Category Archives: Caregiving
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One year ago, I shared this post about the miraculous & wonderful events that surrounded my father’s death. If you haven’t read it, please do.
I still am absolutely blown away by the events of that time. Talking about the goodness of God doesn’t begin to explain just how loving, good, kind & merciful He truly is, & those events proved it to me.
It’s been quite the emotional roller coaster since my father’s passing last year, & my faith has grown tremendously too.
While I don’t believe the dead actually come to us in dreams, I do believe because God knows how much certain people mean to them & they mean to us, He allows us to have dreams to convey messages from them. That being said, I’ve had a couple of dreams about my father since his passing, although he rarely actually makes an appearance in them. At first, I knew the dreams were to tell me that he was sorry for everything & loves me a great deal. I also knew he didn’t want to appear in my dreams often because of the things that happened in our relationship- he was afraid it’d upset me. Recently though he showed up in a dream & it was lovely- we were talking & laughing, & he was telling jokes. It was fun since we shared the same skewed since of humor. I believe that dream was to let me know that he appreciates all the prayers that not only I said for him, but my friends said as well, & now he’s enjoying Heaven because God answered those prayers.
I wanted to share these events with you to (hopefully!) encourage your faith & comfort you are losing someone you love. God truly can save everyone who wants to be saved. Never give up hope or give up praying for them, Dear Reader, even when it looks hopeless. It may happen at the very last minute like it did with my father, but it can still happen. Keep praying!!
Also, if you’ve lost a loved one, draw close to God. Allow Him to help you to get through & to comfort you. He truly will! I’ve even asked Him if it’s ok, please tell my deceased loved ones I miss them, are thinking of them or even happy birthday. I know as Christians, we aren’t supposed to try to contact the dead, so obviously I won’t seek out a medium or grab a Ouija board. But, I see nothing wrong with asking that sort of thing of God. Besides, if He didn’t want it to happen, He wouldn’t do it ^ would tell me it’s wrong! He also has told me little things that they wanted me to know, & of course there have been many dreams. Sometimes during the hardest times, I’ve dreamed about my grandfather, & the dream helped comfort me. On February 26, 2016, the night before the one year anniversary that I survived carbon monoxide poisoning, I had a dream of going four-wheeling with my grandfather. It was so fun & helped me feel much less depressed about that anniversary. God can bless you in the same way. He is no respecter of persons, so what He does for one, He can do for another.
I guess my thoughts are a bit scattered on this post, but I do hope they help & encourage you anyway. xoxo
As I’ve said many times, my heart goes out to those in the position of being unable or unwilling to go no contact with their narcissistic parents. You’re in a tough, tough place, & I understand since I’ve been there. I want to help you if I can, & that is what today’s post is about.
There are some small, easy ways you can set boundaries with your narcissistic parent while not eliminating them from your life entirely.
For starters, reduce the amount of time you spend with your narcissistic parent. Don’t visit or have your parent visit you as often. Stop taking their calls every time they call. Ask yourself if you feel up to dealing with your parent, & if not, don’t take that call or visit.
When you must visit or speak with your parent on the phone, set a time limit. Don’t allow your narcissistic parent to waste half your day when that is so hard on you! Set a limit, then say “I have to go” & go.
Also if you visit your narcissistic parent, have a way out. Plan something to do so you only have a limited time to spend with your parent. If you can’t think of something, say you just remembered something you have to take care of & go. It’s not a lie- you remembered you have to take care of yourself!
Remember to keep the conversation away from you. Your love life, in-laws, job, troubles & even your mental & physical health should be off the table for topics to discuss with your narcissistic parent. Giving any narcissist personal information is just asking for trouble such as criticism & unasked for, useless advice. Change the subject if your parent wants or demands to know something personal about you. If all else fails, ask your parent about something that matters to her. Chances are excellent she’ll drop the matter at the opportunity to talk about herself.
If you’re dependent even slightly on your narcissistic parent financially, find ways to put an end to it. Narcissists love controlling their adult children with money, so remove that tool if at all possible. If not, then at least find ways to reduce the amount.
If you have pets or kids, have strict boundaries in place. It is your job to protect them & that includes from abusive & narcissistic parents.
When it’s time to set boundaries with your parent, remain calm. Show no emotion, simply state the facts. Any signs you are upset will fuel your narcissistic parent’s behavior. Stay calm, state your boundary & the consequence of your parent not respecting the boundary, then enforce it if necessary.
If you’re friends on social media, unfollow your narcissistic parent. You will remain friends, but you won’t see her posts which can reduce stress.
If you must go somewhere with your narcissistic parent, drive separately. That way, you are free to leave at any time if need be. Also, cars are a great weapon for some narcissists. There is no escape- you have to put up with whatever they do when you’re in a car together. My mother loved having me trapped in her car, & used it to scream at me when I was a kid or belittle me as an adult.
Always remember the Gray Rock Method. Think about what gives your narcissistic parent narcissistic supply, & refuse to provide it. Basically, you need to be boring to her. Don’t admire her. Don’t praise her. Don’t get angry at her so she can portray herself as the victim. Don’t coddle her. Don’t share anything personal about yourself that she could use against you or as fuel to spread lies about you. Don’t empathize with her if someone has hurt her. Show no real interest in her problems. If she needs your assistance with something, do the bare minimum, don’t go above & beyond. Gray Rock can be hard at first because every tiny thing can provide narcissistic supply, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Lastly, pray & pray often. Ask God to help you cope with your narcissistic parent, to give you the right words to say, & to give you effective, creative ways to cope with her behavior. He will NOT disappoint you!
I’ve noticed that many people think others should believe as they do. People really can be downright shaming if you don’t share their passions.
Quite a few years ago, I said something to one of my football watching aunts about the fact my husband likes football & I hate it, always have. She verbally jumped me for not trying harder to like it, & she also said I needed to watch games with him so we can enjoy football together. It was surprising to me because I wasn’t complaining or looking for some solution- I just made a simple statement. I also remember thinking, “I love knitting. I don’t see you scolding him & telling him he needs to learn to knit so we can buy yarn or knit together.” I wish I’d said that- it might have helped her to see how ludicrous & over the top her reaction was.
I’ve experienced similar reactions from people who are extremely focused on politics when they learn I’m not. In fact, the topic doesn’t interested me in the slightest. I also don’t have the desire in me to learn enough about candidates to make an informed decision on who to vote for, so I don’t vote. This apparently infuriates some people who are deeply interested in politics, & some have been downright shaming & nasty to me because of this. Not that I would do it, but it makes me want to be equally shaming & nasty to them for not helping to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse or help victims. It’d only be fair, after all, wouldn’t it?
I used to be upset by my aunt & the other people who were equally nasty to me. Then I realized something.
Not every cause can be your cause. People believe differently & have varied interests. That doesn’t mean something is wrong with one person & right with another because they think differently. It simply means they’re different.
There are many valid causes that need support, awareness & activists out there. No one can support them all though! That would leave no time for people to do anything else, like work or sleep. It’s much better to focus on what means the most to you than to spread yourself too thin by supporting many causes.
And, every person is unique, right down to our fingerprints & DNA. It is only natural that the causes we support & things that interest us also would be unique.
If you’re in the position of someone shaming you for not sharing their interests or supporting their causes, ignore them! They aren’t worth your frustration. They have no right to tell you what to think or how to feel. You do what is right for you. You have your own path to walk in life, & the approval of other people is NOT required to do it. What you do & what you believe in is ultimately between you & God, not you & other people.
