When most people think of an abusive person, they think of someone who is physically abusive, such as the man who beats his wife & children. Some may also think of a verbally abusive person, too. There is so much more to abuse than these two methods, however! Narcissists often use the following tactics, so it’s wise to be aware of them.
Forcing a person to do something they don’t want to do is abuse. This can include anything, such as following unreasonable rules, looking a certain way or even performing sexual acts. The forcing can be accomplished in many ways, like withholding money, using intimidation, guilt or shaming or simply telling the victim there is no choice in this matter.
An extremely possessive & jealous romantic partner is being abusive. Almost everyone has a little bit of possessiveness & jealousy in them, & that is normal. Being upset someone flirted with your spouse is bound to bring out that jealous streak. What is not normal in that situation is if someone becomes enraged at their spouse, accusing them of having an affair with the person who flirted with them or even resorting to physical violence. When your partner’s jealousy makes you afraid to speak with anyone your partner doesn’t approve of, this is a sign that their behavior is abusive.
Giving no privacy is abusive. Unless you have given someone a valid reason not to trust you, such as if you cheated on your spouse, there is no good reason for you not to have privacy in your relationships. It’s healthy for each person in a relationship, any relationship, to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Each person should be able to trust that the other person won’t snoop through their emails, phone, purse, etc. Snooping makes a person feel guilty & paranoid about everything, even when they have no reason to feel that way. It’s a miserable way to live!
Isolation is abuse. If the other person you’re in a relationship with tries to keep you from seeing your friends & family, this is a huge red flag! Abusers of all kinds like to isolate their victims as a means of being able to control them. Isolation limits the information, help & support a victim can receive, which makes them easier to abuse.
Intimidation is also abuse. My ex husband used to punch walls sometimes when he was angry with me. He even told me that I was lucky he hit the wall instead of me, because that was what he wanted to do. Intimidation also can come in the form of someone telling you that they’ll tell everyone you know private things about you & that no one will want anything to do with you after they know those things.
Keeping you from accessing any money is abusive. Naturally parents don’t allow their children to access their bank accounts, but they also don’t restrict their children from working. They also don’t expect their children to give them most of their paycheck for rent. A spouse that refuses to add your name to bank accounts or credit cards, or prevents you from working is also being abusive.
Using religion to force you to behave as they want is abusive. Spiritual abuse seems to be on the rise. It can come from those in the church, spouses & even parents. Spiritual abuse is when someone tries to manipulate your behavior by twisting Scripture around to justify their abusing you or manipulating you into doing what they want. This is one more reason I believe it’s wise to have plenty of knowledge of the Bible. People who spiritually abuse can be quite convincing with what they have to say. The best way to combat this is to have knowledge of the Bible & a relationship with God.
Just remember, Dear Reader, anyone who shows these behaviors is being abusive. Don’t tell yourself it’s no big deal, it doesn’t mean anything or any other excuses. These behaviors are abusive & you have every right to protect yourself!
Those of you young men & women who are still living at home with your abusive parent (or parents), this post is for you today.
You are in a rough place, as you well know. I’ve been there too, & I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Until you can move out, no doubt you could use some advice to help you cope.
I hope those of you reading this share my faith. Knowing God has been the most important part of my life, including helping me to survive the abuse. When I was living with my parents, however, I didn’t believe in God because of the abuse. No doubt many of you feel the same way & your parents also have misused religion as an excuse to abuse you. Please know that God is nothing like what abusive parents say He is! He is loving & kind, & will gladly help you through this! If you’d like to learn more, click this link: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/salvation-through-jesus-christ/
Learn everything you possibly can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The more you understand it, the more it will help you to figure out ways to cope with your parent’s behavior. It also will help you to remember that you are NOT the problem, your narcissistic parent is. While that may seem obvious when you first learn about NPD, narcissists can be very manipulative. Even to the point of making others believe they are the real problem in the relationship. That happened to me with both my parents & my ex husband. I honestly believed I was the problem in spite of them clearly being the abusers. Not only did I feel awful but they used that as another way to control me. Since I thought I was so awful, I trusted them to tell me how to be better. Learn from my mistake! Abusers are always the problem!
When dealing with your parent, try to show as little emotion as possible. The reason being narcissists use people’s emotions against them. Are you happy? The narcissist will try to make you sad. Are you sad or angry? The narcissist will try to make you sadder or angrier, then tell you that you’re crazy because of how you feel. Always remain unemotional around your parent.
Save up money as best you can. Be frugal with your money & save as much as you can, because you are going to need quite a bit to get a car & to move out. Also, stash your money somewhere where your parent can’t get to it. Many narcissistic parents steal from their children, so you need to be careful about where you hide your money.
Move out to somewhere safe as soon as possible. A roommate helps financially, so that may be an option. You’ll need someone who has a steady job & is responsible, as well as someone you get along well with. Some folks rent out rooms in their home, too. Or, maybe a friend or relative would let you move in with them. Consider your options & make plans as best you can. Don’t share your plans with anyone that might tell your parent about them, however.
If at all possible, buy what you can to prepare for moving out. If you plan to live with a relative or rent a room, you probably won’t need much. A bedroom set, toiletries, towels.. things like this. If you have a friend or relative that knows your situation, they might be willing to hold these items for you until you need them so your parent doesn’t find out about your plans.
I know all of this must seem overwhelming, but really you got this! You have survived so much up to this point which shows you are strong! You can do it!!
I know it seems like it’s only you. No one else is still sticking it out with a narcissist in their life. You probably even feel ashamed & like a coward for not ending the relationship when so many other folks have. Today I want you to know that it isn’t only you, you have no valid reason to feel ashamed, & you aren’t a coward!
So much information says, “Just go no contact” when it comes to narcissists. They make it sound so easy, as do many survivors of narcissistic abuse. The truth of the matter though is no contact isn’t easy!
It isn’t important whether the narcissist in your life is a friend, romantic partner or even a parent. Ending any relationship is very sad & painful. Although that usually is the best solution & often the only one when dealing with a narcissist, even that doesn’t make this an easy or less sad solution.
There is also the fact that narcissists don’t usually abuse strangers. They abuse those closest to them. Ending a relationship with someone you have known for a month isn’t so hard. Ending it with someone you have a long history with however is really tough.
Don’t forget too, that narcissists can behave very well when they want to. It can be so hard to leave someone who has the ability to be good to you! Most people want that good version to come back & are willing to hang in there in the hopes it will happen.
