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:
- “It wasn’t that bad.. at least he didn’t hit me.” after leaving a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.
- “Yea, that person held a knife to my throat but all he did was take my wallet…”
- “I know my parents did some bad stuff to me but others have it way worse than I did.”
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.
- Pray. Tell God what you think & feel. Let it all out! He can handle your anger & sadness.
- Write it out in a journal.
- Talk to someone who is non judgmental, safe & understanding of your situation.
- If you don’t feel like talking or writing, then get alone & cry, scream, beat up some pillows or whatever helps you feel better.
- I know this one is very hard but try to be patient with yourself. You’ve been through a lot! It’s ok to feel badly about that!
- Rest when you need to. Emotional things take a big physical toll. Give your body extra rest.
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.
Growing up with abusive parents, most kids think that once they turn 18 &/or move out, all their problems will be over. Many victims marry very young trying to rush this process along, & who can blame them?
The problem is though, this mindset is wrong. The abuse merely changes, it doesn’t stop.
In my experience, I left home at 19 after my first nervous breakdown. Although I didn’t know exactly what had happened to me at that time, I knew in my heart that I had to leave or lose my sanity. I moved back in 6 months later for only four days. On the last day, my mother & I got into an argument which escalated quickly into a physical fight, & she slammed me into a wall. I believe she wanted to kill me that night. I also believed that since I determined never to live in that house again, the abuse was a thing of the past. My mother never laid another hand on me again after that night, November 28, 1990. That didn’t mean she never abused me again, however.
After that horrible night, my mother continued to verbally abuse me. Everything about me was subject to her harsh judgement & criticisms, just as it had been when I was living with her. When I had to quit work a few months later due to my back pain from her assault, my mother made it clear she was convinced I was faking the pain because I was too lazy to work. She never said those words exactly, but she would slap me in the back where my pain was, hand me heavy items or tell me I needed to help her move something heavy.
As my parents got older & frailer, my mother expected me to help them. When I did help, my parents were cruel, especially my mother. She gave me a diet soda one day when I was there. The cruelty was the artificial sweetener in it was known to cause a laxative effect in some people. She waited until I emptied the bottle to tell me this & how it negatively affected my father. For the remainder of the visit, she & my father continually asked me how my stomach felt or did I need to use the bathroom.
My mother had irritable bowel syndrome. After having an issue, she called to tell me I had to wash her clothes the next day because “I owed it to her since she took care of me as a baby.” The next day I took rubber gloves along in case I had to touch any laundry since I’m not good with body functions. My mother watched me take off those gloves, then told me to hold out my hands. With a smile, she put her nasty clothes in my bare hands & said “I forgot, these need to go in the washer too.”
The point of these stories is this: narcissistic parents don’t stop abusing their children when they become adults. They merely change the ways in which they abuse them.
As narcissists age, they can’t be the physically intimidating presence to their child anymore. And, their child has grown up, so even if they were able to magically stay the same, their child probably wouldn’t be intimidated like they once were. Also, threats of punishment from a parent don’t work on an adult as they would on a child. Due to losing so many of their once successful ways of abusing their child, narcissists have to come up with new ways to abuse.
Some of those new ways may involve financial abuse, guilt trips to make their child think they owe the parent, misusing their medications to make themselves ill, or even threatening suicide.
If such things are happening to you, you’re not alone! You also have nothing to feel ashamed of! The shame lies with your parent, not you! Do what you need to in order to protect yourself. You do NOT deserve to be abused!!
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff. Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.
I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings. If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that. I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.
Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was. She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did. I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me. Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood. I still dislike fluffy stories.
I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.
So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories. They prefer something real even if it is sad. Many also share my interest in true crime.
Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities. We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick. Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.
Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up. Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse. This often carries into adulthood. We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them. Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored. Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet. Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet. They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.
Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves. This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching. Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself. If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story. Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice. You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t. Instead it’s redirected.
If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost! At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to. That is good. Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet. This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.
Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now? Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal? If it helps, talk to that child. Write letters to him or her. It may help you tremendously.
Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God. He truly understands even when we don’t. He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?
When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways. One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills. As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.
Lying about what? Anything & everything! I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it. Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it. When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that. I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason. Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.
That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.
Another lie is “I don’t matter.” Of course you matter! Everyone matters! The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter. It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter. Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.
“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect. When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents. That, however is a big lie!