If you’re actively in this situation, try changing the subject. A reasonable person will be fine with that. If the person isn’t reasonable, then you can tell them you don’t feel comfortable discussing this topic with them & if they continue, you’ll hang up the phone or leave the room. If they ask why, you can tell them the truth- because they are being disrespectful, nasty, etc. on this topic. If the person you’re speaking with is truly being obnoxious, you could try logic. Comments like, “Because you feel/believe that way means I should too? Why? Give me a good reason.” or, “That has never interested me, & I am well aware of that fact. Why should I do something I have zero interest in?” Statements like this can often shut a person down pretty quickly, because they realize how ridiculous their behavior is.
In conclusion, just remember there is nothing wrong with you for having the interests you have or not having the ones you don’t. God made you to be unique, so be unique & enjoy it!
Something crossed my mind recently, I’m sure it’s due to my father in-law’s recent death: Grief doesn’t end just because the funeral is over.
I think many people act like once your loved one is buried or cremated, you’re done grieving. It’s done now so you should be ready to resume your life as it was, no problem. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Grief has no set time. It doesn’t end just because the funeral is done, because a set amount of time has passed, or because people think you should be “over it” by now.
There’s also the fact that the first year after a loved one dies is incredibly hard. You have their first birthday without them, first anniversary, first holidays… those days can be extremely difficult, but especially the first ones.
In fact, I don’t think grief ever ends completely, it only becomes less intense over time. My great grandmother that I adored died in 1982, & I still miss her a great deal to this day. No, I don’t cry all the time, but I still miss her & think of her often. If you love someone, that is just how things happen.
And if you lost a pet rather than a human, people can be even more insensitive, because after all, “It’s only a cat/dog/bird/etc!” they say. They fail to realize that pets are a big part of our daily lives. We love them, care for them, play with them, nurture them & when they get old &./or sick, we become their caregivers. Such things can form an incredible bond, & when that bond is broken, it hurts just as much if not more than when a human passes away.
If you have lost someone you love recently, please ignore people who try to tell you that you should be over it already, are taking too long to grieve or “It’s just a pet!”. It’s not their business! You take your time & grieve however you need to for as much time as you need to. Honor your loved one’s life, too. Maybe plant a garden they would like, or make or build something creative like they would have made. It really does help!
If you have been actively grieving for a long time (over a year), & it disrupts your life, I really would like to suggest you try grief counseling. Sometimes, people kinda get “stuck” & there is no shame in it. It happens! It just means you need a little help to get unstuck.
1 Timothy 5:3-8 “3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV)
Elderly narcissistic parents are often even more entitled than their younger counterparts. For their children, this can be an incredibly painful position to be in.
Many adult children of narcissistic parents feel they have no other option than to be their parents’ caregiver, even at the cost of their health & their own family. After all, we can’t forget Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NIV). Then there is 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (KJV) Doesn’t this all mean you have to be hands on with your elderly parents, no matter what? NO!!
I do NOT believe that God wishes His children to take care of their narcissistic parents no matter the personal cost. That doesn’t sound like the God I know!
First, to honor your parent simply means to give them the respect they deserve as the people who created you. You acknowledge them as your parents. You speak to them civilly, not rudely or disrespectfully. Honoring them does NOT mean tolerating their abuse. It also doesn’t mean that you neglect your family to take care of your parents. If you opt to take care of your parents in a hands-on way, you can honor them by helping them as much as you feel able without wearing yourself out or neglecting your family.
Also, remember 1 Timothy 5:8 says that you must provide for them. You can provide for your parents in various ways, not necessarily being “hands on”. Arranging for help to come to your parents’ home is a great way to help them & provide for them. Researching local resources for whatever help they need is providing for them. Paying for things your parents need yet can’t afford but you can is providing for them.
As your parents become elderly & need more assistance than they once did, you need to prepare ahead of time as much as you can. Even if your parents are still relatively young, start to look towards the future now. You never know what can happen. Things can change in an instant, so you need to be prepared.
Start praying & asking God for wisdom & insight on what boundaries you will need to set when the time comes as well as strength to enforce those boundaries.
Read up on the topic to see what others do with their elderly narcissistic parents, & honestly ask yourself what you can & can’t do. There are plenty of informative caregiver websites out there.
Most libraries are a wealth of information. The library near me has a ton of pamphlets & booklets near the entrance on various services in the area, including information from the local Department of Aging. I found a booklet there for seniors’ resources. It includes information on cleaning services, in home health care, assisted living facilities, contact information from the Department of Aging, & much more. Your library may have a similar booklet- it’s worth checking into.
If you’re going to be involved in caring for your narcissistic parents, it’s best to learn as much as you can about what’s happening with their health. Narcissists love to exaggerate their illnesses, & you need to be aware of what the truth is & what they are making up. Read up about their conditions online or talk to their doctors without them around.
If something needs to be done to help you to help them, stress how this will help them. Leave out how it will benefit you entirely, & make it sound like it will help them only. In my own caregiving experiences, I’ve noticed that saying that something will help me falls on deaf ears. Saying that same thing will benefit the narcissistic parent however, gets the narcissist’s attention.
In fact, don’t discuss anything about you as much as possible. If an elderly narcissist knows you’re not feeling well or are tired, they will push you to do more & more as they can get away with it. Wearing you down gives them some sick pleasure.
When you set boundaries, do so as cheerfully as possible & with no explanations. As always, any information these people get can be turned into ammunition they will use to hurt you with.
It is possible to keep your sanity in tact while caring for a narcissist. Keep in mind everything you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, set & enforce boundaries, don’t neglect yourself or your own family for your parents & most of all, keep God first in your life. Depend on Him completely to help you do such things & show you what to do, when to do it & how to do it.
If you opt to keep your distance, then try not to feel guilty. If you know in your heart that you can’t be a more hands-on caregiver, there is no shame in that. God only asks people to do their best, nothing more. Sadly, some people are so incredibly toxic, there is just no way to interact with them on a daily basis. It happens, unfortunately. If your parent is that way, you have done nothing to feel guilty about by protecting yourself.
The older I get, the more I value comfort. The cozy feel of freshly washed bed linens, the warmth of raspberry or lemon herbal tea on a cold day, the look of a fresh manicure & pedicure are some things that come to my mind that bring me comfort. I spend a lot of time in my bedroom because it’s very comfortable & cozy, which always feels good to me.
Indulging in comforting things is one way to care for yourself. It makes you feel safe & secure- something most of us raised by narcissistic parents are very unfamiliar with feeling, & we need to become familiar with.
It also helps you to feel loved, when you are shown love. Even when that act of love comes from yourself, it still feels good.
What makes you feel comforted? Below are some possibilities if you need help coming up with ideas.
- going for a walk in the woods
- doing something creative- draw, paint, crochet, make something with clay, etc.
- listening to music
- watching reruns of an old TV show or movie
- drinking herbal teas
- getting a manicure &/or pedicure
Well, finally I did it, Dear Reader! I started my YouTube channel. After much anxiety & prayer & distractions, it’s now ready to go. 🙂
It’s now available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyHVkrFotB51_ZKqh7BqAXg
I noticed something interest in the last few hours, & I thought I’d share it with you today, Dear Readers.
