Category Archives: Christian Topics and Prayers

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Often “Less Wrong” Is Your Best Solution With Narcissists

When dealing with narcissists, often there is no right answer.  They are masters at creating no win situations, & even when they aren’t actively creating one, they seem to come up anyway.  For example, think about no contact.  In a sense, it’s the right solution.  It’ll protect you from further abuse & give you the space you need in order to heal from all you have endured.  While those are certainly great things, no contact also means a close relationship ended & on a bad note.  Clearly this isn’t a really good thing, even though the good outweighs the bad.  The only other alternative is to continue in an abusive relationship, so a person is limited to two choices, neither of which is particularly great.

Many things with narcissists are like that.  Setting boundaries is another example.  Yes, setting boundaries is a good thing & it is necessary, but at the same time, it starts a lot of problems with narcissists.  Since they don’t respect anyone’s boundaries, when someone tries to set them, they get angry & even more abusive.  The only choices are begin to set boundaries & deal with more abuse at least temporarily, or do nothing & suffer anyway.  Neither answer is really a right one.

Often, the best you can do with a narcissist is choose the least wrong answer.

While I know this sounds depressing & hopeless, I don’t mean it to.  Once you accept this, you can feel less stress & anxiety in your dealings with the narcissist.

Accepting that there really isn’t any right answer helps you to understand that no matter what you do, there won’t be a good, healthy or functional solution.  There is nothing you can do to make that happen.  It’s beyond your control.  This can be very freeing!  It helps you not to beat yourself up because things haven’t worked out perfectly.  You accept that sometimes a person’s best just isn’t good enough, & that’s ok.

It also helps you because you learn to keep your expectations realistic with the narcissist.  You know that the narcissist is going to be angry or upset no matter what you do.  You will have a good idea what to expect rather than thinking that this time will be better.  You also can prepare yourself for whatever is going to happen.

Accepting this truth that there are only less wrong answers with narcissist also helps you not to drive yourself crazy trying to figure out exactly what you need to do & how to do it.  You feel much less pressure to make everything right when you know that no matter what you do, you’ll be wrong anyway.

When you know that the narcissist will say you’re wrong in whatever you do, it’s also much easier to think of yourself instead of only him or her.  You develop a mindset something like, “Well, if I’m going to be wrong anyway I might as well get something out of this too.”

In all honesty, sometimes the fact there often isn’t any right answer also will make you sad.  That is totally normal.  It isn’t exactly the most cheerful fact of life, after all.  But, if you can look at it in ways that benefit you, it really can help you.

I also found that a quote from Captain Picard from the old tv show “Star Trek The Next Generation” to be comforting.  “It is possible to commit no mistakes & still lose.  That is not a weakness.  That is life.”  I know, I’m a nerd quoting this show, but the words are very wise & very comforting.  Definitely worth remembering, in particular when dealing with a narcissist.

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About Anger In Adult Children Of Narcissistic Parents

 

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Types Of Abuse That Are Rarely Recognized As Abuse

When most people think of an abusive person, they think of someone who is physically abusive, such as the man who beats his wife & children.  Some may also think of a verbally abusive person, too.  There is so much more to abuse than these two methods, however!  Narcissists often use the following tactics, so it’s wise to be aware of them.

Forcing a person to do something they don’t want to do is abuse.  This can include anything, such as following unreasonable rules, looking a certain way or even performing sexual acts.  The forcing can be accomplished in many ways, like withholding money, using intimidation, guilt or shaming or simply telling the victim there is no choice in this matter.

An extremely possessive & jealous romantic partner is being abusive.  Almost everyone has a little bit of possessiveness & jealousy in them, & that is normal.  Being upset someone flirted with your spouse is bound to bring out that jealous streak.  What is not normal in that situation is if someone becomes enraged at their spouse, accusing them of having an affair with the person who flirted with them or even resorting to physical violence.  When your partner’s jealousy makes you afraid to speak with anyone your partner doesn’t approve of, this is a sign that their behavior is abusive.

Giving no privacy is abusive.  Unless you have given someone a valid reason not to trust you, such as if you cheated on your spouse, there is no good reason for you not to have privacy in your relationships.  It’s healthy for each person in a relationship, any relationship, to have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Each person should be able to trust that the other person won’t snoop through their emails, phone, purse, etc.  Snooping makes a person feel guilty & paranoid about everything, even when they have no reason to feel that way.  It’s a miserable way to live!

Isolation is abuse.  If the other person you’re in a relationship with tries to keep you from seeing your friends & family, this is a huge red flag!  Abusers of all kinds like to isolate their victims as a means of being able to control them.  Isolation limits the information, help & support a victim can receive, which makes them easier to abuse.

Intimidation is also abuse.  My ex husband used to punch walls sometimes when he was angry with me.  He even told me that I was lucky he hit the wall instead of me, because that was what he wanted to do.  Intimidation also can come in the form of someone telling you that they’ll tell everyone you know private things about you & that no one will want anything to do with you after they know those things.

Keeping you from accessing any money is abusive.  Naturally parents don’t allow their children to access their bank accounts, but they also don’t restrict their children from working.  They also don’t expect their children to give them most of their paycheck for rent.  A spouse that refuses to add your name to bank accounts or credit cards, or prevents you from working is also being abusive.

Using religion to force you to behave as they want is abusive.  Spiritual abuse seems to be on the rise.  It can come from those in the church, spouses & even parents.  Spiritual abuse is when someone tries to manipulate your behavior by twisting Scripture around to justify their abusing you or manipulating you into doing what they want.  This is one more reason I believe it’s wise to have plenty of knowledge of the Bible.  People who spiritually abuse can be quite convincing with what they have to say.  The best way to combat this is to have knowledge of the Bible & a relationship with God.