If you believe no contact is the right solution for your situation yet are having trouble taking that step, please know you’re ok. Really! No contact is such a difficult move to make. It often takes a great deal of time to work up the inner strength to end an abusive relationship. Narcissists do their best to destroy their victims’ self esteem. Once that happens, it takes a lot of time & work to rebuild that self esteem to the point of being able to leave the abuser.
If you’re living with the narcissist in your life, maybe you are in the unfortunate situation of being financially dependent on this person. It happens more often than you may realize. Narcissists abuse in every possible way, even financially. They often spend all their victim’s money, run up the victim’s credit cards, create a great deal of debt in the victim’s name then refuse to pay is in order to ruin the victims’ credit & even force a victim to sign their paychecks over to them leaving the victim destitute.
None of these scenarios are your fault. Sadly they are very common.
You will know when & if the time is right to end the relationship with the narcissist in your life. Until that time comes, there are some things you can do to make your situation a bit more bearable.
Always remember to pray. Ask God for help. Ask Him to give you creative & effective ways to deal with the narcissist. Ask Him to help you by giving you whatever you need to go no contact.
Never forget that the primary motivation of anything a narcissist does is narcissistic supply. The less supply you provide, the more likely the narcissist will leave you alone. Think about this person- what provides him or her with that supply? Stop doing those things. Your anger provides supply? Never show the narcissist you’re angry. You looking your best provides supply? Then let yourself look sloppy sometimes. No doubt you can come up with a list of things that provide this person with narcissistic supply & ways to stop providing it.
One tool I found to be quite useful with narcissists is asking logical questions without showing any emotions. You can say things like, “I don’t understand what you mean. Would you explain that?” “Why do you think that is a good idea?” Asking these kinds of questions in a calm manner flusters narcissists. It shows that you’re onto their manipulation, but in a manner that they know if they get mad at you, they’ll look foolish. Since narcissists hate the very thought of looking bad in any way, chances are good they will change the subject to avoid this conversation.
If you don’t know much about boundaries, then it is time for you to learn. You have every right to have reasonable boundaries, such as being able to say no without inciting rage. You also don’t have to explain your boundaries. Doing so only encourages a narcissist to try to convince their victim why their boundaries are wrong & instill doubt. It’s best to state your boundaries without explanation.
Also never forget that the way the narcissist is treating you isn’t about you. It isn’t personal at all. I know it feels that way but the truth is the narcissist behaves this way because they have issues. It isn’t because you deserve to be treated as they are doing. Remembering this can help to take some of the pain out of their abusive ways.
Lastly, if you are able, low contact is a very good stepping stone to no contact. Only deal with the narcissist when you feel able to do so. Give yourself permission not to take every single phone call or visit the narcissist every time he or she demands you do so. Sometimes, narcissists in this position will initiate no contact with their victim since the victim is no longer a good source of narcissistic supply.
Remember, no contact is a very big decision. There is nothing wrong with you for taking your time about making that big step. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! You will know in your heart when the time is right & have the ability to do so!
Narcissists love to hurt their victims. It gives them a feeling of power, control & superiority to be able to affect victims as profoundly as they do, so it’s no wonder they do it so often.
Narcissists have a vast collection of ways to cause their victims pain. Following is a list of some of their favorite methods used to accomplish this. Some of these methods are quite subtle, & may not even seem abusive at first, but they absolutely are.
If you want validation, count on the narcissist to withhold it from you. Narcissists won’t tell you that you did a good job or that you’re right about something. Withholding validation is a form of invalidation, & is done to let you know how unimportant everything about you is.
If something important is going on with you, whether it is good or bad, you can expect a narcissist to steal the spotlight somehow. They may invent a crisis or pick a fight with you. If something bad is happening to you, they may steal the spotlight by talking about how the event affects them. My ex husband & father did this constantly. I ended up comforting them rather than them comforting me.
If you need help with something, you can expect the narcissist to resist. Either he or she will disappear completely or will help but do things in a lazy, sloppy way. If this person does help you, the help most likely accompanied by a great deal of complaining or letting you know what a huge sacrifice he or she is making & how you should appreciate it.
If you’re sick or injured, you can count on a narcissist to disappear or act annoyed with your suffering. Since they lack empathy, they won’t care about how awful you feel. They most likely will trivialize your suffering on the off chance they acknowledge it. And, if the narcissist in question is your romantic partner, don’t think your illness or injury will have any affect on your sex life. You still will be expected to perform as normal, no matter the state of your health.
If you want sex from your narcissistic partner, you can count on the narcissistic partner to claim to be too tired. They must be in control in every area, & that includes your sex life. They also don’t care what their victims want in any area.
If you’re talking, chances of the narcissist interrupting you are excellent. It keeps the focus on them because a person who is interrupted naturally stops talking to let the interrupting person talk.
If you’re lonely, you can expect the narcissist suddenly to be too busy to spend time with you. The same goes if you need to talk to him or her about something. If you decide to spend time with someone else, the narcissist will become angry that you didn’t just wait to spend time with him or her. You will be called unreasonable, impossible to please or something similar.
If you want to drive somewhere when you & the narcissist go out together, count on your driving being criticized either actively or passively, no matter how safely you drive. Actively criticizing it is easy to spot. They tell you that you’re driving too fast, tailgating or other similar comments. Passive criticizing isn’t so easy to spot. It’s quieter & more covert, such as bracing themselves as you approach a red light or stop sign or cringing as you drive. I believe the passive criticism is even worse, because if you say something, the narcissist has plausible deniability. He or she can say things like, “I never complained about your driving!” “I never said you were speeding!” Before you know it, you easily can end up apologizing to the narcissist.
When you witness these behaviors from the narcissist in your life, remind yourself that they are abusive! You aren’t unreasonable or wrong or impossible to please. The narcissist is trying to hurt you. Don’t let that happen! Remind yourself what is happening so you aren’t hurt by their ridiculous & abusive behavior.
Narcissists love to manipulate & control their victims. One way they control their victims is to make them feel powerless, as if they have absolutely no control over any aspect of their own lives.
Feeling completely out of control & powerless is a horrible way to feel! It saps your joy & makes you feel utterly hopeless. Being depressed & hopeless may make you miserable, but it also will make a narcissist feel wonderful. This is because they have control over you & know you won’t do anything about it.
Don’t let the narcissist in your life get away with doing this to you! Take your power back! You can do this!!
As always, I recommend you start with prayer. God will be glad to give you whatever you need, be it insight, strength, courage or anything else. Let Him help you!! You need every advantage you can get where narcissists are concerned, so why not let God help you?