As many of you know, in 2015, I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. In spite of all the time that’s passed, like many others who have survived it, I still live with many symptoms. They get better or worse, but they’re still there. All the time. If this post sounds “off”, I apologize- thinking clearly isn’t my strong point at the moment because that’s part of it when symptoms flare up. I just wanted to write this out before I forgot everything I wanted to say.
So, bringing us to what I noticed…
I noticed when I’m way too stressed or going through an exceptionally hard time, something happens to make the symptoms get to the point of me needing to rest, to take time off, because I can’t do anything else.
Lately, I’ve been having a rough time with repressed memories & flashbacks as I mentioned previously. As if that wasn’t tough enough, at the time of me writing this, it was 1 year ago today that I lost one of my kitties & that anniversary is making me sad. I have a knack for remembering dates & dates like this always are very hard for me, even days before.
Yesterday evening, my husband was working on my car. I took a shower while he was doing this. While in there, I began to feel weird (headache, dizzy, couldn’t think clearly, body aches, shaking, etc.), but thought nothing of it. When I got out, I came into the living room & heard my car running. I suddenly knew why I felt so yukky & didn’t think anything of it- carbon monoxide removes my ability to realize if I feel bad, something is wrong. I quickly found my husband & ask him to move my car away from the house while she’s running because the exhaust was sickening me. He did, but the damage was already done. Last night & today, I’ve felt horrible. Today, I’m resting because there’s nothing else I can do. Physically & mentally, I’m a whipped pup.
Since I’m finally thinking a little clearer today, I realized this sort of thing happens during especially difficult times.
My point of all this? I realized that although God didn’t give me my health problems, He has been using them to help me.
My mother has called me lazy ever since I can remember. As a result, I’ve always worked hard. Too hard- I rarely took time to relax. Self-care has been a huge struggle for me, as I feel on some dysfunctional level that it’s selfish & wrong to take care of myself. Since I’ve even ignored God’s promptings that I need to take care of myself & relax sometimes, I firmly believe God allowed getting sick to happen because now, there are times when I have no choice but to relax & rest.
Please, Dear Reader, learn from my mistakes!! I know so many adult children of narcissistic parents who ignore their mental & physical health because they don’t want to feel selfish or lazy by taking care of themselves as I have. This is so wrong!! Even God rests!
Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (NIV)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with resting! Self-care is vital to being healthy, physically & mentally, & frequent rest is a part of that. I know shutting off the internal, critical voice calling you lazy or selfish is hard, but please try to do it for your own sake before you end up sick like I have. I should’ve listened to God’s promptings years ago, but I kept ignoring them. As a result, I believe God had no other choice but to allow this to happen to force me to rest before I killed myself by neglecting my needs. I wouldn’t wish this on you, so please, make appropriate changes in your life. You have every right to take care of yourself.
I have just published my newest book entitled, “The Truth About Elderly Narcissists”. It’s all about identifying their changing abusive behaviors, finding ways to cope with them while taking care of yourself, coping as a caregiver, as well as things to consider if you opt to go no contact.
This book is available in ebook & print formats on my website at:
I’ve read so many times that narcissists never change, but I have to disagree with this.
Narcissists can change for the better, because with God, all things are possible. This is quite rare, but it’s certainly something to hope & pray for. (I believe in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst) It happened with my husband’s father- he improved so much. I don’t know why he changed, but it was wonderful. He was caring & kind to my husband instead of his usual behavior- critical, bossy & generally nasty. Unfortunately though, he later developed dementia, & returned to his old ways. (Dementia & Alzheimer’s can exacerbate narcissistic tendencies. Sadly, this is quite normal.) After his wife (a covert narcissist) died in 2016, he returned to his much better behavior.
More commonly though, narcissists do change as they get older, & they get much more devious & creative. They have to change because as they age, they have to use different tactics if they want to remain in control. In my teens, my mother was a very intimidating & imposing figure. When she screamed at me, as she did so very often, I was always afraid she’d physically hurt me. If she tried this today at age 77, I wouldn’t be so intimidated. How could I be? She is much older & frailer now. Screaming at me now wouldn’t have the desired effect, so she has changed her tactic from screaming to speaking in a soft tone & saying the most vicious things she can come up with.
Narcissists are smart- they know what will be the most effective way to accomplish something they want to accomplish. They are experts at reading people, as they have to be to figure out the best way to use them. They also are smart enough to realize what worked well for them when they were 35 most likely won’t work as well at 75, & they must adapt accordingly. Besides, their children aren’t as easily pushed around at 40 as they were at 10. They have to find new ways to manipulate them if they wish to continue using their children.
Many older narcissists also like to reminisce. They like to talk with you about the past. Often it’s the usual narcissistic rhetoric- bragging about their great accomplishments at work or the vast numbers of people they’ve helped. But, narcissistic parents also can do something very hurtful- brag about the amazing childhood you had. My mother has done this many times. She talks about all the great things she did for me when I was a child. Some things were simply a parent doing what she should for a child, & some things never happened at all. When this happens, it used to hurt me a great deal. She was invalidating & denying abusing me! Instead she made me look like a screw up who needed her. Finally though, God showed me something that has helped me tremendously. This behavior is a coping skill. Dysfunctional as it is, this is how my mother copes with the guilt she feels for being so abusive. Rather than take responsibility & apologize to me, she reinvents the past to make herself look like a good mother. She also even tries to get me to agree with her stories, in the hopes of convincing herself & I both that the stories really are true. Once God showed me this, it made perfect sense to me. I no longer was so hurt by her stories, because I knew they weren’t a personal attack (even though they may feel like it sometimes). I knew instead they were a dysfunctional coping skill. It is her right to use that skill if she wants. It’s also my right not to validate her stories if I am so inclined, & I never do validate them.
Just be forewarned, Dear Reader. As your narcissistic mother ages, she may not mellow out like many folks do. She may seem a bit easier to handle in her golden years because she isn’t screaming, but don’t be fooled- just because she isn’t screaming or physically abusive doesn’t mean she isn’t still capable of hurting you a great deal.
Recently I was involved in a discussion about how little information there is available for those with elderly narcissistic parents, including caring for them. It gave me an idea- write a book on the topic.
I have already started writing an outline & have some ideas. But, I’d like to hear from you, Dear Reader. I don’t want to miss anything on this topic. If there is any topic you’d like explored or if you have stories to include, please let me know. I won’t divulge your name to protect your privacy. You can comment on this post or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you! x0xo
One thing I have found to be very helpful when dealing with narcissists is to accept them as they are. Accept that they are immature, competitive, envious, jealous, vindictive with no desire to change & will not hesitate to hurt you if it accomplishes their goal.
Accepting them as they are does NOT mean you have to tolerate their abuse, however. You always have absolutely every right to protect yourself from any & all abuse!!
Accepting them does means you understand that the narcissist is this way, & you can’t change them. You can’t even inspire them to want to change with good, healthy actions on your part. The only hope you have of genuine change from a narcissist is God being able to get through to them somehow.
So why accept the narcissist as they are? Because it can help you.
It seems to be a normal reaction for the victims of a narcissist to hope next time will be different. Next time, she’ll actually care about me. Next time, maybe she won’t be so critical. This overly optimistic thought process only sets the victim up for disappointment. Narcissists rarely change for the better, & when they do, usually it’s only temporarily to benefit them in some way. (I believe with God, all things are possible, even a narcissist seeing the error of their ways & changing their abusive behavior. However, from what I have seen, it seems to be a very, very rare occurrence.) If you can accept that truth & accept the narcissist as she is, you won’t subject yourself for being disappointed when she doesn’t change, doesn’t apologize for hurting you, etc. You know what is coming, so you aren’t disappointed that this time wasn’t different.