Just remember, Dear Reader, anyone who shows these behaviors is being abusive.  Don’t tell yourself it’s no big deal, it doesn’t mean anything or any other excuses.  These behaviors are abusive & you have every right to protect yourself!

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For My Younger Readers Living With Abusive Parents

Those of you young men & women who are still living at home with your abusive parent (or parents), this post is for you today.

You are in a rough place, as you well know.  I’ve been there too, & I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.  Until you can move out, no doubt you could use some advice to help you cope.

I hope those of you reading this share my faith.  Knowing God has been the most important part of my life, including helping me to survive the abuse.  When I was living with my parents, however, I didn’t believe in God because of the abuse.  No doubt many of you feel the same way & your parents also have misused religion as an excuse to abuse you.  Please know that God is nothing like what abusive parents say He is!  He is loving & kind, & will gladly help you through this!  If you’d like to learn more, click this link: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/salvation-through-jesus-christ/

Learn everything you possibly can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The more you understand it, the more it will help you to figure out ways to cope with your parent’s behavior.  It also will help you to remember that you are NOT the problem, your narcissistic parent is.  While that may seem obvious when you first learn about NPD, narcissists can be very manipulative.  Even to the point of making others believe they are the real problem in the relationship.  That happened to me with both my parents & my ex husband.  I honestly believed I was the problem in spite of them clearly being the abusers.  Not only did I feel awful but they used that as another way to control me.  Since I thought I was so awful, I trusted them to tell me how to be better.  Learn from my mistake!  Abusers are always the problem!

When dealing with your parent, try to show as little emotion as possible.  The reason being narcissists use people’s emotions against them.  Are you happy?  The narcissist will try to make you sad.  Are you sad or angry?  The narcissist will try to make you sadder or angrier, then tell you that you’re crazy because of how you feel.  Always remain unemotional around your parent.

Save up money as best you can.  Be frugal with your money & save as much as you can, because you are going to need quite a bit to get a car & to move out.  Also, stash your money somewhere where your parent can’t get to it.  Many narcissistic parents steal from their children, so you need to be careful about where you hide your money.

Move out to somewhere safe as soon as possible.  A roommate helps financially, so that may be an option.  You’ll need someone who has a steady job & is responsible, as well as someone you get along well with.  Some folks rent out rooms in their home, too.  Or, maybe a friend or relative would let you move in with them.  Consider your options & make plans as best you can.  Don’t share your plans with anyone that might tell your parent about them, however.

If at all possible, buy what you can to prepare for moving out.  If you plan to live with a relative or rent a room, you probably won’t need much.  A bedroom set, toiletries, towels.. things like this.  If you have a friend or relative that knows your situation, they might be willing to hold these items for you until you need them so your parent doesn’t find out about your plans.

I know all of this must seem overwhelming, but really you got this!  You have survived so much up to this point which shows you are strong!  You can do it!!

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Deciding Whether Or Not To Go No Contact

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Narcissistic Parents Who Abuse Their Adult Children

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Passive/Aggressive Behavior

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Sale On My Ebooks!

My publisher is having a sale on my e-books from December 25 until January 1. All e-books will be 25% off. Check it out at the link below…

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

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Misusing Christianity For Abusive Purposes

So many people I have spoken with were abused under the guise of Christianity.  Parents abuse their children because they think Proverbs 13:24 basically saying,  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” means parents have the right to beat their children.  They are also often the same parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them by refusing to tolerate their abuse.  There are also husbands who demand blind obedience from their wives because Ephesians 5:22 says wives should submit to their husbands.  There are even those active in their church who abuse other church members.  Some sexually abuse children, others ostracize other members for not fitting their ideal of what they should be & more.

There are so many things wrong with such situations!!

Personally I believe that as wrong as abuse is, when it is done using God as a justification or as a way to lure victims in, that somehow makes the abuse even worse.  The person in this situation not only has the fallout of the abuse to deal with, but also is going to have a lot of spiritual damage as well.  They may believe God doesn’t care about them or maybe that He simply doesn’t exist at all because what happened to them was so horrific.  I felt the same way.  My mother went through a phase when I was a teenager of telling me that she knew she was going to Heaven when she died because she was such a good person.  I, however, was terrible to her so I was destined for Hell.  I thought no God could exist & let me go through what I was going through, but if He did, I clearly wanted no part of Him if that was truly how He was.

Also, it seems to me when people twist Scripture around, if you look at the Bible, somewhere there is at least one nearby verse that clearly proves their interpretation is wrong.  Look at Ephesians 5:22 for a second.  Yes, it does say that wives should submit to their husbands.  It also says in the verse immediately before that a couple should submit to each other.  It clearly isn’t one sided, but you won’t hear an abusive husband mention Ephesians 5:21.  The same goes for abusive parents who claim their children aren’t honoring them.  The Bible also mentions in Ephesians 6:4 & Colossians 3:21 that parents shouldn’t provoke their children.

Truly toxic, abusive, narcissistic people will use the Bible or the label of “Christian” to justify their wicked behavior.  To combat this, you have to know the Bible at least a bit.  Nowhere in there does it justify any form of abuse!  If you have any doubts, do your research with a good concordance or the internet.  It won’t take you long to see how wrong the abuser is.

People also claim they are Christian to be underestimated, so people will feel safe with them or if they’re on the fence about something, they will think it’s OK because this person said they’re a Christian.  Most people hear someone say they’re a Christian & somehow think those people are impervious to mistakes or bad behavior.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  EVERYONE makes mistakes for one thing.  If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus.  And for another thing, no true believer is going to be deliberately abusive towards someone else.

