behavior, let it be a sign to you that something is wrong in your marriage.  Try to figure it out.  Ask your spouse if everything is OK & be reassuring of your love.

Emotional withdraw is common too.  Suddenly, those little nice things your mate did for you stop or seem to be a burden to do.  Maybe your mate is too tired for sex when that was never an issue before.  This is a sign something is wrong.  Try doing nice gestures like bringing home your partner’s favorite coffee or a new book, CD or DVD.  Little gestures like that can be reassuring & may make your spouse feel more willing to open up to you.

Being married to someone who has survived narcissistic abuse can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.  A little love, compassion & understanding can go a long way.

 

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Signs Of Unhealthy Behavior In INFJs

Since  I first learned about the Myers Briggs personality test a few years ago, I’ve become fascinated with it, in particular my type (INFJ)  & my husband’s (INTJ).  It’s been very helpful in getting to know us both better.

Recently I learned about some of the signs of an unhealthy INFJ.  I realized I have too many of these qualities!  Since I know some of you who read my work are also INFJs, I thought you might want to learn this information too so you can work on getting healthier like I am.

Unhealthy INFJs excuse toxic behavior.  “He didn’t mean it- he was just tired.”  “She really cares, but isn’t necessarily good with words.”   Sound familiar?  I’ve noticed that I do this mostly when I’m under a great deal of stress.  I think it’s a coping skill- there is so much to deal with, I can’t cope with dealing with one more toxic person, so I excuse the behavior.  Since INFJs can be logical, not only emotional, it’s a good idea to look at  situations logically.  It helps you to see toxicity when it’s there.

Being over the top perfectionistic.  It’s a good thing to do things to the best of your ability.  But, being too much of a perfectionist can steal your joy.  It’s OK to make mistakes sometimes!  Everyone does.  Don’t let your self-esteem be too tied to what you do.  You are more than your accomplishments!

Always putting others’ needs ahead of yours.  It’s great to be selfless, but when other people come before you & your needs constantly, that is unhealthy!  It can lead to resentment, anger & burn out.  It’s ok to say no!  Your needs are just as valid as anyone else’s- treat them accordingly.  Remember to set & enforce healthy boundaries.

Walls are firmly built.  While it’s just smart to protect yourself, an unhealthy INFJ can build walls around themselves that are impossible for anyone to penetrate, even those close to us.  This can happen when we don’t resolve an issue.  An argument with my husband, even a minor one, that wasn’t resolved well can result in me building concrete walls around myself until it is resolved.  Walls also can happen when an INFJ is especially anxious or overworked.  Learn to recognize those walls, & why they’re in place, then deal with what made you build them.

Feeling responsible for everyone else’s feelings.  As INFJs, naturally we want to see other’s happy.  We want to cheer up our best friend when she’s sad or our husband after a bad day at work.  This is a wonderful trait, but when taken to the extreme, it is also extremely unhealthy.  Caring so much for others leaves no room to care for one’s self.  Remember that everyone is responsible for their own feelings.  It isn’t your job to take care of everyone’s emotional needs.

INFJs can be too passive.  Most INFJs are pretty laid back, content with letting others have their way most of the time.  While this isn’t a bad thing, when taken to the extreme, it can lead to the INFJ being taken advantage of.  Remember that it’s OK to ask people for things & to have your own way sometimes.

 

While learning you behave in these unhealthy ways can be discouraging, please don’t be discouraged.  The healthier you become & the more you heal emotionally, the more your behavior will change naturally.  You may not even work on these behaviors specifically, but one day realize you are no longer that way.

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Aging & Narcissists

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Encouragement For The “Weak”

This post is for those of you in the position of being unwilling or unable to go no contact with a narcissist.

Almost every bit of information available for those in a relationship with a narcissist basically say the same thing- “just go no contact.”  The tone of some articles & even some fellow survivors who say the same thing can be downright shaming, as if being unable or unwilling to go no contact means something is very wrong with you or you’re weak.

While it’s certainly true that no contact is almost always the best way to deal with a narcissist, that doesn’t make it an easy solution.  Whoever the narcissist is in your life & no matter how badly that person treats you, it still hurts to end a relationship.  The closer the relationship the more it hurts, too, such as ending a relationship with your parent hurts a thousand times more than ending it with someone with whom you have gone on only a couple of dates.  Due to the nature of narcissists, they usually abuse those closest to them.   This is probably why the most abusive relationships with a narcissist are the closest relationships, such as parents & spouses, & those relationships are very hard to end.

Abusive or not, it still hurts to end a relationship with someone so close to you.  Not wanting to end that relationship doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or you’re weak.  It means you’re normal!

Even if you want to go no contact, it often takes time to work up the inner strength to be able to do it.  Narcissists beat their victims down so badly, they can obliterate their self esteem.  Once you learn what is happening, it takes time to repair your self esteem & to build up enough strength to go no contact.  Or, maybe you know somehow that the timing isn’t right somehow for no contact.. that happened to me with my parents.  I wanted to go no contact with them for well over a year before I felt God was saying it was time.  There is also the common situation of a victim who lives with a narcissist being financially dependent on that narcissist.   It takes time to be able to save enough money to move out, to find a job & a place to live.  None of these situations make a person weak or flawed.  It simply means they’re in difficult situations.

There are also some folks whose narcissist is pretty low on the spectrum.  Yes, that person causes problems but they aren’t over the top in their behavior.  Some people would prefer to learn ways to deal with them than end those relationships.   That is their right to make that choice

For those of you in those situations, I want to encourage you today.

I know it’s terribly hard being in a relationship with a narcissist in any capacity.  Until such time as you are ready & willing to go no contact, there are some things you can do to make your life a little easier.

As always, I recommend praying.  Ask God to show you creative & effective ways to cope with the narcissist as well as to help you to go no contact if that is your desired result.

Always remember- narcissists are all about gaining narcissistic supply to prop up their egos.  It’s their primary motivation for everything they do.  Any attention or reaction you give them, good or bad, provides that supply.  Be as boring to the narcissist as possible.  Show them no anger, sadness or even joy.  Be calm & cool in the presence of the narcissist.  Offer simple answers without explanations.  Provide no personal information.  This is known as the Gray Rock method.  Basically, you become as boring to the narcissist as a plain gray rock.

Don’t forget to question things the narcissist says.  They are masters of gaslighting & manipulation, so basically almost everything they say can be a lie.  Ask yourself if what is being said is true or not.  You also can question the narcissist, but if you do so, do it calmly in your gray rock way.  “Oh?  Why do you think that?”  “Explain to me how that makes sense.. I don’t follow you.”  Logical, calmly asked questions like that can throw a narcissist off kilter.  It lets her know that you’re onto her games & won’t be manipulated.

Keep & enforce healthy boundaries.  You have the right to tell the narcissist no & to expect to be treated with respect.  You also don’t need to explain your boundaries.  Or, if you feel you absolutely must, remember to stay gray rock U keep explanations minimal.

