“They Did The Best They Could!”

The phrase, “They did the best they could” used to make me feel so guilty.  I felt shame for being hurt or angry about the abuse I went through at the hands of my parents & ex husband.  After all, my mother had a terrible childhood, abused by her narcissistic, evil mother & no contact with her father- how could she know how to be a good mother?  My father was in a near fatal car wreck at 15, & has had problems stemming from the brain damage since, so that must be why he never felt able to intervene with my mother abusing me.  As for the ex?  Not like his parents modeled a healthy marriage- no wonder he didn’t know how to be a husband.

I’m sure if you’ve been the victim of abuse, you have heard the same tired phrase, & had the same kind of thoughts that I had.  I think it’s only natural to think things like that under the circumstances.  Today though I want to challenge that phrase regarding how it relates to your situation.

If someone is really doing the best they can, naturally they are going to make mistakes just like anyone does.  They will apologize & try to make the wrongs right somehow if possible.  They won’t repeat that mistake over & over again, make excuses or blame you for making them do what they did.

Someone who is truly doing their best won’t hide their actions or demand someone not to tell anyone what they are doing.

They also won’t be one way behind closed doors & totally different when in public situations.

They won’t criticize your every word, thought or deed.

People who truly are doing their best don’t try to gaslight others, making people doubt their own sanity.

They will try to build you up, encouraging you to be your own person who exercises whatever talents you have, rather than deliberately tear you down, discouraging you to be the person God made you to be.

They will care about others, not only themselves, & especially their children & spouse.

Now, think about the narcissist in your life.  Does this sound like her?  If not, then you need to keep in mind that she really didn’t do the best she could!  Even if she had been abused or through hard times, that does NOT give an excuse to abuse!  If being abused made the victim become an abuser, you would be abusive.  If you think she does not know what she’s doing, then think about this- does she hide the abuse from other people, only raging at you in private?  That is a sign she knows what she is doing is wrong.

Rather than feel guilty because your narcissistic mother “did the best she could”, instead, I encourage you to have a more realistic view of her situation.  In mine for example, with my mother- yes she was abused terribly as a child.  Her mother continued abusing her as an adult.  She’s been miserable married to my father for 46 years.  I do feel sorry for her for those reasons.  However, those reasons were NOT my fault or a reason to take her frustrations, anger & hurt out on me, to expect to be able to live the life she actually wanted through me.  As her daughter, it was never my job to make her happy, although she expected that.  She also knew then & still knows how she treats me is wrong.  I know this because she always worked hard to hide her actions from everyone, including my father.

Looking at my situation logically like this has helped me to no longer feel guilty when someone says that she did the best she could.  It will help you as well.  There is no good reason for you to feel bad when some insensitive, naive person says that obnoxious phrase to you!  Don’t accept their delusion as your reality!

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18 Comments

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

18 responses to ““They Did The Best They Could!”

  1. Children of narcissists know, first hand, that they didn’t “do the best they could.” The problem is society that can’t comprehend that there are mothers who do not do the best they can for their children–that they actually try to harm their children (emotionally and psychologically) which prompts them to say things like, “they did the best they could do,” not having any idea of what the child has experienced. Trying to hide their abusive actions and acting one way in pubic and another way in private are not characteristics of a parent who “did the best they could do,” but how would they know. They weren’t there.

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  2. Cindy

    I know,right? I try not to assume the worst,so at times, I think I make way too many excuses for other ppl’s behavior.Like hub’s parent’s had a rather rocky relationship with everyone in the family,so he doesn’t always know how to be a husb. or father.And my mom’s mom died when she was a baby,so she doesn’t know how to be a mom.My dad’s dad died when he was a teenager,so he doesn’t always know how to be a dad…and so on.But they do know! At least they know right from wrong

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  3. Very well said!

    A person who is abused may not have a clue as to how an excellent husband/wife/mother/father would handle specific circumstances, BUT they still have the ability to act out of good character! They still have the ability to treat people with dignity they way they would want to be treated themselves. Most abusers I know can quote the Golden Rule easily.

    I was abused mostly emotionally by my mom, and then by my wife. I had to learn how to be a better dad. It’s hard because I’m still stuck with my abuser, and have CPTSD, and am very under-employed. Still, I chose to love the truth and love my kids.

    Character is a choice that even an abuser can make, and the result is a person that either will or won’t love. Doing their best isn’t even the issue. Doing what is good, right, and kind is the issue.

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    • Thank you!!

      That’s so true. Being abused doesn’t mean you will turn into an abuser- you can be a victim but still have good character. It really is a choice whether a victim becomes abusive or not.

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been abused as well. I hope God can get you away from your abuser soon! It’s horrible being in an abusive marriage.