“I’m unworthy to ask for help.” Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Another common lie is, “I should be happy. I have no reason not to be happy.” When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood. They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.
“I don’t need anything.” is a common lie, too. Of course you need something. Every person has needs. Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them. Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.
Another common lie is, “I’m ok.” When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt. When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that. Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.
“Anything you want is fine with me.” When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble. After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.
If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone! Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself. Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies. Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them. My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth. Am I right to feel as I do? Please tell me the truth, Your truth. He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly. Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.
I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life! xoxo
The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread. We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.
My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday. She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there. The same with my ex mother in-law. Not obeying meant facing their anger. It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me. Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them. Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.
Remember, you are an adult. You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them. When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset. They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…). Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about. There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people
Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise. My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas. That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party. Why not do the same thing? Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated? Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves. Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle? “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday. That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.” I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day. My late & ex mothers in-law were that way. But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way. This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like. It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!
If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit. Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time. Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever. No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down! Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.
If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it. You can’t make him change his mind. You can, however, refuse to go. You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day. You can spend the holiday with friends instead. You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you. Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.
Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation. God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year. xoxo
Often, overt narcissists marry covert narcissists, which is a nightmare situation for their child. This was the situation I grew up with. My mother was a very overt narcissist & my father very covert.
My mother was the stereotypical overt narcissist. She was cruel with her constant criticisms, often screaming them at me. Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. She also was incredibly controlling, strictly limiting who was a part of my life, how I looked & much more.
My father was entirely different than my mother. To him, I could do no wrong. He was also free with praise, in other words, the exact opposite of my mother.
Over the years, my mother maintained her cruel demeanor with me. My father also continued his demeanor, but only until I was in my mid 20’s. Suddenly, there were some small criticisms. It was strange & got my attention, but I didn’t know what to think about it.
As I got older, & started to heal from the abuse, I also started setting more & more boundaries with my parents. As I did that, my father got slightly freer with the criticisms.
Eventually I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & ways to cope with narcissists. I spent less time with my parents. My father’s criticisms became a constant, which meant I spoke less frequently to him. The less frequently we spoke, the more critical he became. He also started trying to help me constantly, even in areas where I didn’t need help. It was strange to say the least!
I began to wonder why this was happening. I think I figured it out, & since I’m sure mine isn’t the only situation like this, I’m sharing my thoughts.
When one parent is an overt narcissist, it’s easy to see something is wrong. Normal people don’t ignore, control, scream & rage at their children. Children in this position naturally gravitate more to their other parent, the one who doesn’t do such things. When that parent is a covert narcissist, they work this situation to their advantage. Many of them reinforce that the overtly narcissistic parent is bad. Many also praise their child excessively. They realize on some level that their child is starved for praise & love, so by giving their child what they crave, they’re making that child bond with them.
Eventually, that child begins to grow up & become more independent. The covertly narcissistic parent realizes they are losing control of their child, & must reel them back in somehow. Their nice tactics are no longer enough. They begin use criticism. If their child no longer feels secure, they will look to that parent for security.
Also, once the child’s self esteem is damaged, the covertly narcissistic parent can help or even rescue the child as a way to maintain control. This can be a very effective tactic! The child doesn’t believe that he or she can do things, but their parent can. They rely on that parent to do what they can’t, which gives that parent control. The more insecure they feel, the more they rely on the parent & the cycle continues.
If this describes your situation, know you’re not alone! Also know you can handle it!
Remind yourself what is happening. This isn’t about you deserving the criticisms or being incapable of handling whatever your parent is trying to help you with. This is about your narcissistic parent & them being upset that they’re losing control over you.
When your parent says you can’t handle a situation, ask yourself if this is true. Most likely, you’ll realize you are capable of handling the situation very well without any assistance.
Whenever possible, refuse your parent’s help. Even in small matters, refuse their help. The more help you accept, the more control that gives your narcissistic parent & that is the last thing you need!
Always remember the Gray Rock method. Basically, that means you become boring to the narcissist. You provide no narcissistic supply. See the link above for more information on my website.
Most importantly, keep your focus on God! Ask Him for any help you need, for wisdom & creative ways to handle the situation.
Enmeshment is a term used to describe when boundaries are either very weak or non existent in a relationship, most commonly within a family. Enmeshed families aren’t simply close. Closeness is healthy, but enmeshment is not. It can cause a myriad of problems for the children.