If you haven’t done it already, start learning about boundaries. You need to have very clear views on where you end & the narcissist begins, because one way narcissists remove a victim’s power is by blurring those boundaries. Victims often feel responsible for the narcissist in ways that they shouldn’t. As an example, narcissists make victims feel responsible for their feelings & actions. How many times has the narcissist in your life said something like, “You made me do that!” “I wouldn’t be so angry if you wouldn’t have said/done what you did!”? I would guess you can think of many examples. I certainly can.
As you learn about boundaries, you’ll need to learn some new & even creative ways to say no to the narcissist. Always remember, normal ways to set boundaries don’t work with narcissists, so avoid saying things like, “Please don’t do that.. it hurts me when you do that.” Admitting the narcissist’s behavior hurts you only provides narcissistic supply which means they’ll do that thing over & over again. Instead, say things like:
There are also other things you can do to help yourself to regain some control. Start small. Organize your purse, a desk drawer, your car’s glove compartment. Work up from there onto something larger, maybe get rid of some clothes you no longer like even though the narcissist likes them. You also could paint a room or replace a piece of furniture. Keep taking back your power, little by little. The more you do it, the easier it becomes & the less you’re willing to settle for someone taking away your power.
Naturally as you do these things, the narcissist is NOT going to be happy about it. Most likely, the narcissist will realize that a rage will make him or her look bad, so that won’t happen. Instead, probably there will be passive/aggressive behaviors such as giving the silent treatment. Invalidation is also common. The narcissist may act as if there is something wrong with you for liking whatever it is you did that took back some of your power. Criticism certainly is going to happen. The narcissist will let you know that whatever you did was wrong, stupid, a waste of time & anything else negative they can think to say.
When the narcissist acts this way, always remember that it says more about the narcissist than you. Normal, functional people encourage others to be independent & have good boundaries. They also aren’t threatened by such things. Only unsafe & even narcissistic people are threatened by such normal, healthy, behaviors.
Dear Reader, you can do this! You can take back your power!
General anxiety & anxiety associated with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD, are very different. Generalized anxiety involves things that might happen. What if I get fired? What if I get into a car accident? Anxiety that stems from C-PTSD is nothing like that. For me, I seldom even know the cause of my anxiety. I just feel crippling anxiety with no clue why.
One aspect of this anxiety that has baffled me the most is sometimes when I wake up, either during the night or first thing in the morning, it attacks. It comes in these awful waves where I feel like the anxiety is going to overwhelm me, then it passes, then it comes back again & passes again. This happens usually for a good half hour at least until eventually the anxiety just stays away until the next time. For quite some time now, I’ve tried learning what this is about with no luck… that is until recently. I wanted to share what I learned since I have no doubt many others live with this obnoxious phenomenon, too. If you’re one of the “lucky” ones like me, I hope this helps you.
After having survived trauma, in particular repeated traumas, your brain knows the worst case scenario. It’s seen some really ugly things, up close & personal, & quite frankly does NOT want to go back to that. Understandable, of course. The problem is the brain will do anything to avoid this, & can take things too far.
The traumatized brain is in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. Sometimes, the brain acts like it believes danger is about to happen at random, such as I mentioned happens to me when I first wake up. Whether danger is actually there or not, it thinks danger is lurking & triggers the fight, flight or freeze responses kick into overdrive. It’s kind of like car alarms when they first became popular in the late 1980’s & early 1990’s. They were so easily triggered that virtually nothing could make them sound. This is like anxiety in a brain that’s experienced repeated traumas.
And good luck at this point convincing your panicked brain that no danger exists. It knows better because it’s seen some pretty terrible things. It won’t be reassured that there is no danger because of that.
When this type of anxiety kicks in, you can handle it. I know it’s hard, but it’s possible.
Remind yourself of what is happening, that this anxiety is only a symptom of C-PTSD. It isn’t a sign that there is any potential danger. It’s a symptom of a brain that has been broken due to experiencing horrific traumas. Nothing more. Maybe think of it like a toothache. If you have a cavity, your tooth will hurt until you’ve seen the dentist. If you don’t know that you have a cavity, that pain will scare you. However, if you are aware of having a cavity, the pain will still hurt of course, but at least you won’t be scared because you know why you have the pain. When you know what is happening, it can make it much easier to cope with a difficult situation.
Try to understand why the anxiety is so bad. You may not be able to figure that out, but hopefully you can. If you can, then you can calm the anxiety by figuring out a solution to the problem or reassuring yourself that the problem isn’t so bad.
Never forget to pray, too. God understands us even better than we understand ourselves. When you don’t understand why the anxiety is happening or how to calm it down, He will. Let Him help you! He will be glad to!
Before I write one word on this topic, let me just say that I don’t believe every single person who has experienced abuse must write books or a blog about their experiences. It’s a very good thing to do of course, but it also isn’t every person’s calling in life. If you’re reading this & immediately felt badly because you have yet to write publicly about your experiences, then please stop. You have no reason to feel badly! That may not be what God has planned for you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
That being said….
I firmly believe that everyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse needs to be open about their experiences. No victim has a reason to feel shame for being abused, so why hide it? Why pretend it didn’t happen? Instead, be open about your story. The Bible says in Proverbs 31:8-9:
“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
Stand up for the poor and destitute!” (MSG)
By being open about your story, you can help other people! Sharing your story in any capacity can let people know that they aren’t alone. There are so many victims who don’t understand their pain & your story can help them. There also are those who don’t know anything but abuse, & when they hear your similar story to theirs, their eyes open. Suddenly they see how wrong the things that were done to them were. Your story can give them the courage to walk away.
If you speak openly & without shame about your awful experiences, you can do more good than you realize. You can help people in so many ways by doing nothing more than talking.
And, if you think this is only about other people, you’re wrong. By being willing to discuss your own experiences, you can help yourself as well.
Do you know anything about the legends of vampires? I read quite a bit about them when I was a kid. I learned that vampires were very powerful, supernaturally powerful in fact, unless they were exposed to the sunlight. The sun would utterly destroy these impossibly strong, immortal beings by turning them into dust. That same principle applies to issues stemming from abuse. So long as they remain in the dark, in other words, they aren’t discussed, are ignored or hidden, they have a great deal of power. They control your life. Once you discuss them however, they lose that power like a vampire in the sunlight. Discussing your issues helps to release you from their hold over you somehow. It’s incredibly healing to be open about abusive experiences.
In my younger days, even though I knew something was very wrong, I still didn’t want to discuss the abusive situations I experienced. I felt like if I did so, I was betraying my abusive parents & ex husband. It seemed wrong to do anything other than hide what they did to me. Not that they told me I shouldn’t tell anyone what they were doing, but it was as if it was some unwritten rule that I shouldn’t tell anyone what they did. Many victims of abuse feel much the same as I did, that they shouldn’t “tattle” on their abuser.
