New Book Idea- Elderly Narcissists

Recently I was involved in a discussion about how little information there is available for those with elderly narcissistic parents, including caring for them.  It gave me an idea- write a book on the topic.

 

I have already started writing an outline & have some ideas.  But, I’d like to hear from you, Dear Reader.  I don’t want to miss anything on this topic.  If there is any topic you’d like explored or if you have stories to include, please let me know.  I won’t divulge your name to protect your privacy.  You can comment on this post or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

 

Thank you!  I look forward to hearing from you!  x0xo

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

Narcissists & Conflict

Narcissists deal with  conflict in odd ways.

 

Many narcissists proudly claim they are neutral in the situation even in extreme situations.  If their adult child is going through a break up or divorce, for example, they stay on friendly terms with the ex even when there aren’t grandchildren involved or any other reason to stay in relationship with that person.  Even if he beat his wife or she cheated on him, the narcissistic parents stay friendly with the ex, not caring that this hurts their child or the child’s new spouse.  In fact, they may sing the praises of the ex to the new spouse.  Been there with my late mother in-law & sisters in-law, in fact.  The mother in-law told me not long after we got married how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of an old girlfriend.  His sisters loved to mention this lady to me frequently & kept my husband current on what happened in her life for years after we were married.  (I’m not sure if they still do that or not- after me getting mad about the last time (we’d been together for 12 years at that point, married for 10), my husband probably wouldn’t tell me if they did.).

 

If they are a witness to a conflict, many narcissists avoid getting involved.  If someone is being hurt physically or mentally, it’s not their problem as far as they are concerned.  That conflict is between those two people, period, so they ignore it.  Many won’t even simply call 911 upon witnessing a crime.  I heard a story once about a lady who was killed outside of her apartment building in the 1950s’s.  38 people claimed to have heard her screaming for help, some even saw the attack from their apartment windows, but only 2 called the police.  Every other person said they didn’t want to get involved, even though they knew this lady was in danger.

 

Other narcissists are afraid if they get involved, someone will end up angry with them, so they stay out of the conflict.  For example, my mother once told me of seeing the husband of a friend of hers & my father’s with another woman.  I asked if she told the woman, & she said “Oh no!  I couldn’t do that!  They might get mad at me.”  (Seriously?!  If that was my husband, I’d want to know & would NOT be angry with the person who told me- my anger would be reserved for my husband at that point. Pretty sure this is how almost anyone would feel in this position!)  She asked if I’d tell if I was in her position & I said absolutely I would.  It’d be hard, but this lady has a right to know so she can figure out what to do about this.  My mother looked at me like a deer in the headlights.  She clearly had no concept of what I was saying.

 

Sometimes narcissists will get involved, trying to rescue the victim, in a limited capacity, if they think it will make them look good.  In junior high school, a girl threatened to beat me up.  I’m not sure why.  I was afraid, but after growing up with my mother, had learned that if you don’t stand up to a bully, they’ll run right over you.   Backing down wasn’t an option in my mind.  I told my mother about this girl.  The next day, my mother went to the principle.  During class, the girl yelled at me for telling on her, but at least she left me alone.  (A good thing- she was a lot bigger than me!)  To this day, my mother tells how she saved me from getting beaten up.  According to her, I wanted to stay home to avoid that girl, but she wouldn’t let me.  She made me face my fears & she talked to the principle, & if it wasn’t for her, I would’ve been beaten up.  As usual, her version was very different than reality.

 

People who don’t have Narcissistic Personality Disorder but have some narcissistic tendencies also may behave this way.  Perhaps they grew up with at least one narcissistic parent, so they learned that this is how you are supposed to act. My husband told me years ago that his mother & I not getting along was not his problem, it was all mine. I needed to deal with it & leave him out of it.  Interestingly, his father’s mother never liked his wife, & his father never did anything about that.  My husband learned by example of his narcissistic parents.

 

In any case, the narcissist responds in the passive/aggressive the way they do for one reason only- themselves.  As with everything else, the situation comes back to them.  They’re all that matters to themselves, period.  Will they look good if they rescue someone?  Can they get involved & people will still like them?  Or, will they look better not getting involved?  After all, what if someone got mad at them?  GASP!!  The horrors!!

 

Being aware of this behavior in narcissists will help you not to expect help from them in the way a normal, healthy person would give it.  Also you’ll know they may completely ignore your crisis entirely.  When that happens, you can chalk it up to typical narcissistic behavior.

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Sharing Stories Of God’s Blessings To Build Others’ Faith

Romans 15:2  “We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith.” (GW)

 

One thing that is important for all Christians to do is share stories of the wonderful things God has done for them, big or small.  Doing so encourages others.  It’s a good reminder that God still does miracles, big & small, for everyone.  That reminder can be a blessing when times are tough & you feel like God doesn’t care.

 

I think sharing stories of God’s blessings is also good to do with non believers.  For one thing, it encourages them that good things do happen even in the worst of times.  For another, maybe telling them the story of your blessings will sow a seed in them.  They may decide they want to know more about this God of yours.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?  In my experience before I was a Christian, I was more responsive to stories of God’s love than the Bible thumping, fire & brimstone types who told me I was going to hell.  Stories of His love gently wooed me to God, while the “you’re going to hell if you don’t accept Jesus right now!” conversation pushed me far away.  I believe most people are that way as well.  Personally, I don’t witness in the traditional sense of that word.  I tell people stories of miraculous & beautiful things God has done for me instead, & I find even die-hard atheists will at least listen to me without objection.

 

Also, sharing your stories encourages you too.  It keeps the blessing close to your heart & reminds you that God loves you, even if for some reason you don’t feel His love.  You can’t always count on others to encourage you, so you have to encourage yourself.  What better way to do so than remembering the wonderful things God has done for you?

 

Telling such stories also increases your joy & your faith.  While you’re blessing others, you’re also blessing yourself.  How can you go wrong by sharing stories of your blessings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Control Tactics

Being raised by narcissists, I learned early in life how to be a good victim.  So good, I’ve been in relationships (friends, romantic & even family) with many abusive people.  Not all were narcissists, but they all shared something in common- their need to control me.

 

Not all controlling people are narcissists, but all narcissists are controlling.  Learning to recognize various methods people use to control others can help you to understand what is happening & react accordingly.

 

Coming on too strong.  When you first meet someone & they immediately want to be your best friend or start talking of marriage right away, this is a bad sign.  I once had a friend who upon meeting said we were going to be best friends, & she was extremely controlling.  The same for a man I once dated who started talking marriage within a month of meeting.

 

They expect you to read their minds.  If the person is acting unhappy, you’re supposed to know why & what they want you to do to make it all better.  If you don’t, you aren’t a good friend, you don’t love them, etc.

 

The silent treatment.  Narcissists in particular enjoy this one.  The silent treatment means refusing to speak to you or acknowledge you rather than discuss the problem.  Withdrawing their love is designed to make you feel as if you have done something terribly wrong, & to make you want to make it up to them.  It keeps you off balanced, & until you realize what is happening, working hard to make the person giving you the silent treatment happy with you again.

 

Talking around the problem at hand.  This distraction technique removes your focus from the real problem & puts it wherever the controller wants it.  Usually on you & your flaws, real or imagined.

 

Constant talking.  Narcissists love to brag about themselves  & never tire of  the sound of their own voices.  Other controlling people talk constantly as well.  This tactic keeps the attention on the controller & the victim giving the controller their full attention.

 

Projection.  Accusing a victim of a behavior that the abuser does is projection.  The goal is to change the behavior of the victim.  For example, if the victim is called selfish, the victim will work hard to prove how unselfish she is.

 

Not “walking the walk.”  A controlling person has very definite opinions of things.  For example, your home should be so clean at all times, when you clean it, it’s hard to tell anything was done because it was that clean before you started.  Yet, their house has enough dust on the tables to write your name in, & don’t you dare say a word about it lest you face their wrath.

