Category Archives: Abuse and the Healing Journey

Information Cynthia has learned about abuse and recovery.

When Narcissists Claim They Don’t Know Why Their Adult Children Went No Contact

I would like to make one small disclaimer on this post.  I am writing it from the perspective of those in a position like mine, the adult child who severed ties with their parent for valid reasons.  This doesn’t mean I always side with the adult children in these situations & assume all parents to be guilty until proven innocent.  I absolutely do NOT believe in blindly siding with any specific person or even group. 

Many times when an adult child severs ties with their parent, that parent claims to have no idea why their child did this.  They say this happened without warning, totally out of the blue.  My parents did this.  I severed ties with them after a huge argument in May, 2016.  During the fight, I felt all knowledge I have of narcissism went out the window because I was so hurt.  I cried, I used bad language & I told my parents exactly why I was so upset with them rather than remain calm & set boundaries as I usually did.  Oddly, they acted like I did this every day, & weren’t affected in the slightest by my behavior.  It was the last time I spoke with my mother before her death, & one of the last times I spoke to my father before his.  He tried to apologize a few months after the argument, but it was obvious from what he said, he had no idea why I was so upset.  When cleaning out their home after my mother’s passing, I read some things she wrote & she was clearly just as oblivious. 

This is very typical of abusive parents.  My story is only one of many similar ones.  This makes it so hard for the adult child in this situation, because you feel like your parent didn’t even care enough to listen to anything you said, let alone try to make things better.  It’s so painful thinking they’re so unaware & uncaring.  If you’re in this position, you know that hurt all too well.

I’ve come to realize something though.  Whether or not they know, it truly has nothing to do with you & everything to do with them.

Normal human beings recognize when they have said or done something bad.  They apologize & try to make amends.  As anyone who has even a fleeting knowledge of people with narcissistic personality disorder knows, that isn’t how narcissists work.  Apologizing & making amends are beneath them, so that won’t happen.

Also to apologize, they need to recognize they did something wrong. Narcissists lack the basic human empathy to see anything from another’s perspective, even when that problem is glaringly obvious to about anyone else in the world. 

In many cases like this, however, the narcissists do know that they were wrong.  They won’t admit it, but they know.  You’re probably thinking I am wrong on this, but I really don’t think I am.  If you pay attention to what a narcissistic parent in this situation says, there are hints that show they know they messed up. 

They may talk only about their child going no contact with them or how angry that child has been with them.  They talk about how this affects them.  But they leave out things that led up to their child being so angry or making this decision.  They may say things like their child says they are a terrible person or says cruel things to them, but where are the details?  Those are left out.  Sure, this could be a narcissist’s way to keep all focus on them & off their adult child, but I believe in many cases, it’s a way to make them look like the innocent victim & hide their awful behavior.  The listener is supposed to be so distracted by what was done to the narcissist that it never occurs to them to ask what else happened.

If your narcissistic parent has told people they have no idea why you severed ties with them, I know you’ll feel hurt, maybe even unimportant because your own parent doesn’t care about why you opted for no contact.  That is a natural way to feel but that doesn’t mean it is right!  Whether or not your parent truly knows, their behavior is all about them, & is no reflection on you.  Please remember that! 

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When People Claim Abusers Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I once saw a meme that basically said to forgive your parents no matter what they have done to you.  They were wounded from their childhood & didn’t know what they were doing to you because of that.  It’s up to you to break the cycle. 

I’ve noticed this mentality is pretty common, & not always with parents.  It can be said with an abusive spouse who was raised watching one parent abuse the other.  It also can be said of the mother in-law mistreats her daughter in-law.  Her mother in-law wasn’t good to her so clearly she must not know how to be a good mother in-law.

The problem with this is this is nothing more than an excuse.  It’s an apologist stand in favor of abusive people.  It is so wrong!

While yes, people whose parents abused them may not know how to be a good parent, but they at least know what not to do.  Those parents know that certain things a parent can do to a child hurt the child, because their parents did those things to them.  As a result, they shouldn’t do those same things to their children.

Many people who survive abuse in some way stop the cycle.  They recognize the behaviors they were subjected to were bad, so they don’t repeat the behaviors.  They try not to be like their abusers.  They probably will make mistakes but they recognize they did things wrong & change their behavior accordingly.  They also don’t act out of maliciousness.  People like this deserve mercy & understanding because at least they are trying.

There are others who aren’t so worthy of understanding. 

A parent who can watch their child cry because of something they have said or done without emotion & makes no changes to avoid hurting their child again is not innocent.

A parent who regularly criticizes their child, even to the point of brining the child to tears or causing that child to feel shame while offering no assistance in improving the problem being criticized is not making innocent mistakes.  That is someone who enjoys deliberately hurting their child.

A parent who laughs at their child or is obviously disgusted with this child also is someone who enjoys deliberately hurting their child by destroying their self esteem.

A parent who keeps their child from relationships with safe people is not protecting their child, nor are they innocent.  They are deliberately isolating their child so they can abuse that child.

A parent who controls their child & makes that child into what they want the child to be rather than allow the child to be the person God made them to be isn’t innocent either.  They are abusive.

While I do agree it is best to forgive abusers in the sense of releasing abusers from you having any expectation of making things up to their victims, I firmly believe that forgiving & forgetting abusive people because “they just don’t know better” when their actions say otherwise is a foolish move.  Doing so only allows abusers to continue to abuse without consequences.  That isn’t good for victims, because it means they will tolerate so much suffering.  It also isn’t good for abusers either, because it means they will continue in their unhealthy, abusive & even sinful behavior rather than having any chance to improve themselves.

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One Of The Narcissist’s Weapons – Touch

One way of controlling victims that narcissists use is touch. 

Touch is a very intimate thing.  It usually is allowed by only those closest to us.  Most people are uncomfortable with someone touching them who they aren’t close to unless that touch is nothing more than a simple hand shake.  After all, most touching behaviors that are common in close relationships are highly inappropriate when they come from strangers.  How awkward would it be for a stranger to hold your hand?  Hug you?  Kiss you?  Put their arm around you?  It would be incredibly awkward.

Yet, in such situations, sometimes people will tolerate the awkward touching rather than speak up.  Narcissists love to manipulate those people.

Touch is a way of increasing closeness & intimacy, in particular in romantic relationships.  Consider a healthy dating relationship for example.  That first time holding hands or that first kiss makes the couple feel close to each other.  Naturally that is a very positive way to use touch.  Narcissists will not hesitate to mimic it in order to gain control over their victim.  In fact, touch is such an effective weapon, it is commonly used by pedophiles to test the boundaries of children they wish to abuse.

When a narcissist first meets their victim, naturally they won’t begin using touch obviously.  It probably will be subtle, such as the male narcissist putting his hand on their female victim’s waist as she enters an open door or the female narcissist touching her male victim’s arm as he speaks.  Such touches seem innocent & many people won’t give them another thought.  The manipulation begins to work though whether or not the victim realizes it.  Those simple touches so early on increase a sense of intimacy & closeness.

When the narcissist sees such touches are accepted by the victim, they will push the boundaries a little further.  When those touches are accepted, the narcissist will push the boundaries a bit further, & the cycle continues.  As the cycle continues, they get more comfortable pushing all boundaries with their victims.  Then before they know it, the victim is going along with whatever the narcissist wants.

In romantic relationships, this touching thing is also a way to show others who the victim belongs to.  When dating, my ex husband constantly touched me.  His arm was around me, he was holding my hand, he wanted me to sit on his lap.. something to show other people that I was his property.  I found it very awkward sometimes but ignored it because, like most raised by narcissistic parents, I didn’t pay attention to my feelings.  It wasn’t until years later when my grandfather mentioned this & how disturbing he found it I realized how weird it was.  Not knowing about narcissism at that time, all I realized was my ex wanted to show others that I was his “property”, which was pretty unsettling.

If you meet someone new & they are too comfortable touching you, consider that to be a red flag.  Not all people who are the “touchy feely” type are narcissists of course, but some are.  Pay attention to the person’s behavior.  If they consistently push boundaries with you, that is clearly a red flag.  If you ask them to stop touching you & they don’t or accuse you of being over sensitive, that is another.  The average person will respect your boundaries & alter their behavior, no matter how accustomed to & comfortable with physical touch they are.

Also, if you are involved with someone romantically who insists on touching you constantly, then it may be a red flag of narcissism.  Consider this person’s behavior as objectively as you can.  Ask yourself if they have shown other signs of narcissism.  If they have, then act accordingly to protect yourself. That is your right!

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For The People Pleasers

Those abused by narcissists, in particular raised by narcissistic parents, tend to be people pleasers to an extreme.  Under the abusive influence, you learn that you are to have no needs & never to burden anyone with your so called “trivial” wants, needs & feelings. You also learn that love is conditional & if you want love, you must do everything right.  It’s the perfect recipe for becoming a people pleaser.