I want to tell you today that this thinking is wrong. This is your story too, not only that of the abuser! You have every right to share as much or as little as you want to. Abusers aren’t the only ones who can talk about whatever they want! You have that right as well!
I do want you to know that if you opt to discuss your experiences freely either verbally or in writing, you need to be aware of the laws against libel & slander in your state. While you are free to discuss your situation, you also need to use wisdom when it comes to protecting yourself in any capacity from your abuser. Even with these limitations in place, you can say an awful lot, & help many people! I wish you the best in doing so! xoxo
I’ve noticed so many people are quick to judge victims of abuse for tolerating abuse. The nature of the relationship doesn’t seem to matter, the same things are said to victims. These judgmental people say things like, “Well *I* certainly wouldn’t have put up with being treated like that!”, “Just go no contact!” or, “Why didn’t you leave sooner?”
This post is for those people who are quick to judge, & need a lesson on the reality of what it’s like to be abused.
Unless a person has been subjected to the effects of daily, intense gaslighting, they truly don’t know what they would do in that situation, & have no right to judge a situation they can’t understand.
Abusers use gaslighting to convince their victims that they can’t make it in life without their abuser. Abusers convince their victims that they are so stupid & incapable that they need the abuser to help them navigate through life. Not even the most highly intelligent people are immune to this.
They also convince their victims that no one cares about them other than the abuser. People only talk to them because they are trying to be nice, not because they really care, abusers say. They also create doubts in victims’ minds about their loved ones by saying things like, “She isn’t really a good friend to you.” “He doesn’t care about you yanno.” When an abuser says such things with conviction, & a victim hears such things often enough, they believe them no matter how much evidence to the contrary they may see.
Abusers also are very good at convincing their victims that if they would try just a little harder, the abuser would threat the victim better. Watch a young child with an abusive parent, & you will see this clearly. The meaner the parent is, the harder the child works to please that parent. Adults aren’t immune to this behavior though. During my first marriage, I did this with my ex husband. The problem with this behavior is whatever the victim does is never good enough. Abusers are notorious for changing what they say they want, raising that bar a bit higher once the victim does what they originally said they wanted, or denying ever wanting that thing their victim just did. A person unaware of this manipulative & abusive behavior will keep trying to please their abuser, which leads to utter frustration in the victim & satisfaction in the abuser for having such control over the victim.
There’s also the fact that most people don’t want to end relationships with those closest to them, & abusers are usually those closest to the victim. Deciding to end a romantic relationship is a big deal, especially when abuse is involved because the victim is going to feel like a failure or stupid for falling for someone abusive. If the abusive relationship is a parent/child relationship, that is incredibly hard to end too. Who can feel completely comfortable telling their parents they never want to see them again?!
Lastly, many abusers prevent their victims from leaving. They often take the victim’s money & ruin that person’s credit, making it impossible for the victim to leave. They make the victim completely financially dependent on them. They threaten to take the couple’s kids away so the victim never will see them again. Some have been known to lock their victims in their home, making them a prisoner. And, still others threaten to kill either the victim, their pets, their children, their friends or family if the victim leaves.
After considering all of this.. can you honestly still wonder why victims tolerated the abuse as long as they did?
After ending a relationship with a narcissist, the narcissist will NOT take it well. No one likes rejection, of course, but narcissists take that dislike to an entirely new level. Many have been known to stalk & harass their victims to punish them for rejecting the narcissist. Most however, do something known as hoovering. Hoovering is when a narcissist tries to lure a victim back in to the relationship. It is yet another very good reason to have nothing to do with the narcissist once you end the relationship.
Narcissists have many ways they try to hoover in their victims. All are sneaky & confusing for a victim unless the victim is aware of what the narcissist is up to.
Often, they will have their flying monkeys talk to you. They will explain how sorry the narcissist is & how miserable life is without you. When I broke my engagement to my now ex husband, several people told me I should get back with him because he was miserable without me. No one cared how I was without him, only about him. The guilt I felt was intense, which obviously was the goal since it made me return to him.
The narcissist may “accidentally” run into you at the coffee shop or grocery store, & use this supposed chance meeting to tell you how much they miss you as an attempt to hoover you back.
Narcissists may use special days to their advantage, such as sending you a lovely card & gift on your birthday, or reminding you that today would have been your anniversary. This is to make sure you think of them favorably & give them an excuse to talk to you
Narcissists aren’t above using a crisis to their advantage either. If you have had a serious problem & the narcissist learns of it, he or she may try to contact you claiming to be concerned about you. Or, if the narcissist has had a crisis, he or she may let you know, saying they thought you would want to know. These are only about getting their foot in the door.
Items also can give a narcissist an excuse to contact a victim after the relationship is over. They may ask if you have some item of theirs, even knowing you don’t have it. It’s merely an excuse to reach out to you.
Sometimes narcissists may use technology to hoover. They may text you, claiming it was for someone else, then try to start a conversation. They may call you, asking if you called them, then when they say they look at their phone, they mistook your number for someone else’s, but since you’re talking, how are you? Some will even send a message, then ignore your response.
If they can open the door of communication in any way, they absolutely will do it. Doing so probably means they will tell you how miserable they are without you & how much they have changed.
When things like this happen, don’t be foolish as I was with my ex! Be aware of what is happening. They are only trying to hoover you back for their own benefit, not because they love you. Remind yourself that they don’t miss you, per se. They miss how you made them feel. They miss how they could control & manipulate you.
Never forget that the primary interest of any narcissist is that narcissist. No one else really matters to them. This means they only want you back because you can benefit them in some way.
Remember the tactics & why the narcissist is doing these things. These things are done only to manipulate you back into the relationship so the narcissist can abuse you further.
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Narcissists almost never offer a real apology. Sure, they may say the words, “I’m sorry” sometimes, but the words are often followed up by words &/or actions that prove this apology isn’t genuine. Sometimes however, they can be quite convincing that this time, the apology is real. This post is to help you spot the signs of a fake narcissistic apology.
The fake apologies are most likely to flow freely after ending a relationship with a narcissist. They may even say the right things like, “I’ve changed”, “I know I did some bad things,” or even, “I’ll get therapy”. The words can be very believable. Naturally, you will want to believe them too. No one wants to accept that there are people out there capable of the cruelty that narcissists commit on a daily basis.
The problem with such apologies is if you give the narcissist a bit of time after the first apology, some cracks will start to show. Instead of, “I’ve changed,” they may say things like, “I’ve changed but I need you to do some changing too.” They also may add a “but” to their apology. “I’m sorry I did that to you, but you really made me angry!” Suddenly their willingness to go to therapy either turns into a willingness to go to couples therapy rather than individual, or they claim they never said they would go to therapy in the first place.
