Stop Beating Yourself Up From Mistakes!

As I mentioned in this post, recently, my parents came by for a visit.  I thought it went very well- I set boundaries & didn’t let my mother get away with her usual nasty games.  It went so well in fact, that I knew my mother was extremely angry with me.  So angry, she didn’t even call me on my birthday last Tuesday for the first time ever.

 

The following day though, she called.  It was a very hurtful conversation, & I didn’t handle it very well.  During the visit & seemed to have the right answers for every situation.  During the call though?  I had nothing.  I wasn’t feeling well at all & was tired, plus her call caught me by surprise.  I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but did anyway, against my better judgment, & ended up very hurt & angry.

 

I was beating myself up about this situation.  Here I’ve been telling other adult children of narcissistic parents to be strong & how to do it, yet I failed miserably at following my own advice.  Talk about feeling like a hypocrite!  Not a nice feeling.

 

I realized some things from this experience though.

 

We all make mistakes.  My mistake was picking up the phone & ignoring my instincts that told me to let it ring.  Instead of beating myself up for making a mistake, now I’m looking at it as a reminder to listen to my instincts every single time.

 

I also learned to be mentally prepared for her calls.  Always, without fail ever, it’s best to remember to pray before answering her calls, asking God for strength, courage, the right words to say & whatever I need to successfully deal with her.  That is exactly what I prayed before my last visit with my parents, & God certainly didn’t disappoint me!  He never has when I’ve prayed those things.  In fact, I may start praying for them daily just in case she calls when I’m not expecting it so I can be prepared.

 

Also, I’ve been beating myself up for being so hurt by my mother’s usual nastiness.  She made sure I knew she wasn’t listening to or cared about anything I had to say, as she so often does.  Being in a weakened state, it hurt more than usual, & it usually hurts pretty bad.  When telling a very good friend about this, she reminded me that all children, no matter what age, want their mother’s love.  It’s normal.  Even though logically I know my mother hates me & won’t change either that fact or the way she treats me,  on some level, I wish things were different.  That is normal.   Thanks to my friend, I was reminded that it’s not right to beat yourself up for wishing things were different or being hurt by your narcissistic mother.

 

Lastly, I took a very bold step to take care of myself too.  I blocked my parents’  phone number on my phone.  Not permanently, but for a few days until I feel better & stronger, more able to deal with her if I need to.  This way, I have guaranteed myself some peace for a while.  I’ve never done this before, but I think it’s a good move.  I won’t have the usual debate I have inside when the phone rings & I see their number on the caller ID- Can I handle them right now?  Can I deal with the fallout later by not answering this call?  There’s no debate because I don’t see their number.

 

I hope what I learned will help you, Dear Reader.  Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes regarding your narcissistic mother.  No one is perfect!  Don’t wallow in those weak moments, but instead look at them as learning experiences.  Stop judging & criticising yourself, & instead just glean knowledge from those moments & go on.

 

 

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Narcissists Change Their Tactics Over The Years

In my lifetime, I’ve known many narcissists.  One thing they all share in common is that they change their tactics as they get older.

When I was growing up, my mother was the bold, it’s my way or the highway kind of overt narcissist.  She would do anything she wanted to accomplish whatever her goal was, not caring how abusive it was, so long as there were no witnesses.  Now that she is in her mid 70’s, she has become much craftier.  Gone are the days when she would wait until we were alone, then scream in my face, calling me horrible names & accusing me of terrible behaviors.  Now, her abuse is much more subtle.  In fact, unless you’re familiar with narcissism, you wouldn’t even know she was being abusive. And, she likes witnesses.  If my mother & I are in public, often with my father, I can count on her attacking me viciously & quietly.  Barely audibly, she will insult my car, pets, writing or anyone or anything that means something to me.  I have no doubt she is trying to provoke me into yelling at her, so others will see what a terrible daughter I am to my sweet, elderly mother.