Also remember that whatever they are doing isn’t about you.  It’s about them.  Yes, that person is hurting & abusing you, but it’s because it makes her feel better.  You have done nothing to deserve it & nothing that person says about you is true.  Narcissists project their own flaws onto their victims.  It doesn’t mean you actually are whatever the narcissist says you are.

If you are hoping to go no contact in the future, low contact may be an excellent option for you.  It’s as the name describes- you are in low contact with the narcissist.  You don’t take phone calls or visit as often, but only when you feel able.  Low contact can be a really good stepping stone to no contact.

While there are no easy solutions for dealing with narcissists, these tactics can help you.  And, don’t forget- there isn’t anything wrong with you for being unable or unwilling to go no contact.  It’s a big decision, & every person has to do it only when they feel equipped to do so.

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Another Weapon In The Narcissistic Arsenal

One weapon narcissists use is to tell their victims “I know you better than you know yourself.”  While it may sound rather innocuous, that phrase, especially when said by a parent to a child, can be devastating to the self esteem.

My mother said this to me my entire childhood.  I ended up feeling like I was stupid (how can a person not know themselves after all?!) & like I had to look to her to know what I liked & didn’t like, my opinions on things, what I should & shouldn’t do.  I was so insecure, & partly because of that stupid phrase!  Even now, in my mid 40’s, I have issues sometimes with figuring out what I really like & don’t like.

Have you heard this insidious phrase from your narcissistic parent too?  If so, you’re not alone!

The key to letting go of the insecurity caused by hearing this phrase is to pay attention to yourself.  Get to know you.  The real you, the person God made you to be & not the person your narcissistic parent tried to make you into.  Notice how you truly feel about everything.

Chances are, when you first start to do this, you’ll feel some guilt, like you’re going against your narcissistic parent’s wishes.  That is normal.  Just remind yourself that you are allowed to be an individual.  God created you to be an individual.  You were made to be you, not some cheap imitation of you & certainly not some lump of clay molded by a narcissistic parent only concerned with their wishes.

As you begin to know yourself, your narcissistic parent will disapprove.  Don’t let that disapproval discourage you. The disapproval doesn’t mean you’re wrong or a bad person at all!  It means the narcissist is disappointed in you for not continuing to allow her to control you.  If your narcissistic parent attempts to make you feel bad, wrong, guilty or ashamed because you’ve changed, pretend you don’t notice.  Ignore the comments!  You do what is best for you, NOT the narcissist!

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Flying Monkeys

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What Happens When You Go No Contact Before The Narcissist Can Discard You

Narcissists, as we all know, are all about procuring narcissistic supply.  Anything or anyone that props up their self-esteem is a good thing.  Naturally this also means that anything or anyone that damages their self-esteem is a foul, evil thing deserving of the most intense hatred imaginable due to the narcissistic injury it caused.

 

Ending a relationship with a narcissist is possibly the most grievous of narcissistic injuries.  Even when a person isn’t a narcissist, it hurts when someone ends the relationship they had with you.  You grieve & move on in time.  Not so with narcissists.  There is nothing normal about them, especially when it comes to someone ending a relationship with them.

 

Narcissists see this as the person being ungrateful, selfish, wrong, stupid & more.  They don’t see that their actions forced the person to sever ties with them- they only see that you were unreasonable & cruel to them, & should be punished.

 

Many awful things can take place once a victim leaves a narcissist.  You need to be prepared for these likely scenarios.

 

Being fake.  Don’t fall for the good guy/girl act- the narcissist is only being nice in an attempt to lure you back into relationship.  If you go back, the niceness won’t last long.  That apology?  Was it really sincere or  a fake apology?  “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  “I’m sorry for whatever you think I did.”  “I’m sorry I did that but you made me act that way when you…” are not real apologies!  Genuine apologies show the person accepts responsibility for their actions.  They show the person apologizing is remorseful & wants to make it up to you if possible.  They don’t make excuses.

 

Harassment or stalking.  Narcissists love to stalk & harass.  They may drive past your home constantly, show up at places you frequent, or bully you online or through texts.  Even if you block their email or cell phone number, they often find ways around your boundaries just to prove they’re in control.  I was harassed by a narcissist for several years.  Early on, I blocked her home IP address from accessing my website, & she used another computer to copy an article on there I wrote about forgiveness & email it to me.  Talk about unsettling!  It showed me how determined this person was to let me know she would do whatever she wanted, no matter what I wanted or didn’t want.

 

Unfortunately in most states, laws haven’t caught up to cyberstalking, so your legal recourse may be limited.  Even with stalking in real life, it can be hard to prove sometimes.  Whether you can get the law involved or not, document EVERYTHING.  It’s always good to have that documentation in case you need it to prove a pattern of behavior.  Save texts, emails or screen shots in a safe place, like an online storage cloud.  Computers & cell phones die, & you don’t want all your documentation to be lost.

 

Smear campaign.  Always a favorite tool of narcissists, is the smear campaign.  You doing so means they may be exposed for the evil monster that they are, so they need to do something to prevent that from happening.  If they can convince other people that you are mentally unbalanced, a drug addict, or vengeful, the chances of people believing them over you are much greater.  Especially so if things are said in the guise of concern.  “I worry about her.. she does some pretty heavy drugs yanno…”

 

There really isn’t anything to do about a smear campaign.  If you defend yourself, chances are the person you’re speaking with will think that is proof that the narcissist is right.  You really are crazy, on drugs, etc.  The best thing you can do is allow your character to show.  You go on being the good person you are.  Those who believe the narcissist really aren’t your friends anyway.  True friends don’t blindly believe bad things about their friends no matter who says them.

 

Flying monkeys/triangulation.  Another favorite tool of narcissists is getting other people to do their dirty work for them.  This provides a potential for a double dose of narcissistic supply.  Getting someone to do as the narcissist commands is always good, but getting them to get someone else to do the narcissist’s will?  Amazing!

 

Resist the attempts to manipulate you back into relationship with the narcissist.  Refuse to discuss the narcissist with this person.  Change the subject when they discuss this person, repeatedly & even rudely if need be.  You may find out this person is extremely devoted to the narcissist, & you need to end that relationship as well.  Unfortunately, it happens often.

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Are You Considering Reconnecting With Someone With Whom You Went No Contact ?

Anyone who has made the decision to go no contact has no doubt thought about resuming that relationship at some point.  This is especially common when a person ends a familial relationship.

 

I really think this is because God made people to need relationships, in particular those with our families.  Ending a familial relationship is abnormal, no matter how valid the reasons.  It goes against nature so it’s very painful to do & also to live with.  As a result, it’s only natural to reconsider the decision to go no contact with family.  When parents are involved, that decision is doubted even more often.