At this point, many victims are sucked in by the first, more sincere sounding apology. They make excuses for the narcissist’s sudden changes. They blame themselves for making the narcissist do the terrible things they did or even their lack of patience & understanding with the narcissist. They also think maybe the narcissist is right, & they never promised they would go to therapy.
If the victim continues with this train of thought, resuming the relationship with the narcissist is very likely. In the beginning the victim will be glad they did this, because everything will be good. The narcissist won’t be so cruel, but instead will be kind, understanding, even gentle. This “honeymoon” period lulls victims into a false sense of security. They believe the narcissist has really changed this time. They believe the narcissist meant what they said, & the relationship is going to be ok.
Little by little though, the narcissist begins to resume his or her old ways. It probably will start out as subtle criticisms or attempts at control or manipulation. These won’t happen as often as they once did, which makes it easy for a victim to brush them off.
As time passes, however, the narcissist gradually returns to his or her old ways, & most likely adds some new tricks to the repertoire. The victim ends up shocked one day when reality sets in, & they see that the narcissist never changed at all.
This scenario almost always happens, no matter the nature of the relationship with a narcissist. You mostly hear about it in the context of romantic relationships, but it also happens with friendships or parent/child relationships.
Don’t let this happen to you!! If you have ended a relationship with a narcissist, refrain from having any contact with that person at all. If you must, keep your contact minimal while showing no emotions. If you can have someone act as a mediator between you both, all the better.
Any contact you do have with the narcissist gives him or her the chance to “apologize” & attempt to lure you back. Don’t fall for it! If he or she doesn’t accept responsibility for the behavior & ask how to make things right, or if he or she demands you believe or trust them, those are signs the apology isn’t sincere. If you resume the relationship at this point, you’ll be as miserable if not more miserable than you were before. Don’t let that happen. Walk away & take care of yourself.
Probably no one wants to create the appearance of a big happy family more than the most dysfunctional families. Holidays give them the opportunity to pretend that is what they have by inviting everyone to some big hoopla & pretending everyone gets along. These families ignore the fact that someone in this family has abused someone else, & they invite both people to their get together.
This big happy family charade forces many people to make an awful choice – be face to face with their abuser or spend holidays alone. Neither is a good solution for the victim. I know, because this was my life for many years.
My in-laws always had huge get togethers on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day… you name it. I ideally wanted to spend holidays with my husband rather than his family who clearly hated me, maybe at best spending some time with them on another day near the holiday. This wasn’t acceptable, however. Holidays were to be celebrated on the exact day, no exceptions & no excuses for not being there. Until my husband’s parents died, you probably could count on one hand how many holidays we spent together because I quit going. Sadly, spending holidays alone was a better option to me than spending it with the people who treated me like dirt, even though it ultimately resulted in me detesting holidays.
I believe many other people are in this same boat or at least a similar one. You want to spend the holidays with someone but they want invite your abuser to the same gathering, or they refuse to stop attending the gathering that your abuser attends.
You need to know today that your feelings are valid. In essence, this person is choosing your abuser over you, & you have every right to be angry & hurt about that. Accept that your anger & hurt are valid emotions! Cope with them however works for you.
Maybe this person feels it’d be rude not to invite the abusive person or for them not to attend the same gathering. In dysfunctional families, in particular narcissistic ones, it’s all about appearances. No one wants to shun someone even if they are abusive.
Most people also don’t want to face the fact that someone they care about is an abusive monster. For them, it’s easier not to acknowledge your claims of abuse. Out of sight, out of mind, basically.
There also is the possibility that you’re the safe one to make angry & the other person isn’t. Abusive people often get their way because others know that making them angry means they are going to suffer badly. Some people don’t have the inner strength to stand up to people like this. It’s easier for them to give the abuser their way. Sure, you’ll be angry, but your anger isn’t as painful for them as the abuser’s anger. Your anger may be unpleasant but at least it’s not the sheer torture of the abuser’s anger.
By saying these things, I’m not making excuses for those who choose abusers over victims in this manner. I’m just offering some explanations as to why people behave this way. Maybe it will help you not to be as hurt & angry when you see that it’s nothing to do with you. A person who does this is the one with some issues!
As for you, if you opt to avoid these gatherings, try to enjoy your day somehow. Take it as a day off for doing whatever you like. Indulge in a favorite hobby, watch movies, or even clean out the closet. Or, spend it with close friends. Do whatever will help you to enjoy your day in a healthy way, & leave the dysfunction to those who are comfortable with it. xoxo
So many people I have spoken with were abused under the guise of Christianity. Parents abuse their children because they think Proverbs 13:24 basically saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” means parents have the right to beat their children. They are also often the same parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them by refusing to tolerate their abuse. There are also husbands who demand blind obedience from their wives because Ephesians 5:22 says wives should submit to their husbands. There are even those active in their church who abuse other church members. Some sexually abuse children, others ostracize other members for not fitting their ideal of what they should be & more.
There are so many things wrong with such situations!!
Personally I believe that as wrong as abuse is, when it is done using God as a justification or as a way to lure victims in, that somehow makes the abuse even worse. The person in this situation not only has the fallout of the abuse to deal with, but also is going to have a lot of spiritual damage as well. They may believe God doesn’t care about them or maybe that He simply doesn’t exist at all because what happened to them was so horrific. I felt the same way. My mother went through a phase when I was a teenager of telling me that she knew she was going to Heaven when she died because she was such a good person. I, however, was terrible to her so I was destined for Hell. I thought no God could exist & let me go through what I was going through, but if He did, I clearly wanted no part of Him if that was truly how He was.
Also, it seems to me when people twist Scripture around, if you look at the Bible, somewhere there is at least one nearby verse that clearly proves their interpretation is wrong. Look at Ephesians 5:22 for a second. Yes, it does say that wives should submit to their husbands. It also says in the verse immediately before that a couple should submit to each other. It clearly isn’t one sided, but you won’t hear an abusive husband mention Ephesians 5:21. The same goes for abusive parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them. The Bible also mentions in Ephesians 6:4 & Colossians 3:21 that parents shouldn’t provoke their children.
Truly toxic, abusive, narcissistic people will use the Bible or the label of “Christian” to justify their wicked behavior. To combat this, you have to know the Bible at least a bit. Nowhere in there does it justify any form of abuse! If you have any doubts, do your research with a good concordance or the internet. It won’t take you long to see how wrong the abuser is.