My father, the covert narcissist, has always been subtle.  When I was growing up, he feigned ignorance & inability to help me regarding my mother’s abuse, making him sound more like her victim than I was.  I often reassured him instead of him reassuring or protecting me.  Occasionally he still tries this tactic but it’s rather rare. Instead, he complains to me about his bad marriage (something he’s always done) & tries to stir up problems between my mother & I.  He also now enjoys challenging my boundaries & using guilt trips/criticisms disguised as jokes then telling me not to be upset when I confront him.  “Now now, don’t you go getting upset..I was just teasing” has become possibly my least favorite phrase in the English language.

The worst case of a narcissist changing their tactics I’ve heard of though is from a friend of mine.  Her mother was an overt narcissist & her father covert.  Her mother was incredibly violent & vicious to her children.  Her father wasn’t home much due to his job, so he didn’t see a lot. He claimed that he didn’t know just how bad she treated the children (I guess he missed the bruises & broken bones?) & that he couldn’t stop her.

Shortly after her mother died, her father married another woman, who was much like my friend’s mother.  This woman didn’t want him to see his now adult children, & he told them there was nothing he could do about it.

Once she died, he expected his children to take care of him.  They do everything for him from making his bed to cleaning his house to paying most of his bills.  My friend’s father demands this & will go to great lengths to be sure his children do these things & more for him.  Once a covert narcissist, he became a very overt one.

Dear Reader, you need to be aware of these things, because your narcissistic parents will change too.  You need to be able to adapt your behaviors to fit in with theirs if you plan to continue having a relationship with them.

Some things are a given when dealing with any narcissist- you need to have & enforce good boundaries & show them no emotions, for example.  Other things however, you may need to change, such as if your narcissistic mother tries to stir you up in a public place like mine does, avoid public places with her as much as possible.  If your father suddenly likes to portray himself as a helpless old man when you know he isn’t, you will need to let him do what he can on his own.

If you are unable or unwilling to go no  contact with your narcissistic parents, you are going to have to learn to be very firm in some areas, while very flexible in others.  Always be firm with your boundaries, staying emotionless in their presence, providing them minimal information on your life & limiting your time with them.  But, be flexible enough to know when things are changing & your old ways to deal with them aren’t working anymore or you need to find new ways to deal.  Get creative- ask God to help you in that area if you aren’t sure what to do.  Remember Matthew 10:16 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.” (MSG)

As difficult as it may sound, you truly can handle this.  God never gives you more than you can handle, although it may feel that way sometimes.  Follow His guidance, common sense, your intuition & remember what you know about narcissists, & you will be just fine.  Remember my post about my last visit with my parents?  If not, please read it now.  It is proof that God cares & helps us even with our narcissistic parents.  If He helped me become the much stronger, capable person I’ve become, He certainly will help you as well.

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Birthdays For Children Of Narcissistic Parents

Today is my birthday, which gave me the idea for something to write about.  Well, ok, technically I’m writing this before my birthday to publish on the day so I can take that day off..  lol  But anyway..

So many of us adult children of narcissistic parents hate our birthdays.  I’ve been battling this myself for many years, since my seventeenth birthday when my mother ruined my day & spent a good part of it screaming at me.  My eighteenth, when she gave me a gift she said she didn’t even know why she was giving me anything since she didn’t even like me.  There have been plenty of other lousy birthdays over the years, too, that weren’t related to my mother. These bad times set the stage for me to start dreading my birthday once the month of April begins.

A few years ago, a friend of mine messaged me on facebook shortly before my birthday & asked what I was going to do for my birthday.  I said nothing.  At the time, my father had started chemo & wasn’t feeling well- I felt I should be available in case my parents needed me.  My friend proceeded to chew me out. Gently but still.. lol  Birthdays are very important to him, he said, & pretty much ordered me to do something nice for myself that day, even if it was only picking up lunch from my favorite restaurant.  Something in me clicked.  I realized he was right.  Since then, each year my husband & I have gone to our favorite restaurant on the water not far from home with a few friends. We share a meal & some laughs in a cute little place with a scenic view.  It’s always a lot of fun.