Finally comes a time when you realize you are exhausted & depressed.  This people pleasing thing is extremely hard work & incredibly unrewarding.  Instead of people loving you & appreciating all that you do for them, they expect more & more from you.  They also expect you to do for them no matter what is happening with you.  You could be sad or busy or sick, & they still expect you to do whatever pleases them with no regard to you.  The unfairness of it all makes you mad.

You also realize that no matter how hard you try, pleasing people is impossible to do all of the time.  Being a mere human being, you will fail sometimes.  You will miss the mark.  Those who expect you to please them have little patience for your failures, & can be very cruel.  This adds to your anger & depression.

You also realize you can’t spend all of your life trying to make other people comfortable & happy.  It’s not your job!  Besides, many of the people you worry about making comfortable & happy don’t care about making you comfortable in return, so the relationship is very one-sided.  This unfair burden is maddening.

You also reach a time of being fed up with other people’s expectations.  You will become very angry that people expect so much of you while giving you little or even nothing in return.  You finally realize that it’s detrimental to your mental & emotional health to make pleasing others a priority while ignoring yourself. 

One day you are going to be furious that you lost your identity while trying to please other people.  You will realize that you have no idea who the real you is & that too will make you angry.  That realization is scary & painful.  It leaves you feeling completely lost. 

You also will become fed up with constantly having to defend yourself.  When you can’t do something that is expected of you by the ungrateful, using types, they get angry & say & do the cruelest things as a way of punishing you for not doing what they think you’re supposed to do.  That gets old!

The life of a people pleaser is not an easy one.  It also isn’t the one that God wants anyone to live!  The purpose of this post today is to help inspire you to break free of that extremely dysfunctional role!

Stop worrying about pleasing everyone!  It’s impossible anyway.  Instead, worry about pleasing God, yourself, & those safe & wonderful people closest to you!

Learn who you are, & embrace that person.  Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully & wonderfully made.  In other words, God doesn’t make trash.  He made you into the special, wonderful person that you are.

You deserve the same happiness you’re trying to give other people.  Don’t be afraid to help yourself to some happiness for a change!

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25% Off My Ebooks Until July 31, 2021 & 10% Off My Print Books Until July 23, 2021

The month long sale on my ebooks is still going, but will be ending at the end of this month. Don’t forget to check it out. Click the link below to see all of my ebooks..

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Common Myths About Narcissistic Abuse

There are many myths about narcissistic abuse.  This post’s purpose is to debunk some of the more common ones.

“You let him/her get away with treating you that way.  That’s why he/she does what they do.”  Narcissists aren’t normal people who respect boundaries.  They don’t care that their actions cause pain & problems for others.  They only care about what they want.  No matter what consequences you give a narcissist, chances of them respecting your boundaries are slim to none. 

“Narcissists only abuse the weak & stupid.”  Anyone can be abused by a narcissist, no matter their intelligence, personality, religious beliefs, social standing or gender.  Narcissists are incredibly good actors & can convince anyone of whatever they want them to believe.  Even people who know a great deal about Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be fooled temporarily.  Someone who doesn’t know about it can be fooled much easier & for a much longer time before they realize something is very wrong.

“You must have done something to attract this type of person.”  This is nothing but victim blaming & shaming, & is incredibly cruel!  Do you know the kind of person narcissists are attracted to?  People with kind, loving & gentle spirits who have a great deal of empathy.  It is wrong to make people like this feel badly for being this way, especially when these are all wonderful qualities!

“You just need to learn how to stop making him angry or stay out of his way.”  No one is responsible for another person’s abusive behavior beyond the abuser.  Nothing anyone can do can prevent any abuser from abusing, period.  Narcissists are also incredibly toxic people who enjoy torturing their victims.  One way they do this is to keep their victims in a constant state of high alert by changing what angers them & what they want.  No matter how much a person may want to avoid angering the narcissist in their life or stay out of his way, it’s impossible.

“You need to fix this relationship!”  One of my aunts told me this regarding the relationship I had with my parents.  She is far from the only person to think in such a dysfunctional & foolish manner.  The problem is no one person can fix a relationship.  While one person can destroy a relationship, it takes two people to fix one.  Not to mention, in the mind of narcissists, their relationships are fine.  They don’t need fixing, at least so long as the victim does whatever the narcissist wants & tolerates the abuse.

“If it’s so bad, just walk away/go no contact.”  Anyone who says this most likely lacks empathy.  Ending relationships is always hard.  Ending a relationship with a narcissist is even harder, especially if that person is someone you love a great deal such as a spouse or parent.  Chances are the person who says this also has no concept of trauma bonding.  Trauma bonding is common among narcissists & their victims.  This is when the narcissist interjects some kindnesses in with their abuse.  They also destroy their victims’ self esteem, making them think they can’t survive without the narcissist.  There is also the fact that many narcissists financially ruin their victims so they are dependent on their narcissist.  Narcissists also isolate their victims from friends & families, so they have no one they can trust to help them.  Leaving narcissists isn’t as simple as “just walking away” for these reasons & many more.

“You’ve been away from the narcissist for a while so you should be over it by now.”  Narcissistic abuse often creates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in victims.  This disorder as well as the tremendous amount of psychological warfare waged against victims by narcissists mean there is no “getting over it”.  It takes a lot of time to come to any sort of terms to what happened & if you have PTSD, to learn to manage your symptoms.

These are only a few of the myths about narcissistic abuse, but even so, I hope my debunking helps you. 

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How Narcissists Like Making You Feel Dumb To Make Themselves Feel Smart & Superior

I was mopping my basement floor in our old house one morning when I remembered the oddest thing.  The paint was flaking off badly, & had been since immediately after I painted that floor not long before we moved into our home.  I’d never painted concrete before & had no clue it required special prep before paint.

What I remembered was how about the time my husband & I went to settlement on our house, I mentioned to both my father & father in-law on separate occasions that I was going to paint the basement walls & floor first, so we could start to move our belongings in the basement very soon after settlement.  Then I would focus on painting the main level.  Neither my father nor father in-law said a word.

Shortly after, I told both fathers on separate occasions again that I had finished painting the basement.  Both men had the exact same reaction.  They asked if I prepared the floor with muriatic acid before painting.  I was surprised because I never even heard of this product.  I told them no.  And again, both men had the same reaction.  Both shook their heads & smirked at me, not saying another word.

Having never painted any concrete before, I had no idea that muriatic acid could be used to pre-treat concrete to help paint stick to the surface.  A little tip that might have been nice to know prior to working so hard painting the entire concrete floor in my home’s basement, don’t you think?

Unfortunately, both my father & father in-law were narcissists.  My father a covert one who became more overt as he got older & developed Alzheimer’s.  My father in-law was overt in his younger days & became much less narcissistic as he got older in spite of having dementia. 

When I thought about this situation, I realized that their responses were typically narcissistic, & I’ll tell you why.  Both men had the typical male need to feel useful, but I believe being narcissists, it was very exaggerated.  I can’t help but wonder if me not asking for their advice prior to my painting task offended them to the point of narcissistic injury.  It’s entirely possible of course.  Narcissists get offended so easily.

What also is entirely possible is that by not giving me the information they knew I needed, they set me up in order to feel superior.  Narcissists LOVE to feel superior to other people in any & every way.  It props up their ego & seems to just feel really good to them.  While almost anyone can appreciate feeling superior to some small degree, narcissists take it to an extreme.  They need it like an addict needs their drug of choice, & many times, will do anything in order to access that feeling of superiority.  They have no problem withholding information or providing false information, or even blatantly lying to or about their victim.  Whatever it takes to make them feel superior is going to be done.  If you or someone else gets hurt in the process, that isn’t important.  What the narcissist wants is the only thing that matters.  At least to the narcissist, that is.

Knowing this information is vital for anyone who comes in contact with a narcissist in any capacity.  It can help you to avoid a great deal of frustration & wondering why they did what they did.  Remember that they are selfish to the extreme, & all that matters to them is whatever they want at that specific moment.  Hurting others to get that is not a big deal to anyone who lacks empathy, like narcissists.  It’s very sad that there are people out there who are so pathetic they are willing to hurt anyone & everyone to accomplish their goals, but unfortunately, there are people like that.  And they are everywhere!  Be aware of that fact & protect yourself!

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15% Off Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 15% off all of my print books until July 16, 2021. Simply use code SUMMER15 at checkout.

Click the link below to see all of my print books..

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When People Minimize Or Dismiss Good Things About Scapegoats

Most of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse know about the scapegoat.  Scapegoats are often labeled the problem child, spoiled, selfish, disrespectful, rebellious, trouble maker, outcast & more.  They are blamed for all problems in the family, even when they have nothing to do with those problems. 

One other very common way scapegoats are abused is by minimizing or dismissing anything good about the scapegoat.  If you’re the scapegoat, no doubt you have been in this situation.  You were excited about getting a promotion at work, winning a contest, or even getting pregnant.  In the joy of the moment, you told someone in your family who immediately changed the subject, totally ignored you or compared your situation unfavorably to someone else in a similar one.