Rather than take someone on their word, observe a person’s behavior.  Any true Christian’s behavior should show that they are doing their best to live a good, Godly life.  Sure, they make mistakes, but they quickly try to fix them.  If they hurt someone, it isn’t done intentionally, they are fast to apologize & change their behavior so it never happens again.

There are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, looking for innocent victims.  Remembering the points in this article can help you to avoid them.

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Traits Of Unsafe People

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Victim Shaming Comments

Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days.  It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.

Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.

“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.”  Trauma isn’t a contest.  Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s.  This sort of statement does nothing good.  It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.

“Your abuser has had a rough life!  You should help him/her.”  A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people.  Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people.  However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive.  I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.

“You know what the problem is?  You weren’t nice enough.  You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.”  Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations.  It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong.  They feel convicted & change.  When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though?  Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.

“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.”  This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior.  This is totally unfair!  The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!

“Stop being a victim!”  While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience.  There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse.  None!  There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse.  In many cases, it takes a lifetime.  That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!

“You need to forgive/let this go.  You’ve been holding onto this for too long!”  I am a huge proponent of forgiveness.  Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health.  That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to!  Doing so is a process.  I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done.  In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done.  Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy.  That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger  as a way to get it out of you.  There is no time limit on that.

“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?”  This statement is beyond foolish.  When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”!  Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing.  A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.

When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you.  They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way.  That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain.  If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.

Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world.  If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.

Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things.  If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.

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Disproportionate Anger In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently read an article about something called gunnysacking.  Turns out, that is the term for having a disproportionate reaction to someone due to having held in anger for too long.

I’ve experienced this many times, & I believe it’s a common abuse tactic of narcissists.  They push your buttons & somehow let you know that you aren’t allowed to confront them on their bad behavior.  Eventually they say something that is far from the worst thing they’ve ever said yet you lose your temper.  They enjoy this because it proves to them how irrational, crazy, etc. you are.  It also leaves you wondering if the narcissist may just be right about you being irrational or crazy.

The best example I can give of gunnysacking in my life happened in 2016.  At the time, I wanted to go no contact with my parents, but the timing felt wrong somehow.  I maintained the relationship only because I trust my instincts.  When my mother in-law died that April, a few days later, I saw my parents’ number on my caller ID.  They just saw her obituary in the local paper & were angry I hadn’t told them she died.  They were worried what my in-laws would think of them for not being at the funeral.  My parents knew I hadn’t spoken to any of my in-laws in 14 years at this time.  They also only spoke to them maybe 3 times in the 22 years my husband  & I had been together.  I felt betrayed that my parents showed such loyalty to people who they knew mistreated me.  They couldn’t understand why I felt that way., & I was furious.  That was the last time I spoke to my mother, & one of the last times I spoke to my father.

This was hardly the first time my parents showed they cared more for someone else than me.  It also wasn’t the worst thing they had done.  Years of stifling my anger just reached a boiling point in that conversation.  The anger just gushed out even though it wasn’t proportionate to the situation.

I believe there is another variation on gunnysacking, too.  When you have a relationship with a narcissist, yet rather than blow up at the narcissist, you blow up to your spouse, friend, sibling, etc.  This is a bonus for a narcissist because it proves that they have control over you & also causes you problems in another relationship.

Unfortunately I have done this too.  I would speak to my parents, then after the visit, when I’d see my husband, I’d snap at him over nothing.  I was angry with my parents, & unable to hold it in any longer by the time I saw him.  (Yes, I apologized when this happened since it wasn’t fair to him.)

Gunnysacking may feel good at the moment since you’re finally getting those emotions out, but it isn’t healthy.  When you are overwhelmed with emotions, you can’t think clearly.  Negative emotions that overwhelm can trigger survival instincts to kick in & that means rational thought is put aside.  Stress levels are raised & that is certainly unhealthy for your body.  Not to mention, attacking someone disproportionately can damage your relationship.  No one wants to be treated badly but in particular when they haven’t done anything wrong.  Also, in a relationship with a narcissist, as I mentioned earlier, they’ll use gunnysacking to prove how awful you are to yourself & others.  They love to say things like, “She just started yelling at me out of the blue.”  “I don’t know what set him off.  We were talking then suddenly he was screaming.”

To avoid gunnysacking, it’s best to deal with your anger as it comes up.  Since confronting narcissists rarely helps, find other ways to process your anger.  Write in a journal, talk to a friend, draw or even pray.  God can handle your anger & help you get through it.

And lastly, never forget, there is nothing wrong with feeling anger, especially when you’re abused by a narcissist.  Everyone does sometimes, & even Jesus got angry.  It’s perfectly normal.  It’s when others are hurt by your anger that it becomes a problem.

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Minimizing Your Abusive Experiences

Those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse, in particular at the hand of our parents, tend to share many characteristics.  One of them is the inclination to minimize any & all traumatic experiences, whether or not they had anything to do with the original abuser.

Some indicators that you are doing this is if you say things like:

  • “It wasn’t that bad.. at least he didn’t hit me.” after leaving a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.
  • “Yea, that person held a knife to my throat but all he did was take my wallet…”
  • “I know my parents did some bad stuff to me but others have it way worse than I did.”

See the common thread in these statements?  Each one minimizes something very traumatic.

Another way people do this is to use the words “just” or “only” often.  Think of statements like, “It was just verbal abuse” or “He only hit me the one time.”