Enmeshed families share very similar traits. The children are expected to think & act like their parents, to work in the line of work their parents want them to & basically live the life their parents want them to live rather than what they want to. Children are also usually the only close “friends” of sorts that the parents have. The parents demand or guilt trip their children spend plenty of time with them rather than create an environment that would make their children want to spend time with them. Children, no matter their age, aren’t supposed to do things they want, such as spending time with people other than their parents. In fact, enmeshed parents don’t want their children to leave home. Many adult children from these families didn’t leave home at an appropriate age. Instead they lived with their parents well into their 20’s, 30’s or maybe never even moved out. These children also feel responsible for their parents, starting at a very young age. This can cause them to put their parents’ needs & wants over their own, & later also over their spouse’s needs & wants. It creates a tremendous amount of stress in a marriage.
Children in enmeshed families frequently grow up feeling out of place when they aren’t with their families. They also lack a real identity beyond who their parents tell them they are. Their self esteem is usually quite low as well. Other common problems include a lack of relationship skills & lack of understanding of healthy boundaries. They also tend to be very distrustful of people who aren’t related to them, yet tolerate any abuse their family members heap on them. Many of these adult children seek out romantic partners who need caring for, which is a pattern they learned in childhood from their needy parents.
In order to end this dysfunctional behavior, the child of enmeshed parents needs first to recognize just how dysfunctional & harmful enmeshment is. It can be very hard to do this after a lifetime of believing the lie that the enmeshment means their family is closer & healthier t han others, but it still must be done.
Next, some distance must be set between parent & child. This is also very hard, I know, especially since most likely the parent will shame the child for wanting some space, but it can be done. Start small, such as not answering their call sometimes. If your parent complains, just say you were busy (which you were.. taking care of yourself) & couldn’t get to the phone. Also don’t spend as much time with your parent as you have. Pull away a bit. Don’t be so readily available to your parent. If they need your help, unless it’s a true emergency, tell them you can’t do what they need now but you can in a few days. These small ways to start setting boundaries will strengthen you & enable you to set bigger & better boundaries in the future.
Learn who you are, too. Pay attention to what you truly want, like, think, feel… you may discover you are much different than what your parents always said you were. Or, you may have some similarities. Either way, get to know the real you & enjoy who you are.
Recognize the false guilt. If your parent does their best to make you feel guilty for not taking their call one day or not visiting them, that is ridiculous. You’re an adult with your own life! Don’t accept that false guilt!
If you have close friends who understand your situation, discuss it with them. Let them support you. And if you don’t, check online for support forums. No doubt you can find one that helps you.
Mostly, turn to God. Pray about your situation & let Him help you to heal. He loves you & will be glad to do that for you!
I came across this really interesting article about what a mother in-law wants in her daughter in-law. My curiosity was piqued, so I read it. It got me to thinking just how different a narcissistic mother in-law is from a functional one. I thought I’d do a side by side comparison of the two based on the article in case anyone reading this is wondering if their mother in-law is a narcissist.
- A woman who will consider her a friend. A daughter in-law is nothing more than competition to the narcissistic mother in-law. Friendship is NOT gonna happen!
- A woman who makes her son’s life easier. Seems to me, the narcissistic version of this one is “a woman who has no needs or wants of her own, who waits on her son hand & foot, expects nothing in return & is blindly obedient to the mother in-law.”
- A woman who shows how much she loves her husband by the way she talks about him. Never seen or heard anything of the sort from a narcissistic mother in-law. Seems to me it’s more about actions, like those I mentioned in the last point. It also seems that in their eyes, their daughters in-law should be seen & not heard.
- A woman who will be a good listener. A functional mother in-law & a narcissistic one both want this, I believe, but the difference is the functional mother in-law gladly will return the favor. Narcissists only return the favor when they think they can learn something to use as ammunition against the daughter in-law at some point.
- A woman whose faith in Jesus is evident. I would guess that the only narcissistic mothers in-law who have any interest in their daughter in-law’s faith is those who are concerned about looking good to their church. And, she won’t hesitate to twist Scripture around to manipulate her daughter in-law.
- A woman who forgives her past mistakes. What narcissist admits to past mistakes? This obviously isn’t important to the narcissistic mother in-law because she doesn’t make mistakes & if by some chance she did, they were the fault of someone else.