Also, accepting the narcissist means you won’t be hurt so often. You know they are a certain way, & you know what to expect. Knowing such things means that their usual actions can’t devastate you like they do when they catch you off guard. You know what is coming, & can prepare for it. This is a good thing!
Dealing with narcissists is never easy, but there are ways to make it less painful & frustrating for you. Accepting the narcissist is one of those ways.
So many adult children of narcissistic parents struggle when their parents become elderly or ill. They feel that because these people birthed & raised them, that they owe their parents everything at any personal cost, & the narcissistic parents feed that false belief.
The truth is, Dear Reader, you only owe your parents one thing- to honor them. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (KJV) Many people upon reading that verse think that means they have to blindly obey their parents, no matter their age, no matter how their parents treat them. That is simply not true however!!
You must understand what honor truly means. According to the Merriam Webster’s website, honor in this setting means, ” a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>” Basically, you treat someone with courtesy & respect when you honor them. You don’t cuss them out when you get angry, you don’t manipulate them, you don’t abuse them in any way, you don’t lie to them.
There is also this little gem in Acts 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (KJV) In other words, obey God before you obey your parents. If you’re like most of my readers, this Scripture provokes a great deal of anxiety in you. You know when your parents want you to do something for them, they demand it be done in a prompt matter, no excuses! Not doing their bidding means you’ll have to pay & pay dearly. Disobeying them can be a daunting prospect to say the least. However, as a Christian, it is also good for you to follow it in spite of your fears. God never gives bad advice! Obeying Him will be more rewarding than disobeying them will hurt you. I’ve had to do this myself. Yes, it can be very scary, but clinging to the fact that God is good, loves me & wants the best for me helped me to obey him. Also, once you do it, it gets easier the next time, then the next time, & so on.
Keeping these two points in mind, along with prayer, can help you to decide what you owe your narcissistic, ailing parents. Do not allow anyone to tell you what to do. No one but you is living your life. You are the only one who can decide what you are & are not able to do regarding your narcissistic parents, preferably with the help of God.
I’ve noticed an interesting trend with this blog. When I write about my mistakes, failures or struggles, my blog gains more followers & views. My recent post about a bad C-PTSD day gained me quite a few more followers & a lot of views.
I believe this is because people are tired of people who claim they’ve been completely healed from their past, saying all you have to do is pray & believe, & God will deliver you completely from your past. People who are completely delivered from their pain are in the minority, yet they are the ones most in the public eye, it seems.
The problem with this is it makes people feel like failures. It sure did me. I felt like I must not have enough faith or I was praying wrong. Maybe because my experiences weren’t as bad as some other folks’ God wasn’t going to set me free- maybe He thought I was over reacting & needed to realize that.
Then one night while watching TV a few years ago, I saw Josh McDowell doing an interview on TBN’s show, “Praise The Lord.” As a child, he was sexually abused. His story was heartbreaking, but it gave me hope at the same time. Why? Because he admitted that as a grown man in his 50’s or maybe 60’s (my guess.. not sure) he still had issues stemming from that abuse. He said when people touch his shoulder in a certain way, he can’t handle it, because it reminds him of his abuser.
Realizing that this wise, caring, good man of God still had issues from childhood abuse so many years later released the feeling of shame I had. He’s obviously no failure, yet God didn’t wave that magic wand & set him free of all symptoms of the abuse. Maybe, just maybe, that means I’m not a failure either!
Two Scriptures also came into my mind in a new way. Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” & Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” I realized that God is truly there with me during all the bad times. Not only the times that I’ve lost a loved one or had a fight with a friend- all of the bad times. He is with me during flashbacks, panic attacks & depressive episodes. He is with me during all of those valley of the shadow of death times, not just some. Also, I realized you learn a lot more going through something than you do if you’re just delivered from it. The things I learn by going through are the things that I’ve been able to share in this blog, & in my books, too, & I believe people are being helped by these things. I’ve received plenty of messages to prove it.
Also, He is the one who showed me I needed healing. He started me on the healing path by gently showing me what was wrong with me & how to heal. So, since God started that “good work,” it seems logical to me, judging by Philippians 1:6, that He will continue working on healing me until Jesus comes back. This tells me there is nothing wrong with continuing to have issues for years after the fact. It’s normal!
These revelations gave me a new heart for how I write. Rather than constantly trying to encourage or teach readers what I have learned, I felt it would be a good idea to share my mistakes & struggles, too, to let my readers know that they aren’t alone. Everyone who has been through narcissistic abuse struggles to some degree. It’s ok! God is with them & helping them to heal.
So, Dear Reader, this is my promise to you- to be real, not only encouraging or educational. I’ll also let you know that I understand your struggles, because I struggle too, every single day. And, there is nothing wrong with you or your faith if God hasn’t miraculously delivered you. There are plenty of us in that same valley, so at least you aren’t alone!
Exodus 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee….” (KJV)
So many people in the Christian community are quick to remind those of us with abusive parents of the above Scripture. These people believe that we should treat abusive parents well, doing their bidding no matter how cruelly they treat us, & that is precisely the definition of honoring our parents.
In my mind though, that doesn’t sound remotely like the God I know at all!
To honor someone means you give them respect befitting their position. Your parents gave you life, so they deserve thanks for that. (thanks, not worship!) They deserve to be spoken to with basic respect, such as not cussing them out when you’re upset with them.
If you’re blessed with loving, Godly parents, go all out- love them however you see fit. Spend time with them, give them gifts, & let them know you appreciate them.
However, if you’re like most of my readers & I, & aren’t blessed with such parents, that type of honoring behavior probably feels wrong to you. It surely does me! I had to decide on my own with God what honoring my abusive, narcissistic parents felt like.
For me, to honor my parents first & foremost means praying for them. Not always easy, I freely admit that. But, God wants us to pray for our enemies, & sadly, I think my parents fit into that category. (They don’t love me- they only love what I can do for them. They regularly try to hurt, control & manipulate me.) I have an alarm set on my cell to remind me every morning to pray for my parents, other enemies, my friends, family & readers. Praying for them as well as everyone else has become much easier since I’ve been doing it daily for a few months now.
Honoring them also does not include tolerating abuse. If you study what God means by love in the Bible, you’ll see that one thing it basically means wanting the best for others. Allowing someone to be abusive isn’t wanting the best for them. Setting & enforcing good boundaries encourages them to behave right. Granted, it doesn’t always work with narcissists, but at least doing so is a loving & honorable thing to do.
Sometimes setting some distance between or even going no contact with your parents can be honorable. I was no contact with my mother for 6 years. God had been dealing with me for a while about making the step, but I thought that couldn’t be God! I asked Him one day if that was Him, because going no contact seemed so dishonorable to me. His response was among the clearest responses I’ve ever heard from Him. He said, “Where is the honor in the fact that your very presence stirs up strife with your mother? How is that honorable?” That along with some especially horrible things she did to me at the time gave me the courage to end contact with my mother.