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  4. brokenlady

    Thank you. I really needed to read this today. I am struggling with the break up with my ex who I believe has narcissistic traits. I keep feeling guilty thinking he can’t help it. I keep wondering if I should give him another chance. He is 56 years old and we were together a year. We both fell in love early on in our relationship. I thought we were best friends and soul mates. His problem was his controlling behaviour and cheating (in the past, apparently he never cheated on me) he wanted to stay friends with his ex, he wanted to take female friends out to lunch and had two female ‘friends’ he was a little to close to. He was always joking with them and talked about sex and one particularly flirted with him. He flirted and once said, ‘I might have flirted and acted like I fancy her but I dont’ he keeps tabs on loads of exs which upsets me. He is quite sexual and talks about all his sexual conquests over the years. Apparently he’s always liked young teenage girls according to one ex. I found it hard to trust him so I ended it. I feel sad as we had some amazing times, we laughed most of the time and I did feel a connection. He is a little manipulative and subtly criticizes things I do but nothing that bad. He does compliment me but he also compliments all the others. Tells me how others are attractive or have good bodies and compares them to me. Apparently one oozes sexually but I’m attractive in a girl next door way! I need a way to stop feeling like I’ve abandoned the love of my life when he might need my support or help to get better. He did actually say, please don’t try to change me, this to me tells me I’m wasting my time. I am completely stressed out and feel gutted 😦 it’s been 2 months but I still have some contact. Any help would be very much appreciated. I don’t know what to think or feel. I am so confused.

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    • I’m sorry you’re suffering! (((hugs)))

      Unfortunately I can tell you from personal experience, being with a narcissist is hell on earth. My ex husband was one, & in our 7 years together, I was utterly miserable. He started out like most narcissists do in a relationship- acting as if I was the love of his life, & we were soul mates. It didn’t take long for him to start becoming more & more manipulative & critical. He even wanted disgusting things in the bedroom that I would have no part of, like a threesome & said I was boring in bed because of that. Not one thing I did was right either, according to him- not how I looked, things I liked, nothing. Everything was about him. Even holidays were all about him spending time with his family & often leaving me alone, even when I was sick. He isolated me from my family & friends, too. The few friends I had were his friends, & they all abandoned me when we split up. When I left him, I felt incredibly guilty. He portrayed himself as my innocent victim. I was leaving him for no reason, or so everyone thought. It wasn’t until I learned about narcissism I realized what he was & lost all guilt.

      My story is pretty typical of people involved with narcissists. Please don’t put yourself through the things I have. Stay away from him & find a good man who has no narcissistic traits. You really will be much better off! I don’t say this lightly either- I never want to tell people to end a relationship, but in this case, it’s important you know that would be best. I hope I haven’t overstepped any bounds- I just hate the thought of anyone else suffering like I did. ❤

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      • brokenlady

        Thank you, I appreciate your honesty. It’s just so hard to believe it’s all just fake 😦 he seems so genuine when he says he wants me back. I don’t think they realise exactly how they’ve made you feel. He keeps on about you only get one soul mate and that’s me. He thinks I’m making a huge mistake and I’m misunderstanding him. He says everythings a joke or he blames someone else. He swore he’d never lie but I know he’s lied to me. I hate the thought he may have cheated! I don’t think he has. He cheated on lots of exs and admits he told them he didn’t! How does he expect me to trust him? He says lots of odd stuff like, if you leave me i promise not to stalk you?? He once asked if I’d ever had a threesome and I said no. He said would you with two men? I said no, why? Would you like that? He said he didn’t know as no one does until they try it! I said I think I know I actually don’t like or want to do something before I do it! He couldn’t understand why I cried as I didn’t want him to want me to do that 😦 I love him and wanted him to just want me. A few weeks later he said he was messing around and would hate me to want that! He confused the hell out of me. I think I’ve done the right thing but I miss the good bits 😦 I appreciate the hug and words of encouragement. I hate the thought of others suffering but it’s great to have somewhere to go as my family are getting sick of me harping on about it. My heart is broken and they just say he’s a loser, get over it and move on! Easier said than done :(:(:(

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        • This man sounds almost exactly like my ex husband, right down to the threesome thing. Mine wanted a threesome with us & another man & said he was just thinking of me. I should be grateful since most guys would want two women. Come to find out he was bisexual & I was so naive then, I didn’t realize it.

          Don’t doubt that- he knows exactly how he’s making you feel! They love being able to control someone’s emotions. It makes them feel powerful & provides them with narcissistic supply.

          He’s also avoiding responsibility, as narcissists do, by saying he was joking or blaming someone else. A healthy person would apologize for what they’ve done & not do it again.

          The confused way you feel? That’s also typical narcissistic behavior called gaslighting. I wrote a bit about it & the link is on this page… http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/The-Narcissist%27s-Arsenal.php

          Of course it’s easier said than done, getting over someone you cared about! It’s a loss, no matter what kind of person he is, & loss needs to be grieved before you can move on! That’s totally normal! Take your time, feel the pain, & then you will be able to move on.