I realized some time ago that I have done this same thing.  What got my attention was watching a tv show about a serial killer, believe it or not.  The killer’s ex wife was interviewed, & many things she said that he said as well as some of his behavior that she described reminded me a great deal of my ex husband!  No, he’s no serial killer, but to realize he shared some behavior & personality traits with one was a big wake up call to me.  It showed me that in spite of what most people said, that marriage truly was bad!  His behavior really was abusive, & he had some serious mental health issues.  Yet, when I discussed that marriage, I often downplayed the abuse.  Realizing all of this showed me how unhealthily I’ve behaved, & also how many other people do exactly the same thing.

Minimizing one’s trauma is a terribly unhealthy thing to do!  It contributes to a root of shame, & toxic shame affects every area of your life.  Toxic shame makes you feel unworthy in every possible area of your life.  It’ll make you willing to settle for the job you hate because you don’t think you’re qualified to do a better job you would enjoy.  It’ll make you settle for a romantic partner who isn’t good for you since you believe you wouldn’t be attractive to someone better.  The same goes for friendships.  Someone with toxic shame will settle for friends who mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve a better caliber of friends.

Minimizing also gives other people the message that what you went through wasn’t so bad.  This can lead to people having no compassion for you or others who have experienced abuse.  Since you act like it’s not a big deal, they will assume it isn’t.  It also can send the wrong message to others in similar situations.  They may think that since you don’t see the abuse as bad, maybe they’re overreacting to their situation.  Of course, this will lead to toxic shame & all of the problems that go along with it.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today.  Listen to yourself.  Do you minimize your traumatic experiences?  Do you use “just” or “only” often?  If so, STOP!  Trauma is trauma, no matter if someone else had it worse than you.  Don’t minimize your suffering!  Acknowledge it for what it is so you can heal.  Minimizing only causes problems!

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Irritable Gratitude Syndrome

I recently read an article about Traumatic Brain Injuries that mentioned the term Irritable Gratitude Syndrome.  This phenomenon happens to many who have survived a TBI.  People often tell these survivors how lucky they are to still be alive, it could have ended so much worse or be happy you don’t have it as bad as someone else does.  Many caregivers or survivors at this point want to scream, & rightfully so!!  Such comments can stir up some pretty angry thoughts & feelings that are quite justified.

Yes, it’s great the person is still here, but it’s not so great that he or she has lost their personality, has constant headaches, struggles to comprehend even the simplest things & forgets so much.  Many unaffected by TBIs have zero idea just how awful these things are to live with either in yourself or someone you love.

Ok, true, the situation could’ve ended worse than it did, but even so, that doesn’t mean it ended well!  It can be very hard to be grateful to be alive when you’re struggling with the awful day to day symptoms of a TBI or watching someone you love struggle with said symptoms.

And yes, others have it worse.  That doesn’t negate the fact that all TBIs are unique, they all host at least some pretty challenging symptoms & they all are very disruptive to a person’s life.  As someone with a brain injury, I can tell you that knowing someone else has it worse than me doesn’t make mine any less obnoxious to live with.

As I was reading the article & considering such things I realized something…  I really don’t think Irritable Gratitude Syndrome is only for those with brain injuries.  I also think it can be common to those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse.

Think about it… how many times have you been told that you should be glad your situation wasn’t worse, at least he didn’t hit you or everyone has problems with their parents?  That’s kind of similar to the comments TBI survivors often hear, & they also stir up similar emotions & thoughts to what I described above.

How can you be glad your situation wasn’t worse when you struggle with C-PTSD from the narcissistic abuse?  Living with the symptoms of C-PTSD is miserable & incredibly difficult.

Maybe that abusive ex didn’t hit you but he didn’t need to hit to hurt you.  Narcissists destroy their victims on the inside, not the outside, but doing their best to ruin their sense of self.

While it’s true, everyone has problems with their parents at some point, that doesn’t mean all parents are the abusive monsters narcissists are.  There is a big difference between normal disagreements & narcissistic parents determined to destroy their own children.  Saying they are the same only trivializes narcissistic abuse & invalidates victims.

I think there are some things to do that can help you when experiencing such thoughts & feelings.

  • Pray.  Tell God what you think & feel.  Let it all out!  He can handle your anger & sadness.
  • Write it out in a journal.
  • Talk to someone who is non judgmental, safe & understanding of your situation.
  • If you don’t feel like talking or writing, then get alone & cry, scream, beat up some pillows or whatever helps you feel better.
  • I know this one is very hard but try to be patient with yourself.  You’ve been through a lot!  It’s ok to feel badly about that!
  • Rest when you need to.  Emotional things take a big physical toll.  Give your body extra rest.

I know that when Irritable Gratitude shows up, it’s not pleasant.  Quite the opposite in fact.  But you can & will get through it!

In case you are wondering, this is the article I was referring to:  https://www.brainline.org/blog/learning-accident/irritable-gratitude-syndrome

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When Someone You Know Is Suffering

 

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Another Reason Why Narcissists Act As They Do

One thing I wondered about narcissists & their flying monkeys for a long time was why do they act the way they do?  I know there’s no “one size fits all” answer to that question of course, but there had to be something that explained why these people all act so similarly.   I’ve met people with narcissistic parents or exes who live in different countries, are of different financial backgrounds, have different religious beliefs (or none at all) & are of different races, yet in spite of all the differences, there are so many similarities.  I found that utterly baffling.  I believed it must be a sign narcissism is demonic in nature, but I wasn’t sure exactly how.