As for more specifics, such as do you help out your elderly, abusive parent, that I believe is a decision only you can make. Ask God what you should do. I did this since my parents are now in their late 70’s. I asked if He wanted me to help them. God told me to do as I feel I am able to do, physically as well as emotionally. Due to physical & mental health limitations, it isn’t a lot, & that is fine. God understands! He also understands if I opt to do nothing to help them. My parents may not, but yanno something? I answer to God, not them. Let Him guide you as to what is best in your individual situation. He won’t lead you wrong!
Those of us who grew up with overtly narcissistic mothers often grew up thinking our fathers were great guys. After all, compared to Mom, they really were great. They didn’t berate & control us constantly. Since we also had a skewed view of love, we believe they loved us.
The sad truth though is many of us have fathers who weren’t the great guys we thought they were. Many men married to overtly narcissistic women are covert narcissists.
Covertly narcissistic fathers often come across as hard workers (working long hours &/or traveling for work), soft spoken & naive. They need to be taken care of because they don’t always know what to do. They may be clingy with their daughters, confiding in her about problems in their marriage. When told about how abusive their children’s mother is, they claim they had no idea it was that bad, & there is nothing they can do to stop it. They may even turn it around, claiming it’s so hard on them, knowing how cruel their wives are to their children. Many are quite sneaky too, telling their wives one thing & their children another, to stir up strife between the mother & her children. Some men, if their wife is angry, will somehow find a way to bring up their children to refocus her anger onto her children. They will not hesitate to throw their children (of any age) under the bus with their wife in order to protect themselves from her anger.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, I really understand! It’s my father in a nutshell. And, I also understand that Father’s Day is a painful & frustrating day for you because of this! It is for me too.
Remember my post about the recent argument with my parents? I’m still dealing with it. My mother is still not speaking to me, which works just fine for me. She won’t hear my side of it, I don’t understand hers, so there is no working things out with her. My father, however, is obviously still angry at me, but refuses to talk about it. He insists on looking like the good guy no matter what, so rather than come out & say he’s angry with me, he goes into passive/aggressive mode. He constantly brings up how he upset my dog by coming by one day when I wasn’t here, & hints that he doesn’t believe I wasn’t here. He knows it bothers me he upset her & that he doesn’t believe me when I say I wasn’t here that day. About a week ago, I didn’t answer when he called as I was busy (& frankly not in the mood to deal with him), so the next time we spoke, he told me he was so worried when I didn’t answer my phone. According to him, since I didn’t answer the phone, he was forced to call one of my cousins who lives 450 miles away to try to get in touch with me. All of this drama is about control- letting me know I am wrong for being upset with him & for not taking his call.
Normally I’m not thrilled with Father’s Day anyway, but this year? UGH. Much worse than normal.
I figured out to deal with it this year, I would still get my father a card, but it’s quite different than any other card I’ve given him. I usually opt for a nice, Christian themed card that basically says “God bless you, have a nice day”. Simple but nice while not saying he was a great father, since he wasn’t. This year? I opted for something funny. My father will be glad he got a card, so there won’t be any repercussions for me. I wasn’t even feeling like sending him a nice card, so the funny one worked for me. It was a good compromise. On the actual day, I won’t be calling my father or seeing him. I’ll focus on my husband, who is a good dad to our furkids instead. Plus, this is hubby’s first Father’s Day since his mother died. She often had big family parties on Father’s Day, & since this is his first year without that, I want to be available for him in case he wants to talk or needs some support.
I’m choosing to focus on what is the most important to me, & there is nothing wrong with that!
Father’s Day is a lovely idea. If you have a great dad, then by all means, let him know he is a great dad! Celebrate him on Father’s Day & any other day you feel the urge to do so. However, if you too have a covertly narcissistic father, you don’t need to celebrate him on Father’s Day. It’s OK! There is nothing wrong with you! You aren’t failing to honor your father! It’s not un-Christian not to celebrate it. It’s not commanded in the Bible to celebrate Father’s Day. You are allowed to do whatever you feel you need to do. Get him a card or don’t, give him a gift or don’t- there are no rules. You need to do what feels right to you.
I’ve always been a strong person. In fact, the night of my first nervous breakdown, thanks to my mother’s verbal attack, I didn’t sleep at all, then went to work the following morning. That’s pretty strong!
As the years have passed, I developed C-PTSD that left me much less able to cope. Three years after that, I got a brain injury from passing out from carbon monoxide & hitting my head. The TBI changed me a great deal. One of those changes is I’m no longer the strong chick I once was. I get overwhelmed by the tiniest things, such as having to change my daily routine. And, if I’m already stressed, it gets even worse.
I’m still getting used to not being strong anymore. I’ve noticed though, that people around me haven’t seemed to notice the change. People still think I’m able to handle pretty much anything which isn’t even close to reality.
When you’re a strong person, people tend to forget that you need help or need a break sometimes, too. Even if you haven’t changed like I have, you still need help or a break. Everyone does, but often people forget that when they are accustomed to relying on you.
If you are in this position, then it’s time for a change. No one, no matter how strong, can keep going indefinitely. Everyone needs help sometimes, & there is no shame in asking for that help. It’s time to start telling people you need a break or asking for help. I know it’s hard to do when you aren’t used to doing it, so don’t forget to ask God to help you in this area!
Ask God also to help you to have & enforce good boundaries. Don’t keep pushing yourself when you’re exhausted. You have the right to take care of your physical & mental health!
Remember, “no” can be a very good word sometimes. If people look to you for help or support constantly, they aren’t looking to God. He is where they should be looking, not you. God should be that person’s everything, not you!
One thing that helps me a lot is alone time. If you’re an introvert too, then be sure to tell people you need time alone to recharge. Some extroverts don’t like to hear that, but that isn’t your problem. Make sure they understand that it’s not them- alone time makes you feel like being around others makes them feel. Take the alone time you need. Or, if you’re an extrovert, then plan fun times with good friends or go to parties so you can recharge.
Remember, just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you need to be strong 24/7/365. Everyone needs breaks & help sometimes. There is no shame in that! Besides, taking care of yourself also means you’ll be more able to help others when they do need you!
So many victims of narcissistic abuse wonder why the narcissist seems to stroll happily through life without consequences for their actions while their victims are left to suffer alone or are even blamed for what was done to them. It’s so unfair!
This came to mind recently. I had a flashback. When thinking about it later, my mind wandered to when I was 19, my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back. She has not had any consequences for her actions in the 26 years since that happened. My father said he tried talking to her about it not long after it happened, & she just said “Are you ever going to let that go?” He dropped the subject. I never said anything to her- I was too afraid of it happening again, or her doing something worse. Also why I never called the police, even though now I wish I would have. My ex husband (who I was with at the time) also never did anything aside from tell me how hard it was on him, what she had done.
In fact, I think my father blames me for what happened that night. A year or two ago, for whatever odd reason, he mentioned that incident & told me I didn’t need to apologize for busting up the wall- he was able to repair it. Excuse me? The wall was busted up because my mother threw me into it, so no, I have no plans on apologizing for that.
Sadly, I think this is pretty typical. I can’t think of one victim I’ve spoken with who doesn’t have a similar story. And like me, they are baffled that the narcissist who abused them received no consequences for their actions. They’re also angry, which is certainly understandable. It’s extremely unfair! We’re the ones who suffered because of them, & they don’t get so much as a scolding for what they’ve done!