 

If you’re reconsidering your decision to go no contact, first of all, please know you aren’t abnormal, a glutton for punishment or anything else bad you may be feeling right now.  You’re normal.  In spite of the tremendous amount of prayer & consideration that goes into going no contact, I seriously don’t think there is one person who doesn’t have doubts about it at some point.  I certainly haven’t talked with anyone who hasn’t doubted their choice.  I can honestly say every single person has, including myself.

 

If you end a relationship with a family member, chances are slim that person will be out of your life entirely.  You may see each other at family parties, reunions, weddings & even funerals.  Even if you haven’t spoken to each other in a long time, you still share relatives & they will mention that person at some point.  They may mention what is new in that person’s life or that they saw that person recently.  If that person develops health problems, you are guaranteed to hear all about it, whether you want to or not.

 

When you see that person after a long time or when a mutual friend or relative mentions that person is having health problems, those are likely times for you to consider reconnecting.  Before you do that, please pray & think long & hard before you do anything.

 

When you pray about it, listen to what God has to say.  He probably won’t give direct orders by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord….”  Instead, you may feel a “knowing” about what you need to do.  Listen to that!  I firmly believe those “knowings” are from God.

 

Think long & hard about what this person you’re considering reconnecting with is doing.  When your mutual friend or relative talks about that person, do you see old familiar patterns in that person’s behavior?  Is that person still controlling?  Critical?  Abusive?  If so, reconnecting is a terrible idea!

 

Another thing to watch for- if that person has told someone to tell you that they are sorry, do that person’s actions back up the words?  Has the person accepted responsibility for their abusive actions?  Did she mention specific acts that she was apologizing for or did she say non apologies like “I’m sorry you feel I was mean to you” or “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did wrong”?  Non apologies are NOT real apologies!  They are said to lure you back into the relationship thinking all is OK now.

 

Also watch the person’s behavior.  Does that person respect the fact you wish to stay no contact or try to contact you even years later?  Safe people don’t like when someone ends a relationship with them, but they at least respect that person’s decision.  They don’t inundate them with phone calls, texts, emails, posts on social media, etc.  They stay out of the life of the person who ended contact with them.  Unsafe people are much different.  If they don’t want to end a relationship, they will fight hard not to let it end.  They often harass, stalk, & bully.  My mother & I stopped speaking to each other in 2016, & all was fine.. until my father was dying in October, 2017.  Suddenly she called & sent me notes in the mail often & the flying monkeys attacked me constantly.  Two months to the day after he died, & also two days before Christmas, I received a letter from her lawyer in the mail trying to force me to talk to her.  This behavior shows me that nothing has changed with her.  She still believes what she wants is what matters.

 

So Dear Reader, if you are considering ending no contact with someone, then please consider what I said.  Pay attention to what you hear & observe about the person before allowing that person back into your life.  And most of all pray!  God will NOT lead you wrong!

 

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My Newest Book Is Available!

I have just published my newest book, “When A Narcissistic Parent Dies.”  As the title suggests, the book is about when a narcissistic parent dies- what the adult child can expect to experience & feel, ways to cope, flying monkey attacks, & things to think about such as should you be involved in caregiving, should you say good bye or attend the funeral.

 

It’s available in print & ebook form at the following link:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Books-For-Sale.php

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Life With High Functioning C-PTSD

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Body Memories

Your body remembers everything that you’ve experienced, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, & stores such memories on a cellular level.  Your brain may or may not remember things, but your body does.  This is why certain smells, sounds, tastes, feelings or sights bring specific feelings to mind.

Body memories are especially common with victims of sexual assault.  Even if the assault happened when the victim was too young to recall details, smelling the same cologne the attacker wore, or hearing music that was playing in the background during the assault can trigger incredible anxiety in the victim, even a panic attack.  The victim’s mind may not recall the assault, but the body remembers every detail.

Body memories aren’t only linked to sexual assault, however.  They also happen with victims of other types of abuse, including narcissistic abuse.

Often, narcissistic abuse is a series of constant traumatic events.  I think of it much like a machine gun of abuse- one trauma immediately follows another then another & yet another in rapid succession.  You don’t have time to heal from one trauma when another five are thrown your way.  It may be too much to cope with, so your mind forgets some of the abuse as you try to survive the constant trauma.  However, your body remembers it all.  That is why certain things trigger anxiety, fear, anger, etc. in you for no obvious reason.  It is your body’s way of trying to protect you from things like that happening again.

A couple of years ago, I went to my old high school with a friend.  They were having a craft show & we thought it’d be fun to check it out since we both love crafts & both attended that school.  From the moment we set foot on the campus, I became anxious & even panicky.  I had trouble holding back the tears until we left.  It turned into a miserable experience for me.  I had no idea exactly why I was in such a state then.  Since, I have remembered a few instances of abuse at the hands of my mother on the property of that school though, which apparently my body remembered even though my mind didn’t at the time.

When things like this happens, you need to remember you aren’t crazy!  Your body is remembering something pretty terrible.  There is pain that you need to acknowledge.  Some people suggest talking out loud to yourself.  Remind your body that what happened won’t happen again, & that you survived.  You’re OK now.

I think prayer is a better idea, however.  Asking God to help you to cope.  Or, maybe a combination of prayer & talking to your body.  Whatever works for you is what matters.  Body memories can be a very unpleasant thing to deal with, but at least they can help offer some insight into areas where you need healing.

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Ways Narcissists Shift The Blame From You To Them & How To Cope

As anyone with experience with a narcissist knows, they accept no blame for anything they have done.  Ever.  You can confront them about something terrible they have done, then later walk away wondering why you just apologized to them instead of them apologizing to you.  This post will help you identify some of the common blame shifting behaviors so you won’t fall for them in the future.

Probably the most common thing that narcissists do to shift the blame is to play the victim.  This is especially common with covert narcissists, but overt ones will do it as well.  The narcissist will turn your legitimate concern around in such a way that you feel as if you’re being too hard on that person, overreacting or being too sensitive.  After all, they never had any idea that what they said or did would hurt you, they say.  Or, they may bring up some (probably imaginary) thing you did in the past, claiming that is abusive, & turning the topic of the conversation to that incident rather than your topic.

Closely related to playing the victim is the guilt trip done to shift blame.  They may tell you about something painful that they experienced in their childhood or say things like, “Why are you yelling at me?  I didn’t mean to hurt you!”  Before you know it, you’re comforting them even though they hurt you!

They often accuse their victims of bad or even abusive behavior, but especially during the times when they are confronted.  This is an effective way to shift the blame from the narcissist to the victim.  My mother did this to me when I was growing up.  She said I made her do something bad to me because of how terrible I was acting.  On my seventeenth birthday, she destroyed my gifts that my now ex husband gave me, then made me clean up the mess she made.  She said because I was “acting so snotty”, which is what made her destroy those gifts.  The truth was when I took the gifts from school to her car at the end of my day, I was terrified what she was going to do to me because she hated my ex, & was quiet.  I wasn’t “acting snotty”- I was acting terrified!