People also claim they are Christian to be underestimated, so people will feel safe with them or if they’re on the fence about something, they will think it’s OK because this person said they’re a Christian. Most people hear someone say they’re a Christian & somehow think those people are impervious to mistakes or bad behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth! EVERYONE makes mistakes for one thing. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And for another thing, no true believer is going to be deliberately abusive towards someone else.
Rather than take someone on their word, observe a person’s behavior. Any true Christian’s behavior should show that they are doing their best to live a good, Godly life. Sure, they make mistakes, but they quickly try to fix them. If they hurt someone, it isn’t done intentionally, they are fast to apologize & change their behavior so it never happens again.
There are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, looking for innocent victims. Remembering the points in this article can help you to avoid them.
Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days. It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.
Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.
“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.” Trauma isn’t a contest. Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s. This sort of statement does nothing good. It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.
“Your abuser has had a rough life! You should help him/her.” A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people. Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people. However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive. I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.
“You know what the problem is? You weren’t nice enough. You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.” Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations. It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong. They feel convicted & change. When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though? Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.
“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.” This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior. This is totally unfair! The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!
“Stop being a victim!” While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience. There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse. None! There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse. In many cases, it takes a lifetime. That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!
“You need to forgive/let this go. You’ve been holding onto this for too long!” I am a huge proponent of forgiveness. Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health. That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to! Doing so is a process. I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done. In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done. Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy. That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger as a way to get it out of you. There is no time limit on that.
“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?” This statement is beyond foolish. When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”! Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing. A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.
When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you. They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way. That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain. If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.
Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world. If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.
Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things. If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.
One of the most infuriating things I dealt with at the hands of my narcissistic mother when her abuse was at its worst was when she’d say, “My sources say you were seen doing *fill in the blank* today.” Or, “I was told that you did *fill in the blank*.” I would ask her who said these things & she would tell me it wasn’t my business, it didn’t matter or it wasn’t important.
It made me feel so paranoid, angry & even betrayed. Paranoid because I wondered who would tell my mother these things that I hadn’t even done. Angry that someone would tell her things I hadn’t done & she would believe I was capable of such things. Betrayed because clearly this person knew me.. what if this was a close friend of mine? My friends at the time knew about much of the abuse… how could any of them lie to my abuser knowing what happened when she was angry with me?!
Thankfully my mother stopped this after I moved out. I honestly thought I was over it, too. That is, until the spring of 2009, when one of my cousins & I had a falling out. She had invited my husband & I for Christmas a couple of months prior, & I declined. Apparently some time after, she learned that we took my parents to visit my father’s sister about a couple of weeks before Christmas & assumed that meant I spent Christmas with our aunt. I explained that wasn’t the case at all, I wouldn’t do that to her. Her response? “Why are you lying to me? My sources told me you spent Christmas with her.” That was a big trigger for me. All the old anger I’d felt at my mother came flooding back to the surface. Apparently I wasn’t over it, & with good reason.
So many narcissists use this type of manipulation. They accuse their victims of outrageous behavior, & say “my sources said you did it” or, “I was told you were seen doing that.” When you try to find out who their mysterious sources are, they say it doesn’t matter, it’s not your business or you don’t need to know. If you’ve been in this position, you know just how infuriating it is. It’s bad enough being accused of something awful you didn’t do, but not to know who is saying you’ve done this makes it even worse.
You know something though? The reason they refuse to divulge their “source” is because that person doesn’t even exist! The accusations came from the narcissist’s warped mind, not another person. The reason the narcissist is saying they were told you did this thing is to make you insecure, to make you think others are talking about you & ultimately to gain control over you. It can make you feel as if everyone is against you, & no one would believe you if you tell the truth about the abuse. I certainly felt that way with my mother. It makes you lose hope & afraid of disappointing people close to you. If the narcissist is especially good at this, you may come to believe that you did what the narcissist said you did. This makes you easy for the narcissist to control.
If you end up in this position with a narcissist, remember what they are doing. They don’t have “sources”. They are simply making up lies in order to gain control over you. Don’t get caught up in defending yourself to them, because they’ll only use that to prove how mentally unbalanced you are. And question everything they say. Even say something like, “Really? What did I do then?! I want to know!” If a narcissist wants to act so foolish, then they deserve to be called out on their behavior & to know you know they’re lying.
I truly dislike holidays & birthdays, & have felt this way for years. The reason I feel this way is also the reason for so much negativity in my life. It boils down to narcissistic behavior.
For all of my adult life, I’ve had demanding in-laws, both past & present, who expected my husband & I to do only as they wanted on holidays with no concern to anyone’s wishes beyond theirs. In fact, my current in-laws claimed almost all holidays before they died, not only Thanksgiving & Christmas, but also Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, etc. I’ve also had husbands who felt they must obey their demanding parents no matter what I felt. My birthday also has been ruined by narcissists more times than it hasn’t been. This all has ruined the joy I once felt about holidays. Seems quite understandable to me that I dislike special days now, but many people can’t seem to grasp this. In fact, many have been very critical of me for my feelings.
I thought I should write this for those of you who share similar experiences &/or feelings about special days.
You need to understand that if you feel as I do, your feelings are reasonable & valid. They are there for a reason, so don’t discount them. I know, most people can’t stand to learn a person doesn’t look forward to special days with a sense of glee, but they don’t understand that sometimes things happen. Sometimes one truly severe or traumatic thing can happen that instantly destroys your fondness of these days, such as the death of a loved one close to or on a holiday. How could anyone look forward to a holiday again when it’s a reminder of one of life’s most painful experiences?
Other times, you experience the same special day misery over & over again every single year. Maybe you’re forced to spend the day with someone who abused you. You know it’s not going to be pleasant to put it mildly. There is no way you’re going to happily anticipate holidays knowing what unpleasantness is coming your way.
Even if you haven’t experienced something awful around the holidays, you may have a family that only comes together on holidays, & the phoniness of it bothers you. That is one thing that rubs me very wrong about many holiday get togethers. If this group of people only sees each other on a holiday, why are they seeing each other at all? Why don’t they call each other or hang out together other times? To me, that feels incredibly fake, & it gets under my skin badly. I want no part of such get togethers because of the phoniness of it all.
Whatever your story, it’s ok to feel as you do. Accept that about yourself without judgment. If you’re struggling to do so, then imagine your closest friend came to you sharing their story which is yours. What would you tell that friend? Would you shame him or her for feeling that way or would you tell your friend you understand? Tell yourself whatever you would tell that friend.