Here is one example from my life.  Before becoming an author, I did some editing work.  I got a job for a local author & was excited.  Foolishly, I mentioned the new job to my mother since I didn’t know about narcissism at this time.  She changed the subject quickly.  A short time later when we were talking she said she was thinking of getting into editing.  After all, it’s easy work.  Obviously anyone can do it. 

It isn’t only accomplishments that are minimized or dismissed.  It also can be a talent.  If the family scapegoat is a talented cook, others will not praise any food he or she makes, offer suggestions they can do to make the dish better next time or compare the dish unfavorably to someone else’s version of the same dish. 

Appearance is another sore spot for those who abuse the family scapegoat.  If that scapegoat is attractive in any way, the family will be sure to let that person know how ugly they think the scapegoat is.  They will criticize anything & everything about the person’s appearance.  If the scapegoat is sensitive about something, that something will be the main source of the family’s criticism.  I’ve noticed when the scapegoat is female, weight is often the main source of criticism, no matter the actual figure of the scapegoat.

Along these lines, scapegoating family members also can’t handle when the scapegoat is praised or complemented in their presence.  If this happens, the scapegoat WILL be treated especially poorly for quite some time after the complement.  I went through this with my mother & her mother, my grandmother.  Any time I received a complement in their presence, I cringed because I knew for the remainder of that visit at the very least, they were going to say the most hurtful things they could think of to say to me.

The reasons that scapegoating family members are this way depend on the individuals.  Obviously they could be narcissists.  Narcissists can’t handle anyone appearing better than them in any way, but especially someone they have deemed so unworthy as the lowly scapegoat.

Another possible reason is any person who engages in scapegoating behavior has absolutely no healthy coping skills.  This is why they have a scapegoat in the first place.  They refuse to face the truth.  They prefer to blame all problems on one convenient target instead.  That way, they can be angry at the scapegoat instead of doing the much harder work of handling things in a healthy way.

To make blaming the scapegoat acceptable, they must have a specific image of the scapegoat in mind.  It is perfectly acceptable in their minds to scapegoat someone they believe is stupid, a bad person, incompetent & even ugly.  To keep that narrative alive, they reject anything good about the scapegoat.  As an added bonus, doing so also damages the scapegoat’s self-esteem, which makes him or hear easier to control.

If you’re in this position, please recognize what is going on.  What these people are saying or how they are treating you has nothing to do with you.  They are trying to make you feel badly so they can make themselves feel better either by gaining narcissistic supply or proving to themselves that you deserve anything said or done to you.  They clearly have problems & that is no reflection on you!

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Acting Normal After Trauma Can Create Shame

I’m a huge fan of the ID channel’s true crime shows, & I watch them often. It fascinates me the things that people are capable of. Not only those who commit heinous crimes, but those who have the strength & wisdom to outwit their attackers & survive brutal attacks.

Recently I was watching one of these shows. In it, a woman’s ex boyfriend kidnapped her under the guise of saying he wanted her to come with him to say good bye to his daughters. He said there was a party in another town, & he would take her to the party where his daughters would be so she could say good bye. On the way there, he threatened her & even tried to choke her. Sadly, when they got inside the house where the party supposedly was, it was empty & abandoned. It’s where he killed her.

What got me about this show was what happened just before they got to that house. The boyfriend told her to behave herself when they arrived at the party, in other words, act like he hadn’t just tried to choke her. It struck me – that is exactly how narcissists act! They can do the most painful, vulgar thing to a victim, & victims aren’t allowed to show others any signs of the trauma they just survived.

Naturally, narcissists do this to hide their horrible behavior so they can continue to do it & to impress whoever they want to impress. However, there is another facet of this behavior. Not allowing someone to act as if they have been through trauma instills shame in them.

Hiding your emotions in such a situation is good for survival, but at the same time, it can make you feel like something is very wrong with you for being upset about the trauma. I wonder if it’s partly because of how narcissists think. Many act like their victim is supposed to be able to do anything. Not because that victim is capable or smart, but because they want the victim to do things. Certain things are just expected of a victim, no matter the victim’s abilities, strengths or weaknesses. Acting normal after trauma is one of those expected things. When you feel as if you can’t act normally or struggle to do so immediately after a traumatic event, you can feel ashamed of your feelings.

Another reason for shame in such situations could be how many people treat victims. So few people are sympathetic to victims. Many people expect victims to “just get over it”, “let go of the past” or “forgive & forget.” Not a lot of people have patience for a victim who still shows signs of having been through trauma & they do their best to get them to act normal. Being around such people can instill a great deal of shame in a victim.

I’ve also experienced shame by being around someone who isn’t affected as strongly as I am by similar traumas. As an example, my husband is someone who can go on no matter what. No trauma slows him down. I’m not sure why he’s that way & trauma hits me much harder. There have been plenty of times I would see him keep going to work, working in the yard & doing other normal things after something traumatic happened. Yet, let something not as traumatic happen to me & I struggle to do things I do every day. This kind of comparison also can instill shame just like being told to act like nothing happened can.

When you experience this type of scenario, & chances are you will at some point, you need to turn to God. Pray about it. Tell Him how you feel & ask for help.

Also think about your situation objectively. It’s not normal to act like nothing happened after trauma. It’s normal to feel certain things & to act differently. If it was 95* outside, it’d be normal to sweat. Would you be angry at yourself for sweating in such hot weather? No, because it’s totally normal & understandable. Similarly, it’s normal & understandable to act differently after trauma. You have no reason to feel shame for acting differently.

Just remember, Dear Reader, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for being affected by trauma, no matter what the narcissist or insensitive people may think. xoxo

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Things People Wrongly Say Are Victims’ Responsibility

Something came to mind lately that I think many of you who follow my work can relate to.

Years back, I posted something on Facebook. My husband & I had a minor disagreement & I was angry. As a result, our cats were acting up badly. Cat owners know this can be normal. Cats are very in tune with their humans & when we’re upset, they’re upset. I asked if any of my fellow cat parents knew of a way to calm the cats down since there was no need for them to be upset. An aunt & a cousin both told me I needed to make up with my husband. That would calm the cats down. Immediately I was angry.

These people knew nothing about our disagreement, but naturally felt it was my responsibility to make things right. Not my husband’s. Not up to us to work things out together. All responsibility was mine, according to them. This isn’t an isolated incident either. This same aunt once told me I needed therapy to figure out how to fix the relationship with my parents. Another aunt once chewed me out for not watching football with my husband. He likes it so I should watch it with him even though I absolutely hate sports. Yet, not once did she ever tell him he should get into some interest of mine.

If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse, I would guess these scenarios sound somewhat familiar to you.

People seem to think that victims have a lot of responsibility, & not all of it should be on a victim’s shoulders.  Not making an abuser angry so they don’t abuse their victim is one example that comes to mind.  How many people tell wives or children of men who beat them to just stay out of his way so he won’t hit them?  Obviously that is very wrong.  What isn’t as recognized as equally wrong is making victims feel as if they are responsible for making the relationships in their lives work.  Whether the other person in the relationship is abusive or not, this is simply wrong, yet many people, including victims, accept this without question.

When someone is in a relationship with an abuser, telling them to fix the problems in the relationship is not only a stupid suggestion but impossible.  No one person can fix a relationship.  It takes two people working together.  Plus, abusers have no interest in fixing anything.  Being abusive gets them what they want, so they have no desire to change anything.

Making someone feel responsible for how happy a relationship is or is not also can be a sign of a narcissist.  Think about it- narcissists do everything they can to convince victims they are the real problem in the relationship.  They also make sure their victims know they are responsible for the narcissist’s happiness.  If they can make a person who isn’t their victim feel they are the problem & they need to make a relationship better, this must encourage them.  It shows them they can do this & probably even proves to them that this is how things are.  One person should be solely responsible for a relationship. 

If you are in this position & someone has told you that you need to make changes to improve or even fix a relationship, please know that they are absolutely wrong!  Galatians 6:5 says that each person should carry their own load.  In other words, each person has things for which they are responsible.  One person isn’t responsible for an entire relationship! 

If you aren’t familiar with boundaries, it’s time to be.  I created a free book study based on Dr.s Cloud’s & Townsend’s book “Boundaries”.  It’s available on my website.  Even if you aren’t interested in the book study, then please read the book!  I found the information in it & the other books in the series to be life changing.  I believe they can help anyone with weak or even non existent boundaries.

Also, never forget to pray.  God is more than happy to help His children however they need help, so let Him!  Ask Him if things are your responsibility or not.  Ask for help on knowing what to do or not to do in your relationships.  He gladly will teach you whatever you need to know. 

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When Gratitude Can Be Toxic

Gratitude is a topic that is presented as of the utmost importance in society.  And, gratitude is a wonderful thing.  Life is much happier when you are grateful for the good things in your life.  I feel so much joy when I focus on appreciating little things, like going for a drive with some good music playing in the car.

There are times though that gratitude isn’t the best solution.  It may even be impossible. 

