A Bit About Denial

Denial is an unhealthy coping mechanism in which people refuse to acknowledge that something is happening in order to make themselves more comfortable & to avoid facing the ugly truth.  There are different facets of denial & those with narcissistic parents are well aware of many of them.

One form of denial is when narcissists deny doing anything wrong.  They may justify their actions by blaming their victims or deny altogether that they did anything wrong at all.  Either way, they refuse to take any responsibility for their actions & deny that their actions are hurting another person.

Those close to a narcissist also often deny the abuse is happening.  If a victim reaches out to others, to their family in particular, chances are excellent that they will be met with invalidating & even shaming statements.  They may also be accused of lying about the narcissist.

Such forms of denial are destructive to victims.  They teach the victim that she can’t trust her own perceptions, feelings, thoughts & even sanity.  Denial also teaches victims that their feelings & thoughts are unworthy, that they shouldn’t bother people with them.  That easily can lead to the destruction of a victim’s self esteem.  In turn, this can lead to a person tolerating all manners of abuse, because they feel unworthy to defend themselves or they simply don’t believe that their feelings or perceptions of a situation are accurate.

Although coping with such awful experiences & the aftermath is hard, it can be done successfully.

You’ll need to depend on God.  A lot.  He knows the truth of the situation, so you can count on Him to show you what the truth is whenever you have any doubts.  Never hesitate to ask Him to help you, because He will be glad to do so!

Keeping a journal is very helpful too.  Write about the traumatic events as soon as you can after they happen, & be sure to include dates & lots of details.  If later someone says, “That never happened!” you can go back & see that yes, it DID happen! If those things didn’t happen, you wouldn’t have written about them!

I also recommend writing your story.  Naturally it’s your choice whether or not to publish it or any part of it, but at the very least, write it out.  Seeing your story in writing will help validate your experiences by making them seem more real.  Only remembering things isn’t as validating, I think, because you can convince yourself you just don’t remember things right.  That is especially easy to do when a narcissist is telling you that you’re remembering things all wrong.  Writing your story also can help you to see just what the narcissist is capable of by reminding you of things she already has done, & that can help you to deal with her.  Seeing your story in writing is also an excellent reminder never to underestimate her.  Writing your story is a very difficult step, but it is truly worth the difficulties.

When either the narcissist or others invalidate you, another good step to take is to remind yourself what they are doing.  They don’t want to face the ugly truth that this person is incredibly abusive.  They are trying to shut you up only to make themselves more comfortable.  The good news is that this means their actions have nothing to do with you.  The bad news is that knowing that doesn’t always make their actions not hurt.  This knowledge can take some of the sting out of their actions though, & anything that helps to do that is a good thing in my book.

10 Comments

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

10 responses to “A Bit About Denial

  1. I’m getting caught up on your blog posts this morning.

    This may seem like a bizarre tangent, but I’ll hope you’ll bear with me.

    I am an unmarried, gay man with no children.

    About 7 years ago, I took in a cat that my friend didn’t have time for. I had never had a pet as an adult, but quickly realized how special she was. I became a vegan and an animal rights supporter.

    I had always been troubled by the concept of animal sacrifice in the Bible. But in the last day or two, God showed me that animals are basically innocent. They don’t understand right or wrong. They work on instinct. Humans do know right from wrong. And it clicked with me. Animal sacrifices were a way for humans to put their shame onto the innocent.

    I think narcissistic parents view their children the same way.

    I’ve heard so much about how the narcissist feels deep internal shame. Because of this, my instinct has been to make excuses for my narcissistic mother.

    However, I am now realizing that my mother wakes everyday feeling shame. But instead of owning it as an adult, she prefers to spend her days looking for animal sacrifices.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tangent on.. 🙂

      I think you are very right. Narcissistic parents do put their shame on their children, their “animal sacrifices.” They all seem to be emotionally stunted somehow. A former friend of mine who was a counselor in her church once told me she believed many people who were traumatized as children didn’t grow emotionally beyond the age of the trauma. I don’t think everyone does this, but many people do. Narcissists in particular seem to be that way, & I think that is why they put things on their children. They don’t have the inner strength or wisdom or whatever to face their issues as a grown adult would. Instead, they handle them as children & one way is by putting them off on someone else. Children are their most convenient targets for this.

      It’s really similar to what happens with their golden child, if you think about it. They make that child an extension of themselves, pushing that child to do things the parent wanted but never did. Rather than do these things themselves, they make their child do them.

      And for the record, that is wonderful you adopted your friend’s cat & how she changed you! Cats are awesome!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Your former friend who was a counselor seems to be saying that those stuck in trauma may always be stuck in trauma.
        You were stuck in trauma. I am stuck in trauma.
        But we are trying to work through it.
        The narcissist never does.

        i guess my question to you is, can we ever view the narcissist as an adult who should be held accountable? Or do we, as Christians, always have to make excuses for them?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Right, that is what she was saying. Not everyone of course as you know, but some folks, absolutely.

          Making excuses isn’t a Christian thing to do, in my opinion. Sure, you understand & let some small things slide. That’s just being a decent person. But, when someone knowingly & purposely hurts you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with holding them accountable for their actions & setting boundaries. In fact, it encourages them to behave better, so those are very loving things to do.

          The thing with narcissists is they don’t accept responsibility for their actions or try to improve their behavior. The normal rules don’t apply to them at all because of that. This is why I firmly believe it’s vital to rely on God in how to relate to them. A lot of times, it’s simplest to ignore their behavior because they’ll simply spin things around to where you’re the abuser, it’s not their fault, etc. Yet other times, they need to be confronted. We can’t know for sure when those times are though, but God knows.

          In 2016, I had a huge argument with my parents. When they called, I saw the number on my caller ID & cringed.. I also asked God to help me to calmly get through what I knew was going to be an awful conversation. See, my mother in-law had died a few days prior, & I hadn’t told my parents. They’d only met her twice & knew I didn’t speak to her. Seemed silly to tell them, especially knowing they’d see her obit in the local paper in a few days. Well, long story short, they were furious I hadn’t told them & we ended up in a huge argument. When I was off the phone, I prayed & told God how sorry I was for getting so angry. I don’t know what happened! Clear as day, I heard Him tell me that was what He wanted to happen, for them to see their normally calm, reasonable daughter so angry & hurt that I was crying & cursing at them. He said, “They needed to know what their behavior does to you.” It was odd to say the least! I never expected that & still don’t understand it. Left to my own devices, I probably would’ve apologized for my behavior, but I didn’t. God said it needed to be done so I knew I did the right thing even though it sure didn’t feel that way. We have to trust Him to show us the best ways to handle narcissists is my point, because in the natural, sometimes it isn’t really easy to figure out!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. I appreciate this post so much. Sometimes God actually wants us to “act out”. We can never know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 I’m glad.

      I think so. If we’re meek all the time, we can come across as doormats & that isn’t what He wants of us. Even Jesus wasn’t always that way. Some of His actions weren’t what the world thinks of as “holy”. He got mad & called out bad behavior.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “When either the narcissist or others invalidate you, another good step to take is to remind yourself what they are doing. They don’t want to face the ugly truth that this person is incredibly abusive. They are trying to shut you up only to make themselves more comfortable.”

    ***They are trying to shut you up
    only to make themselves more comfortable***

    Exactly.

    Liked by 2 people

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