In my experiences of meeting many other adult children of narcissistic parents, I’ve realized that I am hardly alone.  Many others dread their birthday because of bad memories their mothers attached to the date.  If that describes you, Dear Reader, please reconsider your feelings. Your birthday is a special day- it’s the day you made your grand entrance into this world. It is the day God assigned for you to bless the world with your presence!  That makes it a very special day.  And, you are a very special person!  In spite of what your narcissistic mother most likely told you, you are a wonderful person, & your birthday is a day that should be acknowledged & celebrated!  Why don’t you decide today to start doing just that?

When I first started to try to celebrate & enjoy my birthday, it felt so strange.  I even felt guilty, like I was doing something bad & wrong. But, as time has worn on, I’ve gotten better at it.  In fact, I’ve even looked forward to my birthday a few times.  Admittedly, I’m still struggling in this area, but at least I’ve made progress.  Progress is so much better than cringing every single time the month of April begins!  It may take you a little time & practice as it has me to start consistently looking forward to your birthday, but it is worth it!

To start, you don’t have to start big, like with a huge party, if you aren’t comfortable with that. Just do a little something nice for yourself.  Like my friend said, get your favorite lunch from your favorite restaurant.  Bake yourself a cake or buy a slice from a nice restaurant.  Buy yourself a nice gift- it doesn’t need to be extravagant if you don’t want it to be or can’t afford it.  A new book would suffice.  Go out for coffee with your best friend(s).  Buy yourself some fresh flowers or plant a pretty garden in your yard.  The point is to do something special just for you, to celebrate the wonderful day that you were born.  xoxo

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Narcissists & Animals

As many of you know, I absolutely love animals. I’m currently the very proud mama to 9 cats, 1 dog & 1 finch. If I can brag a bit, they are all very well behaved (not perfect, but pretty impressive anyway!), happy, affectionate, gentle, sweet & very caring.  I think they’re pretty awesome, & am happy to say that people who meet them seem to share my opinion.

Except for my narcissistic mother & mother in-law.

Before my mother in-law met them (& she met them only one time), she told me I had too many cats & needed to get rid of them.  She also told my sister in-law the same thing.  The one time she met all of the cats I had at the time, she looked at them with such disdain.  In fact, when she entered the room, they all gathered close around me very protectively.  Magic, the head of our family at the time, sat on my lap, swishing his tail angrily & looking at her with the evil kitty eye until she left us alone.  Magic met her one more time, in her home, & promptly pooped on her carpet.  Needless to say, Magic was my favorite cat I’ve ever had..lol

As for my mother, the cats don’t like her & with good reason.  She insults them.  This one is too skinny is she sick, the other one is so rude & too pushy with wanting affection, the cat she used to have weighed 13 pounds & that one over there is obviously way more than 13 so he is way too fat & needs to go on a diet!  Although many people think animals don’t understand words, only the tone of voice, mine are proof that is not true.  Each time she has insulted them, they give her this look like they’re thinking “Well screw you then, Lady..” & walk off, refusing to give her more attention.  It got so bad, I told her repeatedly that if she can’t be civil to my pets, she is no longer welcome in my home.  As a result, she didn’t set foot inside my home for over 3 years.  I guess insulting my pets is really important to her.

Do these scenarios remind you of your narcissistic mother?

If they do, I want to urge you today to pay close attention to how she is with your furbabies & protect them!  The same hurt you feel when she insults you, they feel when she insults them.  It’s not fair, especially since they can’t fight back like people can.  They are completely innocent victims, & deserve your protection.  As the pet parent, it is your job to protect them from any & all dangers, & that includes your narcissistic mother.

Doing this isn’t easy at first, I know.  My mother completely ignored me time & time again when I told her to knock it off- don’t talk to them that way.  I figured out why though- I was livid with her & didn’t mind showing it.  She fed off the fact she upset me, just like any narcissist does.  Me being upset only made her mistreat my animals more & more.