If you have lost a loved one, for example, you will get to the point where you are grateful they’re no longer suffering & that you had them in your life for however long the time was.  To get to that point though, you first will need to go through the grief process.  That is going to take time, & involve some unpleasant emotions like feeling lost & alone, anger & intense depression.  To get to the grateful place is messy, & shouldn’t be skipped over.  Focusing only on gratitude for that person while not properly grieving means you’re ignoring pain that needs your attention in order to heal.  Ignored pain finds alternative ways to get your attention, & those ways aren’t healthy.  It can manifest as unhealthy relationships, addictions, physical & mental health problems.

This is also true when it comes to dealing with abuse in your past. 

There are people who tell victims that they need to be grateful for the trauma because it supposedly made them strong or it made them who they are today.  This can be so harmful for victims!  It’s invalidating & also can create a great deal of shame in a victim who is struggling & unable to feel any gratitude.  It is so cruel to tell someone this & make their struggle even harder than it needs to be!

This post is for people who have hurt such comments about how they need to be grateful for what they have been through.  There is nothing wrong with you for not feeling grateful.  Healing is ugly.  It involves a lot of terrible feeling emotions.  It also is a grief process, because you have to accept that some pretty terrible things were done to you, & that caused you to lose precious time in your life, maybe even your whole childhood if your abuser was your parent.  How can any human feel gratitude during such a process?!  It takes a long time & a lot of healing first before you can feel any gratitude related to your situation.

Rather than try to create a grateful heart at this time, forget that.  Not necessarily forever, but for the near future at least until you are further along in your healing journey.  Focus on your healing instead of gratitude.  Feel all the ugly emotions & process them fully.  Then, maybe you can be grateful for some aspects of your experiences.  There are a few things to be grateful for after all.

You can be grateful the trauma & abuse didn’t destroy you, that you have a lot of inner strength that enabled you to survive it, that the abusers are no longer in your life & that God has found some purpose in your pain such as writing about it to help other people.  You also can be grateful for having the courage to face your struggles, because that courage isn’t something everyone has.  Please remember that gratitude can be a good thing to help a person add joy to their life, but it isn’t a cure all.  It isn’t a healthy alternative to pain.  It isn’t like an ointment that will soothe your pain either.  You can feel gratitude while also facing painful, even traumatic things have happened to you.  Just remember not to try to rush yourself into feeling gratitude.

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Long Term Anger About Abuse Is Normal!

When you’re healing from abuse, many people act like you should get to the point that nothing about what your abuser did bothers you in the slightest.  They say that’s a sign of healing.  I say that is completely wrong.

To start with, how can any human being not be bothered in the slighted by any life altering event, whether the event is good or bad?  Anything that drastically affects a person is going to affect them forever to some degree.  In my experience I have found the best I can hope for regarding such life altering & traumatic things is to get to the point where remembering them feels much like remembering a bad dream.  It feels somewhat upsetting but not devastating.  One example is this: Some of you who have read my work for a while may remember when I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015.  That was a terrifying event that has left me with life altering physical & mental struggles.  Yet, it also brought me some really good changes in my personality as a result of the brain damage & even drew me closer to God.  As grateful as I am for those positive changes, that doesn’t negate the fact that thinking about how close to death I came that day still shakes me up to some degree even all these years later.  I believe most people are similar to me in this feeling like they’re remembering a bad dream is as good as it gets for healing from the most extreme traumas & situations.

To be totally unaffected by abuse also makes abuse not so bad.  It minimizes it & even normalizes it.  After all, when someone does something normal, you don’t think twice about it or feel any sort of emotions connected to that normal thing.  Do you feel any emotion when your friend says they bought a loaf of bread while at the grocery store?  No, because that is normal.  If a person feels that way same way about abuse, then abuse becomes just as acceptable as buying a loaf of bread. 

There should always be anger about abuse!  It’s called righteous indignation & is mentioned in the Bible.

Righteous indignation means to be angry about injustice, malice & even abuse.  It is anger felt about something that offends your morals.  Consider the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple in Matthew 21:12-13.  He was angry that the temple was no longer a house of prayer but a den of robbers thanks to the behavior of these people.  That anger was hardly sinful!  It was correct!  It motivated Jesus to get their attention & make changes.  And, he did so without hurting anyone!

When feeling angry, consider your anger.  Most likely, you aren’t only angry at your abuser for hurting you, but at the wrongness & unfairness of the abuse.  There is nothing wrong with that anger at all!  You can use that anger to motivate you to make positive changes in your life, such as end the relationship with the abuser.  You can use it to raise awareness of what you have endured.  This righteous indignation is a very good thing provided you use it constructively rather than destructively.

If you have been in this situation & feel badly for still feeling some degree of anger about the abuse you have endured, please consider what I have said.  It is good to release the anger at the perpetrator as you are able to do so.  Carrying around anger & unforgiveness is unhealthy in the long term.  However, maintaining that righteous indignation about the painful & abusive acts committed on you is perfectly normal & yes, even Godly.  Don’t let other people convince you otherwise!

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Biggest Sale Of The Year On My Ebooks & Great Sale On Print Books!

From July 1-31, 2021, my publisher is offering 25% off all of my ebooks.  It’s a great time to buy any of them you have been thinking about getting for a low price!

You can find all of my ebooks at the link below:

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CynthiaBaileyRug

If you prefer print, there is a sale going on now until July 2, 2021 for 15% off! Use code SHELFCARE15 at checkout. They can be found at the link below:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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

Making A Change

I just thought I would let everyone know I’m thinking of making a change in my writing. Instead of only sharing what I learn about NPD, narcissistic abuse, & C-PTSD, I have decided to expand that a bit into ways to add more joy into your life.

Since I turned 50 in April, I guess you could say I’m having a mid life crisis of sorts. (No, I’m not going to divorce my husband, date a guy who’s half my age & buy a Mazda Miata.. lol) I’ve come to realize how little I’ve enjoyed my life. NPD has taken up so much time & space in it! It’s time to make some changes.

You know how the Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill & destroy, & is looking for someone he may devour? Well, I firmly believe he does this, but not always in obvious ways. Sometimes those ways are subtle. Being abused by a narcissist is both obvious & subtle in its devastation to one’s life. The abuse itself is obvious of course, especially when it’s someone raging at you like an overt narcissist does or giving you intense guilt trips like a covert narcissist. But the aftermath is much more subtle. It is so easy to get caught up in obsessing over trying to understand what happened & ways to heal, that you can fail to enjoy your life. That has happened to me & I’m tired of it! I would guess that many of you reading this feel the same way.

At the time I’m writing this, I have about 8 months worth of blog posts written & scheduled to publish. You won’t see many posts on enjoying life for a bit because of that. I may rearrange & reschedule as I go to interject some but I’m not sure yet. That depends on what I feel God wants me to do. More of those posts definitely will be published in the future along with my usual educational type of posts though.

Please just bear with me through this. I’m not entirely sure yet how this is going to play out. I’ve felt God putting it on my heart to write more about enjoying life from a Christian perspective as I learn to, but as of the moment, not many details have been forthcoming.

Thank you for your understanding & patience with me, & always being there! I love all of you! xoxo

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Illness & Injury In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently realized something that I’ve been living with for my entire life is most likely a symptom of narcissistic abuse.  It never occurred to me before, so I started researching it & found absolutely nothing on this topic.  All I can share with you is my personal experience, nothing I learned from anyone or anything else.

Many of you who know my work know I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in 2015.  As a result, I live with symptoms of that & a Traumatic Brain Injury from either the oxygen deprivation to my brain during the poisoning or the concussion I most likely got from hitting my head when the poison made me pass out or a combination of both.  I don’t discuss these symptoms much partly because I don’t want to sound like either my mother or mother in-law who used their health problems to gain attention.  I also doubt my problems in spite of the glaring evidence that something is wrong.  Sometimes I think I’m exaggerating or even faking it in order to get attention like them.  And, I don’t want to “bother” anyone with my trivial problems.

I know how ridiculous this sounds.  How can I think that way when I know better than anyone else just how difficult my life is because of the symptoms?  And for attention?!  I minimize them to everyone, including myself.  As far as burdening anyone, I’m not one to ask for help easily so I of all people should know if I want to ask for help, it’s very necessary.  I know all of this, yet these thoughts are still there.  Why?!

Suddenly it hit me.  These thoughts are there because of narcissistic abuse!

Growing up, my illnesses & injuries were taken as an inconvenience.  My mother could be nice to me when I was sick or hurt.  A part of me looked forward to being sick or hurt for that reason. But, she would remind me even years later how much of a burden it was when I was sick.  The older I got, however, the less likely it was she’d be nice to me when those things happened.  In fact, I never missed a single day of high school even though there were days I really should have stayed home. 

When I was 19, as I’ve mentioned before, my mother & I got into a physical fight & she threw me into a wall. I am reasonably sure she wanted to kill me that night.  I lived with awful back pain for 10 years after that.  No doctors believed I was injured & my mother was convinced I was faking it.  Looking back now, I think the pain was due to the emotional trauma rather than any physical injury, because when I get extremely stressed, my back aches in that same location.  At the time however, I didn’t realize this, & thought if even the doctors think I’m faking it, maybe I am. 