Narcissists also minimize the feelings of their victims to shift blame to the victim.  Basically, this shifts the blame to the victim for how they responded to the abuse rather than the abuse itself.  They may say things like “You’re too sensitive,”  “You’re crazy,” or “I was just joking!”

When you’re talking with a narcissist & these things happen, then you can be certain they are attempting to shift the blame off of themselves.   The best thing you can do is to redirect the conversation back to the original topic, as calmly as you can.  Wait on the narcissist to finish whatever she is saying, then calmly say something, “Ok, but that isn’t what we were talking about.  We will address that later.  We’re discussing ____ at the moment.”  You may have to do that a few times, but keep doing it.  If that doesn’t work, try saying, “We’ll talk about this another time when you are ready to talk,” then leave or hang up the phone, & approach her another time in the very near future.

Unfortunately with narcissists, there is never an easy answer.  Doing what I suggested may not work at all for you in the sense of being able to hash out the problem at hand.  However, the good thing is it will let that narcissist know that you aren’t going to be fooled by the blame shifting nor will you be pushed around.

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About Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Things Adult Children Of Narcissists Do Because Of Their Parents

Being raised by a narcissistic parent or two causes a person to act differently than people raised by healthy, functional parents.  Aside from the most obvious common problem, C-PTSD, being raised by narcissists creates certain unique behaviors that almost every victim exhibits.  This post addresses those behaviors.

 

Being afraid to say no.  Narcissists don’t allow their children to have boundaries.  “No” can be met with abuse- name calling, scathing criticisms, guilt trips & even physical violence.  Children use “yes” as a survival skill as a result.  They learn early in life that it’s easier to do whatever their narcissistic parent wants than to say “no” & face the consequences.  This behavior becomes such a habit that it is often carried into adulthood.   While it served a good purpose as a child, it no longer does as an adult.  Being a healthy adult means having healthy boundaries.  You need to start asking yourself why are you saying yes?  Are you saying yes because you want to or because you’re afraid of disappointing someone if you say no?  Start saying no when you’re saying yes when you don’t want to.  Some people won’t like it, but one thing to keep in mind- healthy, good, caring people respect boundaries.  Users & abusers don’t.  If someone gets upset with you for having a healthy boundary, that isn’t the kind of person you need in your life.

 

Apologizing too much.  Narcissistic parents blame their children for every single thing, so their children learn to apologize for everything, whether or not it’s their fault.  This dysfunctional survival skill also carries into adulthood, & needs to stop.  When you feel the urge to apologize, pray.  Ask God is this truly your fault?  Should you apologize or are you only doing so out of habit?

 

Being unable to express emotions in a healthy way.  Narcissists can’t handle the emotions of other people, including their children.  They force their children to stifle their emotions, often by shaming them for having them.  This tells children their emotions are bad.  To cope, may continue to repress their emotions while others express them in inappropriate ways such as getting angrier than is appropriate for the situation.  It can be hard, I know, but you need to learn to get in touch with your emotions & give them a healthy outlet.  Ask God to help you to do this, because it will get scary, especially showing anger after a lifetime of stifling it.  Journaling can be helpful, too- seeing things in writing brings clarity.

 

Not trusting your intuition & perception.  Constant gaslighting is possibly the most cruel form of abuse there is, & also a favorite of narcissists.  Gaslighting makes a person second guess everything about themselves- their instincts, perception, feelings, thoughts- because it makes a victim feel that they are wrong about everything or even crazy.  The fact is though that you aren’t wrong or crazy- you are FINE!  The gaslighting made you doubt these things but it doesn’t mean that they are actually wrong or flawed somehow.  Your instincts, perceptions, feelings & thoughts are just fine.  They are trustworthy!  Ask God to help you to learn to trust yourself.  Pay attention, too.  You’ll see that the more you you’re right about little things, the more you learn to trust yourself.

 

Over explaining yourself.  Narcissistic parents demand their children behave in certain ways that are acceptable to them, no matter how their child feels about it.  When the child fails to meet the impossibly high expectations, the parent demands an explanation for the failure.  One more dysfunctional survival skill children of narcissists learn is to explain anything & everything, & again, this often continues into adulthood.  It feels strange at first to stop over explaining yourself, but if you stick with it, it gets more comfortable as time goes on.  Always remember, not everyone needs an explanation for what you do.

 

These behaviors, although dysfunctional, don’t have to be permanent.  With prayer & work, you can make healthy changes.

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“Just Let It Go!”

So many of us raised with narcissistic parents have heard the phrase “just let it go” too many times to count upon mentioning our awful upbringing.  People fail to realize that we would love to let it go & not think about it anymore.  Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple!

 

Narcissistic abuse is incredibly ubiquitous.  It doesn’t simply affect one small part of you- it permeates every area of your mind & even body.  All of your thinking stems from the perspective of someone who was abused by a narcissist.  Your body may reflect that abuse too, even if the narcissist didn’t attempt to hurt you physically.  The constant stress of living with a narcissist can lead to adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, C-PTSD or PTSD (which are both brain injuries resulting from surviving trauma).

 

Simply put, you can’t “just let go of” such things no matter how much you wish you could.  And honestly, why would you?  To make some cold hearted, unfeeling person more comfortable in your presence?  Life experiences- good, bad or indifferent- made you the person you are.  Learn from them all & grow!

 

There are some things you can let go of, however.  You can let go of:

 

  • expecting the person who told you “just let it go” to be caring & supportive of you.
  • the warped belief that something is wrong with you for having problems (either physical or mental or both) after surviving narcissistic abuse.
  • that sick belief the narcissist instilled in you that you made him/her abuse you.
  • believing that you are the only one responsible for making relationships work.

 

The next time someone tells you to “just let it go,” you can tell them what you have let go, using the above statements as an example.  Or, if you really want to throw them for a loop, ask them what exactly do they want you to let go of & how they recommend you go about doing so.

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Helpful Tactics For Dealing With Narcissists

As anyone with experience with narcissists knows, you can’t avoid them entirely.  Try as you might, they are everywhere.  Because this is a sad fact of life, everyone needs to have some effective weapons in their arsenal.

 

Below is a list of things that can help stop narcissists in their tracks.  While I always recommend prayer as the best place to start, these are some useful tactics I have found that can be helpful as well.