The secret to dealing with a narcissist is to stay calm- don’t let them see you’re upset!  Remain calm & collected in their presence.  (Once they are gone, rant & rage all you want though!)  Calmly state to her that you won’t tolerate whatever it is she is doing to your pet.  Never admit that it upsets you, however!  Just calmly state that you don’t let people talk to your pet that way or you don’t allow your pet to eat that type of food or whatever the situation is.  Offer no explanations at all- it is simply something you don’t tolerate. If she continues, remind her of what you said.  If she still continues, walk over to her, pull your pet away from  her & keep him or her at your side until your mother leaves.  If she tries to call your pet to her, tell her no- the pet stays with you.  She may at some point say something about you being oversensitive, she was just teasing, she just thought your pet would like that treat, etc.  Ignore the innocent act & stick to your guns.  Let her know that certain things are not tolerated & if she insists on treating your pet the way she thinks he/she should be treated instead of how you know is best, then she won’t be welcome in your home any longer.

I know this may be hard at first, but do it anyway!  Your narcissistic mother is trying to hurt you by using your pet.  If she can’t hurt you directly anymore either by beating you or by insulting you (eventually we all develop a pretty thick skin to her insults & become like an insult Navy seal..), she’ll look for new ways to hurt you which is where your pets come into play.  Don’t let her get away with hurting you or your pet!  It’s not fair to either one of you!  Protect your furbaby just as much as you would protect a human baby- they are equally innocent & undeserving of abuse!

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Strength Does Come If You Don’t Give Up

Last week, my father called, asking if he could come by soon.  We arranged it for this past Tuesday, around 12-1 p.m.  When he was a bit late, I just chalked it up to the traffic jam outside my home, but soon found out why- my mother was with him, & she is always late (a control tactic).  She invited herself to my home!  I was caught off-guard since I hadn’t expected this but I prayed quickly before letting them in, & God didn’t disappoint!  He helped me tremendously to get through the very difficult visit, as He always does.

My mother was obviously angry with me from the start. Why I’m not sure.  Maybe because I didn’t invite her over (truthfully, I didn’t invite my father either but at least he asked before coming over).  Maybe because she was whining about her back pain & I showed her no concern (for anyone who doesn’t know, at 19, my mother threw me into a wall so hard, I had pain for 10 years & had to quit working.  Not only did she never assume responsibility for hurting me, she told everyone I was faking the injury to get out of working because I was so lazy.  This is why I feel no sympathy for her pain.  You reap what you sow!).  Maybe she was mad because as soon as she got here, she asked if I’d gotten an email from her cousin about printing something out for her & I told her I did get it & I told her cousin to print it out herself since I’m not anyone’s secretary.

In any case, my mother was angry with me, & when she’s angry she does the normal narcissist behavior- treat me like crap & try to hurt me at every opportunity.  Thanks to God helping me, I was able not only to catch onto what she did every time, but also refuse to play along.  I was able to stay totally calm, which is important- showing your hurt or anger only fuels the narcissist, making her want to hurt you more & more.  I also was able to set & enforce firm boundaries with her that she respected, albeit grudgingly.

The visit was a great success, considering the circumstances!  Although I still ended up angry & hurt when my parents left, it wasn’t nearly as painful as it has been before.  It’s taken a long time, but I finally am able to set & enforce healthy boundaries & stand up to my mother rather than tolerate her abuse silently.

My point of telling you this story, Dear Reader, is to encourage you.  A good friend of mine suggested I share it to encourage you.  If you are in a relationship with your narcissistic parents & unable or unwilling to go no contact, you still can deal with them if you don’t give up!  Keep praying- ask God to give you whatever you need such as strength, courage, wisdom & even words to say or boundaries to set.  He truly will answer that prayer!

If you have any doubts about anything she says or what you feel, ask God to tell you the truth immediately.

Also, learn as much as you can about narcissism so you are prepared for the gaslighting & other horrible behaviors.  This will help you to remember that she is the problem, not you as well as to cope with those behaviors.

Talk to supportive friends.  Let them encourage you!

Be calm around your narcissistic parent at all times to avoid fueling their nasty fire.