Try to deal with your feelings however works best for you. Pray, journal, talk to someone safe & non judgmental. Talking through this helps a great deal to release so much pain inside you. Writing does, too, & it also can help to bring clarity to your situation & validate you.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to try to change your feelings & learn to love the holidays. That is up to you if you want to try to do that. I did, but it felt fake to me which is something I just can’t tolerate in myself. But, maybe it’ll work for you. If so, create new traditions just for yourself, Spend the day with special friends. Or, if you spend the day alone, make it a day just for you by doing something you thoroughly enjoy such as reading, watching good movies or going to a park.
I truly wish you the best in your situation! It’s not easy feeling like a holiday villain in a society that demands everyone enjoy the holidays. xoxo
When you are healing from narcissistic abuse, it can be incredibly discouraging. It sometimes seems like no matter what you do, you still have problems that you cannot fix, which can be incredibly frustrating!
Recently, my husband turned a movie on tv whose subject matter was football. This is not good for me. When I was growing up, my father was utterly obsessed with football. He was so obsessed that his normally civil demeanor turned into something resembling a screaming demon if a game was on. If my mother or I walked into the room, he would yell at us about making too much noise. If I wanted his attention, I had to sit still & quiet until there was a break in the game.
As a result, I absolutely hate football. It stirs up memories of feeling less valuable than a leather bag of air & a bunch of guys playing an over-glorified game of fetch. Just hearing the sounds of a football game makes me angry.
I am in my late forties as I write this. I have tried to let this go. I have tried forgiving my father for his jerk-like behavior surrounding this game, & I think I have. I also understand it is simply the result of some very dysfunctional behavior of my father’s more than a reflection on me. Yet in spite of it all, football sounds still make me angry.
This has been incredibly discouraging to me! I have healed from so much of the abuse I have experienced. So why is this still a problem??
One day several years ago, God showed me this verse….
Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says,
“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”
Suddenly everything clicked…
On this healing journey, there are going to be issues we do not heal from in this lifetime. God will work with us & on us. He will continue to improve us & heal us. Yet, even so, some things are going to be an issue for as long as we live.
When this happens, Dear Reader, know it does NOT mean something is wrong with you. It simply means you are normal. It can be incredibly frustrating I know, but at least it does not mean you are doing something wrong, or are broken beyond repair. It just means you are a normal human being!
Rather than be upset about this, why not do what you can to accept this as a simple shortcoming & rely on God to help you get through? Remember, Psalm 23:4 says,
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The valley of the shadow of death is never pleasant of course, but even so, you can get through it. In my experience, it is those trips through that awful valley that brought me closer to God. Also sharing my ongoing issues like this often mean someone who reads my story also can relate & is comforted by knowing someone else understands their struggles. This means something good can come from those dark times! That pain has a purpose! As bad & painful as the bad times are, it truly helps when you know that something good can come from them & your pain was not in vain. If you have trouble understanding what the purpose is, ask God to show you, to help you see the purpose. He truly will not disappoint you!
I recently read an article about something called gunnysacking. Turns out, that is the term for having a disproportionate reaction to someone due to having held in anger for too long.
I’ve experienced this many times, & I believe it’s a common abuse tactic of narcissists. They push your buttons & somehow let you know that you aren’t allowed to confront them on their bad behavior. Eventually they say something that is far from the worst thing they’ve ever said yet you lose your temper. They enjoy this because it proves to them how irrational, crazy, etc. you are. It also leaves you wondering if the narcissist may just be right about you being irrational or crazy.
The best example I can give of gunnysacking in my life happened in 2016. At the time, I wanted to go no contact with my parents, but the timing felt wrong somehow. I maintained the relationship only because I trust my instincts. When my mother in-law died that April, a few days later, I saw my parents’ number on my caller ID. They just saw her obituary in the local paper & were angry I hadn’t told them she died. They were worried what my in-laws would think of them for not being at the funeral. My parents knew I hadn’t spoken to any of my in-laws in 14 years at this time. They also only spoke to them maybe 3 times in the 22 years my husband & I had been together. I felt betrayed that my parents showed such loyalty to people who they knew mistreated me. They couldn’t understand why I felt that way., & I was furious. That was the last time I spoke to my mother, & one of the last times I spoke to my father.
This was hardly the first time my parents showed they cared more for someone else than me. It also wasn’t the worst thing they had done. Years of stifling my anger just reached a boiling point in that conversation. The anger just gushed out even though it wasn’t proportionate to the situation.
I believe there is another variation on gunnysacking, too. When you have a relationship with a narcissist, yet rather than blow up at the narcissist, you blow up to your spouse, friend, sibling, etc. This is a bonus for a narcissist because it proves that they have control over you & also causes you problems in another relationship.
Unfortunately I have done this too. I would speak to my parents, then after the visit, when I’d see my husband, I’d snap at him over nothing. I was angry with my parents, & unable to hold it in any longer by the time I saw him. (Yes, I apologized when this happened since it wasn’t fair to him.)
Gunnysacking may feel good at the moment since you’re finally getting those emotions out, but it isn’t healthy. When you are overwhelmed with emotions, you can’t think clearly. Negative emotions that overwhelm can trigger survival instincts to kick in & that means rational thought is put aside. Stress levels are raised & that is certainly unhealthy for your body. Not to mention, attacking someone disproportionately can damage your relationship. No one wants to be treated badly but in particular when they haven’t done anything wrong. Also, in a relationship with a narcissist, as I mentioned earlier, they’ll use gunnysacking to prove how awful you are to yourself & others. They love to say things like, “She just started yelling at me out of the blue.” “I don’t know what set him off. We were talking then suddenly he was screaming.”
To avoid gunnysacking, it’s best to deal with your anger as it comes up. Since confronting narcissists rarely helps, find other ways to process your anger. Write in a journal, talk to a friend, draw or even pray. God can handle your anger & help you get through it.
And lastly, never forget, there is nothing wrong with feeling anger, especially when you’re abused by a narcissist. Everyone does sometimes, & even Jesus got angry. It’s perfectly normal. It’s when others are hurt by your anger that it becomes a problem.
Those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse, in particular at the hand of our parents, tend to share many characteristics. One of them is the inclination to minimize any & all traumatic experiences, whether or not they had anything to do with the original abuser.
Some indicators that you are doing this is if you say things like:
See the common thread in these statements? Each one minimizes something very traumatic.
Another way people do this is to use the words “just” or “only” often. Think of statements like, “It was just verbal abuse” or “He only hit me the one time.”
I realized some time ago that I have done this same thing. What got my attention was watching a tv show about a serial killer, believe it or not. The killer’s ex wife was interviewed, & many things she said that he said as well as some of his behavior that she described reminded me a great deal of my ex husband! No, he’s no serial killer, but to realize he shared some behavior & personality traits with one was a big wake up call to me. It showed me that in spite of what most people said, that marriage truly was bad! His behavior really was abusive, & he had some serious mental health issues. Yet, when I discussed that marriage, I often downplayed the abuse. Realizing all of this showed me how unhealthily I’ve behaved, & also how many other people do exactly the same thing.