 

  1. Show no emotions when in the presence of a narcissist.  Narcissists feed off the emotions of their victims.  If you act happy, they will do their best to make you unhappy.  If you’re sad, they’ll try to make you sadder.  Angry?  They will push your buttons to attempt to make you even angrier.  In the presence of a narcissist, show NO emotions.  You aren’t happy, sad, angry or anything.  You simply are.  This gives them nothing to work with.
  2. Ask the narcissist, “How does that make sense?”  It is best to ask this question logically, minus any signs of emotion aside from confusion.  Narcissists are highly illogical beings, so when you ask them to explain their actions, it can stop them in their tracks.  It also can cause a narcissistic injury, but not one they usually react to with narcissistic rage.  They know if they do, they’ll end up looking ridiculous, & that fact stops them in their tracks.
  3. “No.”  Simply, no.  No explanation, no excuses.  If they continue to try to pressure you for more information, simply continue saying no.  Narcissists don’t know what to do with this, especially when you refuse to explain your no.  They may try to intimidate you with their anger or make you feel guilty for your no, but if you stay dedicated to your no while showing no emotions, they will give up fairly quickly.
  4. Make eye contact.  People who have nothing to hide or are honest have no problems making eye contact.  Narcissists have plenty to hide & are very dishonest.  Eye contact will freak them out.  They don’t know what to do with a person who meets their gaze.
  5. Let them know that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  Narcissists expect the world to center on them.  If you let them know this isn’t the case where you are concerned, it will fluster them.  To do this, you can refuse to do something for or with them because you have other plans at that time.  “I can’t.. I have plans that day” without any explanation is a perfectly acceptable response.  “Oh” when they cry to you about how mean someone was to them also works.
  6. Let them know they don’t scare you.  Overt narcissists in particular love to intimidate their victims.  Intimidation means a victim will do whatever you want, & overt narcissists rely on that fact.  But think about it- what can this person do to you?  Chances are, not much.  If that person belittles or criticizes you, remember that narcissists project their flaws onto their victims & do their best to tear a person down.  That doesn’t mean what they say is true!  If you remember that & show no fear or even act a bit bored, you aren’t showing fear.
  7. Let them know their guilt trips don’t work on you.  If the narcissist is a covert narcissist, rather than try to intimidate you, chances are very good they will use guilt.  Guilt can be difficult to fight.  Instead of accepting their guilt trips, ask yourself if what they say makes sense.  Should you feel guilty for what they say you should?  Was that truly your responsibility?
  8. Show your self-confidence.  I adopted a chow chow mix dog in 2002 for my husband for his birthday.  What I didn’t know about Bear at that time was that chows are known for having a very dominant nature.  Combine that with the fact he obviously had been abused, & it was a recipe for disaster.  It took a lot of work to turn him into the wonderful, loving, kind dog he turned into.  The main thing that helped was to let Bear know he was NOT in charge.  Dominant dogs need a very strong leader or they will take over, & Bear was no exception.  Narcissists are much the same way.  If you show any sign of weakness, narcissists will take over.  If you refuse to believe the awful criticisms they say or be manipulated, & make your feelings know, narcissists will back down.  Bullies are at their heart cowards, & since narcissists are usually bullies, this applies to them as well.

 

Nothing is guaranteed to stop any narcissist from abusing you for good, but using these comments can stop them at least temporarily.  They may even stop the narcissist for good on specific topics.  I wish you the best with the narcissists you face, & hope these tactics help you!

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15 things not to say to someone with a chronic condition

Yes! These things are terrible to say to someone with any sort of problem, really, but in particular a chronic condition of any type.

The Narcissist's Daughter

Chronic pain and disease are not just pain or sickness.

It is frustration, sadness, anger, anxiety, emptiness, and loneliness. It is wondering how on earth you will make it through, and if you can cope with this forever. It is wondering how you can pay the bills, buy your medications, and visit the doctors, while still putting food on the table for your family. It is missing your life, the one you had before you got this sick and being scared of the future.

Surviving with chronic pain, or illness means that each morning when you get up (if you can get up) you face the day with uncertainty and fear. You try to put a smile on your face and cope the best you can, but often failing.

Those of us who have this battle withstand so much mockery and blame from others, there is so much misunderstanding and…

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Sneaky Ways Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

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Ways Flying Monkeys Try To Silence Victims Of Narcissists

Not only do narcissists want to silence their victims, but their flying monkeys want to do so as well.  This post will explain some of the ways they accomplish that.

 

Flying monkeys use some of the same topics as narcissists.  Personally, I believe that is because many of them are also narcissists, frequently covert.  I say this because it’s obvious that they gain something from being flying monkeys, & I think that something is narcissistic supply.  Often, they get to look like a good person, just trying to help, which is something that is extremely attractive to covert narcissists.  They’re also very manipulative, which describes all narcissists.  If they can get you to do what they want, they’re also obviously thrilled about that, & I think that is because it’s narcissistic supply.  Any time a narcissist can control another person, it makes them feel powerful, which gives them narcissistic supply.

 

One thing flying monkeys do to silence victims is invalidate them.  They have complete disregard for the victim’s pain, & have no trouble letting victims know that.  Invalidation quickly shuts a person down.  A frequently invalidated person feels like no one would want to hear anything they say because they are wrong, stupid or even crazy.

 

Another thing flying monkeys do is shaming their victims.  They do their best to make victims feel ashamed of themselves for being upset that the narcissist abused them.  They remind the victim that this is the only mother they’ll ever have, or remind the victim that her parents are elderly & won’t be around much longer.  If the victim has gone no contact with the narcissist in their life, there will be shaming for that too.  Flying monkeys may say things like, “After all that person did for you…”  “That kind of behavior isn’t honoring your mother or father!  If you’re a Christian like you claim to be, you would…”  “The Bible said God hates divorce.. you should work things out with him!”  If they can make you feel enough shame, you will suffer in silence, not confronting the narcissist or discussing the abuse she put you through with anyone.

 

Flying monkeys are also good with gaslighting.  They will let you know that they don’t believe you.  Things couldn’t have happened that way or they didn’t happen at all.  They accuse you of lying or at the very least exaggerating.  Anyone who they can make doubt themselves enough won’t confront the narcissist or reveal the abuse.  Why would they if they are unsure of what really happened?

 

Triangulation is another common toll flying monkeys use.  They will recruit the services of other flying monkeys to gang up on you.  If you stop speaking to one flying monkey, then a friend or relative of that one may contact you with the same messages as the original flying monkey.  The goal is to have as many people as possible give you the same message so you will do their will.  This even can apply to silencing victims.

 

Flying monkeys also love bullying, & can do it in many ways.  I think the most common is to call, text & email a person constantly in an attempt to wear them down so they do the flying monkey’s bidding.  One of my father’s flying monkeys & I were once on friendly terms.  She eventually got mad & stopped speaking to me.  I later blocked her on Facebook  in case she had any thoughts of wanting to contact me.  When she couldn’t reach me there, she emailed me & also used her dead mother’s Facebook to send me a message.  Others have called my home, letting the phone ring for several minutes straight or called back many times in a short period of time or both.  One of my mother’s flying monkeys once called my home three times in a row, letting the phone ring between 20 & 30 times each time she called.  My phone rang almost non stop for 5 minutes straight!  If a person can be worn down like this, then certainly that person can be forced to do anything the flying monkey wants, which is why they find this weapon so effective.