As an adult, other people haven’t believed me when something was wrong or acted as if my pain was nothing but an inconvenience to them.  My ex husband being the worst of them, but there were others too. 

I believe the years of being accused of faking problems led me to doubt myself, & think that I am faking whatever problems I have, unless there is undeniable proof.  I realized this recently when I learned one problem I have is a common symptom of brain injuries.  It should have simply been eye opening but instead it made me happy because here is proof that something is wrong!  I’m not faking it!

I also realized I hide so much from my husband because I don’t want to burden him, & I don’t feel I have the right to expect his help when I need it.  Pretty ridiculous, really.  He should help me if I need it!  That is what spouses do for each other! 

It occurred to me that if I experience this with my own health problems, then others who have endured narcissistic abuse probably do too.  That is why I wanted to share this with you today.  You’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  I totally understand!

Unfortunately as of yet, I don’t know of any ways to change this dysfunctional thinking, but if I come up with anything, I definitely will talk about it in the future.  In the meanwhile, please know I understand & am praying for you!

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When People Say Things They Shouldn’t To Abuse Victims

Admitting you were abused or hearing stories by other people of abuse they endured is very uncomfortable & unpleasant.  No one wants to talk about abuse.  I sure don’t!  I’d love to write about more pleasant topics & never think about the abuse I endured ever again.  Yet, I know this is impossible.  Even if I quit writing about it, the aftermath of abuse never goes away.  It’s always there to some degree, so talking about it is normal.  Most people talk about abuse in their past either slightly, a lot like me or mostly somewhere in between.

Anyone who has decided to open up about abuse has learned that not everyone is a willing, compassionate listener.  When you gather your courage to discuss the most painful experiences of your life only to be met with invalidation, it can be incredibly painful.  I hope to help you learn some ways to cope with that in this post by sharing some common comments people make to abuse survivors.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”  Many people who haven’t survived abuse don’t understand why a victim wouldn’t reach out for help.  It’s totally acceptable to educate anyone who asks this question.  Abusers threaten their victims to keep quiet.  They also tell their victims no one will believe them.  They even destroy their victim’s self esteem to the point the victim believes no one would care anyway, so there isn’t a point in telling anyone.

“You shouldn’t talk about this.  It’s not the Christian thing to do, making him/her look bad.”  People who say this are often also survivors of abuse, yet who lack the courage to face their pain.  Others facing their pain makes these folks feel badly, so they try to shut down the open person.  Often, there is no getting through to these people, so it is best not to discuss abuse with them.  It is vital to know though that there is nothing “un-Christian” about discussing your experiences.  You aren’t making the abuser look bad.  The abuser already did that by being abusive.

“Are you really sure that’s what happened?”  This comment is often said by someone who knows both victim & abuser.  This is said by someone who really doesn’t want to accept that someone they care about is capable of such awful behavior.  It also is said by a narcissist’s flying monkey who is trying to instill doubt in the victim so they tolerate more abuse from the narcissist.  Take this comment as a red flag that the person saying it is NOT safe!  Don’t discuss your experiences with this person.  Doing so only will lead to you being hurt, possibly also being the victim of a smear campaign.

“Nobody’s parents are perfect,” “No one gets along perfectly with their parents,” or “Everyone has childhood hurts.”  When a person says these statements, it hurts.  They are lumping vicious abuse in the same category as simple personality differences.  So invalidating!!  Shock value can make a person realize how foolish their words are.  Saying something like, “So my mother berating me to the point of obliterating my self esteem while I was a child is the same as another mother not letting her child wear a certain shirt to school?  That’s what it sounds like you’re saying, & I disagree with you.”

“Stop thinking about it” or “Stop dwelling in the past!”  Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy?!  Again, it’s acceptable to educate whoever asks this question.  Tell them that C-PTSD & PTSD are common after abuse, & are brought on by experiencing such horrific trauma, it literally broke a person’s brain.  A quality these disorders share is constantly reliving the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts.  Not thinking about things is impossible when your brain won’t let you.

“Why would you talk about this now, all this time later?”  When in the midst of suffering abuse, the victim is busy trying to survive.  Talking about it at the time rarely seems important.  Once the victim is safe, survival mode ends & this person can think clearer.  They often try to process what they just escaped by talking about it.  Or, they are triggered by something… a sound, smell, someone that reminds them of their abuser in some way.  Not a lot of people are aware of this, & that may be the case with the person who says this to you.  Tell him or her.

“You’ll get over it,” “It could’ve been so much worse!” or, “Look for the positive in everything!”  Such comments are what I think of as toxic positivity.  While it is good to be positive, too positive is unhealthy.  It’s unrealistic which easily can lead to disappointment.  Comments like this also make a victim feel ashamed for still being affected by the trauma or needing to discuss it in order to heal.  Don’t waste your time talking about past trauma to people like this.  You’ll only end up hurt by their calloused words.

“At least he/she didn’t hit you!”  A common belief is that the only type of abuse is physical.  Anyone subjected to narcissistic abuse knows this is utter nonsense.  Emotional, mental, sexual, financial & spiritual abuse are all horrific forms of abuse.  They simply don’t leave the clearly visible scars that physical abuse does.  The uneducated need to be aware of this, including the person who says this to you..  You can also tell them that PTSD & C-PTSD are physical damage done to the brain by exposure to abuse & trauma.

“What did you do to make him/her treat you that way?”  This invalidating & shaming statement is so common!  It makes victims feel responsible for the terrible things their abuser did to them, & that is utterly wrong!  No one can make another person abuse them, period, no matter what they do or don’t do.  Did Jack the Ripper’s victims do anything to make him kill them?  What about Ted Bundy’s victims?  No.  These men saw an opportunity & took advantage of it.  Their victims did nothing to deserve what these killers did to them.  This is a point which you can bring up to the person who says such a disgusting statement.

“You should be more patient with him/her!”  No.  Just no.  The more patient you are with an abuser, the more they will abuse you because they see that you will tolerate a lot.  It could help to ask this person why should anyone be understanding with someone who repeatedly hurts them & shows no desire to improve their behavior?

“You should be more careful when picking your romantic partners!”  This statement is nothing but victim blaming.  What the heartless person saying this fails to realize yet needs to know is abusers can come across any way they like – very charming, kind, compassionate, romantic, successful.  They rarely are abusive monsters 24/7.  If they were, no one would get involved with them because it would be clear what they were really like.  They lure victims in by appearing to be much better people than they truly are.  While this seems like common sense, unfortunately it isn’t.  The person who says this statement to you needs to be educated!  Tell them this!

Unfortunately, there always will be people who don’t understand what it’s like to survive abuse.  There also will be people who want to silence victims, no matter how much or little they discuss their experiences.  The more you heal, the less these people will bother you, I’m happy to say.  I also hope this post has helped you to learn some ways to deal with these people!  xoxo

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Regarding Those Who Justify Narcissistic Behavior While Blaming Victims

Proverbs 17:15 states, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (KJV)  All verses in the Bible are important of course, but this one strikes me as being especially important in these days where Narcissistic Personality Disorder is so prevalent.

So many people have similar reactions when someone tells them that they were abused at the hands of a narcissist.  They often defend the narcissist, saying something along the lines of he or she probably didn’t mean what was said THAT way.  They excuse the abuse because the narcissist was abused as a child or some other equally lame excuse.  They also may minimize or even deny the abuse ever happened.  One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured at the hands of my parents as “childhood hurts”, & told me I needed to get over them. 

As bad as such behaviors are, a person condemning a victim is even worse in my opinion.

According to Merriam- Webster’s online dictionary, to condemn someone means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation/ to pronounce guilty.”  Telling someone who has been subjected to horrific cruelty that they are wrong or evil for the abuse that they had to endure is simply reprehensible!  Subjecting such a person to harsh judgment or blaming the victim for “making” their abuser hurt them are also reprehensible behaviors!

Treating someone in these ways can create a great deal of unnecessary toxic shame in them, adding to the already large amount that the narcissist in their life created.  Anyone who does this, in my opinion, is a sorry excuse for a human being.  However, my opinion isn’t really what matters here.  God also has some very strong feelings on this behavior.

Also according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the word abomination means, “a thing that causes disgust or hatred.”

Can you imagine God, the loving, compassionate, kind & gracious God who created the universe & everything in it, feeling that way towards a person He has created?  It seems impossible, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t impossible!  It happens & probably more often than we care to admit. 

As much as God loves His entire creation, even He has limits & no tolerance for certain things.  The next time you are subjected to someone either defending or excusing the narcissist who has abused you, or blaming you for the abuse, I urge you to remember Proverbs 17:15.  When you do, remember, that people like this need prayer though so if you feel able to do that, then please pray for them & guard your heart against their toxicity getting inside of you.  Remember, what they say is WRONG, so protect yourself against their lies taking root in your heart & mind.

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One Way Narcissists & Flying Monkeys Bully Victims

One “funny” thing I’ve noticed about narcissists is they have what I think of as electronics courage. Electronics courage is when a person feels they have the right to say anything they feel like on text, your social media, email or even over the phone. Yet in person, they are civil to you.

I have a ton of examples from my own life, but I’ll only share a couple. One of my aunts who I have since blocked from my life loved her electronics courage. She once commented on one of my Facebook posts that I needed to get into therapy & figure out how to work things out with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!” As my father was dying in 2017, I was no contact with my parents. Several of my cousins tried to bully me into saying good bye to him. They sent an innundation of texts & Facebook messages daily during the final three weeks of his life. One tried calling me through Facebook messenger & let the phone ring for ten to fifteen minutes. Not one of these cowards showed up at my home, mind you. Instead, like my aunt, they hid behind their computers & phones.

How about you? Can you think of similar situations in your experience with narcissists & their flying monkeys? I would bet you can. If not, it will happen to you at some point if you have or had a narcissist in your life.

When this happens to you, the smartest thing you can do is block all access these people have to you. Block them on all social media platforms, block their email addresses & telephone numbers. Chances are, they will use alternate social media accounts, emails & phone numbers to try to contact you, so block those, too.

If at all possible, eliminate voicemail. I found hearing their voices angered me so I don’t have voicemail on my home phone. This was impossible to do on my cell, so I ignore all voicemail messages. I’m letting the mailbox fill up so no one can leave any messages. I also changed my message to callers telling them not to leave me a voicemail message because I won’t respond. Narcissists & their flying monkeys will ignore that request of course, but at least other people will listen.

There are also apps available to block phones from calling & texting. If your cell phone doesn’t have a good block feature, look into the apps. One thing you should know about the apps – some may technically block texts, but you still can see them. You need to make sure the settings are set so you don’t have to see them.

The laws for harassment & stalking are changing, & finally catching up with the times. If you are being harassed electronically, one smart move to make is to save any & all communication from the narcissist & flying monkeys. Take screen shots, save emails & voicemails. Save them on a cloud service or email them to yourself & save the emails on your email provider. Phones & computers crash, so it’s best not to save them on phones or computers where one crash means they can be lost forever. You may need this documentation to show to law enforcement. Even if those harassing you aren’t technically breaking the law just yet, still document their abuse. When they finally do break the law, you’ll have plenty of evidence showing their bad behavior & intentions towards you going back a long time. This can help build your case with law enforcement.

When this situation happens to you, I know it can be very hard. It’s disturbing when someone sends you constant messages full of hatred. It makes you wonder what the person is truly capable of, doesn’t it? Most narcissists & flying monkeys are simply full of hot air & electronics courage, spewing their venom from the safety of behind a computer or phone. That being said though, never underestimate them. These people can be capable of even worse behavior. Take all measures you can to protect yourself, & block all access they can possibly have to you.

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When Victims Act Like The Narcissists Who Abused Them

There is an odd phenomenon that can happen to people who have survived narcissistic abuse & refuse to face it.  They can develop narcissistic tendencies & behavior.

Thankfully, I don’t think this trait is overly common.  Also I don’t think they all are true narcissists, merely showing some tendencies.  Even so, it is a good idea to be aware of the potential for this behavior in victims of narcissistic abuse.

If you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse & are working on your healing, most likely you can be almost paranoid about your behavior.  You’d rather do about anything rather than treat people as the narcissist treated you.  Even so, it’s a good idea to monitor your behavior.  Pay attention to how you speak to people & also how you treat them.  If you hurt someone, also pay attention to your reaction.  Do you apologize immediately to that person or do you make excuses for what you did?  You know the signs of narcissism because you lived through that horror.  This means you should be able to spot those tendencies in yourself easily & are motivated to make appropriate changes.

Those who haven’t admitted to themselves or anyone that their abuser was a narcissist or even abusive at all for that matter don’t have your advantages.  Not working on their healing, they function from a place of dysfunction.  They’re wounded but don’t know it.  They may see some of their behaviors as abnormal but aren’t sure why they are abnormal.  Or, they may not see there is any problem with their behavior.  They are simply behaving as their parents behaved.  When I was in my early 20’s, I realized I was doing that.  My ex husband called me out on saying that a certain band was awful, just because I didn’t like it.  I’m glad he did!  Me not appreciating their sound doesn’t mean the band wasn’t talented.  It simply meant it wasn’t my taste.  That caused me to consider the way I acted in other areas & realized I was behaving in some ways like my parents.  Even though at the time I knew nothing of narcissism, I still didn’t like my behavior & made changes.

It seems many victims of narcissistic abuse find each other.  If this describes you, please be aware of what I talk about here.

Not all victims are the same.  Some are early in their education about narcissism & healing from narcissistic abuse.  They still are going to show plenty of dysfunctional behavior, but the good news is that they’re open to making changes & learning.  Others may be in a similar place to you, & those are the people you probably will feel the most connected to.

Unfortunately, there are also those who are like I have described here.  Please be very aware of those people, because they can hurt you badly, even though it may be unintentional.  I’ve learned this recently from someone I know.  This person was raised by a very covert narcissistic mother, yet never has admitted that fact.  In fact, this person always defended that awful narcissistic mother vehemently.  For years, this person’s behavior was just fine.  Suddenly however, when this person was speaking, the words said were the exact words that person’s narcissistic mother has said!  It was incredibly unsettling & not to mention hurtful.  I know the person didn’t mean to hurt me, but to witness someone who was always a good person suddenly talk like a narcissist was incredibly hard.  In fact, as I write this, I’m not sure if this person will be in my life much longer.  Intentionally narcissistic or not, narcissistic behaviors aren’t something I can handle anymore.

You, Dear Reader, may experience a similar situation.  I hope not, but it is still possible.  Please remember to protect yourself.

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Love Isn’t Always Warm & Fuzzy

When most people hear the word love, they think of how they feel around someone they love dearly.  Whether that person is a love interest, parent, child, other relative or friend, the person thinking of them will feel warm, affectionate, caring feelings.  But, love isn’t always about those nice feelings.

Sometimes, love feels nothing like the nice feelings I described earlier.  Sometimes love is not enabling behavior the other person enjoys but is unhealthy.  Sometimes love is not allowing the other person to use you.  Sometimes love involves arguments.  Sometimes, love even involves ending relationships.  Unfortunately, many people don’t realize these things, & think love is only about the good feelings, giving in, & even tolerating abuse.

The last few months of my father’s life, I learned that is exactly what my family thought.   They clearly thought I hated him & my mother because I hadn’t spoken to them for several months at that time.  They obviously believed that I was living my life with no thought of them whatsoever.

What my family didn’t know & never would believe anyway is no contact with my parents was incredibly hard on me.  Reaching the decision to end those relationships was gut wrenching.  I took a lot of time to consider it, & said a lot of prayers.  I prayed daily for wisdom for probably a couple of years before going no contact with them, & after, I prayed daily for God to take care of them & to save them.

In John 15:17 in the Amplified translation, the Bible states, “This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.”  There is no mention in there about the warm, fuzzy feelings, because sometimes, there simply aren’t any.  Consider what I just told you about my situation with my parents.  There wasn’t a single warm fuzzy feeling for them for many years, & many less at the end of their lives.  But, that didn’t mean I didn’t love them.  The difference is I loved them God’s way, by doing what it says in John 15:17, seeking the best for them.  It was incredibly hard severing ties with them, but I knew in my heart it was necessary for my mental health & for them.  And, as it turns out, my father finally turned to God at the very end of his life because I wouldn’t go see him.  I’m not sure if my mother’s motivations were the same or not, but she also turned to God at the very end of her life.  When you love people as God wants, it’s not always easy but it is for the best.

If you have been told that you aren’t loving abusive people right because you have started to set boundaries or even gone no contact, or even if not but you feel like you’re being unloving for such things, this post is for you today.   You need to know that there is nothing good or Godly about letting people use & abuse you.  In fact, it goes against God’s wishes!

Remember, if you truly love someone, you may not feel all the warm, fuzzy feelings for them.  Sometimes love is best done from a distance, & praying quietly behind the scenes.  And sometimes those prayers include saying things like, “Father God, I’m sorry my heart isn’t in this.  I’m only praying for her because I know You want me to!”  If that is all you can manage to do, there is nothing wrong with that!  God truly honors those prayers, the ones you’re only praying because you know He wants you to pray.  He applauds your effort & obedience while also dealing with that other person in ways you may not know about.

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About Anger After Trauma

Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic.  For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest. 

I really don’t believe that is true.  You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.

Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows.  Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you.  While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.

Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting.  Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint.  You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber.  Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight.  Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint?  No!  It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is.  You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.

Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.

Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it.  How is being desensitized to trauma good?  It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you.  If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it.  That is not even close to mentally healthy!   

Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either.  If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them.  They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”.  They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by.  They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it.  Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders.  It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.

Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal!  In fact, let the emotions motivate you!  Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced.  Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong.  If you feel bold, write a blog or a book.  See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail.  Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter.  Far from it.  They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart. 

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Bringing More Joy Into Your Life

Those of us with C-PTSD are all too aware of the bad triggers.  They remind us of traumatic & painful events, sometimes even to the point of having flashbacks.  They can be a good thing in the sense they show what areas need more healing, but they sure don’t feel so good when they happen!

There is another kind of trigger too, which is much more pleasant & much less talked about.  Good triggers are just as important, yet sadly there isn’t much information available on them.

Good triggers are things that can trigger joy, comfort, pleasant memories or nostalgia.  For me, the smell of Old Spice cologne always reminds me of my Granddad, who I adored.  The song “You’re My Best Friend” by the band Queen always reminds me of my husband since that is our song.  The scent of a fireplace burning on a cool autumn day reminds me of my favorite time of year & triggers a sense of coziness.

Please think about what good triggers you have, & write them down.  If you are unsure, I can offer you some ideas…

  • Some things that can trigger joy might be being kind to someone else, spending time with someone you love, or accomplishing a task you’ve been postponing.
  • Some things that can trigger comfort might be enjoying clean sheets on your bed, wearing an especially soft pair of pajamas or lighting your favorite scented candle.
  • Some things that can trigger pleasant memories or nostalgia could be listening to music you enjoyed at a particularly good time of your life, baking something your favorite relative baked or journaling about some good experience such as when you first fell in love with your spouse. 

Another thing I am in the process of learning about to bring joy into my life is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).  Hygge is about creating a cozy, comfortable & relaxed lifestyle that leaves you with a feeling of well being & contentment. 

There are no hard & fast rules to living this lifestyle, other than what makes you feel cozy & comfortable.  I have come to realize that less stuff is an important aspect of hygge to me.  Less stuff means less to clean & maintain, & less clutter in my home, all of which help me to be more relaxed.  This also means my home is easier to clean, because of having less stuff which also helps to contribute to a more relaxed state.

Learning about hygge also inspired me to simplify every aspect of my life.  For example, each week I have most of our bills paid automatically by going on a credit card that gives cash back.  I pay this credit card bill weekly, so it doesn’t get out of control, & sometimes I also use the cash back to help pay the balance. 

Focusing on your good triggers, creating new ones as well as living a more relaxed & comfortable lifestyle are all very good for bringing more joy into your life.  I hope you are inspired to make some healthy changes in your life!

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Are Dreams From God?

Unfortunately, I don’t think many people realize just how beneficial dreams are.  That is understandable considering how strange dreams can be.  Who hasn’t had a dream of losing all their teeth or falling?  Dreams like that are bizarre & seem to have no meaning & can be upsetting. 

Dreams really can be beneficial though!  In the past few years, I have started paying more attention to my dreams.  They have taught me a great deal about the state of my mental health, helped me to figure out causes of my anxiety & work through trauma.

When I first started paying more attention to my dreams, I wondered if I was doing something wrong.  Many so called psychics have claimed to have dreams about upcoming events or clues for solving crimes.  Being a Christian, I didn’t want to engage in any behavior that would go against God’s word, & I believe that any dabbling in the occult does just that.  To figure this out, I prayed & looked into the Bible for answers.  What I learned was very interesting!

There are a lot of Scriptures about dreams in the Bible!  In the book of Matthew, God speaks to Joseph in dreams.  In the first chapter, Joseph has a dream where he is told that his fiancée Mary, is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  In the second chapter of Matthew, God uses a dream to tell Joseph to take Jesus & his mother away to Egypt.  Later, he had another dream telling him it was safe to take them back to Israel.

There are also many examples in the Old Testament of God speaking to people in dreams.  Daniel had dreams & Joseph interpreted dreams.  In Numbers 12:6, God said that He speaks to prophets in dreams.

I’m pretty sure all this means dreams have value & shouldn’t be ignored!

If you are interested in learning from your dreams, then I encourage you to do it!

To do this, start paying attention to your dreams.  Remember everything you can about them.  What you were doing, who was in the dream, colors, objects, locations… everything can be important so it’s smart to remember every detail you can.  These things may symbolize something important or be vital pieces to a puzzle.

It often helps to write things down, too.  Writing can bring clarity that considering or talking about things doesn’t, so why not utilize that?

Find a good dream dictionary, too.  I like dreammoods.com, but there are other websites & countless books available.  No doubt you can find a dictionary that you really like either in print or online.

Remember that dreams aren’t always significant, so you probably won’t remember every dream you have.  The brain is constantly processing information, no matter if the information is good, bad or indifferent.  If you don’t remember a dream, then chances are it had no real significance for you at this time.  It is simply your brain processing some type of information.

The most important thing I have found to do to help understand dreams is to pray.  God will help you to understand & get the most benefit from your dreams.  When they are nightmares rather than dreams, He will comfort you as well as teach you what they mean.  Let Him help you!

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Validating Yourself

Everyone needs validation. It’s simply a built in human need that God gave us all.

For those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, invalidation was a way of life, so it’s only natural that we crave validation more than the average person. We want to be heard & understood for a change! The problem with this is so many people don’t offer us the validation we crave. Instead, they make excuses for the narcissist, don’t want to listen to our stories or tell us things like we’re just angry, we need to let it go or other similar heartless comments.

You also can’t count on gaining validation from your abuser. It is the very rare abusive person who goes to a victim, admits that what they did was wrong, ask for forgiveness & makes appropriate changes in their behavior. Sure, some do apologize at some point, but their failure to change their behavior & either accept full responsibility or failure to stop blaming others for their behavior proves that they aren’t being genuine. The abusive behavior will continue & they don’t care about the pain & suffering they caused victims. They only apologize as an attempt to pacify a victim, not because they want to improve the relationship.

Situations like these are a very good reminder that you can’t rely on getting all the validation you need from outside sources. People are flawed, & they will fail to give you the validation you want & need sometimes. You have to learn to validate yourself instead of relying on others, which is where your healing truly begins.

As always I recommend starting this with prayer. Ask God to help you to learn how to validate yourself, rely less on validation from outside sources & even to give you validation.

You also need to accept the fact people won’t always give you the validation you need. Remind yourself often that people aren’t perfect, & they will fail you sometimes. It’s just a part of life. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care or they don’t love you. They are simply flawed human beings like every single other human being.

You also need to accept that your abuser won’t accept responsibility for the pain he or she caused you either. That type of validation most likely never will happen. You know what happened, & that truly is good enough. Even if no one else believes you, it really can be enough when you know the truth.

What people often refer to as feeling sorry for yourself is what I think of as showing yourself compassion, & it’s something you need to do. You have been through some pretty bad things, & it’s ok to admit that both to others & to yourself. Stop minimizing your experiences & your pain! You’re only invalidating yourself by doing that!

Never compare your situation to others. Doing so often leads to thoughts like, “Well that person had it way worse than me. I shouldn’t complain.” That is so wrong & also very self invalidating! Don’t do it! Trauma is trauma. So what if someone went through worse things than you did? You went through much worse than someone else did, too. Does any of that make any difference? You need to focus on your situation & ways to heal, not whether it’s better or worse than other people’s situations.

Stop judging your feelings, too. After abuse, it’s only natural to be angry or sad sometimes. It’s natural to have ruminating thoughts about certain especially painful situations or to wonder why the abuser did what they did to you. Don’t criticize yourself for thinking these things. Accept that they’re just a normal part of the healing journey.

With a little time & practice, you can learn to be your own best “validator.” You won’t regret learning this skill. In fact, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did! xoxo

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How Narcissists Make Victims Lose Themselves

When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you lose yourself.  You often feel as if you’re being fake.  Sadly, the truth is you are being fake, but not because of some flaw in you.

Narcissists do their best to mold their victims into whatever they want them to be.  To do this, they start by destroying their victim’s personality.  They convince victims that they don’t like the things they do like, & they like things they don’t like.  They also convince victims that they feel a certain way about things that is completely untrue. 

Gaslighting is a very effective way to accomplish this.  By repeatedly swearing that a victim has said or hasn’t said something & even getting angry about it, a victim often starts to believe that the narcissist is telling the truth.  Denial & making a person question their memories

Invalidation is also helpful in forwarding a narcissist’s agenda.  Convincing someone that they have some deep flaws for feeling as they do will change their mind about their feelings.  No one wants to be labeled as intensely flawed or even crazy, so they change their mind.

Narcissists also make their victims feel as if they are a disappointment, & the narcissist deserves better than that.  This guilt makes victims work harder to please the narcissist, yet they can’t do it.  The narcissist continually changes what they want & makes the goals loftier & unattainable. 

Gaslighting, invalidation & this disappointment all work together to make victims feel shame.  They feel ashamed of themselves, of who they are, of their beliefs, of what they want, think & feel… of everything about themselves.  Once this toxic shame takes root in a person, they become very easy to manipulate & control, which is why narcissists work so hard to accomplish this.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone!  I have been there too.  First my mother tried to mold me into what she wanted from me, then my ex husband did.  By the time I was in my mid 20’s, I had no idea who I really was or what I really liked, didn’t like, believed… it was a nightmare!  It took time but I finally got to know the real me, & you know something?  That person is ok! 

If you’re reading this now, I want you to know that the real you is ok too!  I also want you to know that you need to get to know this person that God made you to be, without the input of the narcissist. 

Start questioning everything.  Ask yourself how you genuinely feel about things.  For example, do you like the kind of music you do because the narcissist told you that you liked it, or is it truly your taste?  What about the kind of work you do- do you enjoy it or did your narcissistic parent tell you that you needed to get into this line of work?

If the narcissist is still in your life, question everything he or she tells you, especially about how you feel about things.  While the narcissist most likely claims to know you better than you know yourself, this is nothing but a lie.  You know you better & if you get to know yourself well, then nothing the narcissist says can cause you to doubt yourself or change yourself into someone you’re not ever again!

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How Best To Help Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Having experienced narcissistic abuse, I have learned that when you first tell people about it, they seldom know what to say.  Rather than admit that, they say some things that come across as invalidating or uncaring.  To help people avoid coming across the wrong way with victims, I thought I would share some things to say instead.  If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse & struggling to ask those close to you for what you need, feel free to share this post with them.

If you have no experience with narcissistic abuse, it’s understandable you can’t comprehend the bizarre things narcissists do.  Even when a person has experienced it first hand, the abuse is still hard for them to understand.  That being said, don’t assume the person you’re speaking with is exaggerating or even making up everything.  Most people aren’t creative enough to make up such things.  Even if you struggle to believe what this person is telling you, if you know the person is honest, then trust what they say!  Your validation will help!

Unless the person asks you for advice, don’t give it.  For many victims of narcissistic abuse, we need to talk about it.  A lot.  It doesn’t necessarily mean we are looking for advice.  Talking about it helps us to process what happened & come up with ways to cope. 

Don’t assume that the narcissist is just your average jerk or is just selfish.  Narcissists are so much more than that!  They have absolutely no empathy & enjoy inflicting pain on their victims.  Normal ways that a person deals with the average jerk don’t work with narcissists.

Don’t say things like, “You need to let this go.”  All victims of narcissistic abuse know that.  The problem is that it can cause PTSD or Complex PTSD, & once you have one of those disorders, there is no letting go no matter how much a person wants to do so.  The disorders make letting go of trauma impossible.  Managing the symptoms is the best a person with PTSD or C-PTSD can hope for.

Don’t push forgiveness.  Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing.  Yes, it’s in the Bible.  However, to really & truly forgive takes time when horrific & traumatic acts were committed against a person.  Shaming a person for continuing to feel anger towards their abuser does no good, & only adds to their problems. 

Don’t say things like, “It takes two to tango” or, “There are two sides to every story.”  By doing this, you’re telling the victim that they are equally responsible for the abuse as their abuser.  That is wrong, unfair & nothing but victim blaming!  While no one is perfect, no one can force another to abuse them.  All responsibility for abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers.  Period!

Don’t trivialize the abusive & traumatic events.  One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured from my parents as “childhood hurts”.  That may have been the most hurtful thing anyone ever told me.  Trivializing trauma stirs up hurt & anger like you won’t believe.  If you love this person, don’t do it!  Even if events they describe as traumatic sound pretty harmless to you, remember that everyone experiences things differently.  Just because that might not have been traumatic to you doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatic to them.  Don’t judge their definition of trauma. 

Ask the victim what you can do to help.  Chances are, there really isn’t much but knowing that someone cares & is willing to help means so much! 

Offer to pray with & for the victim.  Prayer is so comforting & knowing that someone is willing to take the time to pray for them will comfort the victim greatly. 

Remind the victim how strong he or she is to have survived the abuse.  Victims often feel weak & the reminder of their true strength is incredibly encouraging!

Always be non-judgmental, supportive & kind.  These three traits can go a very long way with anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse.

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Executive Dysfunction After Narcissistic Abuse

Have you ever heard of executive dysfunction?  As the name describes, this is when executive functions don’t work properly.  Executive functions are cognitive & mental abilities that enable us to accomplish things.  They help us by directing & controlling our behavior, planning, prioritizing as well as giving motivation.

Executive functioning is higher level cognitive functioning.  Some examples are:

  • Emotional regulation, such as working through anxiety.
  • Impulse control.
  • Attention, such as directing attention where it is necessary to accomplish things.
  • Planning such as creating & following a schedule.
  • Self assessment, such as making sure you’re taking a reasonable amount of time on the task at hand.
  • Using working memory, such as following directions or reading.

Anyone can experience executive dysfunction periodically, in particular when overly stressed or tired.  That is entirely normal.  It becomes abnormal when executive dysfunction interferes with daily life.  Difficulty with decision making, concentrating, organization & low motivation are some examples.

Executive dysfunction is often caused by brain damage.  Traumatic brain injuries, dementia & Alzheimer’s disease are known causes, but mental illness can cause it as well.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are known to cause it as well. 

PTSD is another mental illness that can cause executive dysfunction, & that is the reason I felt it necessary to discuss executive dysfunction.

May of us who struggle with PTSD or C-PTSD also struggle with executive dysfunction, yet are unaware that was what our problem is.  It doesn’t help that those in our lives call us lazy, tell us we need to get out more often or offer other equally useless & unsolicited advice.  Useless or unsolicited, it still can take a toll on the self esteem especially since it’s already been so damaged thanks to the narcissists in our lives.

Those of you who have been down this road, I want to let you know today that you aren’t lazy!  There is something wrong with you & it’s not your fault that you have this problem!  Your brain has been broken due to the trauma or traumas you have experienced.  Brain damage in any capacity is no joke!  It’s a horrible thing! 

Brain damage is also not something you can fix easily, like a broken bone.  Brain damage may heal completely or it may not heal at all, no matter what you do or don’t do.  The brain is a very unique organ & very unpredictable in how it responds to injury, trauma & even healing.  I’m not telling you this to make you lose hope.  I’m telling you this so you can be realistic in what to expect.

With the symptoms of executive dysfunction, you can learn ways to work with your symptoms. 

Set up a routine & stick to it.  Not so much you become rigid about it because there will be times you need to change it.  Even so, having a set schedule takes some pressure off because you know what you need to do each day.  It becomes a habit, so it’s easy to remember over time, too.

Use a calendar app on your phone to help you remember appointments & tasks that are out of the ordinary.  One with alarms is especially helpful.

Utilize sticky notes & to do lists to help you to stay organized. 

When motivation strikes, use it!  There tend to be more days without it than with, so when it happens, use it to the best of your ability.

Executive dysfunction isn’t easy to live with I know, but you can learn ways to cope!

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Trauma Responses & Guilt

Many of us who have experienced trauma experience a lot of guilt about how we responded during a traumatic event.  I have experienced this.  When my mother & I got into an argument & she threw me into a wall when I was 19 in 1990, I blacked out & bit her during the assault.  To this day I remember how shocking it felt to hit the wall then suddenly coming to as she was releasing her hold on me that pinned me to the wall.  And when I came to, I ran from the house & sped away in a cloud of tire smoke.  For many years after, I felt incredibly guilty for the entire event.  Mostly because I bit my mother & she had a scar from that, but also for the fact I gave in to her.  She was itching for a fight the moment I walked in the door after work that evening.  I recognized the look immediately & in spite of knowing nothing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I knew getting into an argument would result in something bad for me, yet I did it anyway. 

While it may sound ridiculous to you, this triggered an intense amount of guilt in me!  I gave in rather than simply leave which would have been the smart thing to do.  And, thanks to me, my mother had a physical scar.  Horrible!

As you read this, you probably are thinking things like, “But you were only 19!”  “You didn’t know about narcissism!”  “You were defending yourself!”  “You couldn’t move so how else could you defend yourself?”  And you know something?  Those are all correct.  That isn’t how it felt at the time of the incident however, or for over twenty years after it happened.

Do you feel guilt about a response during a traumatic event too?  If so, please show yourself the same mercy you were just willing to show me! 

During trauma, the brain is overridden by survival instincts.  While that is a good thing in the sense that survival instincts will help you to survive, they also may cause you to behave out of the ordinary & in a way that may be embarrassing to you.  Please try to let that go!  Survival instincts are there for a reason.  They help a person to survive.  Whether your instinct is fight, flight, freeze or fawn, that instinct helped to save you from a potentially even worse fate.  That makes your survival instinct pretty impressive!  Don’t discount it!  Embrace it!  Be grateful that it is partly why you survived!

Don’t forget to analyze the event too.  If you analyze it, you had no other choice.  Maybe you’re thinking that you did, but also consider yourself at the time.  You may not have known any better, which led you to make the best choice you could at the time.  This can be difficult, I know.  I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for poor choices I’ve made in my life, too, but you know something?  That is a waste of time!  You aren’t the same person you were who made a less than ideal choice during a time of extreme duress.  You did your best & that is all anyone can expect.  You also survived the traumatic event, so you should be proud of yourself!

Please just remember, Dear Reader, that even if your trauma responses haven’t been what you wish they were, you have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilty about them.  They did their job, which was to help you survive.

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