Minimizing one’s trauma is a terribly unhealthy thing to do! It contributes to a root of shame, & toxic shame affects every area of your life. Toxic shame makes you feel unworthy in every possible area of your life. It’ll make you willing to settle for the job you hate because you don’t think you’re qualified to do a better job you would enjoy. It’ll make you settle for a romantic partner who isn’t good for you since you believe you wouldn’t be attractive to someone better. The same goes for friendships. Someone with toxic shame will settle for friends who mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve a better caliber of friends.
Minimizing also gives other people the message that what you went through wasn’t so bad. This can lead to people having no compassion for you or others who have experienced abuse. Since you act like it’s not a big deal, they will assume it isn’t. It also can send the wrong message to others in similar situations. They may think that since you don’t see the abuse as bad, maybe they’re overreacting to their situation. Of course, this will lead to toxic shame & all of the problems that go along with it.
Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today. Listen to yourself. Do you minimize your traumatic experiences? Do you use “just” or “only” often? If so, STOP! Trauma is trauma, no matter if someone else had it worse than you. Don’t minimize your suffering! Acknowledge it for what it is so you can heal. Minimizing only causes problems!
I recently read an article about Traumatic Brain Injuries that mentioned the term Irritable Gratitude Syndrome. This phenomenon happens to many who have survived a TBI. People often tell these survivors how lucky they are to still be alive, it could have ended so much worse or be happy you don’t have it as bad as someone else does. Many caregivers or survivors at this point want to scream, & rightfully so!! Such comments can stir up some pretty angry thoughts & feelings that are quite justified.
Yes, it’s great the person is still here, but it’s not so great that he or she has lost their personality, has constant headaches, struggles to comprehend even the simplest things & forgets so much. Many unaffected by TBIs have zero idea just how awful these things are to live with either in yourself or someone you love.
Ok, true, the situation could’ve ended worse than it did, but even so, that doesn’t mean it ended well! It can be very hard to be grateful to be alive when you’re struggling with the awful day to day symptoms of a TBI or watching someone you love struggle with said symptoms.
And yes, others have it worse. That doesn’t negate the fact that all TBIs are unique, they all host at least some pretty challenging symptoms & they all are very disruptive to a person’s life. As someone with a brain injury, I can tell you that knowing someone else has it worse than me doesn’t make mine any less obnoxious to live with.
As I was reading the article & considering such things I realized something… I really don’t think Irritable Gratitude Syndrome is only for those with brain injuries. I also think it can be common to those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse.
Think about it… how many times have you been told that you should be glad your situation wasn’t worse, at least he didn’t hit you or everyone has problems with their parents? That’s kind of similar to the comments TBI survivors often hear, & they also stir up similar emotions & thoughts to what I described above.
How can you be glad your situation wasn’t worse when you struggle with C-PTSD from the narcissistic abuse? Living with the symptoms of C-PTSD is miserable & incredibly difficult.
Maybe that abusive ex didn’t hit you but he didn’t need to hit to hurt you. Narcissists destroy their victims on the inside, not the outside, but doing their best to ruin their sense of self.
While it’s true, everyone has problems with their parents at some point, that doesn’t mean all parents are the abusive monsters narcissists are. There is a big difference between normal disagreements & narcissistic parents determined to destroy their own children. Saying they are the same only trivializes narcissistic abuse & invalidates victims.
I think there are some things to do that can help you when experiencing such thoughts & feelings.
I know that when Irritable Gratitude shows up, it’s not pleasant. Quite the opposite in fact. But you can & will get through it!
In case you are wondering, this is the article I was referring to: https://www.brainline.org/blog/learning-accident/irritable-gratitude-syndrome
One thing I wondered about narcissists & their flying monkeys for a long time was why do they act the way they do? I know there’s no “one size fits all” answer to that question of course, but there had to be something that explained why these people all act so similarly. I’ve met people with narcissistic parents or exes who live in different countries, are of different financial backgrounds, have different religious beliefs (or none at all) & are of different races, yet in spite of all the differences, there are so many similarities. I found that utterly baffling. I believed it must be a sign narcissism is demonic in nature, but I wasn’t sure exactly how.
Then one day in October, 2017 when my father was dying, God showed me something very interesting. As I’ve shared before, at the time of his death, I hadn’t spoken to my parents in some time. My family couldn’t handle me continuing to remain no contact as my father was dying, & they harassed me via email, text, social media messages & telephone daily in an attempt to bully me into seeing him in the hospital. They were exceptionally cruel & devoted flying monkeys. One day shortly before he died, the situation got to me. I was angry. I was also crying & talking to God about everything that was going on. One thing I said was, “Why do things have to be like this? Why is my family so cruel?” He said, “Some people have made some very bad decisions.” Then, He showed me one reason for some of the actions of narcissists & their flying monkeys.
God showed me a vision of a person standing directly centered in front of a revolving door much like this one…
Inside that tube where the door stands was God on one side, & on the exact opposite side, Satan. Every decision the person made would open the door towards one a bit more, while simultaneously closing the door to the other a bit more. Eventually, either God was completely exposed while Satan was closed off & unable to reach the person, or Satan was free while God was closed off.
The latter is what happens when a person makes very bad decisions, which narcissists do daily & have done for a long time. They continually choose selfish, abusive, entitled, narcissistic behavior over Godly behavior. That means that they close the door to God more & more with each bad choice, & they open that door to Satan, giving him more access to their lives than God has. That makes it easy for them to do the terrible things they do – Satan helps them do such things. He deludes them into thinking their behavior is absolutely fine, even justified in many cases. Such thinking eventually can drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you have heard the term a seared conscience? I believe this is what happens when a person ignores the Holy Spirit & normal guilty feelings every human feels. They ignore these things so much, that nothing or almost nothing they do can make them feel badly. It’s as if their conscience becomes atrophied from lack of use.
There is another important point of all of this that you need to know. By sharing all of this, I’m not saying that narcissists have no control over their actions, or “the devil made them do it” so they had no choice in their behavior. They do still have a choice. Clearly, even under an evil influence, they still know right from wrong. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t work so hard to hide their actions from people they want to impress. If they have the ability to choose to hide their actions from certain people, they have the ability to choose to do what’s right. Unfortunately, I think doing bad things is just easier for them, & that gets them what they want, so that is why they opt not to do what’s right in spite of knowing better.