 

Flying monkeys also experience a narcissistic rage, because as I mentioned earlier, I believe they are also narcissists.  The rage of an overt narcissist is different than a covert one, one is very loud & abrasive while the other is quieter & slyly manipulative, but the end result is the same- no one wants to be on the receiving end of any narcissistic rage.  If a flying monkey finds out that you have confronted their narcissist or damaged their reputation by telling others of the abuse you have endured, rage will come upon you & it will be ugly.  The hope is the rage will be ugly enough to stop you from doing what you did ever again.  I’ve been on the receiving end of narcissistic rage of two flying monkeys for things other than them wanting to shut me up, but I can tell you, the rage is definitely enough to make you want to do anything to avoid it in the future!  I was fortunate enough that they weren’t in my presence when it happened, they both sent me emails, so I didn’t have to read what was said.  Unfortunately though, my email provider lists mail so you not only see who the mail is from & the subject line, but a little of the content of the email.  The little I saw was very painful.  One flying monkey attacked me for being “a bad Christian” & the other told me what a terrible daughter I am.  Not nice stuff.

 

Smear campaigns are an extremely common tool of narcissists & their flying monkeys.  If nothing they have done to silence you works, the smear campaign is their last resort.  They will talk trash about you to every single person they talk to, from their best friend to their hairdresser.  Everyone they meet will know what a terrible person you are, even if they have to make up wild accusations to make that happen.  Smear campaigns serve two purposes.  One is simple revenge.  You made the flying monkey’s narcissist look bad, so the flying monkey wants to make you look bad.  The other purpose is to discredit you, so if you tell anyone the flying monkey knows about the narcissist’s abusive ways, you won’t be believed.

 

Just remember, Dear Reader, you don’t have to be silenced.  You have every right to speak about whatever you want & to confront whoever you feel needs confronting.  Don’t let anyone stop you!

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Ways Narcissists Silence Their Victims

Silence is one of any narcissist’s best weapons.  They do NOT want their victims to talk to anyone about what the narcissist is doing, nor do they want their victim to feel safe enough to confront them on their abusive behavior.  To prevent those things from happening, they use various ways to silence victims.

 

An extremely common tactic narcissists use is gaslighting.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that something happened differently than they remember or it didn’t even happen in the first place, the victim won’t discuss the event.  Why would they?  Convincing victims that they don’t remember things right or are making up some wild stories will keep them quiet.  They feel crazy enough- why should they say things that would make them look crazy too?

 

Shaming is an effective weapon to create silence as well.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that the victim is a terrible person, that victim will be quiet.  That person feels as if she or he is stupid or crazy or even unworthy to “burden” other people.  A person who carries shame is a quiet person.  I know- I have been there.  Granted, I’m quiet by nature but prior to learning about shame, it was much worse.  For example, I felt there was something deeply wrong with me for being upset about the terrible things my ex did to me, so I kept most things to myself.  As a result, when we separated, no one cared to hear my side- everyone took his side with only a couple of exceptions.  They never heard me complain before, so they figured everything must have been OK between us.

 

Another facet of shaming is when a narcissist is confronted about their behavior & states that behavior wouldn’t upset her.  She has no idea why you’re upset. My mother did this one to me regarding her nastiness about one of my cats.  Chester is a big cat, but he’s very muscular  My mother called him fat more times than I can count.  I’d told her to stop being so mean repeatedly with no results.  Eventually I complained about it to my father, who told her what I said.  She called me & said she had no idea why I’d be upset.  She actually said, “If someone called me fat, I’d just tell them they were right.  I certainly wouldn’t be angry about it!”  I knew immediately that statement was supposed to make me feel shame for being angry with her.  It didn’t work.  It just made me angry she would try such a ridiculous tactic.

 

Projection is also effective for silencing a victim.  When a narcissist accuses a victim of some terrible behavior, it usually stuns a person.  Most people will assume the narcissist is right, examine their behavior & try to make improvements, at least until they learn about projection & understand what is being done to them.

 

Triangulation is another effective way narcissists silence victims.  If a narcissist can convince their victim that other people would think, feel or respond as the narcissist, that makes the victim feel isolated.  The victim may think he or she is crazy, stupid, oversensitive & a host of other awful things.  Who would want to talk when they feel that way?

 

Invalidation is another excellent way to silence a victim.  Invalidation basically says that every single thing about you is wrong, flawed & even crazy.  It makes a person feel as if they cannot trust their own thoughts, feelings or perceptions.  No one who feels that messed up is going to feel able to confront a narcissist or tell others that they are being abused.  In fact, invalidation makes people feel as if they are NOT being abused, & they are completely wrong & crazy for thinking such a thing in the first place.

 

Creating anxiety & fear in a victim also makes the person quiet.  If a victim is afraid of another, that victim isn’t going to want to do anything that may provoke that person’s anger.  In fact, they will do anything to avoid that anger.  That often includes refusing to confront their abuser or tell anyone about the abuse.  After all, what if the person they tell confronts the abuser?  It’s much safer to keep the abuse a secret.

 

Narcissists also love to wear a person down to make them easier to force into silence.  They can do this by sleep deprivation if they live with a victim or by harassment if not.  They constantly call, email or text.  The sheer volume of calls, emails & texts can wear a person down.  It takes a great deal of strength to ignore your phone’s constant ringing or alerts to receiving new emails & texts.  It probably doesn’t sound so bad, but I can tell you, being on the receiving end of it, it really is stressful & exhausting!

 

No one can forget a narcissistic rage.   These happen when a narcissist receives a narcissistic injury of some sort, which basically is a blow to their self-esteem.  Talking to others about the narcissist’s abusive ways or confronting a narcissist about them is definitely a narcissistic injury & will result in a rage.  The rage of an overt narcissist is usually loud & vicious.  Name calling & cursing aren’t above them.  The rage of a covert narcissist is much quieter, & it involves the silent treatment & scathing criticisms to make you feel intense guilt.  A person would do about anything to avoid this rage, & that includes suffering in silence, not telling anyone about the abuse they endure or confronting the narcissist about it.

 

Diversion is another excellent way to silence victims.  Anyone who has confronted a narcissist has no doubt seen this in action.  The conversation starts out with a victim stating that they have a problem with the narcissist’s behavior, & it ends up discussing something entirely different.  Often, it ends up with the narcissist accusing the victim of some awful or even abusive behavior, & the victim apologizing.  The original topic was abandoned, & no resolution was made.  Sometimes diversion isn’t so obvious though.  Sometimes, the narcissist simply changes the subject & continues to ramble on & on, leaving the victim so frustrated that they give up.

 

Lastly smear campaigns are very commonly used. If a narcissist can’t stop you from confronting them or telling others what they have done to you, they will not hesitate to tell everyone they meet what a terrible person you are. They’ll have plenty of evidence to prove their point, too, even if they have to lie about it. If they can discredit you, they know others won’t believe what you say. It also is revenge. You made them look bad, so they are returning the favor.