Then one day in October, 2017 when my father was dying, God showed me something very interesting.  As I’ve shared before, at the time of his death, I hadn’t spoken to my parents in some time. My family couldn’t handle me continuing to remain no contact as my father was dying, & they harassed me via email, text, social media messages & telephone daily in an attempt to bully me into seeing him in the hospital.  They were exceptionally cruel & devoted flying monkeys.  One day shortly before he died, the situation got to me.  I was angry.  I was also crying & talking to God about everything that was going on.  One thing I said was, “Why do things have to be like this?  Why is my family so cruel?”  He said, “Some people have made some very bad decisions.”  Then, He showed me one reason for some of the actions of narcissists & their flying monkeys.

God showed me a vision of a person standing directly centered in front of a revolving door much like this one…

revolving door, public domain.jpg

Inside that tube where the door stands was God on one side, & on the exact opposite side, Satan.  Every decision the person made would open the door towards one a bit more, while simultaneously closing the door to the other a bit more.  Eventually, either God was completely exposed while Satan was closed off & unable to reach the person, or Satan was free while God was closed off.

The latter is what happens when a person makes very bad decisions, which narcissists do daily & have done for a long time.  They continually choose selfish, abusive, entitled, narcissistic behavior over Godly behavior.  That means that they close the door to God more & more with each bad choice, & they open that door to Satan, giving him more access to their lives than God has.  That makes it easy for them to do the terrible things they do – Satan helps them do such things.  He  deludes them into thinking their behavior is absolutely fine, even justified in many cases.  Such thinking eventually can drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe you have heard the term a seared conscience?  I believe this is what happens when a person ignores the Holy Spirit & normal guilty feelings every human feels.  They ignore these things so much, that nothing or almost nothing they do can make them feel badly.  It’s as if their conscience becomes atrophied from lack of use.

There is another important point of all of this that you need to know.  By sharing all of this, I’m not saying that narcissists have no control over their actions, or “the devil made them do it” so they had no choice in their behavior.  They do still have a choice.  Clearly, even under an evil influence, they still know right from wrong.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t work so hard to hide their actions from people they want to impress.  If they have the ability to choose to hide their actions from certain people, they have the ability to choose to do what’s right.  Unfortunately, I think doing bad things is  just easier for them, & that gets them what they want, so that is why they opt not to do what’s right in spite of knowing better.

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Holiday Stress

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread.  We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.

My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday.  She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there.  The same with my ex mother in-law.  Not obeying meant facing their anger.  It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me.  Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them.  Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.

Remember, you are an adult.  You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them.  When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset.  They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…).  Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people

Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise.  My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas.  That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party.  Why not do the same thing?  Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated?  Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves.  Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle?  “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday.  That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.”  I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day.  My late & ex mothers in-law were that way.  But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way.  This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like.  It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!

If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit.  Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time.  Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever.  No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down!  Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.

If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it.  You can’t make him change his mind.  You can, however, refuse to go.  You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day.  You can spend the holiday with friends instead.  You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you.  Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.

Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation.  God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year.  xoxo

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About Enmeshment

Enmeshment is a term used to describe when boundaries are either very weak or non existent in a relationship, most commonly within a family.  Enmeshed families aren’t simply close.  Closeness is healthy, but enmeshment is not.  It can cause  a myriad of problems for the children.

Enmeshed families share very similar traits.  The children are expected to think & act like their parents, to work in the line of work their parents want them to & basically live the life their parents want them to live rather than what they want to.  Children are also usually the only close “friends” of sorts that the parents have.  The parents demand or guilt trip their children spend plenty of time with them rather than create an environment that would make their children want to spend time with them.  Children, no matter their age, aren’t supposed to do things they want, such as spending time with people other than their parents.  In fact, enmeshed parents don’t want their children to leave home.  Many adult children from these families didn’t leave home at an appropriate age.  Instead they lived with their parents well into their 20’s, 30’s or maybe never even moved out.  These children also feel responsible for their parents, starting at a very young age.  This can cause them to put their parents’ needs & wants over their own, & later also over their spouse’s needs & wants.  It creates a tremendous amount of stress in a marriage.

Children in enmeshed families frequently grow up feeling out of place when they aren’t with their families.  They also lack a real identity beyond who their parents tell them they are.  Their self esteem is usually quite low as well.  Other common problems include a lack of relationship skills & lack of understanding of healthy boundaries.   They also tend to be very distrustful of people who aren’t related to them, yet tolerate any abuse their family members heap on them.  Many of these adult children seek out romantic partners who need caring for, which is a pattern they learned in childhood from their needy parents.

In order to end this dysfunctional behavior, the child of enmeshed parents needs first to recognize just how dysfunctional & harmful enmeshment is.  It can be very hard to do this after a lifetime of believing the lie that the enmeshment means their family is closer & healthier t han others, but it still must be done.

Next, some distance must be set between parent & child.  This is also very hard, I know, especially since most likely the parent will shame the child for wanting some space, but it can be done.  Start small, such as not answering their call sometimes.  If your parent complains, just say you were busy (which you were.. taking care of yourself) & couldn’t get to the phone.  Also don’t spend as much time with your parent as you have.  Pull away a bit.  Don’t be so readily available to your parent.  If they need your help, unless it’s a true emergency, tell them you can’t do what they need now but you can in a few days.  These small ways to start setting boundaries will strengthen you & enable you to set bigger & better boundaries in the future.

Learn who you are, too.  Pay attention to what you truly want, like, think, feel… you may discover you are much different than what your parents always said you were.  Or, you may have some similarities.  Either way, get to know the real you & enjoy who you are.

Recognize the false guilt.  If your parent does their best to make you feel guilty for not taking their call one day or not visiting them, that is ridiculous.  You’re an adult with your own life!  Don’t accept that false guilt!