Always be consistent.  If you set a boundary, stick to it.  Any flexibility will be taken as a sign of weakness & she will bust through that boundary & any others as soon as she sees fit.

As you gain more experience with dealing with your narcissistic parents in a healthy way, it will become so much easier.  I never thought that I would be able to tell my mother to knock off insulting my pets & have her actually listen to me!  I’ve told her that before & she ignored me totally.  Even when I told her either be nice to them or I’ll kick her out of my home, it still wasn’t as effective- she simply avoided my home.  But Tuesday, she backed off immediately.  She is finally learning that I not only am serious that I will protect my furkids no matter what, but also that I mean business with my boundaries.

You too can be strong!  Don’t give up!  Keep practicing the above mentioned tips, & you will be pleasantly surprised how much stronger you are.  And, chances are your narcissistic mother will improve her behaviors some like mine has.

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How Do You Treat Those Who Are Suffering?

I was talking with a good friend recently.  She told me about something traumatic that happened to her a while back.  She also said that many of her friends & relatives told her that she needed to get over it & trivialized her awful experience, rather than offer her compassion & support.  Naturally, it upset her badly that people she expected to be compassionate were instead cold & unfeeling.

Unfortunately I understand her feelings all too well.  Since I got sick at the end of February, I’ve experienced this same thing first hand more times than I can count, starting at the hospital.  Apparently even a potentially deadly illness isn’t enough to warrant compassion from most people.

There is a terrible lack of love, empathy & compassion in the world today.  2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “1 But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].  2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  3 [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.  4 [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.  5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].”  (AMP)

I firmly believe this is what is happening today, why people are so indifferent to the suffering of others.  Look at how people behave.  Money & things mean more than people & relationships.  Animal & child abuse are commonplace, as is hypocrisy.  And most importantly, God is rarely invited into, well, anything.  Not many people have God as their top priority in life.  Without God, it’s impossible to truly love people God’s way- full of compassion, caring, & great empathy.

Dear Reader, I’m certain you have been on the receiving end of this hurtful type of behavior. Your pain has no doubt been trivialized or even invalidated.  (This is especially common for adult children of narcissistic parents, since our parents didn’t always leave bruises or broken bones like physically abusive ones did, & they act like good people around everyone but their own children.)

While there is certainly no way to control how people act & completely avoid their coldness, you can remember that a person who acts this way has a problem.  That will help you not to internalize their words, thinking something is wrong with you for being upset over whatever trauma you experienced.  You need to remember that, because you are not wrong, crazy, oversensitive, etc. for being upset when something bad happens to you.

And, also remember that people with problems naturally turn self-centered to varying degrees.  Some people become so self-centered that they don’t have it in them to care about others who are also suffering.  Remembering this too will help you not to internalize being treated so poorly.

I would like to also encourage you to consider how you react when someone tells you about a painful or traumatic experience.  Do you offer compassion?  Empathize with their pain?  Or, are you so wrapped up in your own problems you refuse to see anything or anyone except what relates directly to you?

If you are the type to have a hard time empathizing when you too are suffering, it may be time to change that.  Aside from the fact that behavior can be hurting others, being good to others also is good for you.  It takes your mind off your problems, even if only temporarily.  You also may learn that this person & you share a common problem, & now you have someone to talk about your problems with.  You may be able to help each other!

Don’t know how to change this about yourself?  Ask God for help.  Ask Him to increase your empathy, to make you more aware of the feelings of others  & to give you wisdom on how to help those He puts in your path & wisdom with your words.  God will honor your prayer, & bless you for wanting to help others.

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Do You Validate Or Invalidate Yourself?

Validation is very hard to come by.  People are very quick to minimize the successes of others & to tell others their pain isn’t so bad.  When others either fail to validate you or directly, deliberately invalidate you, it hurts.  It also leads many people to invalidate themselves, especially when the invalidation starts early in life by their own parents.  Parental invalidation of a child easily can instill a belief in the child that she or he isn’t worth validating.  Accomplishments, dreams, needs, feelings all become trivial, unworthy of any recognition.  I believe invalidating a child helps to instill a root of deep shame in him or her.  The child becomes ashamed of his or her own needs, wants, feelings & even accomplishments.