When these things happen, remember that these are simply tactics that are supposed to silence you.  Don’t give in!  You have every right to talk to whoever about whatever you want.  It’s your life, the narcissist is only a part of it.  If that person wanted you to speak kinder about or to her, she should behave better.

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Letting go of the guilt from “Limited Contact”

An excellent read!

The Narcissist's Daughter

Those of us from abusive families struggle so much, the natural love we have for kin, along with the desire to protect ourselves from their vitriol and manipulations can be so very confusing.

Add in being a Christian, and it can become even more difficult. Most advice for dealing with Narcissistic family is to go “No Contact” with them, but when you feel an obligation to care for them because you are a Christian (or really, for any reason, many who aren’t Christians also feel this obligation too) it is impossibly to heed this advice. “Limited Contact” even brings guilt!

Over the years people, mostly well meaning, some not so much, have quoted many scriptures at me. They have demanded that I accept that these words from the Bible mean that no matter what my mother has done to us, now or in the past, that as my mother she…

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Engulfing & Ignoring Narcissistic Mothers

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How to honor your abusive parents

An excellent read!

The Narcissist's Daughter

Christians everywhere are aware of the words of Ephesians 6:2 – “Honor your Father, and your Mother“.

For those of us with abusive parents, it is a very hard command to keep. It is one that brings much angst and guilt, tears and pain as we wrestle with our desire to please God. It is one that is fraught with confusion as we try to figure out how best to honor them, without harming ourselves.

After much tearful prayer, I came to the conclusion that just as there are different types of families, loving ones, and abusive ones, there are also different kinds of honoring.

When we honor abusive parents in a way that protects us and our own families, we are in fact still fulfilling the commandment, and need not feel guilt that we do not honor them through close contact – although that may be considered…

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Caring For Elderly Narcissistic Parents

1 Timothy 5:3-8  “3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  (NIV) 

 

Elderly narcissistic parents are often even more entitled than their younger counterparts.  For their children, this can be an incredibly painful position to be in.

 

Many adult children of narcissistic parents feel they have no other option than to be their parents’ caregiver, even at the cost of their health & their own family.  After all, we can’t forget Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NIV).  Then there is 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (KJV)  Doesn’t this all mean you have to be hands on with your elderly parents, no matter what?  NO!!

 

I do NOT believe that God wishes His children to take care of their narcissistic parents no matter the personal cost.  That doesn’t sound like the God I know!

 

First, to honor your parent simply means to give them the respect they deserve as the people who created you.  You acknowledge them as your parents.  You speak to them civilly, not rudely or disrespectfully.  Honoring them does NOT mean tolerating their abuse.  It also doesn’t mean that you neglect your family to take care of your parents.  If you opt to take care of your parents in a hands-on way, you can honor them by helping them as much as you feel able without wearing yourself out or neglecting your family.

 

Also, remember 1 Timothy 5:8 says that you must provide for them.  You can provide for your parents in various ways, not necessarily being “hands on”.  Arranging for help to come to your parents’ home is a great way to help them & provide for them.  Researching local resources for whatever help they need is providing for them.  Paying for things your parents need yet can’t afford but you can is providing for them.

 

As your parents become elderly & need more assistance than they once did, you need to prepare ahead of time as much as you can.  Even if your parents are still relatively young, start to look towards the future now.  You never know what can happen.  Things can change in an instant, so you need to be prepared.

 

Start praying & asking God for wisdom & insight on what boundaries you will need to set when the time comes as well as strength to enforce those boundaries.

 

Read up on the topic to see what others do with their elderly narcissistic parents, & honestly ask yourself what you can & can’t do.  There are plenty of informative caregiver websites out there.

 

Most libraries are a wealth of information.  The library near me has a ton of pamphlets & booklets near the entrance on various services in the area, including information from the local Department of Aging.  I found a booklet there for seniors’ resources.  It includes information on cleaning services, in home health care, assisted living facilities, contact information from the Department of Aging, & much more.   Your library may have a similar booklet- it’s worth checking into.

 

If you’re going to be involved in caring for your narcissistic parents, it’s best to learn as much as you can about what’s happening with their health.  Narcissists love to exaggerate their illnesses, & you need to be aware of what the truth is & what they are making up.  Read up about their conditions online or talk to their doctors without them around.

 

If something needs to be done to help you to help them, stress how this will help them.  Leave out how it will benefit you entirely, & make it sound like it will help them only.  In my own caregiving experiences, I’ve noticed that saying that something will help me falls on deaf ears.  Saying that same thing will benefit the narcissistic parent however, gets the narcissist’s attention.

 

In fact, don’t discuss anything about you as much as possible.  If an elderly narcissist knows you’re not feeling well or are tired, they will push you to do more & more as they can get away with it.  Wearing you down gives them some sick pleasure.

 

When you set boundaries, do so as cheerfully as possible & with no explanations.  As always, any information these people get can be turned into ammunition they will use to hurt you with.

 

It is possible to keep your sanity in tact while caring for a narcissist.  Keep in mind everything you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, set & enforce boundaries, don’t neglect yourself or your own family for your parents & most of all, keep God first in your life.  Depend on Him completely to help you do such things & show you what to do, when to do it & how to do it.

 

If you opt to keep your distance, then try not to feel guilty.  If you know in your heart that you can’t be a more hands-on caregiver, there is no shame in that.  God only asks people to do their best, nothing more.  Sadly, some people are so incredibly toxic, there is just no way to interact with them on a daily basis.  It happens, unfortunately.  If your parent is that way, you have done nothing to feel guilty about by protecting yourself.

 

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Filed under Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissistic Parents & Food

Many of us who grew up with narcissistic parents ended up with food issues or even full blown eating disorders.  This usually isn’t because we were using some poor coping skills to deal with the abuse.  It’s because many narcissists are obsessed with food, & they put their own issues onto their children

Some narcissists hoard food, not even wanting to share it with their own child.  Some complain incessantly about what their child eats or doesn’t eat.  Some expect & even demand their child like & dislike the same foods the parent likes & dislikes.  When the child has a different opinion, the parent invalidates & criticizes the child.  Some force their child to eat when they’re not hungry, & then complain because they did eat.  Many also criticize their child’s weight extremely harshly, ridiculing the child for being too fat or too skinny, even when the child is a healthy weight.  Some narcissistic parents even withhold food from their child as a punishment.  Growing up in such madness definitely creates food issues for a child.  How could it not?

I grew up hearing how fat I was ever since I can remember.  Looking at childhood pictures though, I don’t see a fat child- I see a normal child.  Well, now I do.  When I was a child, I saw someone incredibly fat & disgusting.  So much so, I went through anorexia at about age 10, then later bulimia in my teens.  My mother also criticized what I ate & how my entire life.  According to her, I either ate way too much or way too little & was wasting her money on food.  She even made me eat when I didn’t want to & called me a hog if I ate the last of something, such as the last cookie in the package.  And, she encouraged emotional eating.  Sad?  Have a snack.  Happy?  Celebrate by having a snack.  Angry?  Eat.. it’ll make you feel better.  I also wasn’t even allowed in my mother’s kitchen growing up.  I wasn’t even allowed to get myself something to eat or drink.  Neither was my father.  The kitchen was my mother’s private domain, & no one was allowed to enter unless they wanted to face her wrath.