If you have close friends who understand your situation, discuss it with them.  Let them support you.  And if you don’t, check online for support forums.  No doubt you can find one that helps you.

Mostly, turn to God.  Pray about your situation & let Him help you to heal.  He loves you & will be glad to do that for you!

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Things A Mother In-Law Wants From Her Daughter In-Law

I came across this really interesting article about what a mother in-law wants in her daughter in-law.  My curiosity was piqued, so I read it.  It got me to thinking just how different a narcissistic mother in-law is from a functional one.  I thought I’d do a side by side comparison of the two based on the article in case anyone reading this is wondering if their mother in-law is a narcissist.

  1. A woman who will consider her a friend.  A daughter in-law is nothing more than competition to the narcissistic mother in-law.  Friendship is NOT gonna happen!
  2. A woman who makes her son’s life easier.  Seems to me, the narcissistic version of this one is “a woman who has no needs or wants of her own, who waits on her son hand & foot, expects nothing in return & is blindly obedient to the mother in-law.”
  3. A woman who shows how much she loves her husband by the way she talks about him.  Never seen or heard anything of the sort from a narcissistic mother in-law.  Seems to me it’s more about actions, like those I mentioned in the last point.  It also seems that in their eyes, their daughters in-law should be seen & not heard.
  4. A woman who will be a good listener.  A functional mother in-law & a narcissistic one both want this, I believe, but the difference is the functional mother in-law gladly will return the favor.  Narcissists only return the favor when they think they can learn something to use as ammunition against the daughter in-law at some point.
  5. A woman whose faith in Jesus is evident.  I would guess that the only narcissistic mothers in-law who have any interest in their daughter in-law’s faith is those who are concerned about looking good to their church.  And, she won’t hesitate to twist Scripture around to manipulate her daughter in-law.
  6. A woman who forgives her past mistakes.  What narcissist admits to past mistakes?  This obviously isn’t important to the narcissistic mother in-law because she doesn’t make mistakes & if by some chance she did, they were the fault of someone else.
  7. A woman who helps her navigate the technology-driven, social media-frenzied world today.  I can’t really imagine any narcissistic mother in-law who may want to learn more about technology looking for help from her daughter in-law.  Viewing her daughter in-law as beneath her, why would she ask her for help in any area?
  8. A woman who resolves not to see differences of opinions, interference, or interruptions as an intentional dig.  This one may depend on the narcissist.  Some no doubt want blind obedience from their daughters in-law, including never speaking back to them & assuming the best about them.  But there are many others that want their daughters in-law to be angry with them.  That works out very well for the narcissist in question, because she can use this in several ways.  She can use it to prove her daughter in-law is unappreciative, crazy, irrational, or over sensitive.  She also can use this to prove she is the innocent victim of her daughter in-law’s abuse.
  9. A woman who gives her credit for the incredible son she raised.  The one area that functional mothers in-law & narcissistic mothers in-law are alike to some degree.  Who wouldn’t want to hear she did a great job raising her son?  Narcissists take it to the extreme though, pretty much expecting to be worshiped for her amazing mothering skills.
  10. A woman who doesn’t compete for her children’s love.  If you know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you know that narcissistic parents become narcissistic grandparents.  Unlike a nice, normal, functional grandparent, the narcissistic one will expect to be first place in their grandchild’s life.  They also may lie to the grandchild about the child’s parent(s) or tell the child there is no reason to listen to Mom & Dad.  Many even bribe the grandchild with money or gifts to gain that child’s favor.

As you can see, there are many differences between healthy, functional mothers in-law & narcissistic ones.  I hope you aren’t dealing with the narcissistic variety because they are incredibly difficult to deal with at best!

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Don’t Believe Everything You Hear, Especially When It Comes To Narcissists

On this day 2 years ago, my father was buried.  This time of year makes me think a LOT about that awful time surrounding my father’s death.    If you care to read about it, the story is available on my website: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/the-miraculous-way-my-father-came-to-know-jesus/

In thinking about that terrible time, naturally the especially wicked people that harassed me day & night came to mind.  The blind devotion they had to my parents was utterly astounding.  One of them was a cousin who I knew cared a great deal about my father, so that wasn’t entirely unexpected.  She clearly believed he was a really great guy.  There seemed to be no room in her mind for anything that might threaten that belief.  Me not having a relationship with my father threatened her belief, so she attacked me.

So many people are like this!  It needs to stop!

I’ll grant you that narcissists are unparalleled actors which makes it easy to believe their lies & false persona.  Even so, it’s never wise to blindly accept a person as they appear.

1 John 4 states that we are to “test the spirits” of anyone proclaiming to be a prophet.  According to the verses, a true prophet truly believes that Jesus is the Messiah.

I think faith in Jesus can be a very good way to identify if someone is who they claim to be or not, but not simply by saying those words.  A true believer does their best to live their faith by being good & kind to other people, & most of all keeps God first in every area of their lives.  They aren’t hypocritical or dishonest.  They try not to hurt people but help them instead.  The cousin I mentioned above?  She claimed to be a Christian but exhibited no such behaviors.

Many non believers behave in a similar manner, minus the part about keeping God first in their lives.  These are good people, whether or not they share your faith.

Then there are narcissists.

Narcissists may claim to love Jesus or at least be good people.  They may be active in their community or feeding the hungry.  They may be teachers, police officers or even doctors.  Everything about their external appearance may look good, yet someone says this person isn’t as they appear to be.  His wife claims he’s unfaithful, is verbally, mentally, financially or sexually abusive.  Her child claims she demands perfection, nothing is ever good enough & when he fails to perform up to her standards, she rages like a lunatic.