- A woman who helps her navigate the technology-driven, social media-frenzied world today. I can’t really imagine any narcissistic mother in-law who may want to learn more about technology looking for help from her daughter in-law. Viewing her daughter in-law as beneath her, why would she ask her for help in any area?
- A woman who resolves not to see differences of opinions, interference, or interruptions as an intentional dig. This one may depend on the narcissist. Some no doubt want blind obedience from their daughters in-law, including never speaking back to them & assuming the best about them. But there are many others that want their daughters in-law to be angry with them. That works out very well for the narcissist in question, because she can use this in several ways. She can use it to prove her daughter in-law is unappreciative, crazy, irrational, or over sensitive. She also can use this to prove she is the innocent victim of her daughter in-law’s abuse.
- A woman who gives her credit for the incredible son she raised. The one area that functional mothers in-law & narcissistic mothers in-law are alike to some degree. Who wouldn’t want to hear she did a great job raising her son? Narcissists take it to the extreme though, pretty much expecting to be worshiped for her amazing mothering skills.
- A woman who doesn’t compete for her children’s love. If you know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you know that narcissistic parents become narcissistic grandparents. Unlike a nice, normal, functional grandparent, the narcissistic one will expect to be first place in their grandchild’s life. They also may lie to the grandchild about the child’s parent(s) or tell the child there is no reason to listen to Mom & Dad. Many even bribe the grandchild with money or gifts to gain that child’s favor.
As you can see, there are many differences between healthy, functional mothers in-law & narcissistic ones. I hope you aren’t dealing with the narcissistic variety because they are incredibly difficult to deal with at best!
Emotional incest, covert incest, parentification & parentalizing. All describe the same abusive behavior & a topic I’ve written about before. When a parent treats their child as an equal rather than their child, expecting that child to listen to their woes, tales of marital discord, details of their sex life, &/or expecting their child to care for them in ways such as cooking & cleaning for them well beyond what is age appropriate, it damages the child psychologically. The child in this situation often grows up anxious, depressed, lacking healthy relationship skills, feels guilt for things they aren’t responsible for & may even have issues with addiction. Often at the very least, they choose very poorly suited romantic partners.
Sadly, parentalizing is barely discussed in a negative light. Many people see a child & her parent behaving in this way & praise their “close” or “loving” relationship. They even tell the child how lucky she is to have a mom who loves her so much, how she has to be strong for her mom or other similar comments. And, when the child, no matter the age, does something that upsets her parent or *gasp* thinks of herself first, she is labeled unappreciative, selfish, a spoiled brat & more. This lays even more unnecessary guilt on that child, & it is absolutely unfair!
Let’s get one thing straight. No one is responsible for anyone else’s emotions. Yes, someone you love can make you feel happy, sad, angry, etc. sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they are in control of your emotions. YOU ARE! This is especially true for children. Children need to be children, not their parent’s emotional caregiver!
When a parent is abandoned by someone they love, & the only person close to them is their child, it can be understandable they reach out to their child for comfort & companionship. That doesn’t make it right, though! Children are growing up – that is enough responsibility on their little shoulders!
Children also didn’t ask to be born. It’s not their fault if the parents couldn’t maintain a healthy & loving relationship. Making the child feel that they must step into the role of that other parent is cruel, abusive & unfair!
If you grew up in this sort of situation, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for the pain & suffering you have been through. Having been there myself I know it is a miserable situation.
If it is still happening, you’re going to have to set some serious boundaries with your parent. Change the subject as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable. Tell your parent you’re leaving or hanging up the phone if she insists on talking about your other parent that way, then follow through with your threat if need be.
Whether the abuse is still happening or not, you’re going to need to heal from the damage done. Pray. Get angry. Cry. Remind yourself what was done to you was unfair & undeserved. Write in a journal. Talk to a trusted friend or therapist. Do whatever helps you to heal!
You can heal from the effects of emotional incest. It takes time & work, but it can be done. xoxo
On this day 2 years ago, my father was buried. This time of year makes me think a LOT about that awful time surrounding my father’s death. If you care to read about it, the story is available on my website: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/the-miraculous-way-my-father-came-to-know-jesus/
In thinking about that terrible time, naturally the especially wicked people that harassed me day & night came to mind. The blind devotion they had to my parents was utterly astounding. One of them was a cousin who I knew cared a great deal about my father, so that wasn’t entirely unexpected. She clearly believed he was a really great guy. There seemed to be no room in her mind for anything that might threaten that belief. Me not having a relationship with my father threatened her belief, so she attacked me.