I really am not sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of the narcissists. If you don’t know much about NPD or have limited experience with a narcissist, the overt narcissist can be very intimidating. Their rages can be terrifying. Or, if the narcissist in question is a covert narcissist, maybe people are afraid of hurting them. Covert narcissists love to play the innocent victim. (They can make their victim apologize to them- they are that convincing). They make the person confronting them feel guilty, even ashamed, & certainly no one wants to feel that way!
Some who know a little about narcissism believe that NPD is something beyond control. They believe the term “disorder” means that the narcissist cannot control her actions at all, when the rest of us know absolutely she can & does on a regular basis.
Or, maybe it’s because victims are the sane, rational ones, & other people think the sane, rational one should “be the bigger person” in the relationship, the one to forgive & forget, & the one to ignore the narcissist’s “flaws”.
Whatever the reason, I know it’s incredibly frustrating that people don’t allow the narcissist any consequences for the abuse she dishes out. Just once, wouldn’t it be amazing to see her get told off for how horribly she treats other people? Maybe not the most good Christian attitude, but in all honesty, what victim of a narcissist hasn’t felt that way at some point? I sure have!
So instead of waiting on others, why not give the narcissist consequences yourself? I’m not saying go cuss her out. If you’re a Christian, act like it! But, there are ways to give a narcissist the deserved consequences without being vengeful.
Boundaries. Have & be willing to enforce good, healthy boundaries. You have every right to tell her no, you won’t tolerate that or do that. Let her figure out how to do something herself or have something done if it’s something you don’t feel you should do or if it goes against your morals. Or, for example, if you’re with your narcissistic mother & have had enough, tell her you’re going home (or need to hang up the phone). If your narcissistic mother is like mine, she expects you to deal with her until she’s tired of you & dismisses you. It will irk her to no end if you end the visit or call first, but it is entirely your right to do so! She doesn’t need to get her way all the time & you need to take care of your physical & mental health.
Don’t allow her to order you around. My mother is a big one for barking out orders, rather than saying something like “Would you please get that for me?” Instead, it’s “Hand me that.” A few months ago, I noticed this. (Sadly, it took my entire life to notice it..) I decided to change how I reacted to her orders. Rather than blindly obeying, I do a couple of things. Sometimes I tell her “In a minute” or “Ok, later” instead of interrupting what I was doing. Other times, I do as she wanted & say “Since you asked so nicely, here is the item you wanted. You’re welcome.” This annoys my mother, but she has started to say “please” sometimes. It’s a little thing, but it means a lot to me to be treated with simple respect rather than being treated like the hired help.
My mother also employs a very common coping skill, especially with narcissists. She reinvents the past. According to her, she was quite the impressive mother. Many other victims I’ve spoken with go through this with their narcissistic mother, too. Rather than validating her delusions, you have the right to tell her that isn’t what happened & tell her the truth. In all honesty, I don’t do this with my mother because I see a tremendous amount of guilt in her for how she’s treated me. I don’t think she could handle me telling her the facts & shattering her delusion. Even so, I refuse to validate her stories. “I don’t remember it that way” or “I don’t remember that happening at all” work for me. She then changes the subject before I can say what the truth was. It’s not a perfect solution but it works for us. She can still use that coping mechanism (as dysfunctional as it is) without me validating it. It’s her right to use it, after all. It’s also my right to refuse to condone it.
Narcissists may not always get the consequences they deserve, but they do need some nonetheless. Consequences teach us how to treat other people, & frankly, who needs to learn how to treat people if not a narcissist? Consequences may not make them treat you like a non-narcissist would, but they most likely will improve the way they treat you in some ways. They also will gain a little respect for you for not allowing them to push you around so much anymore. Not that they’ll admit that, of course, but it still happens.
Years ago, I stumbled across an interesting way to help me maintain calm when dealing with narcissists- props. A prop can be anything that comforts you or even makes you smile. They are a wonderfully simple way to keep you grounded & keep your perspective about the difficult situation. I tend to dissociate pretty easily, & having something to physically touch helps me to stay in the moment.
When I had to deal with my mother in-law, I used things that made me laugh. My personal favorite was a tiny vial for holy water a Catholic charity once sent me. Remember the movie “The Exorcist”? When the possessed girl was sprayed with holy water, she screamed “it burns!!” I imagined my mother in-law doing the same thing if I sprayed her with holy water. (I know – I have a warped sense of humor) When she got nasty with me, I’d reach into my pocket & touch the vial. She never knew why sometimes I’d smile when she was so wicked..
A friend of mine also had a mother in-law who disliked her. We started joking saying, “pass the flask- I have to see the mother in-law today.” One day, a flask arrived in the mail! She bought her & I matching flasks! The flask became a prop too, making me smile when I thought of my friend’s & my inside joke.
On a less silly note, I was very close to my granddad. Butterflies are something we share (see the story in this post), & because of that, I have a small butterfly tattoo on my right ankle. I also have a pretty yellow butterfly key chain, butterfly earrings & other various butterfly things. Often when I’m around my mother, I look at or touch my butterfly items for comfort.
When you have to deal with the narcissist in your life, what prop can you keep handy to help you get through? The item you carry doesn’t have to be anything fancy- just something that inspires you or makes you smile. Preferably something small that can fit in your pocket, so you can touch it easily.
Most importantly though, never forget to pray before you must deal with the narcissist. God will give you whatever you need- strength, courage, wisdom, etc.
Certain problems with the brain can cause narcissistic behaviors or exacerbate ones that already exist.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease exacerbate the symptoms. If a narcissist develops either disease, even if they have changed for the better prior to their diagnosis, chances are very good that their narcissistic behavior will return with a vengeance. If you think about it, it makes sense this would happen. As the brain health deteriorates, the person will become more frustrated with being able to accomplish & articulate less & less. They have unmet needs which will make them focus more on how to get those needs met & how to tell others they need the needs met. An already self-centered person will become even more so. Plus, as they deteriorate, this is a huge narcissistic injury. As they lose their looks & talents, it makes them angry like any narcissistic injury does, & they lash out.
Brain injuries, such as concussions or other traumatic brain injuries, also can create or exacerbate narcissistic behaviors too.
Until the past couple of years, little was known about traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. Thankfully, more is known now, & many people are starting realize the severity of TBIs & its list of awful symptoms. Some symptoms may include:
- short term memory loss
- comprehension problems
- reduced attention span
- personality changes (such as once being optimistic, but becoming pessimistic after the TBI)
- vision changes
- sleep troubles
- dizziness &/or vertigo
- angry outbursts
- sensory changes (sensitivity to light or sound for example)
- if the TBI happens to a child, he or she may stop maturing emotionally beyond the age the TBI occurred.
Having had a TBI myself, I have a lot of these symptoms. In fact, I feel like a very different person than I was before the accident. My personality has changed so much. And, yes, I am much more selfish than I was previously. I believe it also caused me to develop Dependent Personality Disorder. Once I was very independent, now I depend a lot on my husband. I also don’t enjoy as much alone time as I once did. I get lonely sometimes, which is something I never did before.
I thank God though because He has taught me so much about narcissism! If He hadn’t done so, I believe my behavior would have taken a narcissistic turn.
If a person grows up seeing narcissistic behavior from one or both parents, that is the norm. It’s all they know. They see narcissists getting whatever they want. If that person gets a TBI, chances are they will become more self-centered. If that self-centered thinking is quite severe, it seems like going into narcissism is a natural course of events. After all, they see a narcissist getting anything she wants- what she does works. If it works for the narcissist, it should work for the TBI victim as well. It’s only logical.
If you or someone you know has a brain injury or disease, cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy) may be a very good idea. A professional can help you work through what you’re feeling & develop healthy ways to cope. And remember, sometimes it takes going through a few counselors before you find one you’re comfortable with.
If you are dealing with someone like this, you’re in a very challenging position. I understand totally- my father has Alzheimer’s. There are no easy answers for you. What works for one person may not work for another. You will need to draw nearer to God than ever. Listen to His promptings. Your gut feelings are His promptings trying to lead you the right way. Pick your battles wisely. Some things simply are NOT worth a fight. Don’t forget to protect yourself, too. Yes, this person is sick & can only control their actions to a degree or maybe not at all, but you still need to protect yourself from physical or mental danger. If you’re a caregiver, there are options out there to get help. Your local Department of Aging or churches can help. There are plenty of support groups available also for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s & dementia.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (KJV)
Lately, the “pray for them which despitefully use you, & persecute you” part of this Scripture has been weighing heavily on my heart.
Praying for those who hurt you can be extremely difficult for even the most devoted Christian. I’m certainly no exception to that, so when God recently put it on my heart to pray more frequently for my mother after yet another difficult conversation, I was less than thrilled. I prayed for her sometimes, but not daily. Not even as often as it came into my mind that I should pray for her. It was too difficult to sincerely pray for my mother since she’s hurt me so much in my life. Once in a while, fine, but that was really about the best I could manage. Yet, God was telling me to change that.
In obedience, I decided to set a daily reminder on my cell phone to pray for my mother every morning. Once I started though, I realized that daily prayer was becoming easier & more sincere. Shortly after, God put it on my heart to add my father to the daily prayer. Once I was feeling pretty comfortable praying for them both, He wanted me to add my in-laws.
*sigh* Really? The in-laws? After all the awful things my mother in-law put me through?! The nastiness of my sisters in-law, including them updating my husband on his ex for many years after we were married?! Ok, fine. They’re on the prayer list too, although grudgingly at first.
God then expanded my prayers even more, by asking me to pray daily for a former friend of mine who hurt me deeply almost six years ago. Oh come on, God! Seriously?! Fine… added this person to my morning prayers.
Then, the icing on the cake was asking me to pray for someone who harassed me for over two years. I did that the other night for the first time. It was hard, but I did it. Already, that’s getting easier.
I’m glad I’ve started this daily prayer, even though it was hard at first. What the Bible doesn’t mention in Matthew 5:44 is that praying for people who have hurt you creates a deep peace inside. I feel more relaxed & less anger or hurt when I think of these people now. I also feel even closer to God than I did before starting this which has brought me more joy. It’s absolutely wonderful!!
I know it can be somewhat overwhelming to think about doing this, Dear Reader, but why don’t you give it a try too? It really is worth it! Pray for the person who has hurt you a great deal in your life, just because you love God & want to please Him. If at first you pray through clenched teeth, God will understand! If you tell him you’re only praying for that person because you know He wants you too even though you don’t really mean it right now, He gets that too! The more you pray, the easier it becomes, & the more peace & joy you will feel. You will be blessed!
Try it today, Dear Reader. Pray for your abuser. Ask God to help you to do so if need be. What do you have to lose?
Much information I’ve read about Alzheimer’s stresses the importance of treating the patient with respect. They are more frustrated than you because they can’t remember things or function like they once did, & your lack of respect will upset them even more. One article gave a very valuable tip for the caregivers that is also extremely useful for dealing with difficult people in general. Although I have mentioned it before, I want to stress it again because I believe it is extremely valuable.
Rather than reacting out of emotion, take a moment to take a deep breath, think, then respond instead.
Reacting is done without thinking while responding requires thought. Reacting causes stress & disagreements, where responding can avoid them. No matter how functional or dysfunctional your relationship, or whether or not the other person has an awful illness like Alzheimer’s, responding is always better than reacting.
As I’ve mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July of last year. Also as I’ve mentioned before, Alzheimer’s & dementia exacerbate narcissism in a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dealing with him has become very difficult sometimes even though the disease hasn’t progressed too badly yet. I have found the pause to take a deep breath tactic very useful for dealing with him. As an added bonus, I learned it’s also useful in dealing with my narcissistic mother.
Deep breathing is relaxing, plus the pause gives you a moment to calm down your anger. Both really help in dealing with narcissists!
This technique also helps me to deal with the frustration of flaring symptoms that accompany C-PTSD like having trouble finding the right words. The brief pause often means the word comes to me when it wouldn’t during moments of frustration. It also can help to trigger remembering something that was lost a moment before.
It also helps my marriage. Thanks to the C-PTSD & a brain injury, I can be very moody & irritable. Unfortunately there are times I have snapped at my husband for no reason, but I have found this technique helps to cut back on those times a lot. If we’re talking while I am irritable, I stop & take a deep breath. It helps me to have more control, & not snap at my poor husband.
No matter the status of your relationships or your mental health, I hope you will consider what I have said & begin to employ this technique. It really can be helpful in even the most challenging of relationships!
If you’re a caregiver to an elderly parent or grandparent, there is a little something you need to know that will make your job more pleasant & improve the patient’s mood.
People need to feel useful. Even if a person isn’t physically able to do much, that person still needs to feel like they are capable of doing things. It can warm even the coldest heart when a person knows they have a purpose.
When collecting firewood for the winter, our neighbor helped out my husband. He is in his late 70’s & has quite a few health problems. Not only did he load his pick up full of wood, he helped my husband unload it. He was obviously very proud of his accomplishment, as he should have been!
When I was helping to care for my narcissistic grandmother in 2000, it was not a pleasant experience. She was a narcissist, & a very mean, cold, manipulative person. One day, she wanted applesauce. I assumed this meant she had a jar on a shelf somewhere, but I was wrong- she wanted homemade. Since I didn’t know how to make it, she taught me. That was one of only a couple of nice days I shared with my grandmother. As we both peeled & cored apples, we talked. She told me stories about her family as she showed me what to do. It was a surprisingly pleasant day. She was enjoying herself as she worked.
Although it’s no one’s job to make another person feel good about themselves, it’s a good idea to let people know how much you appreciate their help or what a good job they did so they feel useful. It truly brightens their day & makes them feel good.
If you’re a caregiver, it is also a good idea to give someone you’re caring for tasks to do that you know they are capable of handling because a person who sits back & does nothing while others do everything can get depressed. She may even feel like she has no reason to live, because she isn’t a contributing member of society anymore. Or, if the person you’re caring for is a narcissist, she will love the fact she has people at her beck & call. My grandmother was that way. She had no problem demanding I come do something for her at any time, no matter what I had going on in my life. One night at 9:30, when I was about ready for bed, she called my mother who had my father call me to tell me I had to get to her home right away. Why? Because when I wrote down her list of what medicine to take when, I scratched out something & she couldn’t read through the scratches. I had to go to her house & explain that I’d made a mistake, that was why I scratched out what I had. Just ignore it & focus on the things I’d written down. *sigh* Obviously it was all about control, but I was unaware of that at the time.
Even a malignant narcissist like my grandmother could be changed (temporarily but it still counts!) by simply making her feel useful. Giving her small things to do that she was physically able to easily do made a difference in her behavior.
Also, if you give a task, do so respectfully! Just because someone is older or frail doesn’t mean they are unworthy of respect. Please & thank you are phrases that go a long way with someone! And, don’t treat that person like a child. That does NOT go over well, & understandably so!
Don’t forget too, to say you could use some help. That helps to make the person feel useful rather than feeling patronized. With the applesauce, I made sure to tell my grandmother I needed some help that day since I had no clue what I was doing. Once she realized she was being useful, her mood drastically improved.
This advice isn’t only for the elderly or sickly, by the way. Everyone needs to feel like they have a purpose!
The other day, I went out with an old friend for an afternoon of lunch & shopping. It was a perfectly lovely day full of lots of fun & laughs.
For a normal person, this would be all there is to the story. I, however, am not normal, thanks to C-PTSD.
Driving to my friend’s home was nerve wracking. I was unable to drive much for about 18 months for various reasons, then add in the concussion I endured last February that has warped some of my perception, & I feel like I’m learning to drive all over again. Plus, being out in public makes me anxious, thanks to the agoraphobia. I also don’t do change in my regular routine well. And, the concussion made my already high anxiety levels worse & harder to control. All of these factors made my anxiety level really, really high.
After getting home, my husband asked how the afternoon went, & I told him all about it, including my awful anxiety. He told me he was proud of me for not only doing this but managing to enjoy myself in spite of the anxiety. I should have said “thank you” & gone on with my day, but ohhh noooo. I said, “I just did what anyone can do- I’m just the one stupid enough to have problems doing it.”
I realized two things as soon as I said those words…
- I blame myself for way too much that is beyond my control.
- I really don’t talk nicely to myself. In fact, I’m downright verbally abusive.
These issues need addressing, & I’m sure if I need to address them, other adult children of narcissistic parents do as well. So in this post, we’ll address self blame & the next one, how to talk to oneself.
Growing up with my narcissistic parents, I learned that I was responsible for pretty much everything. When my parents would fight, if I wasn’t in the same room, sometimes they would come into the room where I was so I could stop the fight. Both would talk to me about the other & the problems in their marriage (they still do today & I try to avoid it). If I had any problems with a friend, my mother always told me “to have a friend, you have to be one.” Basically she meant I wasn’t doing enough to make the friendship work. It was all my responsibility & the other person had zero responsibility. I was solely responsible for my grades in school- I wasn’t reminded to do my homework & not helped study once I got out of elementary school.
God showed me that being so overly responsible for pretty much everything led to me believing that if something is wrong, it’s my fault. I feel that I should’ve done something to prevent that, I should fix the damage, etc.
Plus my mother openly blames me for things that are beyond my control. For example, a few years ago, I got the flu 3 times in one winter. It’s never happened before or since. I assume it was because I was so stressed that winter that my immune system was very compromised. My mother, however, said I deserved it because I didn’t get a flu shot. A little over a year ago, I was helping my husband split wood with the wood splitter. A large log slipped from his grip, landing on & breaking my big toe. I tried to move but wasn’t fast enough. My mother said it was my fault for not being more careful.
Such abusive behavior towards me cemented the false belief in me that most things are my fault, even things beyond my control. Yesterday was proof of that.
I realized just how ridiculous this is. Not one thing about my anxiety being so bad was my fault, & I need to not take responsibility for it. So many other things aren’t my fault either that I have taken responsibility for.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time for you to make changes too!
Since this is new territory for me I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about it. I have some ideas that I believe should work though..
I plan to ask God to help me have a more appropriate sense of responsibility. Call my attention to blaming myself when it’s not my fault. Help me to assign blame to the one who is really responsible.
If I catch myself blaming myself, I think it’s a good idea to ask God if this is truly my fault. Should I accept responsibility for it or not? If not, please help me to shake feeling responsible for it.
And, when my mother (or anyone really) starts blaming me for something I know isn’t my fault, I will refuse to accept that blame. Whether that means standing up to the person or simply telling myself that I’m not to blame or both, I need to do it.
I hope these suggestions help you, Dear Reader. If you have any others, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to write in the comments or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
I keep getting a message lately in various forms. so it’s safe to assume it’s very important….
Enjoy your life. Enjoy the little things like an unexpected hug or getting caught in a spring rain. Thank God for allowing you to wake up this morning. Spend time just sitting in His presence, thanking Him for whatever you are grateful for & allowing Him to love you. Complement freely- not only does it bless the person you’re complementing, but it also blesses you when you make them feel good. Take care of yourself, physically & emotionally. You’re no good to anyone (including yourself) if you’re sick or depressed. Play a game or resume a hobby you enjoyed as a child. Have fun, don’t just work from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep.
Too many people are miserable. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negativity in life- Lord knows there is plenty of it everywhere! Just turn on the news & you can be overwhelmed with negativity in record time. And, if you’re like the bulk of my readers & have experienced narcissistic abuse, that certainly can make you negative & miserable. It’s hard to find good in the tremendous amount of pain it causes. Even so, there is still good to be found. You can celebrate the fact you survived the abuse that was meant to destroy you. You are strong- you got out alive & sane! I’m seeing more & more how tough I am to survive what I’ve been through, & I thank God for helping me get through it even though I didn’t believe in Him at the time. It’s a miracle to survive narcissistic abuse- never forget that! Embrace the fact you’re a walking, talking miracle for surviving something so heinous!
Whatever you do, just please, Dear Reader, enjoy your life as much as you can. After all, Jesus came so you can enjoy your life. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV) So why not get to enjoying your life? You’ll be glad you did!
Enjoy the company of your elders. If you still have grandparents, visit them, & visit them often. Listen to their stories. Write them down or record them. You will learn so much wisdom from them while enjoying yourself at the same time. You will treasure their stories one day when they are gone. Some of my best memories involve my great grandmother when I was little or my granddad as an adult. As a very little girl, my great grandmother & I had fun drawing, playing her favorite card game (Gin Rummy) or even snuggling up while watching the fire works on July 4th. My granddad taught me a great deal about our family, including many fascinating stories of his & my grandmom’s early days of marriage & raising their family.
Grandparents & others in the elder generation can be such a blessing. They have seen a lot in their lifetime, & have learned a lot. They can teach you so much about life &, if they are relatives, about your family history as well. Not to mention, they can be a lot of fun. I always got some laughs when I spent time with Granddad. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Before Grandmom died in 1996, she & my aunt wrote a small book together that wasn’t published. It included family history & some fun stories. She wanted our family to expand on it, but no one did. So a few years ago, I nagged my relatives for stories they wanted to include in the book. I added some pictures as well, & ended up with a wonderful finished product with the help of my publisher. If you feel creative, then I would suggest doing something similar. It’s a fun project, & with the help of self-publishers, even an amateur can create a lovely finished product that can be passed down & treasured through the generations.
If, like many of my readers, your elders are narcissists, this can be more complicated. Don’t feel guilty if your parents are old & you don’t want to spend time with them. How can you want to spend time with people who abuse you?! It’s normal to feel that way. People reap what they sow, & if they sow bad seeds into your life, you normally won’t want to spend time with them. It took me a long time to realize this & stop feeling so guilty for not wanting to spend more time with my parents. What you do regarding these people is between you & God only. Don’t be guilt tripped into spending more time with abusive narcissists just because they’re old. Being old doesn’t give a person the right to be abusive, & many narcissists only get more abusive as they get older. You follow your heart & the promptings of God regarding the relationship, not what people have to say.