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          • brokenlady

            OMG! He actually said I should be happy he doesn’t want another women involved! Does make me wonder about the bisexual thing as he said he enjoys anal sex with women? Made me wonder!
            Its good to talk and read these comments as it clears my mind. When he was here he’d almost convince me I misunderstood him and I felt I must be wrong and I felt guilty for thinking such bad things about him! I will read up about gaslighting in a minute. Thank you for this 🙂
            I read on another website that they are insecure really and offered advice to manage the relationship. Supporting the narcissist which made me feel guilty for leaving him. Trouble is he said I shouldn’t try to change him. If they are expecting weird sex and causing emotional stress it’s hard to cope with that. Mine lies and I feel he’d just learn more cunning ways to convince me he’s changed but still go off doing what he wants. It said to not do everything they ask to stop controlling behaviour! I think he’d struggle not to be so controlling and wouldn’t take that well!
            Sorry if some of this isn’t written very well. I’m stressed and distraught tbh. I physically shake and get some upset at times. I am grieving for what I thought I had. He says it is what I thought it was. He convinces me he’s so in love even after subtly bringing me down. I’m glad I’m not imagining this. I feel crazy right now 😦 this is helping very much. Thank you so much. Hopefully I’ll start making more sense as I get better. I hope one day I can help someone else xx

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            • brokenlady

              He is 56 now. When he was 44 he went out with a 19 year old. I was told he likes teenage girls which also concerned me. He said the moment he met me he decided in his heart and mind he won’t ever be unfaithful! I find that very difficult to believe 😦

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            • Well it sounds like you have good reason to wonder! My ex also was obsessed with anal sex. Didn’t care I thought it was disgusting & it physically hurt anyway- he thought I should do it, no matter what. That obsession isn’t normal for a straight man, in my opinion anyway!

              Good.. read up on gaslighting! The more you learn about it the better! Other websites go into more detail than I did on mine, but unfortunately I didn’t save any good links to share with you. A quick search should help you find plenty of info though!

              That site was right in a way- narcissists are extremely insecure. That’s why they act so confident & cocky- they’re trying to convince everyone (including themselves) they are really wonderful. But as for supporting the narcissist? NO! The more you do, the more they expect & the more they demand you do. There is no end- they’re like bottomless pits of need. No one can please a narcissist. Maybe temporarily, but not for any length of time. Besides, people need to know when their actions are unacceptable. Letting people abuse you is NOT a good thing nor is it loving in any way. No doubt you’re right too- he won’t like giving up that control over you but he must if you are going to be happy!

              You’re making sense just fine. It’s very understandable how you feel! This is absolutely typical.

              If you like, I have a group on facebook full of kind, supportive people. It might do you some good to have that support right now. If you’re interested, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FansOfCynthiaBaileyRug/

              If you do want to join, please just private message me your name so I can let you in.

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              • And he dated a 19 year old at 44 & likes teen girls? ICK. That is just creepy. I see why you’re concerned!

                I wouldn’t believe that either about him deciding to be faithful to you. His past speaks volumes about his ability to be faithful 😦

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                • brokenlady

                  It’s good to get all my concerns validated. He just thinks I’m insecure, crazy etc.. even said I should go to the dr as it could be the menopause lol! Or a personality disorder! Yes, he thinks i have the problem! ! I was sexually abused as a child and was married to a physically abusive man for 10 years who i left about 20 years ago. I have long since learned to live with it and buried it deep and got on with my life. I’m generally a happy person and like a good laugh and am often complimented on my smile. My ex narc questioned me a lot at first and as he was an ex policeman he said he felt I had been a victim of some kind of abuse and he’s used to dealing with that through work so I could always tell him anything. I opened up and told him everything. He said I was his soul mate so I told all. I’ve never told anyone so it was good to tell him, I felt close to him until he told me this.. he went to the houses of many ladies who’d suffered abuse from their husbands. He’d wait until the husband had been arrested and he’d go back to offer support and ended up in bed with a few! I told him I was disgusted by that, it’s taking advantage in my mind. I wish I’d never told him. He uses it against me when I’m upset. He blames my ex, he says I’m insecure because of my ex and that’s why I don’t trust him! He says I should take anti depressants! I probably should after what he has done! I am hanging in there and trying to cling on to my sanity without medication. I just feel overwhelmed right now. I can’t believe this is happening. Maybe I do have a problem, I always go for the bad boys, they are exciting and I kind of sensed the danger but thought it felt good at first. Little did I know what was in store! Yes please I’ll message you my name 🙂

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                  • Another typical behavior of narcissists is to convince the victim they are the one with the problem. My parents have done it & my ex husband. I’ve spent most of my life thinking I’m crazy because of these people.

                    You aren’t kidding he was taking advantage of those women! That is awful! Not entirely surprising though!

                    Also not surprising he uses your past pain against you.

                    I seriously doubt you need medication.. maybe temporarily to help you cope with the damage he’s done to you, but not as he means.

                    I saw a request to join my group, but no message with your name. Did you send one?

                    Like

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