 

Using guilt trips.  Guilt trips are supposed to make you feel so bad, you’ll never do that action again.  Healthy guilt is a good thing.  It keeps you from doing things like stealing or cheating on your spouse.  You know doing such things would make you feel miserable, so you avoid doing them.  Guilt trips are about control & not necessarily about you doing something bad.

 

Bullying.  Bullies come across quite scary & intimidating.  The truth however is that they are simply cowards.  They try to make themselves look scary by acting intimidating so they’ll get their way.  Refusing to give in often makes them stop their ridiculous behavior.

 

Urgency.  By creating a false sense of urgency, it means the victim feels she has no time to think about things, she must act & act right now.  Urgency eliminates the chance to consider the situation & evaluate choices.

 

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Are You Too Positive Or Too Negative?

I never really thought of myself as a very negative person, but I was told I was my entire life.  My mother, a self proclaimed optimist in spite of her ability to find the negative in any situation, has said this more times than I can count.  My husband even made similar comments over the years about how negative I am.

 

As a result, I have tried to be more positive.  I have been able to see more positive things than I used to in negative situations.  This has been beneficial to a degree.  It has helped me to be a bit happier than I used to be.

 

That being said though, God showed me something this morning about positive thinking that never crossed my mind before.

 

I was getting laundry out of the dryer & praying as I did.  I had a dreadful night last night, barely getting any sleep & what sleep I had was full of nightmares.  I’ve been in a nasty funk for a few days now which wasn’t helped by last night’s “sleep” & was telling God about that too.  Complaining really.  I wasn’t finding any positive in anything, & feeling guilty for that.  I didn’t admit that to God but of course He knew anyway.  And, He said something about that.

 

“Being too positive can invalidate your pain.  It says you don’t have a right to be disappointed, hurt or angry because something good came from the situation.  Being positive is good, but only in balance.  It’s OK to say things just suck sometimes.  This is one of those times.  Feel the pain, & get it out.  Then, & only then, the funk will lift.”

 

So many of us who have been abused have been told by other people we’re too negative if we discuss it.  Some people think it’s a taboo topic not to be discussed.  Sweep it under the rug, pretend that didn’t happen.  Or, if something good came out of the awful situation (such as having kids with the abusive partner), then you shouldn’t be upset about it.  Something good came from it, so you shouldn’t complain or have problems stemming from the abuse.

 

What these people fail to realize is by telling victims to “stop being so negative” or to “think positive”. they are being abusive.  They are invalidating your pain, & invalidation is abuse.  Invalidation says your pain doesn’t matter, & there is something wrong with you for feeling the way you do.  Whether that is the intention or not by saying “think positive” & such statements, that is the result.  The person who is told to think positive feels there is something wrong with them for feeling as they do.

 

Dear Readers, please remember this post when someone tells you to be positive.  Being positive is a wonderful thing.  It helps you to feel good.  But, it also is unrealistic to think you can be positive 100% of the time.  Sometimes things just suck!  There is nothing wrong with admitting that.  There is also nothing wrong with thinking about those things & feeling whatever emotions that the event triggered in you.  Ignoring such things does no good.  Those emotions will come to the surface at some point, & probably not in a good way.  It is better to have a short period of being depressed or angry as you heal than years of emotions manifesting in unhealthy ways such as addictions, self harm or suicidal thoughts & actions.

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About Body Memories

The past week or so, my lower back has been achy.  I haven’t strained it or injured it in any way.  It’s just been achy.  I’ve also been down in the dumps.  I chalked it up to my dislike of holidays, but something else clicked…

 

November 28, 1990, I came home from work to my parents’ home.  I was tired & had a very busy day.  I also had been trying to find somewhere to move to asap during my lunch break with no success.  I wasn’t in the best mood.  As soon as I walked in my parents’ home, my mother started nitpicking at me.  I could tell she wanted a fight & I really didn’t want to give it to her.  Eventually, though I snapped.  I started yelling back at her.  My father got involved briefly, then walked out, leaving me to face 100% of her wrath.  I went to grab some things & leave, & my mother followed me, screaming at me the entire time.  As I was getting my shoes on by the front door, I saw her eyes turn jet black as they did when something awful was about to happen. Looking back, I believe she wanted to kill me that night.  She slammed me into the wall with such force, not only did about every vertebra in my back pop from my tailbone into my neck, I blacked out from pain. There was also a huge hole in the wall.  When I came to, I was biting her arm- my head was the only body part I could move, & I guess survival instincts kicked in.  She was stunned (as was I), & I took advantage of this opportunity to run out of the house.

 

For 10 years after this, I suffered with back pain.  Also I suffered with my mother telling me & others how I was faking it so I wouldn’t have to work, I was lazy, seeking attention, etc.  It was so bad, I wondered many times if she was right.  After all, the doctors couldn’t find any physical cause for my pain so maybe she was right.

 

Thank God for healing the pain in 2000 & showing me that many people who have been through traumatic events suffer with lower back pain with no known physical cause.

 

So here we are, 26 years after the horrible event & I’m sitting here with an achy back.  This is what is known as a body memory.

 

Body memories exist because our body never forgets things.  Our mind may not be able to handle trauma so it “forgets” it for a while (repressed memories), but the body remembers it all.

 

Body memories can be triggered by many things.  For me, it’s usually a date, like this time.  But, many other things can cause them as well, such as the way a person touches you reminding you of someone who sexually abused you.  The smell of a certain perfume or cologne causes anxiety or depression because it smells like what your abusive parent used to wear.

 

It can be tempting to ignore body memories.  After all, who wants to remember awful events?  I sure don’t like thinking about that night my mother threw me into the wall.  However, I think they are showing us areas we need further healing in.  In a way, this is a good thing.  It doesn’t feel like it, but it’s good because we need to know this information so we can heal further & be that much closer to being whole.

 

When they happen, ask God how to help you to heal.  If you don’t remember what caused this particular body memory, then ask Him to reveal it to you when & only when you are able to cope with it.  If you do remember, tell Him how it makes you feel.  (I find writing in my journal easier than speaking out loud about especially difficult things sometimes).  Ask Him to tell you His truth about the event & show you what you need to do for your part to heal.  He truly will help you.

 

I know sometimes body memories can make you feel like you’re crazy, but you truly are NOT crazy, Dear Reader!  You are simply someone who has experienced trauma & abuse.  It’s only natural there are lasting effects from such things.

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What Not To Say When Someone Is Grieving

A friend & I were talking recently about some of the dumb things people say to someone who is grieving.

 

  • “He’s in a better place.” (And knowing this negates my pain how exactly??)
  • “You should be glad she’s not suffering anymore.”  (I am glad, but I still miss her!)
  • “I know just how you feel.”  (No, you don’t.  You aren’t me.  We feel things differently)
  • (in cases of pet loss) “It was just a cat/dog/bird/etc.”  (To you, but to me, that was my baby!)
  • Or, simply acting like since their loved one has been buried or cremated, they should be ready to on with their lives since it’s “done”.  The funeral marks the beginning of learning to leave without your loved one.  Personally, I feel “in limbo” until the funeral or cremation is done.  Once that happens, my grief really begins.

 

Comments like these may not sound so bad, but they can be hurtful when you’re in the early stages of grief.

 

The simple fact is people don’t know what to say in this situation.  Nothing sounds “right”, so many people say something unintentionally hurtful rather than saying nothing.

 

If you know someone who has recently lost someone they love, please think before you speak.  What may comfort you may not comfort the other person.  Everyone grieves differently.  Plus, there are various stages of grief, & what may comfort someone at one stage may not at another stage.  For example, knowing I’ll see my loved one again one day does NOT comfort me immediately after losing that person or pet.  I call it the selfish phase of grief, where I  just want them back with me because I miss them so much.  Some time later, knowing we’ll be reunited one day is a great comfort.

 

It seems to me there are only a few safe things to say to someone who is grieving.

 

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “Is there anything I can do for you?”
  • “If you want to talk, I’m here for you anytime.”

 

Please consider your words wisely when someone you know has lost a loved one.  You have the ability to help them or hurt them, so please, choose to help them.

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Is Narcissism Really A Disorder?

We all know the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it doesn’t take long witnessing someone with it to wonder if it is truly a disorder.  The word “disorder” implies their behavior is beyond their control, such as in the case of someone with schizophrenia.

 

This term also makes victims of narcissistic abuse feel as if they can’t do anything to protect themselves or even be angry about what is done to them, because the narcissist’s behavior is beyond their control.

 

None of this really sits right with most victims, because we have seen the narcissist in our lives go from screaming lunatic to nice person when the “right” person came along.  I witnessed it with my mother growing up.  She could be screaming at me, telling me how worthless I was, until the phone rang.  She was normal on the phone, then after she hung up, could resume screaming at me.  Although she no longer screams at me, she still controls her behavior just as well.  She can say something incredibly hurtful to me then smile at the person who enters the room a moment later as if nothing happened.

 

Calling behavior like this, so clearly controlled & planned, a disorder always left a bad taste in my mouth.  It was great to finally have a name for what was being done to me, but disorder?

 

Thankfully I found an answer a while back in reading Dr. Karyl McBride’s facebook page.  (In case you don’t know, she wrote an incredible book on narcissistic mothers entitled, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?”  I highly recommend it- it’s chock full of wisdom!)  She said that personality disorders are different than other mental disorders in that they describe a means of behavior rather than an actual physical illness.  For example, someone with PTSD has brain damage caused by trauma whereas someone with NPD is behaving in a dysfunctional way.  This means people with personality disorders can change their behavior if they desire to do so & learn healthier ways to behave, whereas someone with PTSD can’t change their behavior so easily (if at all) because their brains is physically damaged.

 

Interesting, no?

 

In a way, I found this information to be very freeing.  It means that my narcissistic mother’s behavior isn’t beyond her control & I really do have every right to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  It was also a bit discouraging learning that she could change if she wanted to, but she doesn’t want to.

 

The best way I have found to deal with this knowledge & the conflicting feelings that follow is this: I am grateful that the awful behavior has a name, because it means it isn’t my fault!  I didn’t make my mother abuse me, as she claimed.  I also didn’t force my ex husband to punch walls when he got mad at me.  These people have issues, & that isn’t my fault!  As for knowing they can change but refuse?  Well, that is their right.  Everyone has the right to live as they see fit, & some people make very bad choices in how they live.  Having that boundary in place will help you accept the fact that your narcissist may never change, while still hoping for it.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.  Certainly pray they change & hope for it, as it does happen (albeit very rarely), while accepting the fact it may not.

 

And, never forget- you also have the right to protect yourself from abusive behavior however you believe is right for you to do.  Just as someone has the right to be abusive, you have the right to protect yourself.

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What Do People Think Of You?

Hebrews 12:1   “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (KJV)

 

 

There are people watching you every single day.  Other Christians may be comparing your faith to theirs while unbelievers are judging you to see if you’re the real thing or not.  I also personally believe our loved ones who have passed on & are in Heaven now are aware of what is happening in our lives.

 

Do you think about the kind of image you present?

 

I’ve learned a couple of very valuable things on this topic since I became a Christian in 1996, & I’d like to share them with you today.

 

People don’t respond well to the “holier than thou” types- they prefer people who are real.  As a new Christian, I quickly learned this one.  Those who looked down on me because I didn’t grow up in the church, because I was divorced, because I had once dabbled in the occult or because I was a new Christian really got under my skin.  Their “I’m better than you” attitude made me feel insecure & even doubt God’s love for me.  But, people who told me things like, “I was a drug addicted prostitute before I met Jesus” or admitted their current struggles encouraged me.  They showed me that you don’t have to be perfect for Jesus to love you.  And, you can be a Christian & still make mistakes or deal with struggles.  Being saved doesn’t mean life is perfect & if it isn’t, something is wrong with you.  It means you’re human!  Admitting your faults & struggles helps people see you’re like them- flawed, but trying to improve yourself.  And, if Jesus can love imperfect you, then just maybe He can love imperfect them as well!

 

Closely related to being real is letting your behavior witness to others more than your words.  People can say anything- it’s their actions that speak volumes about what is inside of them.  Let your actions show that you are trying to live a Godly life.  If you quote Scripture yet steal, lie, cheat, judge, criticize or hurt people, you’ll be viewed as a hypocrite.  This can turn other people away from not only you, but God as well.  Unbelievers see you proclaiming your faith yet acting worse than atheists, & will want to run as far from God as they can.

 

Bragging about the blessings God has given you is a good thing!  Whether God healed you from a fatal illness, restored a broken relationship or provided you with something you needed, people are encouraged by these stories.  They build the faith of Christians & entice non-believers to learn more about this God of yours.  As many of you know, I have my late Granddad’s car thanks to God providing quite a miracle.  (The story is here if you care to read it: https://cynthiabaileyrug.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/gods-love-for-you/ )  I absolutely love telling the story of how I got it.  It’s interesting because you can tell by people’s reactions who is a Christian & who isn’t.  Christians praise God & unbelievers look puzzled.  Either way, the listener is usually uplifted by such a cool story.

 

Never be ashamed of your faith.  Some Christians are very hesitant to mention their faith.  They act embarrassed about it.  Why?  There’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of!  I’m not saying you have to talk about nothing but Jesus, but there is nothing wrong with saying you’re praying for something or bragging about something God has done for you.  Your faith is the central focus of your life- why not mention it when you feel it’s appropriate?  Just use common sense & speak in balance about it.  Unbelievers can be very put off by Christians who speak of nothing but God, their faith, their church, etc.  I remember that feeling- I thought those people were crazy.  I understood that God was important to them, but I never understood why they didn’t seem to have room for anything else in their lives.

 

If you’d like more information on this topic, I wrote a free ebook on it.  It’s available at this link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/documents/AWitnessOfFaith.pdf

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Day, aka “Forced Family Fun”

Since Thanksgiving is a few days away, & many of you feel forced to deal with your narcissistic families on the day, I thought I would write a post for you in that position, Dear Readers.

 

All of us with narcissistic parents or in-laws know they can make the holidays hell on Earth, yet we often feel powerless to avoid these days.  The good news is that you aren’t as powerless as you think.

 

You don’t have to spend holidays with your narcissistic family if you don’t want to.  They don’t have the right to order you around!  You’re a grown up, & have the right to spend the day however you like.  You don’t owe them any explanations, nor should you feel guilty if you opt to go skiing, take a trip or spend the day with friends rather than spend the day with a narcissistic family.

 

If you cannot get out of the “forced family fun,” then maybe next time, you can prepare ahead of time to have other plans.   For now, though, there are ways to cope.

 

Set boundaries on how long you will be at the gathering.  When the time is coming for you to leave, leave.  Don’t be talked into staying longer!  Say you have plans with a friend, & don’t want to be late (not lying since you’re spending time with yourself & hopefully you’re your own best friend).

 

If you have a job that requires people to work on holidays, maybe you could arrange to work on that day.  You’ll get extra pay (a bonus!) & have a legitimate excuse to leave early or not even attend.

 

If you have a significant other, I pray he or she is on your side.  The support will be helpful for you, plus they can help you to escape.  Have a code that tells the person, “I need to leave.”  If you feel unable to go, your significant other can say, “It’s time for us to go.”

 

If you opt to do something without your family or spend less time with them than usual, chances are good they will pull out all the guilt stops on you, but remember- you do NOT have to blindly obey them!  You have the right to do whatever you like to celebrate.  You aren’t hurting them by doing something different- you’re being good to yourself.  That doesn’t make you selfish, a bad son or daughter, etc. by being good to yourself.  They will get over you not being there.  Or they won’t.  If they don’t, let them pout & be miserable if that’s what they want.

 

Take back your power, Dear Reader, & spend holidays however you like!

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Mental Illness: Normal Consequences Of Abuse Or Something Wrong With You?

Something crossed my mind recently.

 

People with PTSD/C-PTSD, depression or anxiety that stems from being abused are referred to as having a mental illness, or mental health problems.  It occurred to me though that this is, in a way, false.