When you’re looking at a situation from the outside, when someone makes such claims, it can be tempting to brush it off.  You’ve only seen the good parts of that person so it’s hard to believe that “good” person can be abusive.

The problem though is so called “good” people abuse others every day.  My parents looked good to outsiders.  My father worked hard, my mother volunteered at my school a great deal & they both looked like good parents.  Behind closed doors though, they weren’t the wonderful people many folks assumed they were.  There was also my ex husband.  Most folks seemed to think he was a great guy he was & I was so lucky to have him.  Yet, behind closed doors, he was abusive.

My point in all of this is if you are in the position of hearing someone claim someone you know is abusive, please listen to them & consider what they say!!  If the person is abusive, you will realize that there were some signs that they weren’t as perfect as they appear.  You will remember times when you caught them in a lie, in some unethical behavior or simply ignoring someone in need of their assistance.  No narcissist can wear their mask all of the time.  It slips sometimes, even though they do their best to hide that from everyone they can.. other than their victim.

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 2

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When Children Of Narcissistic Parents Aren’t Believed

Sadly, many children of narcissistic parents aren’t believed when they first reveal the abuse.  When the children are small, it’s often they are too young to know what they are talking about.  When they are teens, it’s teens are over dramatic & what teenager gets along with their parents anyway?  When the children grow up, it’s “why didn’t you say anything at the time?” or “That’s in the past.. you need to get over it.”

It really doesn’t help that narcissistic parents are such phenomenal actors they can make people believe that not only were they good, loving parents, but that their children are spoiled, mentally unstable or even abusive.  The narcissistic parents end up with supportive people rallying around them & even abusing the victim.

Some time ago, there was a story in the news about Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter, Chelsea, missing.  Ms. O’Donnell said that her daughter ran away because she was mentally unstable & a problem child.  She sounded like she was very concerned about her daughter.  Maybe she was.  I don’t know since I didn’t really follow the story very closely.   However, there is also the possibility she’s abusive & said what she did in order to turn the attention off of her daughter’s claims of abuse & put it on her daughter’s behavior.

After Chelsea was found, she did an interview.  Her claims were very disturbing.  She said she never ran away but moved in with her boyfriend when her mother kicked her out two weeks before she turned 18.  She also said her mother is very different in public than she is in private at home.  In public, she is funny & pleasant.  In private, neglectful & abusive.  Chelsea also has a history of depression & anxiety, which sound quite normal under the circumstances.  These were things she said she wanted to keep private, & was very hurt her mother not only mentioned her mental illness, but made her sound completely crazy.  The public treated this young woman as if she was crazy too.  She was berated for her terrible behavior.

I relate so well to this sad story.  I was 17 when I first began to realize how abusive my mother was.  I naturally started to rebel against the abuse.  My mother must have lied to people about what I was doing, because suddenly her friends who had liked me would no longer even look at me, let alone speak to me unless it was completely unavoidable.  Also, many people I opened up to about the abuse acted like I was behaving like some spoiled brat who was just mad I didn’t get my way, or they would trivialize the abuse saying my mother loved me & was trying to help me.

As a result, if I hear anyone of any age claim they are being abused, I listen.  Of course, they could be lying about it, but I find that to be very rare.

Just because someone claims to be a loving parent, doesn’t mean they are.  If the child claims that supposed loving parent was abusive, listen to them!  Not all parents are capable of loving their children.

Just because a parent claims their child is mentally unstable, doesn’t mean that is true.  Abused children frequently suffer from depression, anxiety & even PTSD or C-PTSD.  That doesn’t make them unstable.

Just because a parent provides food, clothing & shelter for a child, that doesn’t make this person a good parent.  There is much more to being a good parent than meeting a child’s basic needs.

Victims of narcissistic abuse need to be heard, no matter their age!  If someone doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, tell someone else who will hear you.  Or, if someone comes to you with claims of abuse, listen to them!  Be kind & understanding.  Let them talk, cry, yell.. whatever they need to do.  You may be the only person who is willing to do such things for this suffering soul.

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Stop Asking Victims To Feel Compassion For Abusers!

There are so many victims who have been told, scolded really, that they need to have compassion on & even feel pity for their abusers.  People say stupid things like, “You can’t get mad at him!  He just doesn’t know better because his father did the same thing to him!”  “That is your mother & if you really were a Christian like you say you are, you wouldn’t get mad at her!  You would honor her!”

Some people who say such stupid comments are well meaning, yet ill informed.  Mostly though, such people are quite aware of their comments & the effects they have.  Their goal is to shut their victim down by invalidating or shaming them.  Maybe they have their own abusive past, & your situation reminds them of theirs.  Being too cowardly to face their own demons, they attempt to shut you down instead.  Or, maybe they have bought the narcissist’s “good guy/gal” act, & you speaking the truth threatens that.  Rather than face the ugly truth, they try to shut you down so their delusion can stay in tact.  I’m sure there are countless reasons that people say such cruel remarks.  These are only a couple of possibilities.

I don’t think that people who say such ludicrous statements stop for one second to consider the ridiculousness of their words, only the effect they wish to have.  I mean, what sense does it make to feel pity for someone who deliberately causes you pain?  This actually reminds me of something my father told me.  When he was 15, he was driving home one night when the local drunk hit his car head on, flipping his car over into a ditch.  My father nearly died from the traumatic brain injury, yet people told him he should feel sorry for the man who hit him.  Think about that for a second.. people said he should feel sorry for the man who decided not only to get drunk, but to get behind the wheel of his car in that condition, endangering everyone else on the road & nearly killing my father.  Why feel sorry for him rather than my father who lived with lifelong health problems stemming from this man’s poor choices?!  As far as I know, the situation with my father didn’t even stop this man from driving drunk.  Maybe if someone had confronted him, & made him realize the depths of the problems his actions caused, he might have stopped driving drunk.