Growing up with narcissistic parents, this is a very common phenomenon.  In my own life, I have only recently begun to see how badly I have invalidated myself.  I tend to look at what I haven’t done rather than what I have, & berate myself for what I haven’t done rather than be proud of what I have. Or, if I accomplish something good, I just look at it as something anyone can do, or it’s something I should do so why should that be celebrated?  My wants, needs & feelings come after those of others, even if I have a crisis.  While I am getting a bit better at these behaviors, it’s difficult since they are so deeply ingrained in me.  Plus, by behaving this way, I have essentially told others it’s perfectly OK for them to invalidate me, which means others do so on a regular basis.

If this describes you as well, I want to encourage you today to do as I am trying to do myself- begin to validate yourself!  It’s time to recognize that your wants, needs, actions & feelings are just as important as those of other people.  To do this, ask yourself why you believe the way you do.  What makes you think your wants, needs, etc. are less important than those of other people?  If you are unsure, ask God to show you.  Once you realize why you feel the way you do, ask Him to speak truth to you about why you feel this way.  Are your feelings accurate?  Or, are they the result of someone else invalidating you?  How can you change this false belief into the truth?

Also, pay attention to those things you feel, good & bad, & acknowledge them.  Don’t brush things off so easily- feel your feelings.  If someone hurt you, then feel that hurt & be good to yourself by doing nice things that make you feel good.  If you feel good because you accomplished a task that was on the back burner for too long, stop & bask in how good that feels for a few minutes.  Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Maybe even celebrate by giving yourself a gift.

Another thing to think about.  People who invalidate on a regular basis are often toxic.  They can be narcissists (or even just plain self-centered people) who believe they are the only ones worthy of validation, passive/aggressive types who use it as a means of punishing others, or they can simply be the superficial type of people who don’t like to delve into any deeper subject matter.  Superficial people don’t care for anything that requires much thought or effort on their part, & validation requires some of both.  Validation requires one to see things through another’s eyes if you wish to truly understand their feelings, plus you have to consider the right thing to say to properly validate another person.

In any case, the point is an invalidating person is the one with the problem, not you.  People want & need validation.  It’s how God made us, & is completely normal to want it!  I believe it is also abnormal not to wish to bless people by giving it freely.  There is nothing wrong with you for being hurt or disappointed when you are invalidated.  But, since it is becoming a rare thing in today’s society, you can validate yourself.

And, while you’re becoming more aware of the importance of validating yourself, don’t forget to validate others as well!  People are starving for validation- be a blessing, & validate others!  If you are unsure when it’s appropriate, ask God to show you who to validate & when.

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Do You Celebrate Enough?

Do you celebrate the good things in your life?  Not necessarily throw a big party over every good thing, but at least revel in your joy for a few moments.

Life can be so hard & full of negative things, the good can get pushed aside.  It’s very easy to do.  However, I would like to encourage you today to start looking for more good things & celebrating them.  Focus more on what you have accomplished than what is still left to do.  Be proud of the fact you lost five pounds or finally painted your living room.  Think about how blessed you are that a good friend of yours brought you lunch when you were sick, or offered to take your child to school when you were unable.  Enjoy the fact your spouse took off work on your birthday to celebrate & spoil you.  Take a few moments just to think about those good things & feel good about them.  Bask in the good feelings for a few minutes.  Truly this will help you to feel good, & it will help to cement these positive experiences in your memory by attaching good emotions to them.  Experiences with emotions attached stick with us much better than those with little or no emotions.

I have stressed many times the importance of taking a break from emotional healing sometimes, as it can be very draining.  As much as you need to heal from narcissistic abuse, it can be very complex & deep, so periodic distracts are very important.  However, I think equally important is looking for & celebrating the good things.