I bet many of you can relate to some if not all of my story, can’t you?

I think the reason so many narcissists behave so crazily about food mostly boils down to narcissistic supply.  Food is necessary for life.  Eating is a way to take care of yourself.  Narcissists never want their victims to do anything good for themselves since it might contribute to healthy self esteem- something they refuse to allow victims to have.  Supply is gained if they can tear apart someone’s self esteem or prevent someone from gaining any boost to it.  Plus, parents can control what their children eat, & control is a great way to provide a narcissist with supply.

Projection also can be why narcissistic parents behave this way with food.  If your narcissistic mother has her own food issues, she won’t deal with them as a normal person would.  Instead, she’ll try to put them on you so she can get upset about them while refusing to take any responsibility for them.  This certainly happened with my mother.  She was raised by her own narcissistic mother, & one of her coping skills her mother taught her as a child was to turn to food.  She maintained that skill as an adult & judging by how she’s always been with me, is deeply bothered by it.

Personally, I’m still trying to sort out my own food issues since most of the time, I don’t want to eat, but at least it’s much better than it once was.  It’s a long journey towards healing in this area.  God has truly helped me a great deal with it though.  He has helped me to understand that my mother did wrong in this area (among others) with me, & the things she said to me & accused me of were wrong.  He’s also helped me to understand food better & reject the awful teaching I received about it growing up.  He can do the same for you, Dear Reader.  Turn to God.  Ask Him to help you heal in this area & to teach you whatever it is you need to know.  He loves you so much & will be more than happy to do so!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Narcissists Don’t Leave Victims Alone

When a person cuts a narcissist out of their life, no matter if the relationship is romantic, a relative, a parent or a friend, many times, that narcissist will harass or stalk that victim for months or even years.  They relentlessly call, text, email, drive past the victim’s house, stalk the victim online, & send flying monkeys to pressure the victim into resuming the relationship.  While this may not sound all that bad, I can tell you from personal experience, it is REALLY bad.

 

When you are constantly bombarded by someone who is trying to get you to talk to them & you don’t want to, or told how horrible you are for not talking to them, it’s painful.  It’s also scary because you don’t know where the person will come from next.  This creates a state of hyper vigilance.  Each day when you wake up, you wonder what the person has planned for you on that day.  Will this person fill your inbox with angry emails?  Will you have to change your phone number yet again?  Will that person kill you?  That may sound like a big leap, but I can tell you that when someone inundates you with abuse, you really wonder how far away that person is from killing you.

 

And, when the abuse stops, you don’t trust it.  You wonder how long before it starts up again?  When will the other shoe drop?  Did that person hear about something that happened in your life & will they resume harassing you because of it?  To date, I’ve been harassed since 2013 by a narcissist.  I haven’t heard anything from her since October, 2017 when she used the opportunity of my father dying as an excuse to email me to tell me I was a narcissist.  Yet, even though here we are, over four months later & I don’t believe that was the last I’ll hear of this person.  She may read this post, realize I’m talking about her & start up again for all I know.  It’s happened before.

 

I am far from the only person that this sort of thing has happened to.  Many others have experienced long term stalking & harassment by their narcissist after they initiated no contact.  One thing we all have in common is wondering why has this happened?

 

I firmly believe the reason that narcissists react this way boils down to narcissistic injury.  It’s painful for anyone when another person ends a relationship with them, but that pain is greatly intensified when the person is a narcissist.  Narcissists rely on others to make them feel good about themselves so they can gain narcissistic supply.  Any little thing can make them feel smart, strong or attractive.  If someone says, “That’s a good idea” to a narcissist, they take that as they are exceptionally smart whereas the average person would thank the person for saying it & simply go on with their day.

 

On the opposite side of the same coin though, any little thing can make them feel badly about themselves, or cause a narcissistic injury.  If a narcissist’s friend was recently dumped by a new love interest, & while upset, is short with the narcissist, the narcissist takes it personally.  The narcissist may even end that friendship.  Most people wouldn’t respond that way.  They would realize the friend isn’t attacking or being abusive- the friend is upset & spoke out of that upset.  If a small thing like that can cause a narcissistic injury, then doesn’t it just make sense that ending a relationship would cause a much greater injury & naturally much greater reaction to it?

 

Also, narcissists want to be the ones in control, including being the ones who end relationships.  If you end the relationship, this takes away their control.  Now you have someone who has lost control AND a relationship that they weren’t ready to end.

 

In addition, most victims have been in the relationship for at least a little while.  Narcissists expect their victims to continue tolerating abuse indefinitely.  It seems to shock them when that doesn’t happen, & a victim stands up for him or her self.

 

All of these things combine for a perfect storm of rage inside the narcissist.  Once that rage kicks in, nothing can stop it & whoever they feel is to blame for that rage must pay.

 

If you find yourself in the unenviable position of being on the receiving end of a narcissist’s stalking & harassment, you must protect yourself!  Never, ever underestimate one of these raging narcissists.  Don’t make the mistake of brushing off their awful behavior & thinking it’s no big deal.  Maybe it isn’t a big deal & maybe they’ll leave you alone soon, but maybe it’ll become a bigger deal & they won’t leave you alone.

 

Look into the stalking & harassment laws in your state.  Get familiar with them, so you know when you can get the police involved if need be.

 

Document EVERYTHING.  Hopefully, you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you saved it. Even if the narcissist’s behavior wasn’t always illegal, just mean spirited, that still can work in your favor with law enforcement, because it shows a history of bad behavior.  Save screen shots, texts, emails, etc on cloud storage or email them to yourself, saving them on your email provider.  Phones & computers die, so saving things elsewhere means they are there forever.

 

Do NOT interact with the narcissist.  This is tough, because you want to just rip that person apart & tell them exactly what you think of them for all they have done to you.  That would be a horrible mistake though!  Do you realize how much narcissistic supply that would give this person?  The narcissist would then be the victim, in her mind, & you the abuser.  She could tell people how mean you were & for no good reason.  Or, if you said anything to the narcissist in front of others, it would just prove her case that you are the real problem, the abuser, or even crazy.  Plus, since the narcissist could get this reaction out of you, she would do whatever she could to get it again & again, to gain more supply.   As difficult as it is, deprive them of the supply.  Give them absolutely NO reaction or response unless it is through the police.  If you decide to get the police involved, pray & seriously consider it before you do.

 

I know it’s hard, Dear Reader but you will get through this!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Why You Shouldn’t Defend Yourself Against A Narcissist’s Smear Campaign

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism