Many people have issues with setting boundaries or even severing ties with a narcissistic parent. They say you are being mean, unreasonable, selfish. In religious people, they may also throw in that you aren’t honoring your parent, & they quote Exodus 20:12 that tells us to honor our parents. Or, in Asian cultures, they mention filial piety, which is respecting & caring for one’s parents being the highest of virtues.
People who say this sort of gibberish are either completely clueless or they’re narcissistic enablers. Yet, in spite of that, sometimes victims are convinced that these imbeciles are right. They stop using their boundaries, continue to tolerate the abuse, & are completely miserable.
If you are reading this & in this place of either wanting to set boundaries or go no contact with your narcissistic parent, but feel you are being selfish, mean, etc., you need to know that you are wrong! I promise you that, & will show you why.
Although I don’t know much about religions other than Christianity, I do know that many of them seem to share one common belief, which basically boils down to, “you reap what you sow.” Just look at what the Bible has to say about that…
- Proverbs 11:25 “The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].” (AMP)
- Proverbs 19:19 “A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.” (AMP)
- Proverbs 22:8 “He who sows injustice will reap [a harvest of] trouble,
And the rod of his wrath [with which he oppresses others] will fail.” (AMP)
- Obadiah 15 “The day of the Lord is near for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” (NIV)
- 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” (AMP)
- Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap.
8 For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (AMP)
These Scriptures prove that whatever a person does, good or bad, there are consequences. It’s a natural part of life.
I realize as the child of a narcissistic parent or two, this feels so foreign. After all, the child never should upset the parent, burden them with “trivial” things like their needs or let the parent face consequences of their terrible behavior. However, this is so wrong! God has made sure this reaping & sowing wisdom is mentioned repeatedly in His Word. This has to be important to be mentioned many times, wouldn’t you agree?
If you think about this, I’m sure it’ll help you to realize that your boundaries or no contact aren’t you being an awful person, but simply the natural course of events. That is what happened with me. I felt bad for setting boundaries with my parents & going low contact. God reminded me of Galatians 6:7-8. I thought about it & realized it made sense. Every time I so much as started to feel guilty, I remembered that Scripture. It was very encouraging! So much so that I was finally able to go no contact with my parents. I felt mostly sadness because this wasn’t how things should be, which I think is totally normal, but very little guilt. Without realizing the principle of sowing & reaping, I don’t know if I could have gone no contact. If I had, no doubt the guilt would have been about crippling!
Please consider this post if you are struggling with setting boundaries or going no contact with your narcissistic parent, Dear Reader. You aren’t wrong, selfish, unreasonable, mean or anything else. You have every right to do these things!
Living as someone with mental illness yet is high functioning, I can tell you it’s utterly exhausting. Doing things takes more energy than it would for someone without mental illness because I have to focus harder. I also do my best to put the problems in a box when necessary so they don’t affect other people. It takes energy to keep that box closed & on a shelf!! Add in having a brain injury & I spend a lot of time exhausted.
If you too are high functioning with mental illness, I’m sure you can relate to what I said, even if you don’t also have the brain injury. You truly are not alone! This post is to help you to understand that.
It feels like you’re being fake a lot of the time, doesn’t it? The truth is you aren’t being fake. You’re just hiding a part of yourself from others you don’t want to know about that part of you. There is nothing wrong with not being 1000% open with everyone. Sometimes it’s best to keep some information private from some people.
It also feels like people don’t believe you have any illness at all. People seem to think if you have mental illness, you need to be incoherent, hearing voices, attempting suicide, or even not taking care of your basic needs such as showering & changing clothes regularly. If you’re clean, your home is in order, you’re working & maintain relationships, many people don’t think you’re struggling with your mental health. They miss the small, subtle signs such as an increased or decreased appetite, sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty focusing, or feeling tired.
Your good & bad days look very similar to most people. They truly have no idea that on bad days, it took every ounce of willpower to pry yourself out of bed, to bathe, to do whatever you need to do on that day. Chances are, most wouldn’t believe you if you told them because they see no real differences between this bad day & your good days.
Sometimes people may say you’re gloomy or a “Debbie Downer” because sometimes your sadness or negative views show. They don’t realize that is depression talking. Or, maybe sometimes you jump at the slightest move from someone or sound & it irritates people. It happens because you have an anxiety disorder, PTSD or C-PTSD.
Although you may not look like it, you feel you are struggling so much. Mental illness consumes so much energy! Focusing on a simple conversation can take a lot out of you. People don’t often understand why you’re tired, but this is exactly why.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these situations? If so, I hope it comforts you some to know that you’re not alone. Many of us understand because we’re on the same boat.
And please remember, just because you can function & function well, don’t think that means you don’t have a real problem. I know, sometimes it’s easy to think this way when you have a few good days in a row. That being said though, mental illness is just as serious as physical illness & should be treated as such. Sometimes it can be more serious in the sense that some mental disorders can be life threatening by making a person suicidal. Don’t neglect to rest when you need to, take your medication as directed, talk to safe people & let them love & encourage you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or asking for help. If you broke your leg, you would do those things, wouldn’t you? Then why not do the same thing to take care of your mental health?
Anyone who has suffered trauma knows about triggers. They are something that reminds you of past trauma & can leave you feeling very shaken up.
Triggers can be such a miserable thing to experience! They feel like there is no reason for them when you’re going through them, but I believe they actually have a purpose.
When you are healed in a specific area, you can experience a trigger, & although it certainly isn’t pleasant, it isn’t devastating either. It reminds me of what it feels like when you remember a nightmare. Unpleasant but not terribly upsetting.
When you aren’t healed in some area however, that is when triggers can be helpful. They show you the areas where you need some healing. Paying attention to exactly what emotions you feel can be an excellent start to heal in this area.
When you’re triggered, I firmly believe it’s wise to consider exactly what you felt & why you felt it in order to heal. For example, were you angered because you felt invalidated, powerless, ignored, or disrespected? Did you feel shame because you felt judged, unimportant, or mocked? Were you hurting because you felt excluded, unloved or as if no one cared at all about you?
Once you realize the root of your feelings, you can heal. What helps me if I’m unsure why I feel what I do is to ask God to show me the root of this feeling. Where did this start? Usually then I remember some incident from a long time ago that shows me where the problem began. Once I remember that, I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing. I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be. The more thoroughly an incident can be remembered, I believe the more healing takes place. The more healing that happens, the less you will experience triggers like this in the future.
One important thing to remember is when you do this, take breaks. Emotional healing is very difficult & painful work. It also doesn’t happen quickly. Because of these factors, it can get to be too much sometimes, especially when the trauma is extremely bad. When those times happen, it’s best to take a break. Stop focusing on your healing & focus on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with the trauma for a little while. You need to put your emotions in a box on a shelf for a time, & take some time to do something fun. Watch a movie, read, work on a craft, snuggle your furkids, spend time with a good friend sharing some laughs… whatever you do, make sure it is lighthearted & fun. If it can make you laugh, all the better. After you have relaxed & feel less overwhelmed, when you get back to working on your healing, you will be in a better frame of mind to do so.
Triggers can be difficult to deal with, I know. Frankly, they just stink. However, they can be a very helpful tool in your mental & emotional healing. Why not use them that way & make the pain they cause count for something?
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Some time back, I was watching an episode of a true crime show on tv. The show is called “Evil Lives Here” & is about people who lived with someone who did terrible things, like being serial killers. This particular episode was about the Truck Stop Killer, Robert Rhoades. His ex wife was interviewed. She told the story of how they first met & about what it was like to be married to him.
Normally stories like these are disturbing yet fascinating, but I found this one especially disturbing. So many of Mr. Rhoades’ behaviors reminded me of my ex husband. The way he manipulated & shamed her was exactly the same as what my ex did. Even the words he said to her were the same as my ex said to me. Their behaviors were so similar that it really shook me up for quite some time. I didn’t even tell anyone for a while, because I was trying to process it all.
I didn’t plan on blogging about it, but recently I thought it might be a good idea. If these two abusive men used the same behavior, no doubt others do as well. These behaviors are also not really discussed openly. Most people know of the obvious abusive behaviors like hitting.
One behavior my ex & Mr. Rhoades shared was having extremely definite opinions on how they wanted their wives to look. I would guess most married folks like to see their spouses looking a certain way more than others, but both of these men took it to an extreme. My ex would make me feel as if what he wanted was the only thing looked good on me. What I liked didn’t matter. Mr. Rhoades took the behavior further. He did that plus laid out clothing for his wife to wear. I remember his ex wife saying he would lay out clothing on the bed & tell her to wear that specific outfit because they were going out. He wouldn’t tell her where they were going. While that could be a nice surprise, his wasn’t. One evening, his “surprise” was he took her to a swinger’s club.
That brings me to the main similarity these two men shared. Sexual preferences. Deviant sexual behavior like they shared is a red flag in a romantic relationship, but that red flag turns into more of a giant flashing neon billboard when they demand it from their spouse even knowing she objects strongly to it. Both my ex & Mr. Rhoades used the same tactic in order to get what they wanted – shaming. Both said comments like, “Any other woman would be glad to do this for me.” “Every other woman in the world does this!” “You’re so immature/prudish/boring in bed!” “You should be glad I want to involve you in this instead of just going behind your back to do it!”
When someone wants something so badly that they will shame someone else for not being willing to participate, that is abuse. Someone is putting their selfish desires ahead of their spouse’s, even though they know what they want will cause the person great physical or emotional pain. This shows a total lack of empathy, because no one who truly loves their spouse would want to hurt them or not even care that they are hurting them.
If someone you are romantically involved with behaves in these manners, they are definite warning signs of narcissism. If at all possible, get away from this person as soon as humanly possible! You need to protect yourself!
If you are unable to get away, start quietly planning to do so. If people like this change, it almost never is for the better. I’m sure Robert Rhoades’ ex wife would agree. So take care of yourself. Protect yourself from further abuse. You don’t deserve to be treated this way! xoxo
I think most of us who suffer with C-PTSD hide when we’re having bad days. It can be scary to be vulnerable enough to let another person see how things really are, because people can be cruel. There is never a good time to hear insensitive & invalidating comments of course, but on a bad C-PTSD day? That is the absolute worst time.
Having a bad C-PTSD day, it is TOUGH! I’ll explain how it goes for me. Feel free to show this to anyone in your life that may need to understand your experiences with C-PTSD.
Often I wake up from a night of fitful sleep, too little sleep or a night full of nightmares. The nightmares can be of reliving trauma or more often, something strange or unrelated to the trauma, yet stirs up the same emotions that traumatic events in my life did. This leaves me exhausted, anxious, depressed & on high alert.
Before getting out of bed, I lay still, often with my eyes closed, trying to relax after a bad night. I focus on my breathing to help me calm down, yet in spite of the effort, anxiety comes in waves. I have to remind myself that I am safe, this is merely the C-PTSD doing what this disorder does.
Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes an hour later, I am able to get out of bed & start my day. The anxiety & hyper-vigilence are still there, but a little better at least. Usually I can function at this point, but some days, it’s about impossible. Sometimes, I have panic attacks. If you’ve never experienced one, count your blessings. My chest gets incredibly tight, making me feel like I could be having a heart attack. My breathing gets rapid & feels so strange. I feel like when I’m inhaling, I should be exhaling & vice versa. I end up breathing very shallow & fast until it eventually subsides, making me lightheaded.
Other times, flashbacks start. Imagine trying to discern whether you’re in reality or somehow transported back in time to a traumatic event. Fighting to make sure to stay in reality while dealing with the emotions of a traumatic event is a LOT of work! As if the bad night’s sleep wasn’t enough to make me feel exhausted, this makes the exhaustion even worse.
Between the mental & physical exhaustion, being able to think or focus on tasks like a normal person seems impossible. Even something simple as getting a drink can be difficult. It can be hard to remember where the glasses are, decide if I want ice or not, & decide what do I want to drink. Little things like this that most people take for granted become very daunting & challenging. Often my moods are erratic but get moreso when these days happen.
All of these things are a real blow to the self-esteem. I often think, “I’m so stupid for having C-PTSD!” “Other people have been through worse, yet I have C-PTSD. What’s wrong with me?!” “Why am I not better than I am?! I’ve dealt with this disorder for years!” These thoughts leave me filled with even lower self-esteem than normal, ashamed of myself & doubting why I write about what I do, even considering quitting. If I’m such a mess, how can I help anyone else, after all?
Eventually though, I return to normal, which is still not even close to what normal for most people is. I am able to remember that C-PTSD is a terrible disorder. Just because I have it also doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’ve been through some terrible things.
If you experience similar days to mine, know you aren’t alone. There are plenty of others who understand your struggles! Pray. Remind yourself of the things I mentioned. Be understanding of yourself & always take good care of you!
Those who don’t have flashbacks usually have no idea what a flashback truly is. They sometimes think those of us who have them are exaggerating or being dramatic about something we remembered, & have little patience for us because of our “drama queen” ways.
People who think like this need to understand something. Flashbacks aren’t the result of someone being overly dramatic. They also aren’t simple memories or even repressed memories. They are much different. They’re intense & complicated.
Flashbacks aren’t as simple remembering a traumatic event. All of your senses kick in & you see, hear, smell, taste & feel the same things you felt when the event originally happened to you. It literally feels as if you’re reliving the traumatic event, even though logically you know you aren’t. It can be very hard to tell the difference between reality & the flashback.
If you’re very lucky, when a flashback happens, you still maintain enough composure to remember to ground yourself somehow. Touching something with an extreme texture, such as burlap for example, can help. Or, smelling something with a very strong scent like lavender also can help. The trick is to override your confused senses with something real in order to get them to focus on something other than the flashback. Grounding yourself like this can be quite effective in helping you to get through the flashback. Even so, remembering what to do in the midst of a flashback is something else entirely. It’s incredibly hard to have focus on anything when your mind & body are trying to convince you that this horrible memory isn’t just a memory, but it’s happening to you all over again.
As if all of this isn’t quite enough, once the flashback is over, you’re drained both mentally & physically to the point of exhaustion. I have described it as feeling like I was hit by a huge truck. The anxiety of it tenses your muscles greatly. When it’s over, those muscles can ache badly for a while. Your heart races during the flashback & it takes time for it to slow back down once the flashback dissipates. Chances are very good your stomach will be upset & you’ll have a nasty headache for a while as well.
In addition to the physical side of flashbacks, there is also the mental ones. Flashbacks are utterly depressing. It’s so unpleasant remembering traumatic events under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you feel as if you just relived it. They also can make you feel ashamed for not being healed from the trauma by now, embarrassed if it happened in front of another person or other people, & they take away your hope of having a normal life without flashbacks.
They also make you incredibly anxious because you wonder when is the next one going to strike? Will it be just like this one or will it involve another traumatic event? What if it happens when I’m driving? What if it’s worse? Is it possible to get stuck in the flashback & never come out of it?
If you’re one of those folks who never has experienced a flashback, I’m telling you, count your blessings! Thank God for this!
If you know someone who has flashbacks though, I hope you will remember this information & treat your loved one accordingly. Remember that this person isn’t seeking attention or being overly dramatic. They are dealing with a very difficult & painful mental illness. They have experienced something or some things so traumatic that their brain physically broke! It isn’t your loved one’s fault they have flashbacks, & chances are excellent if this person could find a way never to have them again, they would. So please, be patient & understanding with anyone you know who suffers with flashbacks. A little gentleness can help us more than you know.
Not everybody thinks about their words before speaking. They just blurt things out. Those thoughtless comments can do a surprising amount of damage.
Some thoughtless comments are listed below…
- “You’re just like *insert disliked person here*” Often a person tells you how crazy, bad, stupid, etc. that person is prior to telling you that you’re just like him or her. Even if you love that person, the person telling you that you’re just like someone they think is crazy, bad, stupid, etc. hurts!
- On the opposite side of the same coin… “Why can’t you be more like *insert person’s name here*?” This can make you feel not good enough.
- “*insert someone’s name here* has it worse than you do.” This can make you feel guilty, ashamed or just plain wrong for being upset in the first place.
- “You’ve always had it so easy!” “You’re spoiled!” “You’ve never had to work hard for anything!” Really? I seriously don’t think there is one person who has ever lived that hasn’t struggled in some way, shape or form. This can make you feel like you should be ashamed of yourself if you’re struggling with something or if you’re given something.
- “You’re depressed? What do you have to be depressed about?!” (or anxious or have PTSD) or, “Think happy thoughts.” So many people think mental disorders are only about a person not thinking positively enough, not appreciating what they have or some other simple solution. While yes, you can think wrong thoughts & make yourself depressed or anxious, many people have actual physical problems with their brain causing depression, anxiety & even PTSD. No amount of “thinking positive” can fix those problems!
- “It’s all in your head!” regarding mental illness. Well, technically it is! It’s in the name- mental illness. People that say this often mean you’re imagining the symptoms & need just to get over whatever is causing those symptoms.
- “Don’t be so selfish!” Narcissists in particular love this one. Thinking of your needs & having boundaries isn’t selfish. Neither is prioritizing yourself over demanding self centered people. “Don’t be selfish” coming from a narcissist is nothing more than projection. If someone you don’t think is a narcissist says it, it could be a red flag. Pay attention to what this person says & does to determine if the person is a narcissist or if they’re actually right & you are being selfish somehow.
- “You’re so shy/quiet!” This shaming statement can make you feel wrong or broken for being an introvert. People fail to realize the world needs talkers & listeners. If everyone talked a lot, who would listen?! Everyone would be too busy talking to listen to each other!
- “But that’s your MOTHER!” (or father or whichever random relative you’ve gone no contact with) People say this like we’ll respond by saying, “OH! I hadn’t thought about that! You’re right! I’ll go fix everything right now!” We *know* this is our mother or whoever. In fact that reason is precisely why they have hurt us to the point they have. Obviously we care more about those close to us than total strangers. No contact was a very painful decision to come to, & this comment can make us feel ashamed & wrong for choosing that option.
- “Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, it’s a lot of work..” This could be about anything- painting your home, going back to college, changing careers or starting a family. In any case, it comes across as if the person saying it doesn’t think you’re capable of doing that task. Hopefully it’s said without malicious intent & only with concern for you. Sometimes though, it’s said with malice in order to instill doubts in you & make you feel incapable.
- After someone has died.. “You should be glad she’s not in pain anymore.” Really? Ok, we’re all glad that someone’s suffering has ended when they died. If we’re both Christians, we’re also glad we’ll see them again one day in Heaven. However, how about letting us have some time of grieving because we miss that special person? Grief is normal when you lose someone you love & no one should shame you for it!
Of course there are plenty more thoughtless statements but these are just some examples.
When people say such nonsense, I find it useful to remind yourself that not everyone is compassionate. Some people are also simply thoughtless. No, they aren’t deliberately mean spirited- they just don’t think that much about how their words affect other people. Others may be having a bad day & were too preoccupied to consider what they were saying at that specific time. And, some people are narcissists. They simply enjoy hurting you as much as possible or they’re so self-absorbed, they don’t even think of how what they say will affect you.
In any case, what people say isn’t your fault or a reflection on you. Also, you can’t count on people to be validating at all times. You have to learn to validate yourself. It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself!
Over the course of my life, I have dealt with quite a few narcissists. They taught me many ways to deal with this personality.
One way I learned to deal with narcissists pretty successfully is to stump them. How do you stump such a highly illogical person whose thinking makes no sense? With cold, hard logic.
Narcissists feed off of the emotions of their victims. It gives them such a feeling of power to control another person’s emotions! That is why the Gray Rock method is so successful, it deprives the narcissist of feeding off the emotions of their victims because the victim keeps all emotions hidden from the narcissist. This is what cold, hard logic does as well.
A person who is very logical doesn’t reveal what they feel. They deal instead with nothing but the facts. This can be very useful with narcissists.
As an example, let’s say the narcissist in your life wants you to do something that will create a financial burden for you yet not benefit you in any way. The narcissist insists you need to do this & hand over your bank card right now. But, what if rather than saying “no” outright you said something else? What do you think would happen if you said, “I don’t understand something… how is this supposed to be a good thing? Clearly, I’ll end up with a debt I’ll have trouble repaying. Yet, I don’t see how this debt will benefit me. Am I missing something here? Please tell me how doing this will be a good thing.” How would the narcissist in your life respond to this? I would guess like many narcissists, he or she would be baffled.
Doing this can make a narcissist angry, naturally. Going against their wishes always carries that risk. That being said though, even the most malignant narcissist doesn’t want to look foolish. They realize that raging against someone who is making sense can make them look foolish, so usually they won’t rage extremely. They may throw out a few nasty comments, but that is all. The good part is, their behavior can change, & it often does.
If you wish to try using logic against the narcissist in your life, I would encourage you to give it a try! Some folks are very emotional & not as logical by nature. This may be a bit tricky for you, but you still can do it. If it helps, think of your situation as if it wasn’t you involved, but instead was a friend who came to you complaining of this problem & looking for a solution. What would you tell that friend?
Here are some phrases that can help you to get started being logical with the narcissist:
- I get that if I do that it helps you, but I don’t see how it helps me. Not trying to be selfish here, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to do that.
- So you just said/did that thing that you know bothers me & you’re mad that I’m upset about it. I don’t see why you have the right to be mad at me but I don’t have the right to be mad at you for doing something you know bothers me. Would you explain that to me?
- I’m really confused. I don’t see how that is a good thing. Can you explain it to me again in a different way so I can see things from your perspective?
These suggestions are simple, but they can be surprisingly helpful. And with time & practice, no doubt you’ll figure out even more phrases that will be beneficial.
Many people I have dealt with seem to misunderstand what no contact really is. Since others have experienced this too, I decided I would share some thoughts today on what no contact is & is not.
First of all, & yes, this is directed specifically at those who have said this nonsense to me.. no contact is NOT un-Christian. Enabling bad & abusive behavior is un-Christian. Tolerating abuse silently is un-Christian. Never confronting someone about their abusive behavior is un-Christian. If you don’t believe me, open a Bible. As Christians, we are to love people. Part of loving people is wanting what is best for them & helping them to be their best. When someone doesn’t listen to another’s complaints, they need consequences to make them want to improve their behavior. When normal consequences don’t work, no contact is a very viable option, even for those closest to a victim such as their own family & yes, even parents.
No contact isn’t about being unforgiving. A person can no longer speak to someone & have forgiven them for their abusive ways at the same time. Protecting one’s mental health has nothing to do with unforgiveness.
No contact isn’t taking the easy way out. Far from it! Anyone who has gone no contact with someone they love has suffered a great deal not only due to the abuse, but also making the decision to go no contact & living without that person. If you disagree, consider my story. I went no contact with my parents several months before my father died & almost three years to the day before my mother died. Doing that & not being there for them when they needed me at the end of their lives was horrible. If you think that was easy, you are very sadly mistaken!
No contact isn’t about trying to change someone. Yes, you are giving that person consequences for their actions, but that doesn’t mean you are trying to manipulate them into behaving better. You set that stage & it’s up to them to do with it as they want.
No contact also isn’t about not accepting someone. It’s about accepting that person as they are, yet knowing you can’t have a healthy relationship with that person.
No contact has nothing to do with being disrespectful. Rather it has everything to do with self respect, with respecting one’s self enough to detach from an abusive relationship.
No contact isn’t about hate. Just because you have ended a relationship doesn’t mean you hate the other person. You can love someone a great deal yet not be able to be in a relationship with that person. Some people I’ve spoken with assumed I hated my parents because of being no contact with them. Far from it! I loved my parents a great deal. It was how they treated me that I hated.
No contact isn’t about creating conflict or being dramatic. Every single person I’ve spoken with who ended an abusive relationship, no matter who that relationship was with, wanted the exact same things I did: no further abuse, peace & a conflict & drama free existence. When a narcissist’s flying monkeys go after someone who has gone no contact, fewer things can be more stressful & upsetting. We try to avoid that at all costs!
I doubt there is anyone who truly wants to end a relationship with someone they love, even when that person is abusive. That being said though, there are times when it’s necessary. Some people are so toxic there is no other solution other than no contact. Sadly, this even happens in families. As I said, I ended the relationship with my parents. They were simply that cruel & toxic. It happens, unfortunately, so if it has happened to you as well, know you’re not alone. Many of us understand!
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Tomorrow marks the five year anniversary (if you can call it that.. anniversary sounds too positive) of the day I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Not really the happiest day of the year for me obviously, but at least it does make me think. Yes, I remember the awfulness of that day but it also makes me think of the good that’s come from it all.
When I realized I couldn’t tell my parents what happened to me because they would invalidate my near death experience &/or spin it around to how it affected them, that was a big wake-up call. I realized I needed them out of my life & began to actively pray about making that happen. I also realized there were other toxic people in my life that needed to go as well. Those who trivialized my experience or tried to make me think positively about it had to go. My circle of those close to me has become very small, but they are absolutely wonderful people. Quality over quantity, as the saying goes, & that is how I like it. Better to have only a few very close, good friends than a wide circle of acquaintances.
What happened also caused me to realize just how quickly your life can change & change drastically. The morning of February 27, 2015 appeared to be any other day. By the end of that day however, I was an entirely different person. Not only because of the brain damage & other health problems the carbon monoxide caused, but because coming close to death will shake a person up! Yes, I knew if I died, I would’ve gone to Heaven, so that wasn’t a problem. What was a problem is that I didn’t expect to die that day! Coming close when it was unexpected was traumatic, even though I did survive. Even now, thinking about it still shakes me up!
Coming close also showed me how quickly & unexpectedly a person’s life can end. That made me realize how important it is to enjoy your life as much as you possibly can. There are unenjoyable things that we can’t avoid of course, like getting stuck in traffic. But, there are ways we can sneak enjoyment even into those situations. Use that stuck in traffic time to listen to some good music or an audio book, for example.
Part of enjoying life for me is I also use my time in the evenings to indulge in hobbies I like. I’ve come to realize that when I don’t get creative time in, I get irritable & don’t enjoy anything like I normally do. Creative time is very important for most people, not only me. It gives freedom to use your imagination. It also gives down time that we all need in this often overly busy & chaotic life. If you don’t have a creative outlet, it may be time for you to find one. Wandering around a craft store can be a great place to start. They carry items for almost every hobby imaginable! And guys reading this, they even carry “guy stuff”, not just things for knitting & cross stitch. Many carry model car & airplane kits, stuff for electric trains, wood working & more.
I hope this post doesn’t sound like I’m looking for pity because of what happened. I’m not. I just believe I learned some valuable things from my experience & wanted to share them. Although I can’t say I’m grateful for what happened on that fateful day, I am grateful for the good that came from it. The things I shared here definitely changed my life & my attitude for the better! I hope they can help you too! ❤
There are many people in the world who only want to talk about pleasant things. If someone mentions a topic that is less than happy, these people are offended. This includes the topic of abuse. They tell the person that brought up the topic to stop being so negative, it could’ve been worse, look on the bright side which is that the abuse made this person strong & other such nonsense.
Well, you know something? Life isn’t all unicorns & rainbows. Sometimes it has some very dark, evil aspects to it. Not talking about such things won’t change that fact. Being open about such things isn’t rude, unkind, bad, negative, wallowing in the past, being bitter or “un-Christian”. It’s being human. It’s also helping to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse so others hopefully recognize it before they are subjected to it. And, if the abusive person knows both the victim & the person the victim tells of the abuse, the other person would be wise to take what the victim says seriously. If they don’t, they may be the next victim!
Not allowing people to discuss their experiences only invalidates victims, & helps abusers to continue their trail of destruction. In my opinion, behaving this way is just as bad a behavior as the victim’s original abuser by enabling their abusive ways.
People need to be able to discuss all parts of their lives, even the less happy ones, without fear of criticism & judgment. This includes their tales of abuse & suffering. If someone comes to you & opens up about abuse in their past, let the person talk. Don’t make jokes or try to change the subject. Don’t compare their story to yours or that of someone else you know. Just let the person talk. A listening ear can go a long way to helping someone who is suffering.
If you can’t listen for whatever reason, then you can still be nice. Just tell the person it’s not that you aren’t interested, but now isn’t a good time. Find another time where you two can talk, & make that time in the near future.
Just remember, if someone trusts you enough to open up to you about something so personal as having suffered abuse in their life, don’t abuse that person further by trying to get them not to discuss the topic. Be kind & show you care.
James 4:17 in the Amplified Bible states, “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.” These are pretty powerful words, don’t you think? They made me think….
People sin every day in all kinds of ways, no matter how hard we try not to. Some by doing something extreme, such as killing another person, but most of the time it’s smaller things. How many times have you felt in your heart that God wanted you to do something, even just something small, for another person, yet you ignored it? I don’t even want to think about how many times I have been guilty of this. I don’t always let that car into my lane when I feel I should or leave a good tip to a waitress as I know in my heart God would like me to do.
There are bigger issues though & yes, they relate to narcissistic abuse. There are also times I don’t want to listen to another victim of narcissistic abuse tell me their story. I’m not proud of that but it’s true. There are times I just can’t because I’m burned out on the topic, & in dire need of a break. But there are other times when I’m not burned out that I just don’t want to offer support or even just a listening ear for whatever reason. That is being really selfish & I’m not proud of it. I also believe it’s a sin, because I know God put this person in my path for a reason.
Unfortunately I think many people are guilty of this same behavior. We need to use balance & wisdom when someone approaches us, wanting to discuss their experiences with narcissistic abuse. There are times we need to protect our mental health, such as when burning out on the topic or if the C-PTSD is flaring up. At those times we can gently explain this isn’t a good time for us to discuss the topic. Let’s talk later. Or even suggest they email you.. that way they can get it out now, but you don’t have to deal with it immediately. It’s a really good solution.
Other times, however, maybe someone needs your support & you just aren’t in the mood to discuss narcissism. I truly get that. I am so tired of this topic it’s pitiful! That being said though, if someone is suffering, it isn’t fair to brush them off just because I don’t feel like talking about a topic they need to discuss. It’s unkind, & there is already a lack of kindness in the world today.
I’ve found if I know I should be there for someone when I’m not really feeling my most supportive, there are ways I can motivate myself. Knowing I’m helping someone is wonderful of course, but there are times I need a little extra motivation I think of a little reward for myself I can do or get later. Maybe it’s a new bottle of nail polish or time alone with a good movie & some knitting. The rewards are nothing really extravagant, just little things I like. It’s amazing how silly little things like that can be so motivating. It’s a good thing though, because it helps you to do the right thing when you just don’t want to. You also get a little something you really like
When in these situations, how can you think to help to motivate yourself? Like I said, it doesn’t even have to be extravagant. Some small little thing can be surprisingly motivating. And never forget the best part of all.. you’re helping someone else who has suffered as you have.
So many people tell victims of abuse that they should forgive & forget, never mentioning the abuse again, in particular when the abusers in question were the victim’s parents. They love to quote Matthew 5:38-39 to prove their point. Those verses say, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (KJV)
The problem is though that when you pull out a random Scripture from the Bible, you can prove almost any point. Other Scriptures on the topic need to be considered as well.
Psalm 82:4 “Rescue the weak and needy;
Rescue them from the hand of the wicked.” (AMP)
John 18: 22-23 “But when He said this, one of the officers who was standing nearby [a]struck Jesus [in the face], saying, “Is that how You answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus replied, “If I have said anything wrong, make a formal statement about the wrong; but if [I spoke] properly, why did you strike Me?” (AMP)
Acts 16:36-37 “36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word to release you; so come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now they are sending us out secretly? No! Let them come here themselves and bring us out!” (AMP)
These verses clearly show that there is nothing wrong with speaking out about abusive behavior! People need to learn & grow. They can’t do that if the never are told their actions are wrong & people hide abusive behaviors.
Granted narcissists are not exactly the easiest people in the world to confront or even simply talk about. They violently rage, create vicious smear campaigns to stop people from doing such things, & almost never learn when dealt consequences for their actions. However, even so, it’s still your job to give them consequences & to be open about their abusive ways. You give them chances to make healthy changes by doing such things, & that is the best thing you can do for them. What they do with those things from there is on them, but you can rest easy knowing you have done the right thing.
You also need to be open about what they have done to you, because you may be helping someone in a similar situation. Your story may open their eyes to just how bad narcissistic abuse is or inspire them to walk away.
Being open about the abuse inflicted on you also may cause some people to leave your life, but you know something? It will show you exactly who truly loves you. They will be the ones standing by your side & supporting you through your healing. Realizing how special these people are makes losing the others hurt a whole lot less 🙂
Many of you who know me personally know that my husband has been wanting to move into his late parents’ home for some time now. It caused a great deal of arguing between us. Although his reasons are smart & valid, I also had smart & valid reasons for not wanting to move. Thankfully, we were able to reach compromises about the situation, so the arguing is over.
I noticed something interesting about this when first telling people that my husband wanted to move. The vast majority of people encouraged me to move, & disregarded my misgivings.
To be honest, I felt like none of these people cared about my feelings. I felt betrayed, hurt, angry & most of all shocked. It made no sense to me at all that people I cared about would act this way.
Eventually though I realized some things.
They saw things differently than I did since they weren’t as involved in the situation as I was. Not everyone knew the ugly story of the problems with my in-laws. They couldn’t make an informed opinion because they didn’t know all of the facts.
There is also the fact that people see things through the lens of their own experience. Maybe they would like to move & don’t have the opportunity. They could think moving is a great thing, period, simply because of their situation. Or, maybe they have a good relationship with their in-laws, & can’t comprehend mine. If it was them, their in-laws wouldn’t cause them any problems, so they assume mine are the same.
Plus, people are often narrow minded, not looking at the big picture. In this case, they knew I dislike my current neighbors & have a chance to get away from them. What could be bad about that?! They simply didn’t think that the house could be run down or in a bad neighborhood, only that I have a means of getting away from my awful neighbors. (For the record, the house is in great condition & in a good neighborhood).
Thinking about all of this made me realize how similar this is to when someone opens up about being abused by a narcissist & isn’t believed.
People don’t know the whole story. They haven’t seen the rages or horrific abuse. They probably see the narcissist at their most civil, or they don’t know the narcissist at all.
People also see things through the lens of their unique experiences, as I said. If someone hasn’t encountered a narcissist, they often struggle with believing the bizarre stories of narcissistic abuse. Having been through it, I still have a hard time believing some of the things that have happened to me! How could someone who hasn’t witnessed it not struggle to believe a person could behave in such a manner?
Also as I said, people are narrow minded. Some people come from a normal family, & assume everyone has a normal family like they do. I experienced this with someone I knew years ago. When I explained some of what I’d gone through with my mother, he said something to the effect of, “You’re a teenage girl. All teenage girls have problems with their mothers.” He was a very nice person who came from a normal family. I believe because of that, he had no idea that so much dysfunction could exist in the world.
The next time you discuss the narcissistic abuse you’ve experienced & someone brushes you off, please keep this in mind. Although it’s true, many people have malignant reasons for not believing you or trying to stop you from talking about it, not everyone does. Consider the person with whom you’re dealing. You’ll know if the person is good just ill informed or is being malicious. If the person is good, I hope remembering what I said can help you not to be so hurt or angry by their behavior. If not, I hope you can get away from the person as quickly as possible!
When you grow up with narcissistic parents, you’re trained from birth to do for them. Do what? Whatever they want. It’s your job to please them in every way, to listen to them, to serve them… naturally this isn’t reciprocated because you aren’t important- only they are!
Once you’re an adult, this “you’re here to do for others” mentality sticks with you. And, other people pick up on it. Users & abusers can sniff this mentality out a mile away. Other Christians can even pick up on it & use Scripture to back up why you should do for them or other people.
The truth is that no one can help everyone who crosses their path. It’s too much! You could ruin your physical & mental health, & even ruin yourself financially if you helped every single person who claims to have a need. You truly need discernment & wisdom to know who God wants you to help, who He doesn’t, & who he simply wants you to pray for.
When you come across someone in need, the smartest thing you can do is pray. Ask God for guidance, & to show you what this person’s position in your life is going to be. Maybe it is to help that person in some way, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe your position is simply to pray for that person or to guide them to someone who can help them. Maybe you need to lead that person to Jesus. Or, maybe you need to set boundaries & refuse to help this person because he or she tends to use people & needs a lesson in the fact not everyone is here to do for them. Until & unless you ask God, you won’t know for sure. So ask! He will guide & help you!
Removing someone from your life is a very challenging thing to do even under the best of circumstances. What makes it even harder is when others criticize not only that you did it but even how you ended a relationship. It is so frustrating when you took this big step & people with no vested interest in the relationship feel the need to tell you how wrong you were. It can make you seriously doubt your decision.
One aspect of this I have experienced is being told how wrong I was for simply backing out of someone’s life rather than explaining how I feel or trying to work things out. Those familiar with the Myers Briggs personality test recognize this as the infamous INFJ door slam, even though all personalities may use it. Others call it ghosting. Whatever you choose to call it, many people call it childish, petty & even cruel when it often is nothing of the sort.
While the door slam isn’t appropriate in every relationship that ends, in many cases is it a very good option to take no matter what others may think.
With narcissists, trying to work out relationship problem is a waste of time. In fact, telling them that you are hurt when they do or say something usually just makes them do or say that thing more often.
They also have no desire to change their hurtful behavior. If something they do hurts someone, that is either inconsequential to them or it brings them joy. Trying to talk things out with someone like this is not only impossible, but it will cause a lot more pain & frustration.
Not to mention, narcissists will try to convince a victim to maintain the relationship’s status quo & can be very good at doing so sometimes. This can cause a couple of unpleasant outcomes. The victim may become confused & stay in the toxic relationship. Or, the victim may leave but carry a great deal of shame for leaving the “poor abuser” or “ruining his or her life” by ending the relationship. Another scenario can happen if the abuser & victim live together. Talking to the abuser before ending the relationship & moving out can give the abuser time to come up with especially creative & effective tactics to keep the victim in the relationship
In cases like this, it is much better for someone to leave a relationship unannounced & silently for their own mental health’s sake.
Not all relationships are abusive, though, & sometimes a person wants to end it simply because of personality differences, moral differences or even religious beliefs. In cases like that, sometimes leaving a relationship silently still may be a viable option.
If someone repeatedly hurts you, you tell them they’re hurting you & they continue to hurt you, they have to know why you’re ending the relationship. They don’t need you to explain yourself yet again. There is no point.
No one should have to explain to someone how to be a decent human being, especially repeatedly. Some people seem to have no clue how to be civil, let alone polite, & are content with their behavior. They say things like, “This is just how I am.” Explaining why you want to end a relationship with someone like this is most likely going to be a waste of your time.
Obviously, people are very different so you need to consider your options seriously when ending a relationship someone. If the person is reasonable, explaining why you’re ending it is a good option. That person may learn that they need to behave in a healthier way. And, who knows, they may teach you something about your own behavior as well. If the person in question isn’t reasonable though, quietly walking away probably is your best option.
Recently, God told me something fascinating. “To narcissists, fear plus obedience equals respect.” I thought this was fascinating & it made a lot of sense! Narcissists clearly have no grasp of what true respect really is. They also have no grasp of how to get respect. What they do to get their so called respect is nothing like what most people do.
Most people realize you can’t demand someone respect you, you have to earn their respect. Narcissists don’t think that way. My mother used to tell me, “I demand respect!” Didn’t work… I had very little respect for her.
Also, most people don’t try to force someone to do anything. They go on about their lives not trying to force someone to respect them. They instead do things that earn people’s respect such as helping the underprivileged or homeless. Narcissists don’t care about doing good deeds to earn respect. They believe that they’re entitled to it no matter what.
I also thought at first that this pertained only to overt narcissists. They have no problem yelling, cursing, demeaning, invalidating, intimidating & using physical force on a victim to get whatever they want. It can be easy for people to become intimidated by such things & become obedient to the narcissist.
As I thought about this, God said it goes for covert narcissists too. They may not be so obviously intimidating, but they truly can instill fear in their victims which makes them obedient. Their weapons are quieter, such as using guilt, shame, acting disappointed & the silent treatment, but they are effective nonetheless. That also made sense. A victim may not be afraid of a covert narcissist screaming at them or hitting them, but they do still fear the covert narcissist’s quiet wrath & will do about anything to avoid it. Fear & obedience.
I also wondered how narcissists know to do what they do. I mean, they’re not exactly insightful. Yet somehow they also know what to do to each unique victim to get what they want. How do they all know that fear & obedience will get them their so called respect? God answered that question too. He said the devil tells them things. Apparently he & his demons basically whisper things to them, & the messages are kind of like a subliminal message. These messages are spoken quietly & subtly, so narcissists think they are their own ideas. They’re also simple, along the lines of “If you scream at her, she will do what you want” rather than explaining more complicated details, such as fear & obedience equal respect.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that narcissists are helpless against the devil’s will. They aren’t, but they choose not to ignore him. Repeatedly doing the devil’s work has shut down their natural empathy & their willingness to listen to God. 2 Timothy 2:26 in the English Standard Version, it says, “and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” Clearly, people can choose to reject doing the devil’s work.
I’m telling you this in order that you may understand what you’re dealing with regarding narcissists. You aren’t dealing merely with an obnoxious person when you deal with a narcissist. You’re dealing with an evil spirit wanting to hurt you. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Remember what exactly you are dealing with, Dear Reader. Learn about spiritual warfare, & most importantly, stay close to your Heavenly Father. All you have to do is ask Him & He will gladly help you in any situation, including this one.
Many people tell those of us with C-PTSD some pretty stupid, insensitive & even invalidating comments about our disorder. It’s utterly frustrating how people can say things like these & think it’s ok or even that they’re being supportive. It’s also frustrating how sometimes when these things are said to us, thanks to our disorder, we can’t think of what to tell these people about why this is a bad thing to say.
Below are some frequently used comments & retorts to them. Feel free to share this post with anyone who you think can benefit from reading this.
“I know how you feel!” I don’t think so. C-PTSD is a very weird & painful disorder. You can feel like you’re going crazy when symptoms flare up. You also can be suicidal. Even two people with C-PTSD can experience their symptoms differently.
“I think a lot too.” Really? You think that’s what C-PTSD is? No. There is a big difference between the average person thinking a lot & C-PTSD. When a person is “always thinking”, they can control it at least to some degree. Good luck doing that with the thoughts that come with C-PTSD. There are ruminating thoughts which are thoughts that play over & over again. There are also intrusive thoughts, which come to mind at any time, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We also can’t forget hyper-vigilance, which is being completely focused on one’s surroundings in an attempt to spot any hint of danger to our physical or mental health. These things are awful & often impossible to control.
“Everyone has nightmares!” True. Everyone does have nightmares. Not everyone has nightmares nightly or almost nightly, often even multiple times in a night. Not everyone wakes up in a blind panic from a nightmare, either. Not everyone has nightmares about utterly bizarre things that stir up similar emotions to the traumatic events they have survived.
“You need to stop thinking about the past.” Well, thank you for that insight. I never thought about that! *sigh* Those of us with C-PTSD want to stop thinking about the past, but our brains won’t let us!
“Everyone has flashes of bad memories.” Flashbacks are so much more than that. They’re bad memories that feel like they’re happening all over again. They can make it very hard to discern between the memory & reality.
“Think happy thoughts!” “Be more positive!” C-PTSD isn’t about thinking too negatively. It’s an actual mental disorder. Our brains were broken due to the traumas we survived. The damage means we can’t control our thoughts like someone without C-PTSD can.
“You need to see a counselor!” It’s not that easy! Not all counselors understand C-PTSD. Also, not all counselors understand the best ways to treat people who have suffered through trauma, period, let alone multiple traumas. There is also the fact that many of us have tried counseling, only to find some counselors are as toxic as the people who abused us in the first place, so we have a strong lack of trust in those in the mental health field.
“You just need to take a pill.” Also not that easy. Do you have any idea how many anti-anxiety & anti-depressants there are available?! I don’t but I do know that it’s a lot! There are also varying classes & strengths of these medications. Most also take at least about two weeks to start working, so you may take something for a long time before seeing any changes, good or bad. Finding the right dose of the right medication can be a very long, frustrating task.
“It’s all in your head!” Well, C-PTSD is a mental disorder. Where else would it be?
“You can’t have C-PTSD! You weren’t in the military!” Maybe not, but C-PTSD doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone exposed to any traumas for an extended period of time. While it happens to many prisoners of war, it also happens to those who survived child abuse or domestic violence.
I hope this post helps you to have a good response the next time someone invalidates your experiences with C-PTSD. xoxo