So many people are like this! It needs to stop!
I’ll grant you that narcissists are unparalleled actors which makes it easy to believe their lies & false persona. Even so, it’s never wise to blindly accept a person as they appear.
1 John 4 states that we are to “test the spirits” of anyone proclaiming to be a prophet. According to the verses, a true prophet truly believes that Jesus is the Messiah.
I think faith in Jesus can be a very good way to identify if someone is who they claim to be or not, but not simply by saying those words. A true believer does their best to live their faith by being good & kind to other people, & most of all keeps God first in every area of their lives. They aren’t hypocritical or dishonest. They try not to hurt people but help them instead. The cousin I mentioned above? She claimed to be a Christian but exhibited no such behaviors.
Many non believers behave in a similar manner, minus the part about keeping God first in their lives. These are good people, whether or not they share your faith.
Then there are narcissists.
Narcissists may claim to love Jesus or at least be good people. They may be active in their community or feeding the hungry. They may be teachers, police officers or even doctors. Everything about their external appearance may look good, yet someone says this person isn’t as they appear to be. His wife claims he’s unfaithful, is verbally, mentally, financially or sexually abusive. Her child claims she demands perfection, nothing is ever good enough & when he fails to perform up to her standards, she rages like a lunatic.
When you’re looking at a situation from the outside, when someone makes such claims, it can be tempting to brush it off. You’ve only seen the good parts of that person so it’s hard to believe that “good” person can be abusive.
The problem though is so called “good” people abuse others every day. My parents looked good to outsiders. My father worked hard, my mother volunteered at my school a great deal & they both looked like good parents. Behind closed doors though, they weren’t the wonderful people many folks assumed they were. There was also my ex husband. Most folks seemed to think he was a great guy he was & I was so lucky to have him. Yet, behind closed doors, he was abusive.
My point in all of this is if you are in the position of hearing someone claim someone you know is abusive, please listen to them & consider what they say!! If the person is abusive, you will realize that there were some signs that they weren’t as perfect as they appear. You will remember times when you caught them in a lie, in some unethical behavior or simply ignoring someone in need of their assistance. No narcissist can wear their mask all of the time. It slips sometimes, even though they do their best to hide that from everyone they can.. other than their victim.
Two years ago today, my father passed away. Naturally, the date has me thinking a lot. I tend to overthink anyway so no big surprise there.. lol
One thing that came to mind is a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye that my father liked….
“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.”
Lovely, isn’t it? It offers a great reminder that when someone we love has passed away, there are still things surrounding us that help us remember that person. For example, when I see butterflies, I think of my granddad, & monarch butterflies remind me of my father’s miraculous salvation at the end of his life. They always make me smile.
When the person who died is a narcissist, it’s certainly understandable if you don’t want reminders of that person. I understand completely, as sometimes reminders of my late parents are hard for me to handle. However, if you have lost someone you love, those reminders can offer a great comfort. They remind you that you can see your loved one again someday or of some good times you shared.
I’ve also come to realize that items hold energy. I don’t mean things can be haunted like in scary old ghost stories. What I mean is items that were particularly close to someone seem to hold a bit of that person’s “vibe” if you will. For example, I have some of my paternal grandmother’s jewelry. I love wearing it! It brings me comfort, reminds me of her or good times we shared. It’s as if I carry a bit of her essence with me when I wear it.
There also is a negative side to this. If the person whose item you have was abusive, the item can make you feel bad. I tried wearing some jewelry belonging to my narcissistic maternal grandmother. It was pretty, I like pretty jewelry, so it seemed natural for me to wear it. I quickly realized it didn’t feel right. It also made me feel as if I carried a bit of her essence with me, but the problem was, unlike my other grandmother, she was cruel! That wasn’t the vibe I wanted, so I stopped wearing her jewelry, pretty or not.
Considering all of this, I’ve come to believe that one thing that can help a person can get through grieving the loss of a loved one is having something of their deceased loved one’s. I’ve also come to believe that if the person who passed away was a narcissist, it may help the person grieving to avoid their possessions. It really depends on the relationship between the two parties involved.