Growing up with a narcissistic parent, accomplishments were always undermined.   We heard negative, critical, judgmental things our entire lives.  In fact, I think of my parents as the “could be a tumor” kid from the movie, “Kindergarten Cop.”  Do you remember that kid?  If not, here you go:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaTO8_KNcuo&list=FLyHVkrFotB51_ZKqh7BqAXg&index=27

These things our parents did became habits.  We learned to do them to ourselves.  We became highly critical & negative about ourselves, even trivializing the good things we’ve done.  Why continue the abuse that your parents started?  Stop it & stop it now!  You deserve so much better than that, & you deserve to be happy.  Start today by celebrating something good.  Take a few minutes to bask in the joy of the blessing or the event, whatever it is.  Focus on how good it feels to have received something or to have accomplished something.  Even if it’s simply cleaning your house- doesn’t it feel good to have that task completed?  Focus on that good feeling for a few minutes.  Thank God for the good things.  That’s all you have to do.

Now, try that celebration with other things, big & small.  Relish the enjoyment!  You’ll be a happier person for it!  xoxo

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New Ways To Cope With Anxiety Taught Me A Way To Deal With Narcissists

I was talking with a good friend of mine recently.  She, too, has problems with anxiety, although hers isn’t associated with C-PTSD.  It still sounds pretty bad, unfortunately.  While we were discussing our experiences, I told her that since I got since in February, my anxiety levels have been a lot better.  She asked what I have done to change things.  Honestly I couldn’t think of what to say at that time.  I had to get alone, pray & really look at things later on.

I got a new revelation on how quickly life can change or even end when I got sick.  When I got sick that February day with carbon monoxide poisoning, I didn’t realize just how serious it was, nor did anyone at the hospital tell me.  I read about it on the Mayo Clinic’s site & Wikipedia after I got home & was shocked at just how close I came to death or the possibility of permanent brain damage.  I made myself face how I felt about this situation instead of ignoring my feelings (as I learned early in life to do), & although it’s been painful to go through, it’s been good.  Coming  that close to death really gave me a new revelation on just how fast life can change, or even end.  That revelation has helped me tremendously to have a better perspective.  I don’t sweat the small stuff so easily now.  I don’t want to waste whatever time I have upset if I can help it.  We only have a relatively short time on this earth, & I have wasted enough years upset, angry, hurt & anxious- I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have as much as possible!

Wanting to enjoy my life as much as I can also made me enforce my boundaries better.  I’m learning to respect how I feel & say no sometimes.  I began asking myself some tough questions:  What is good or right about making myself miserable just to make someone else happy?  If someone wants that, they certainly are selfish & don’t have my best interests at heart.  And, what makes that person so much more important than me anyway?  Why is their happiness so much more important than mine?

Before I got sick, I was too stressed & anxious.  So much so, my hair is damaged & broken.  This was another sign that things had to change.  If my hair was showing such awful signs of stress, what could be happening on the inside to my heart or other organs?  I made the decision that I deserved better than this- it’s time to fight the anxiety & stress.  Making that decision was important.  The decision enabled me to slow down or even stop when anxiety kicks in & talk to myself.  I ask myself is this going to hurt me, is there something I can do to make this situation better, what am I so worried about?  Questions like that make me think about the situation logically, which cuts back on  or even eliminates anxiety.

I have begun to focus more on relaxing.  When I take my daily shower, I enjoy the feel of the warm water instead of just rushing through it.  I exfoliate my skin often & use a good quality lotion I like after my shower so my skin feels great.  I shampoo & condition gently with good products to take care of my fragile, recovering hair.  Often too, I turn on some good music, & light a scented candle while in the shower.  This turns a boring daily ritual into something I enjoy & that relaxes me.  I also turn on music when I do household chores, as the music makes me feel good.  When I get into bed, I take a moment to relish how comfortable & cozy it is.  I have a collection of pictures on my tablet that make me feel good- pictures of serene scenery, Victorian era images or even inspiring quotes that validate me.  Little things like this add to squelching anxiety.