 

Yes, C-PTSD/PTSD, depression & anxiety are proof of damage in the brain, so they are in that sense mental disorders.  But, such things are also normal reactions to highly abnormal circumstances.  The truth is actually that these disorders were brought about by an abusive person determined to hurt you.

 

Having C-PTSD, PTSD, depression or anxiety aren’t signs that you are weak, a failure, stupid or anything else.  They are simply proof that you have been through some traumatic things, & you survived!  You are strong!

 

Rather than being ashamed of yourself for being “mentally ill”, why not instead embrace the fact that you are a normal, mentally healthy person who has been through some terrible things?

 

I’m not saying embrace your disorder- I doubt anyone could enjoy flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks & more.  Instead, I’m saying see your disorder as proof of your strength & that you have been through trauma.  Not everyone survives being abused.  Many victims develop terrible addictions & still others commit suicide.  You haven’t done those & should be proud that you haven’t!

 

 

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Passive/Aggressive Behavior

Do you know someone who is passive/aggressive?  Passive/aggressive behavior is when someone is upset with you, but rather than try to work it out, they deny being upset.  Instead, they do things to hurt or anger you.

 

Over a year ago when my parents came to my home, my mother wanted me to do something for her.  As usual, she ordered me to do it, rather than asked.  For the first time in my life, it ticked me off.  I’m her daughter, not the hired help & I don’t like being treated as such.  So, I responded with “since you asked me so nicely, of course I’ll do it.”  She didn’t say anything, but apparently it sank in.
A few days later, my mother called me, wanting me to look something up on my computer for her.  Rather than her usual demand, she asked me nicely, so I looked it up.  Small victory for me!  I quickly realized though that she wasn’t happy about asking rather than demanding, because she became passive/aggressive.  Her hearing isn’t the best, but she also uses that when it benefits her to do so.  While I was on the phone with her yesterday, about every other sentence at first was “What did you say?  I can’t hear you Honey!”  (Interestingly she only calls me Honey when she is playing deaf, which is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what she is up to.)  I was practically screaming into the phone before she suddenly heard me.  However, as the conversation went on, her hearing suddenly became better.  I could speak fairly quietly & she heard me.  Why?  I think partly because I let her ramble on- she gained her narcissistic supply, which pleased her- & partly because she felt that she had satisfactorily let me know she wasn’t pleased with being forced to ask me to do something rather than demand it.

 

During the conversation, my mother also slipped in snide comments about how much she hates scary movies/books.  She doesn’t understand how anyone can like such awful things!  Why was this mentioned out of the blue?  No doubt because she knows I love scary movies & stories.  This is a way to scold me for my “poor choices” without directly doing so.  A way to say I’m wrong without using those exact words.

 

There are other ways a person can exhibit passive/aggressive behavior, such as:

 

  • being sarcastic.
  • withholding praise, affection or intimacy.
  • giving the silent treatment.
  • running late.
  • either not getting around to doing something asked of him/her, or doing it very poorly so you are forced to do it yourself if you want it done right.

 

Does any of this behavior sound familiar to you?

 

A lot of people are passive/aggressive.  It’s a very common phenomenon with narcissists, but I think with non-narcissistic people as well.  It’s a very immature type of behavior, & since there are a great deal of immature people in the world, it’s no wonder it’s quite common.

 

So how do you deal with a person who behaves this way?

 

First, you need to be able to recognize it.  If you don’t recognize passive/aggressive behavior, you’ll end up enabling it.  You’ll ask the person what is wrong, try to make them happy, do what they seem unable or unwilling to do.

 

Next, refuse to play along.  If the person wants to behave badly, that is his/her choice.  If someone is constantly late when you are supposed to get together, tell the person that the next time they are late, you will do whatever you are supposed to do together without that person.  Then follow through on it.  Or, if the person is obviously upset, ask what is wrong.  If she says nothing is wrong, let it go.  Don’t try to pry it out of her- she is an adult & can behave as such if she wants to resolve the issue.

 

Be happy.  Pretend not to notice the other person sulking.  Go on with your day in peace.  It will annoy the other person that her behavior isn’t working as she wanted it to, so she may give up on it.

 

Passive/aggressive behavior is very common on social media.  Vague posts about how “some people” behave or think just after you had a disagreement on that topic, or posting things showing a person is for something you aren’t or vice versa are all too common.  Social media is great, but it can be a useful tool for narcissists & passive/aggressives.  When these things happen, ignore them.  Obviously the person posting what they have wants to make a point without discussing it with you in an adult manner.  Opting to try to discuss it with them would most likely only frustrate you.  Just ignore them.  Unfollow or unfriend them.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Covert Narcissists, aka Introverted Narcissists

Periodically, I like to post about the signs of a covert narcissist.  Everyone knows about overt narcissists, but there just isn’t much information on their covert counterparts.  Today, I want to share some warning signs of covert narcissists.

 

They are terrible listeners.  When having a conversation with a covert narcissist, it is painfully obvious they want you to shut up so they can resume talking.  They look bored.  They pretend they’re going to talk as you start to talk, then obviously stop talking, acting as if you interrupted them.  They try to hurry your conversation up.

 

They create a false image of themselves.  Covert narcissists are not as obvious in their delusions of grandeur like overt narcissists.  They may even say depreciating things about themselves such as “I can’t do that.. I’m not talented.”  “I’m not very smart.”  This false image of modesty often makes people complement them & provide narcissistic supply when they make such comments.  Some pretend to be stupid, when in fact they are quite intelligent, so people will take care of them & protect them.  Others do for the people in their life to create the image of the self-sacrificing martyr who never thinks of herself.

 

They are smug.  Narcissists look down on other people, whether they are covert or overt, but coverts are quieter about it.  They may not tell a person flat out that they are better than the victim, but the victim knows this is how that person feels anyway.  Covert narcissists have a look that conveys the message well.  Or, they compare you unfavorably to someone else.  My mother in-law told me how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of someone he used to date, which left me feeling not good enough to be a part of her family.

 

Covert narcissists have no empathy.  Like their overt counterparts, covert narcissists have zero empathy.  They don’t care about your pain unless it directly affects them.  If you cry in their presence, they will look at you blankly.  If there is a witness, the covert narcissist might offer you a hug or some kind words, but that is only to make the witness think well of them.  They really don’t feel any empathy for you whatsoever.

 

Always the victim.  Covert narcissists are always the victim.  If they hurt you, & you confront them, you are mean/unreasonable/abusive/etc.  They’ll even bring out the fake tears to attempt to make you feel guilty.

 

Covert narcissists fake apologize.  On the off chance you get an apology from a covert narcissist, it is obviously fake.  They don’t understand why what they did was wrong, but they feel forced to apologize to appease you & keep you providing their narcissistic supply.  When there’s no way to get around that apology, it can be either passive/aggressive (“I’m sorry you feel that way”) or by saying things they think you would want to hear.  Chances are, they’ll be dead wrong on what they think you want to hear, too.

 

They are extremely sensitive.  Narcissists are all sensitive to any criticism, real or imagined, but covert narcissists are the worst.  Any slight from you can have them crying about how cruel you are.

 

 

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Solving Your Problems

There are often different ways to think about things.  For example, there is a quote that says something along the lines of “when you’re ignoring people, you’re teaching them to live without you.” (I forget the author & the exact wording)  This quote can be a good reminder to pay attention to those you love in your life, but also can be a good reminder of why you need to stay away from certain people.  If someone is too dependent on you (such as in codependent relationships for example), they need to learn to live without you to count on.

 

Years ago, I read  James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)  I decided to ask God for wisdom, & have done so many times since.  God has not disappointed me.  He has given me wisdom in whatever area I’ve asked for it, which has been a tremendous help.

 

Part of that wisdom, I think, is also being able to see things from various perspectives.  That can be a tremendous help in solving problems.

 

Often, people tell me about their problems, & sometimes want my advice because I see things from a different perspective than they do.  Flattering for sure, but that isn’t always necessary.  Sometimes, people simply need to view things from a different angle.  One thing I tell people is “What would you tell me if I came to you with this exact same problem?”  It helps people to create their own solution by seeing the problem from a different angle.

 

If you are suffering with a problem today, Dear Reader, then I would encourage you to do two things.  First & foremost, pray.  Ask God to guide your actions, for wisdom & to provide you with anything else you need in this situation.  Second, try looking at your problem from another angle.  Imagine a friend came to you with this problem- what advice would you give?

 

I know this may sound simplistic, but I encourage you to give it a try.  Such a simple approach has helped me figure many very difficult things out.

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

Being Quirky

One thing I’ve noticed most adult daughters of narcissistic mothers have in common is we’re quirky.  We don’t think or act like most so called “normal” people.

 

And I think that is pretty cool!

 

Normal is boring.  Normal blends in.  Normal is white instead of jewel tones.

 

Many people think normal is great.  They like to blend in with the crowd, because standing out means many people will judge.  And who wants to be judged?!  Especially since many who judge are so very critical as well as judgmental.

 

The problem with not standing out means that people who make a difference never blend in.  Look at Albert Einstein, Nichola Tesla, & Edgar Allan Poe for example.  All brilliant men, & not on a one of them blended in with their peers.  In fact, many people doubted the sanity of all three of them.

 

God made each person to be unique.  If He went through all of the trouble to make everyone’s DNA & fingerprints unique, don’t you think that is proof He wants everyone to be different?

 

 

I know when you grow up with narcissists, this can be a foreign concept.  My mother always has harshly criticized the things about me that are unique, such as loving cars (especially mine), having several cats at a time, my fondness for horror books & movies & more.  As a result, I felt a great deal of shame about such things for a great many years.

 

One day though, it finally began to click in my mind that God made me to be unique.  He made me the way I am for a reason, & He isn’t ashamed of me for liking old cars or scary stories!  I would think He likes them too, since He must have put the ideas for them in the creators’ minds.

 

I learned that accepting my quirks & even embracing them has given me more confidence.  That has allowed me to do the work that I do.  Writing about narcissism isn’t easy!  Aside from the fact the topic is so mentally draining, people are extremely quick to criticize those who write on the topic.  We are supposedly living in the past, ungrateful when we should be grateful for our wonderful parents, blaming them forever & more.  After a lifetime of such criticism, hearing things like that can be enough to make a person want to quit.  Thankfully though, I found that accepting that God made each person unique with a unique calling, plus embracing the uniqueness of myself & my calling has made me capable of ignoring the critics.

 

This goes for you as well, Dear Reader!  You have nothing to be ashamed of!  If you too are kind of quirky, embrace it!  Enjoy all of the unique things that make you, you!  It’s a good thing not to blend in!  And if people judge you for it, ignore them.  They probably are just too afraid to stand out.  Or, they could be narcissists, just wanting to squish anything special out of those around them.  In any case, ignore the critics & be the special, unique person God has created you to be!

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

How Accepting The Narcissist “As Is” Can Benefit You

One thing I have found to be very helpful when dealing with narcissists is to accept them as they are.  Accept that they are immature, competitive, envious, jealous, vindictive with no desire to change & will not hesitate to hurt you if it accomplishes their goal.

 

Accepting them as they are does NOT mean you have to tolerate their abuse, however.  You always have absolutely every right to protect yourself from any & all abuse!!

 

Accepting them does means you understand that the narcissist is this way, & you can’t change them.  You can’t even inspire them to want to change with good, healthy actions on your part.  The only hope you have of genuine change from a narcissist is God being able to get through to them somehow.

 

So why accept the narcissist as they are?  Because it can help you.

 

It seems to be a normal reaction for the victims of a narcissist to hope next time will be different.  Next time, she’ll actually care about me.  Next time, maybe she won’t be so critical.  This overly optimistic thought process only sets the victim up for disappointment.  Narcissists rarely change for the better, & when they do, usually it’s only temporarily to benefit them in some way.  (I believe with God, all things are possible, even a narcissist seeing the error of their ways & changing their abusive behavior.  However, from what I have seen, it seems to be a very, very rare occurrence.)  If you can accept that truth & accept the narcissist as she is, you won’t subject yourself for being disappointed when she doesn’t change, doesn’t apologize for hurting you, etc. You know what is coming, so you aren’t disappointed that this time wasn’t different.

 

Also, accepting the narcissist means you won’t be hurt so often.  You know they are a certain way, & you know what to expect.  Knowing such things means that their usual actions can’t devastate you like they do when they catch you off guard.  You know what is coming, & can prepare for it.  This is a good thing!

 

Dealing with narcissists is never easy, but there are ways to make it less painful & frustrating for you.  Accepting the narcissist is one of those ways.

 

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Trust Your Instincts!

I am a firm believer in trusting your instincts.  Admittedly, growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn early in life not to do so, I certainly did, but as an adult, you need to learn to trust them.  Your intuition won’t steer you wrong!  I believe it’s the Holy Spirit guiding us gently, not some weird psychic power, & the Holy Spirit needs to be acknowledged!  Learning to listen to your instincts can help you in so many ways & make your life much easier.

 

For months now, I have been feeling it’s time to go no contact with my narcissistic parents.  After our big argument last May, I realized I was done with them.  But, I haven’t been able to say the words.  Something in me was making it impossible to take that step.  Why was simply beyond me.  I had gone no contact with my mother in 2001 for 7 years, so what was the problem?  I was sure since I have done it before, I could do it again.  But something in me didn’t feel right about taking that step this time, & frankly, it hasn’t for a long time in spite of wanting to.  That is why I went low contact- it was as close as I felt able to go to no contact.  Honestly, it was bugging me pretty badly.  I felt like I must look like a hypocrite to my readers.  I encourage people who want to go no contact to take that step, but here I was, not doing it.  What was wrong with me?!

 

I prayed again recently about it, & God gave me my answer!

 

My parents are currently in their late 70’s.  My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago & has a host of other serious health problems.  My mother is healthy but has back problems so she needs a lot of help on a daily basis.  If I went no contact at this point, it would NOT go well for me.  The situation would be viewed as me abandoning my elderly, helpless parents in their time of need rather than me protecting myself from abusive people.  My parents would go into the victim role.  It’d be very easy to lose what little family I have left as most haven’t seen my parents’ true colors.  Maybe they would turn into flying monkeys which is something I really do NOT want to deal with.   I would also feel incredibly guilty.  Even just wanting to take the step has made me feel guilty, so I’m sure it would be magnified if I actually did it, in spite of knowing it’s in the best interest of my physical & mental health.  Maybe I wouldn’t be able to cope  with that guilt.

 

God was quite adamant with me during this prayer about not being the one to initiate no contact, just keep my distance & only deal with my parents if I feel able.  (Well, I should say my father since my mother still hasn’t spoken to me since the night of our fight.)  My behavior will push them away naturally.  I have no more trouble calling them out on bad, hurtful, abusive behavior (which is what started the fight) or setting boundaries.  My parents can’t handle such things from me, so this has been pushing them away for a while now, but even more since that fight.

 

My point in all of this is I am so grateful I listened to my instincts rather than outsiders or even my own logic telling me to go no contact.  If I did that, just look at the problems I could be facing right now!  I thank God for guiding me!  Doing things His way definitely will make my life much easier.

 

Please learn from me on this topic & trust your instincts too!  They will not lead you wrong, even when you don’t understand what the plan is.  Ask God to help you to learn to trust your instincts, to guide your words & your actions & to keep you in His perfect will for your life.  You will be very blessed by doing so!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Celebrating Special Days

Tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of hubby’s & my first date.  Hard to believe!  Time sure flies!

 

Ever since the first anniversary of this special day, we have done a little something to commemorate the day.  It can be as simple as sharing some wine, cheese & crackers when he gets home from work, talking by a fire, playing a board game or it can be a bit bigger such as going out to dinner, taking a day trip or recreating that special day.  Whatever we do though, we enjoy ourselves & reminisce.

 

We used to do something similar after we first got married.  We got married on September 24, 1998, so on the 24th of every month, we would celebrate a little.  (not sure why we stopped that, come to think of it..).  Interestingly when I mentioned it to my granddad, he said he & my grandmom used to do that too, for many years.

 

I’ve found these little celebrations are really nice!  They give you something to look forward to.  They also encourage intimacy.  They foster closeness.  They also help you to slow down & enjoy each other in a world that tends to be just too busy.

 

I’ve expanded this celebrating thing a bit, too.  I include my best friend in celebrations too.  We met in August, 1988 (although the day has escaped me) & each August I remind her of that & tell her how grateful I am for her friendship for so many years.

 

Remembering & celebrating things like this helps those in your life to feel loved & special.  It also is fun for you when you can make those you love feel that way.  It helps to add more joy into both your life & that of your loved one.  Why not give it a try?  Celebrate special events with those you love!

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Encouraging Others To Abuse You

No one knowingly encourages people to use or abuse them.  However, some people, in particular those who have been abused before, unwittingly do so.

 

To prevent this from happening, you need to “…be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16, NKJV).  You need to be observant & exercise wisdom.

 

Narcissists are particularly observant of their victims, & are very good at understanding body language.  They can pick up on your mood, your strengths, your weaknesses & anything else by watching you.  This enables them to know the most efficient ways to get what they want from you.  If you must deal with a narcissist, you need to do the same- observe them.  You will be able to pick up on their mood,  etc. & this will enable you to figure out the best way to deal with them at that particular time.  Unfortunately, dealing with narcissists is much like playing a chess game that you don’t want to play.  You have to be two steps ahead of them if you are to deal with them successfully.

 

You also need to have & enforce good, healthy boundaries.  Be very aware of what you are willing & not willing to tolerate.  Be creative in enforcing those boundaries.  Pray for God to help you if you need creative udeas.  Simply saying, “It hurts me when you do…” won’t work with a narcissist.  They will realize they can hurt you & continue to do the behavior.  Change the subject if they’re being critical.  If they are trying to control you or bully you into doing something, refuse to do it.  If it’s something you want or need to do, tell them, “Of course I’ll do it since you asked so nicely!”  I’ve done this with my mother, while wearing a smile, & she stopped bossing me around.  Instead, she started asking me to do things.

 

Always maintain your calm demeanor in their presence, especially when setting boundaries.  Any show of emotion will help narcissists understand what to do to hurt or use you in the most powerful, effective way.  If you can avoid showing them that you’re angry or hurt, their task will be much harder.  Once you’re away from them, though, you need to get your anger & hurt out of you.  It’s never healthy to hold it in, but it’s necessary to do so temporarily when around narcissists.

 

Lastly, keep all conversations superficial.  Don’t share anything important or personal with a narcissist, ever!  If they ask how you’re doing, reply “fine.”  What have you been up to lately?  “Nothing much.”  The less information they have, the less ammunition they have to hurt you with later.  This is easier to do when the narcissist isn’t a parent.  Keeping things from a parent feels like you’re going against nature at first.  But, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, especially when you realize your narcissistic mother has less & less to criticize about you.

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“I” Statements

I’ve always used “I” statements in conflict.  For example, “I feel hurt when you….” rather than, “you hurt me!”  During my first marriage, I read about the importance in always using “I” statements when trying to work out marital conflict.  I stepped up using them, because we didn’t need any more reasons to argue.  I tried avoiding any further conflict & thought that would help.

 

Then I realized something.  I’ve taken these “I” statements too far.

 

I’ve caught myself saying “I was abused” rather than “my mother abused me”.   “I was screamed at daily” rather than “My mother screamed at me daily.”  “I was thrown into a wall during a fight with my mother” replaced, “My mother threw me into a wall.”

 

See the problem?  “I” statements absolved my abusive mother of the responsibility she should have had for abusing me.

 

I still believe “I” statements have their place.  If a close friend said something hurtful, I’m sure they’d be more receptive to “I was hurt that you said that” over “You hurt my feelings!!”  But that is the only place I think they are appropriate.  If you’re talking about your experiences with narcissistic abuse or abuse of any kind, they are very inappropriate.

 

Whether you realize it or not, saying things like “I was abused” over “My mother abused me,” subtly removes responsibility from the abuser, at least in your mind.  For a long time, I wrestled with what my mother did to me being my fault, & I believe saying those “I” statements helped me to feel it was my fault instead of hers.

 

It also seems to soften the story a bit when you say you were abused over naming your abuser.  I’ve noticed people respond differently to me saying “I was abused” over “My mother abused me.”  Naming my mother as my abuser often shocks people.  Compassionate people seem to feel more compassion for one naming her abuser over simply saying, “I was abused.”

 

I think people respond this way because “I was abused” sounds less personal somehow than saying, “My mother abused me.”  It seems to take the human element out of abuse, I think.  It also makes you sound more detached from the abuse, which I would think would mean people would be less likely to understand why you’re still having problems stemming from the abuse.  Just my random thoughts on this..

 

I also think many victims of narcissistic abuse wrongly use “I” statements as I have, & as a result, may struggle more with accepting that the abuse was the narcissist’s fault, not theirs.  If this describes you, it’s time to make a change!

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “I” statements in the right context, but if you’re discussing being wronged or abused, place the blame where it belongs- on the person who wronged & abused you!  There is absolutely nothing wrong, disrespectful, dishonorable, selfish, etc. about doing so.  Abusive people need the blame placed squarely on them, especially in this age of blaming victims.  And, victims need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being abused was never their fault.

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Narcissists & Their Dysfunctional Coping Skills

Narcissists have incredibly dysfunctional coping skills.  Unfortunately this means that their pain can overflow onto those around them.

 

When my mother was still speaking to me, for about 2 years or so, she kept telling me what a great mother she was to me.  She bragged about forcing me to stand up to a bully in seventh grade (she didn’t), taking me to the doctor when I sprained my foot in ninth grade (as she should have) & other ridiculous things.  She also wanted me to validate her delusions, agreeing with how great a mother she was to me.

 

In talking with others who have a narcissistic parent or two, I have learned this behavior is very common.  It’s also very painful.

 

For me, this used to make me so incredibly angry.  How dare she want me to enforce her delusions & pretend I was never abused!   I felt invalidated, as if she was pretending the abuse she put me through never happened.

 

God showed me something though.  My mother doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, so this is what she does.  She knows what she did to me is wrong, but rather than admit that, she goes into denial.  She wants to convince herself she was a great mother, even going as far as to try to force me to agree with her.

 

As ridiculous & dysfunctional as this is, it is her choice & her right.  There is no law against having dysfunctional coping skills.  That being said, that choice can be respected while not reinforced.

 

There is no good reason to reinforce such delusions.  It only allows the person to continue in their dysfunction while invalidating your own painful experiences.  When approached by a narcissistic parent in this situation, I have found it best to remain as neutral & quiet as possible or to change the subject.

 

Also never forget- this is the narcissist’s coping skill.   It has nothing to do with you even though it feels like it does.  It just shows how dysfunctional she is.  Remembering that helps you not to take the comments so personally & to put the responsibility right back onto the narcissist.  This is all about her dysfunction & lack of coping skills- all the responsibility & baggage belongs squarely on her shoulders, period, so leave it there!  Don’t take it on yourself- you deserve so much better than to carry her issues & shame.

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

Benefits Of Journaling

 

I swear by keeping a journal.  In fact, I write in mine daily, & have a reminder on my cell phone to do so.   It helps me to vent when I’m upset & to remember the many things for which I’m grateful for.  It also helps me to keep track of when events in my life have happened.

 

I’ve also realized that a journal can help you heal from narcissistic abuse & keep your sanity while you’re in the midst of it.

 

There is something about seeing things in writing that brings such clarity.  It makes things more real.  It validates your experiences.  It shows you that yes, that really did happen & it happened that way.

 

Keeping a journal can help you to keep track of the truth, so when the narcissist in your life insists that a situation isn’t the way you remember, you can look back on your journal & see the truth.

 

If you’re considering going no contact, it may help you to decide what to do by seeing events in writing.  As I said, seeing things in writing brings clarity, & you need that when trying to decide if no contact is the right solution for you.

 

Journaling gives you a safe place to share your feelings without judgment.  What you write is between you & God only.  Sharing with people, even the most well meaning ones, can sometimes lead to hurt feelings.  That is something you don’t have to worry about with a journal.

 

I’ve found a website for a free, online, private journal that I just love.  www.my-diary.org  allows you to keep your journal private or make it public.  You can change the colors of the “pages” to personalize it if you like.  (No, I don’t get any bonus for recommending this diary site- I just like it & thought you might too).

 

I hope if you don’t currently keep a journal, you’ll consider doing so, Dear Reader.  It really can be a very useful tool for keeping mentally healthy.

 

 

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Distracting Yourself

People are often less than thrilled with facing unpleasant things, such as emotional healing.  It’s quite understandable, really.  Emotional work isn’t fun!  It’s very hard, very draining work.  It’s also very necessary.

 

I’ve caught myself many times distracting myself from the emotional work at hand.  There have been plenty of times I’ve had a flashback at a very inconvenient time, & couldn’t deal with it right then. Times like this, I don’t think distracting yourself for a short time is a bad idea at all.  In fact, it may be absolutely necessary, such as when I had a flashback while driving.

 

There have been plenty of other times when a flashback has happened or a repressed memory pops back into my mind that I distract myself even when I have the time & ability to focus on it.  I’m just tired of things that happened 10, 20, or 30 years ago still affecting my life at 45.  It’s exhausting & maddening, so sometimes I ignore the flashback or memory & try to avoid thinking about it.

 

I’ve noticed many others who have survived narcissistic abuse do the same thing.

 

This isn’t good though!  I’ve come to realize that most of these things come to me when I have the time & I believe that is for a reason- so these awful things can be dealt with right then.

 

Avoiding facing issues only postpones the problem, it doesn’t make it go away.  It is best to deal with things as soon as possible.  After all, God allowed it to come to mind for a reason.  He must know you are able to deal with it & need to do so.  He wouldn’t allow this memory to return to your mind if coping with it wasn’t going to help you in some way.

 

Don’t get me wrong- there are plenty of times we need to distract ourselves from the work of recovery.  If you’ve been focusing on narcissism & narcissistic abuse for a long time, it’s time for a break.  If you have the awful experience of having a flashback behind the wheel like I did, you definitely don’t need to think about it then- you need to focus on driving!  If you write about the topic like I do, frequent distractions are a must to keep your sanity.

 

I believe the key is using wisdom.  I know in my heart when I should focus & when it’s time for a break.  Granted, I don’t always pay attention, but I do know.  When I ignore those “knowings,” I feel it.  The memory that came back won’t leave me alone, I get angry, moodier than usual, tired mentally & physically.

 

I realize I need to ask God to help me in this area, to do His will.  To face things as needed & to take breaks when needed.  I would encourage you to do the same, Dear Reader.  It will be good for your mental health!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Subtle Manipulation Tactics

Narcissists are very manipulative.  They project their faults onto their victims when confronted about their bad behavior.  They criticize anything & everything about the victim, destroying their self esteem, until only an empty shell of a person exists.  They gaslight.  They go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde on a moment’s notice to prevent those they want to impress from seeing their dark side.

 

There are some other, very subtle behaviors narcissists do to abuse as well.  This article will discuss some of those behaviors that may have slipped by you unnoticed.

 

Taking on too much control in a relationship.  Whether it’s a romantic partner or a parent, having no say or control can destroy one’s self esteem.  For example, if you grew up with an engulfing narcissistic mother, she probably didn’t allow you to do much because she claimed you couldn’t do anything right.  This easily can lead to feeling extremely insecure as an adult, because somewhere inside, you don’t believe you can do anything right.  Or, for example, if the new person you’re dating insists on driving every time you two go out, over time, this can lead to you feeling anxious about your driving skills.  Especially if you grew up with a narcissistic parent or two & have fragile self esteem to start with.  My ex husband did this to me along with severely criticizing my driving, & as a result, I’m a very anxious driver.

 

Questioning everything.  Naturally, there are going to be times you give wrong information & need correction.  No one is perfect.  But, if your narcissistic parent or partner questions & corrects everything about you, then this is designed to keep you off balance & feeling insecure.  Basically, it’s like telling you that you’re stupid, & the other person knows better.  It worked for Satan in the Garden of Eden.  Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (NIV)

 

Blaming you.  For what?  Everything.  In 2014, I had a bit of a rough patch.  While splitting firewood, my husband accidentally dropped a large log on my big toe, which I’m pretty sure broke it.  About a week after, I picked up a plastic bag.  As I picked it up, it gave & a new can of Lysol landed on the same foot, near the broke toe.  Shortly after, something else heavy landed on the same foot, although I forget what it was now.  When I told my mother about this, she told me it was all my fault- I should be more careful.  Blame for things that aren’t your fault can create a feeling of shame inside.  You begin to think you should’ve known better, or done something differently.  How could you be so stupid as to do whatever you did?!  Blaming creates a nasty internal dialog.

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When You’re Suffering…

I read a wonderful quote recently & unfortunately I have no clue who said it.  It reads,

 

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.”

 

Not only are those lovely words, but it’s very true.

 

Devastating events are painful, & no one wants to go through them.  Unfortunately though, they are an inevitable part of life.  Trying to focus on the good that can come out of bad things will help you get through them.  I admit, that can seem impossible at the time, but it really is possible.

 

Getting sick last year, I quickly gained a new perspective.  I stopped sweating the small stuff.  I abandoned friendships that were one sided or superficial.  I realized I had to stop putting up with being mistreated, & say no or stand up for myself.  I cared less  what others thought of me & my beliefs, & became  a bit more outspoken about them.  This chased some people out of my life.  The symptoms forced me to rest often, which I truly needed to do but didn’t do before.  (Although I still struggle in this area, it has improved somewhat)  So in a strange way, I’m actually glad for what happened- it caused me to become mentally healthier & take better care of myself.

 

I know this isn’t easy to do, especially in the throes of a painful situation, but look for what you are learning or how you are growing.  If you feel unable to do so, ask God to help you.  While doing this may not seem useful, it really can be.  You’ll gain wisdom you didn’t have, which can help you to heal & maybe even to help others as well.  Learning about narcissism was that way for me.  I was devastated by narcissistic abuse my entire life, then suddenly I learned I wasn’t the problem- NPD was!  That knowledge helped pick me back up after being knocked down, & eventually to help other victims too.  I can’t say I’m grateful for the abuse I’ve gone through, but I am grateful that God brought good from it.  It means that suffering counted for something!

 

The same thing can happen to you, too.  Why not make a decision today to allow God to work good things out of your pain?  Ask Him to do so, & He will.

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Is Feeling Compassion For Narcissists Good Or Bad?

I’ve read quite a few times lately that victims of narcissistic abuse should never have compassion on narcissists.  Narcissists don’t deserve compassion.  Feeling sorry for them only opens the door for you to fall for their gaslighting & abuse.

 

Honestly, I don’t totally agree.

 

While it’s true having compassion on someone can lead you to tolerate things you normally don’t allow, that isn’t the case 100% of the time.  For so many of us who have been abused by narcissists, we have learned what narcissism entails.  We can predict the gaslighting & crazy making they will do, so we know how to deal with it when it happens.  We also realize how healthy boundaries look, & have no trouble enforcing those boundaries.  We are  often also able to feel pity for the narcissist who abused us- after all, whatever made them the way they are must have been pretty terrible.  Their behavior is so dysfunctional.  It’s very sad.  We can balance compassion for them with maintaining healthy behavior on our part.

 

God has enabled me to pray for my parents daily, even on those days I am so hurt & angry, I don’t care where they spend eternity.  Sometimes, my prayers are very insincere, but I pray anyway because God understands how I feel & honors the fact I’m trying.

 

So why bother praying for them, especially during bad times?   Why care at all for people who have hurt me so deeply, & who won’t even acknowledge I live with C-PTSD?  They don’t deserve it!  They’ve done too much while refusing to acknowledge anything they’ve done!

 

One reason is because God wants us to pray for other people, even those who have abused us.  I also believe is because having compassion helps me to remember that I am NOT like them.  Some examples of ways they are different than me are:

 

Narcissists don’t care about anything about anyone.  People are nothing more than items to be used to benefit the narcissist.  They are not entitled to normal human feelings, needs, wants, likes or dislikes.

 

Normal people though care about other people.  Even people who have hurt us- we don’t wish awful things on those people.  We may not actively wish the best on those people constantly, but we also don’t wish the worst on them.

 

Feeling compassion, even periodically, for the person who abused you, who made you experience indescribable pain,  I think, can be a good thing.  It’s a reminder that you are NOT like them!  You instead have escaped what is meant to destroy you with your humanity in tact.  That is really a big accomplishment!  Definitely something to be proud of!  Escaping narcissistic abuse without being bitter isn’t an easy task.

 

I truly believe that this is an individual thing though.  Just because I’m good with feeling compassion for the narcissists in my life doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too.  And you know what?  That’s OK!  God has very individualized plans for each person, even those in similar situations.  I’ve met some people with narcissistic mothers who feel no compassion for them, only disgust their mothers chose this dysfunctional, abusive way of life.  It doesn’t mean they’re carrying around bitterness or anger, only disgust for the poor choices their mothers have made.  This works for them just fine.  It enables them to keep firm & healthy boundaries in place or to stay no contact.  It doesn’t hinder their healing process, either.   So if you feel that having compassion for your narcissistic mother is wrong for you, don’t feel bad!  That may just be the path for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You’re Much Stronger Than You Think!

Something crossed my mind recently…

 

I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days.  I didn’t deal with it.  For one thing, I didn’t have the time.  It was one crisis after another after another for years.  I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened.  For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems.  It didn’t matter how much something hurt me.  My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.

 

As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured.  Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown.  I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours.  By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work.  I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.”  The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me.  When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work.  In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.

 

I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today.  I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional.  True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after.  Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.

 

When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is.  Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength.  It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.

 

I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse  you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak.  Quite the contrary.  It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma.  It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.

 

It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD.  It’s  incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback.  Things things take a great deal of strength.

 

It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one.  Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory.  The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.

 

Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength.  When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition.  To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!

 

So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are?  Give yourself some credit today.  You are  so stronger than you give yourself credit for!

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Spotting Narcissists Online

A while back, someone who followed my blog disagreed with one of my posts.  She stated why she did, & although I respected her opinion, I saw she took some things I said wrong.  I explained what I wrote, & left my computer for the evening.  The next day, I saw several of my readers understood what I was saying & defended me, including one who got into a rather heated disagreement with the original commenter.  The original commenter stopped following my blog & unfriended me on facebook.  She obviously held me responsible for what other people said that she didn’t like.

A few years before, a similar incident on facebook cost me a 20+ year friendship, so obviously this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this type of ridiculous, immature behavior.  I’m sure it won’t be the last either.

I realized out of that situation with my blog that this person was a narcissist.  While she shared a great deal of insight in her own blog & facebook, sometimes there were very subtle hints of narcissism.  I thought I was reading too much into it, but as time went on, I saw more & more hints.  For example, when she shared her opinions, she stated them as fact & seemed to have no tolerance for anyone who disagreed with her.  Those people were wrong, period.  She also brags openly about any accomplishments, such as many shares of a blog post or mental health professional agreeing with something she’s said.

Most people don’t jump to ridiculous conclusions.  They don’t read into what you said- they trust that what you said is what you mean, while narcissists find a way to take everything personally.  The long friendship of mine that ended?  We shared a mutual friend, & he told this friend he “read into” what we said on facebook & knew from that how badly we thought of him.  (FYI- mostly what she & I talked about at that time was knitting.  I’m not sure how that meant we hated him.)

Most people also realize that you are going to have different opinions than them sometimes, & are OK with it.  They won’t think “if you aren’t for me, you’re against me”, but instead accept the fact that no two people agree on absolutely everything.  In fact, if they did, it would be very abnormal!  Narcissists however believe you have to share their thoughts, feelings, opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. or else you’re wrong.

Narcissists online also share only about themselves- what they think, what they’re doing, what is happening in their lives & probably plenty of pictures of themselves.  They almost never ask others how they are doing or what is happening in their lives.

They state their opinions as written in stone fact rather than simply their opinion, & won’t listen to the opinions of others or criticize them.  They also demand that you agree with them, because, after all, if you’re not for them, you’re against them!  (at least in their mind)

Spotting narcissists online can be trickier than spotting one in person, but remembering these tips can help you.

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Everyone Has Individual Paths To Take In Life

Recently, I was talking with a dear friend.  She’s been having trouble with her sister, & handling the problem very well.  She’s showing God’s love & grace in this difficult situation.

 

I felt bad as we spoke, because I knew if that was me in her shoes, I’d be very angry.  I felt like I wasn’t being a good Christian because of that.  Immediately, God spoke to my heart.

 

This friend has told me that growing up, she spoke up to her narcissistic mother.  She never stifled her anger.

 

I however, was her polar opposite- I learned early on never to show any anger.

 

Growing up, my mother would holler at me for my “Bailey temper” even if I was simply frustrated.  I learned very young it was better to stifle my anger rather than show it & be shamed.  It’s only been the last couple of years I’ve been letting myself show anger.  In fact, I can’t stifle it any longer.  I get over it & forgive the other person quickly, but it still feels somewhat foreign to get angry.

 

I can’t really compare myself to this lady because we’re so different.  God wants me to show my anger, I believe, so I’m not wrong when I feel it or show it.  For her, she chooses not to get angry with her sister & that is what’s right for her.  Neither of us are wrong or bad.  We’re simply doing what is right for us.  And, both of our solutions are Biblical.  Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies & forgive them, which is what my friend is doing in her situation.  Various Scriptures tell of times when Jesus Himself got angry (Mark 10:13-16, Mark 11:15-17, etc).  Being angry is not a sin!  It’s what you do with your anger that can be sinful.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and do not sin” do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” (NKJV)

 

Realizing all of this was so freeing!  It helped me to feel I’m on the right path for me, just as she is for her.  It also helped me to stop feeling shame for when I get angry like I did at first (old habits truly die hard).
This situation also goes to prove that we all have very individual walks with God. Sure, there are some basic things He wants from all of us, like following the 10 commandments. But beyond that?  We all have very unique & individual paths to take. Don’t compare yourself to another person.  Instead, enjoy your own path, & enjoy the freedom there is in that.

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The One Good Thing About Triggers

Anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD knows about triggers.  Triggers are those things that send us rocketing into a flashback or emotional flashback, or at the very least, remind us of some painful trauma we’d just as soon forget about.  They also can trigger a panic attack or dissociation.

 

As painful as triggers can be, they also can serve a good purpose.  They can show us the areas in which we need healing.

 

I have a very hard time going into the neighboring town where my parents live.  It is full of awful memories for me, so I avoid the town as much as possible.  Going past the library is the worst though.  That was where my first job was, & where my mother did some very abusive & hurtful things to me.  She once screamed at the top of her lungs at me in the parking lot in front of my now ex husband, the patrons & my coworkers.  She humiliated, belittled, shamed & degraded me there too.   Repeatedly.  When I see the library building, even just driving past it, I either get a panic attack, flashback or dissociate.  I’ve done them all.  The one time I went inside that library a few years ago, I had to leave immediately because of having a panic attack & flashback at the same time.  Naturally, I haven’t gone back to that library since.

 

One good thing about this is I realize that I need further healing in the area of the things my mother did to me at that library.  I have dealt with so many things my mother did to me, but not the events that took place at that library.  I know I have repressed some of them, but not all.  I need to deal with what I do remember.

 

Have you ever thought about triggers this way, Dear Reader?  As painful as it can be, it is a good thing when you learn about some area where you need further healing.  You can’t heal from what you don’t acknowledge, so you need to know what areas you need to work on.  Every event you heal from brings you one step closer to wholeness, one step further from the trauma you have endured & fills you with more joy & peace than you had previously.  If you can look at triggers as a sign that you need healing in a certain area, they truly can help you.

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