I’m also not saying you have to cling to or avoid the deceased person’s item forever. What I am saying is that I believe that it can be helpful when the death is recent & grief is at its most difficult place. Since my father has been gone a while, now I can handle being around his possessions much easier than I could at first.
Grief is very hard & very painful, whether the person lost is someone you loved or a narcissist. I sincerely hope this post gives you another helpful way to cope. xoxo
Sadly, many children of narcissistic parents aren’t believed when they first reveal the abuse. When the children are small, it’s often they are too young to know what they are talking about. When they are teens, it’s teens are over dramatic & what teenager gets along with their parents anyway? When the children grow up, it’s “why didn’t you say anything at the time?” or “That’s in the past.. you need to get over it.”
It really doesn’t help that narcissistic parents are such phenomenal actors they can make people believe that not only were they good, loving parents, but that their children are spoiled, mentally unstable or even abusive. The narcissistic parents end up with supportive people rallying around them & even abusing the victim.
Some time ago, there was a story in the news about Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter, Chelsea, missing. Ms. O’Donnell said that her daughter ran away because she was mentally unstable & a problem child. She sounded like she was very concerned about her daughter. Maybe she was. I don’t know since I didn’t really follow the story very closely. However, there is also the possibility she’s abusive & said what she did in order to turn the attention off of her daughter’s claims of abuse & put it on her daughter’s behavior.
After Chelsea was found, she did an interview. Her claims were very disturbing. She said she never ran away but moved in with her boyfriend when her mother kicked her out two weeks before she turned 18. She also said her mother is very different in public than she is in private at home. In public, she is funny & pleasant. In private, neglectful & abusive. Chelsea also has a history of depression & anxiety, which sound quite normal under the circumstances. These were things she said she wanted to keep private, & was very hurt her mother not only mentioned her mental illness, but made her sound completely crazy. The public treated this young woman as if she was crazy too. She was berated for her terrible behavior.
I relate so well to this sad story. I was 17 when I first began to realize how abusive my mother was. I naturally started to rebel against the abuse. My mother must have lied to people about what I was doing, because suddenly her friends who had liked me would no longer even look at me, let alone speak to me unless it was completely unavoidable. Also, many people I opened up to about the abuse acted like I was behaving like some spoiled brat who was just mad I didn’t get my way, or they would trivialize the abuse saying my mother loved me & was trying to help me.
As a result, if I hear anyone of any age claim they are being abused, I listen. Of course, they could be lying about it, but I find that to be very rare.
Just because someone claims to be a loving parent, doesn’t mean they are. If the child claims that supposed loving parent was abusive, listen to them! Not all parents are capable of loving their children.
Just because a parent claims their child is mentally unstable, doesn’t mean that is true. Abused children frequently suffer from depression, anxiety & even PTSD or C-PTSD. That doesn’t make them unstable.
Just because a parent provides food, clothing & shelter for a child, that doesn’t make this person a good parent. There is much more to being a good parent than meeting a child’s basic needs.
Victims of narcissistic abuse need to be heard, no matter their age! If someone doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, tell someone else who will hear you. Or, if someone comes to you with claims of abuse, listen to them! Be kind & understanding. Let them talk, cry, yell.. whatever they need to do. You may be the only person who is willing to do such things for this suffering soul.
There are so many victims who have been told, scolded really, that they need to have compassion on & even feel pity for their abusers. People say stupid things like, “You can’t get mad at him! He just doesn’t know better because his father did the same thing to him!” “That is your mother & if you really were a Christian like you say you are, you wouldn’t get mad at her! You would honor her!”
Some people who say such stupid comments are well meaning, yet ill informed. Mostly though, such people are quite aware of their comments & the effects they have. Their goal is to shut their victim down by invalidating or shaming them. Maybe they have their own abusive past, & your situation reminds them of theirs. Being too cowardly to face their own demons, they attempt to shut you down instead. Or, maybe they have bought the narcissist’s “good guy/gal” act, & you speaking the truth threatens that. Rather than face the ugly truth, they try to shut you down so their delusion can stay in tact. I’m sure there are countless reasons that people say such cruel remarks. These are only a couple of possibilities.
I don’t think that people who say such ludicrous statements stop for one second to consider the ridiculousness of their words, only the effect they wish to have. I mean, what sense does it make to feel pity for someone who deliberately causes you pain? This actually reminds me of something my father told me. When he was 15, he was driving home one night when the local drunk hit his car head on, flipping his car over into a ditch. My father nearly died from the traumatic brain injury, yet people told him he should feel sorry for the man who hit him. Think about that for a second.. people said he should feel sorry for the man who decided not only to get drunk, but to get behind the wheel of his car in that condition, endangering everyone else on the road & nearly killing my father. Why feel sorry for him rather than my father who lived with lifelong health problems stemming from this man’s poor choices?! As far as I know, the situation with my father didn’t even stop this man from driving drunk. Maybe if someone had confronted him, & made him realize the depths of the problems his actions caused, he might have stopped driving drunk.
They are also supporting someone’s choice to hurt other people. How does this make any sense at all?! No normal, functional person would support someone who deliberately chooses to hurt another person. They know what it’s like to hurt, & don’t want others to feel that way.
Instead of encouraging victims to feel compassion for their abusers, why not support a victim who has had the courage to escape the abuse & tell their story? Tell them they are brave & strong. Tell them you admire them for having the strength & fortitude to survive what they have experienced. Encourage them to share their story in whatever way will help them & hopefully also will help raise awareness. Listen to them. Validate them.
And if you somehow end up talking to an abuser, don’t excuse what they did. Abusers need to know what they did was bad & why. They also need to know that they hurt their victim & there was no good reason to do it. They need to be aware of the fact that to abuse another person is a choice, just like being good to another person is a choice, & they chose the wrong thing to do. Hold this person accountable! Maybe doing so will open their eyes somehow & make them see that they need to make some changes in their behavior. It’s certainly worth a try though, isn’t it?
I love memes. In fact, I saved many over the years. Some inspire me with quoting Scripture. Others inspire because of the beautiful pictures. And then there are ones like this one that was popular on Facebook for a while. It said, “It is very sad when members of the same family do not talk to each other. The children suffer for the adult ego. Cousins miss the wonderful opportunity to be together, & all due to a bruised adult ego. Stop getting offended. Reunite with your family members. One day your imaginary conflict will all come to an end…with or without you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Type yes if you agree.”
That one about made me gag.
I will admit, there are families where someone is being a petty jerk & not speaking to other family members. It does happen, but I don’t believe it’s all that common.
What is much more common is when someone in a family is abusive, & their victim gets fed up. They sever ties with that abuser to protect themselves & sometimes also their spouse & children. The abuser & their devoted flying monkeys harass the victim, drag their name through the mud & blindly support the abuser. Meanwhile the victim is left behind in a state of shock & deeply hurt by the betrayal of not only the abuser but the family members who once said they loved the victim. I guess that truth doesn’t make such a “nice”, wholesome sounding meme though, does it?
If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am. Not only for myself since I have been in this position but for the countless others who have been as well.
It’s not right to abuse someone in the first place. There is no reason to abuse anyone. The only thing that makes this even worse is when people know about the abuse, but treat the abuser with kindness & the victim with disdain. Treating someone who has the courage to open up about being abused is one of the cruelest things a person can do to another in my opinion. It takes a lot of courage to go against the abuser’s wishes in any way, especially their desire to keep their acts secret, because once it’s out, you can’t take it back. To treat someone in this position as if they’re lying, making a big deal about nothing, acting like a spoiled brat, trivialize their feelings or experiences or claim they want to hear nothing about it is absolutely disgraceful & disgusting. Anyone who does this should be utterly ashamed of their actions, but sadly that is rare.
People who act this way are people who are fans of the meme I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Those people obviously have issues. Since I’m related to many of that type of person & have seen their sick behavior first hand, I think I can say that without any doubt. Thanks to these people, I have learned a few things about this kind of person.
People who treat victims as they do often have abuse in their past. They don’t have the guts to face that fact, so they deny it. They put on a fake happy face & tell stories of their happy family. Their denial runs deep so they don’t have to face the pain. Any perceived threat to it & they attack. This includes silencing other victims who are willing to speak out, even when those victims are their own family.
There are others who know the narcissist & refuse to believe the truth. They believe the “nice guy/girl” act & will also attack any threat to their denial of the truth.
People like this are just as toxic as the narcissist who abused you in the first place. And sadly, they’re out there creating memes like this & hurting & manipulating God only knows how many people who see it. It’s utterly disgusting! You really can’t believe everything you read, because sometimes it’s nothing more than garbage written by toxic people.