Often, people talk to me about their problems.  (I think many adult children of narcissists are often the friend everyone talks to about their problems).  I’ve recently begun to remind myself that I’m not God- it’s not my place to fix other people’s lives.  Just because my parents raised me to fix their problems doesn’t mean that fixing people is my responsibility!  My job is to offer compassion, advice if asked, help them in some way if I feel God is leading me to & direct them to God.  This has enabled me to feel less anxiety because I can detach emotionally some now in these situations.

Most importantly, I also remind myself constantly that God is in control & is my provider. No matter what we do, God still is in charge.  He wants what is best for me & wants to bless me.  He has brought me this far for a reason, & has not once forsaken me.  Reminding myself of such things has brought me closer to God & our relationship has drastically improved.  Not that I have complaints about how it was before, but even so,  I feel so much closer to Him now & my faith has grown.

Granted, this doesn’t conquer all anxiety every time it happens.  I still battle agoraphobia every time I leave my home or wake up with panic attacks sometimes.  However, things have improved greatly.  And a bonus has happened- by slowing myself down to deal with anxiety, it’s become such a habit, I’ve also started doing it automatically when dealing with my narcissistic parents.  Instead of immediately getting angry or hurt over what they do, I am now able to remind myself that whatever they’re doing isn’t about me- it’s about their dysfunctional behavior.  For example, if they try to make me feel guilty for not calling more often, I remember that they don’t want me to call more because they care about me, but because they want that narcissistic supply.  The result is I don’t feel guilty- I realize they are trying to get supply from me & I have the right to protect myself from  it.  Talk about a bonus!  I can cope better with anxiety & my parents too?!  It feels good not to feel guilty, hurt  or angry every time I hang up the phone from talking to my parents!

I believe what I have learned can help you as well.  I urge you to pray about what I’ve written & put it into practice if God leads you to do so!

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Compassion Fatigue- A Common Problem

Many adult children of narcissistic parents grow into very compassionate, empathetic adults.  We listen to others & offer support, even when strangers approach us in a grocery store & want to tell us their problems.  We help generously.  We’re often caregivers in many ways- taking care of the sick as well as providing emotional or even financial support to those in need.  And, truthfully, we often enjoy it.

Whether you enjoy caregiving or not, though, sometimes it burns you out.

It’s like a bank account- you can’t withdraw money without ever putting in a deposit or you will overdraft your account. The exact same thing happens with your mental health- if you do nothing but give, there is nothing left over for you.  You become tired, mentally & physically.  You also become very irritable & bottle up your emotions.  You may abuse substances or overeat.  You isolate yourself because you feel you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with people.  You become indifferent to their suffering.  You have plenty of aches & pains without a physical cause & you have difficulty concentrating on things.  Some people stop their good self-care habits, even hygienic habits.

This is a frustrating place to be!  I’ve felt some degree of compassion fatigue for years, but it has reached a peak during my recent recovery.  When all you can do is lay around & do very minimal tasks, it gives you plenty of time to think.  I realized how very few people close to me genuinely cared about the fact I came very close to death recently.  Very few have even asked how I’m doing more than once.  Aside from the obvious anger about this, it hurt me badly.  I have done my best to be there for those in my life as much as possible, & this is how I’m treated after trauma?  This seemed to rocket the compassion fatigue into overdrive.  As I write this, there aren’t many people I’m close to that I can muster up some empathy for at this time.

So.. how does one combat compassion fatigue?  Honestly I had to research it because I’ve never found a way to do it on my own.  The suggestions I’ve found are below along with some things I’ve been trying to do myself.

  • Sometimes people won’t be there for you, but God will be.  Give Him first priority in your life, & go to Him when you need comfort before you go to people.
  • Don’t judge yourself for how you feel.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Practice good self-care rituals.
  • Set & enforce good boundaries to give yourself a break as you need.
  • Remember, when people come to you for help, you should do your best to point them back to God as much as possible, & not become a god to them by fixing their problems.
  • Talk with others who understand how you feel.
  • Participate in your hobbies often, or start new ones.

I hope this helps you to combat compassion fatigue & to achieve a healthier balance with helping other people.  May God bless you!

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