They are also supporting someone’s choice to hurt other people.  How does this make any sense at all?!  No normal, functional person would support someone who deliberately chooses to hurt another person.  They know what it’s like to hurt, & don’t want others to feel that way.

Instead of encouraging victims to feel compassion for their abusers, why not support a victim who has had the courage to escape the abuse & tell their story?  Tell them they are brave & strong.  Tell them you admire them for having the strength & fortitude to survive what they have experienced.  Encourage them to share their story in whatever way will help them & hopefully also will help raise awareness.  Listen to them.  Validate them.

And if you somehow end up talking to an abuser, don’t excuse what they did.  Abusers need to know what they did was bad & why.  They also need to know that they hurt their victim & there was no good reason to do it.  They need to be aware of the fact that to abuse another person is a choice, just like being good to another person is a choice, & they chose the wrong thing to do.  Hold this person accountable!  Maybe doing so will open their eyes somehow & make them see that they need to make some changes in their behavior.  It’s certainly worth a try though, isn’t it?

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 1

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Subtle Abuse

Many people think  abuse is something loud & cruel, such as screaming obscenities at another person.  This certainly is one type of verbal abuse, but for the most part, it is much quieter & more subtle.

Ignoring someone is abusive.  It can create anxiety or avoidance when it happens enough, especially when it happens to children.  It makes someone feel insignificant or even invisible to be ignored, especially by someone important such as by a parent or spouse.

Normalizing abuse is also abusive.  Everyone needs to know that abuse is NOT ok.  When someone doesn’t know that, they tolerate abuse because they don’t know it’s wrong.  This is one reason abusers try to make their victims think the victims are the problem, rather than the abuse being the problem.

Constant criticism is abusive.  While everyone needs constructive criticism from time to time, no one needs abusive criticism, in particular when it is non stop.  The difference is constructive criticism is meant to help a person be better, while abusive criticism is meant to manipulate, control & destroy a person’s self esteem.

Failure to give someone praise & support is abusive.  While people are drastically affected by constant criticism, they also can be affected by a lack of praise & support even without the constant criticism.  My mother used to brag to me about how one time in my entire childhood, she told me she thought I was “kinda pretty.”  That along with her constant criticisms made me incredibly insecure about my looks for my entire life.

Shaming someone is abusive.  To make someone feel shame doesn’t always have to involve saying things like, “What is your problem?!”  “You need some therapy!”  It also can involve laughing at someone, rolling your eyes at them or making them the butt of jokes.  Toxic shame makes a person feel there is something wrong with every single thing about them, which destroys self esteem & makes a person easy to control.

Criticizing someone harshly claiming that it was done, “for your own good” is abusive.  My mother was hyper critical of every single thing about me when I was growing up.  Whenever I would say something about how critical she was, she told me it was for my own good.  I needed to know my faults so I could change them.  I couldn’t argue with that logic as a child.  As an adult however, although I do agree that everyone needs to be aware of their faults, they also need to be equally aware of their good qualities too.  Only being aware of their faults can destroy one’s self esteem.

Similarly, saying or doing cruel & saying it’s “tough love” is abusive.  When my mother’s abuse hit its peak, she said everything she was doing to me was tough love, because I wouldn’t learn any other way.  This made me feel like something was wrong with me, I was the problem in our relationship & I made her abuse me.  A victim in such a situation usually believes the way I did.

Last but not least, gaslighting is extremely abusive.  Gaslighting is when an abuser subtly makes a victim doubt their perceptions of reality.  It isn’t hard to gaslight children in particular, but anyone can be a victim.  An abuser doesn’t have to raise their voice to accomplish it.  All they have to do is convince their victim that what happened didn’t happen the way the victim believes it did or didn’t happen at all.  That can be accomplished easily by instilling doubt in a victim & stating the lies with extreme confidence.  An abuser may even feign concern for a victim for being so confused as to think things happened the way they did instead of the way the abuser says things happened.

Abuse comes in many different forms.  Many of those forms can be hard to recognize at first.  I hope this post will help you to be very aware of them so you don’t fall prey to an abusive person who behaves this way!

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Narcissists & Respect

After writing my book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide To Toxic In-Laws”, I was thinking some about it one day.  One of the topics that came to mind was respect.  I thought I would share those thoughts with you.

As I mentioned in the book, I believe many toxic in-laws are narcissistic.  And, as we who know anything at all know about narcissists, they have a fixation with respect.  Sadly, they have no clue what real respect is.

Real respect is not treating people like dirt while expecting them to submit to your will no matter what.  No one wants to be mistreated.  It becomes even more insulting when the person treating you badly demands that you do anything they want.  It’s insulting & disrespectful!

Real respect is treating those your loved ones care about with civility even when you don’t like them.  This is a big one for me.  Probably the biggest part of my issue with my in-laws wasn’t that they hated me.  It was that they had so little respect for my husband, their son & brother, that they couldn’t manage basic civility with me.  That speaks volumes about their character or lack thereof.  I’ve had friends with significant others I disliked, but for the sake of my friends, I would do my best to be polite to the person.

Real respect is earned, & no one can successfully demand it.  My entire life, my mother would tell me, “I DEMAND respect!”  Well, that didn’t work out well for her.  Telling people to respect you never works.  Behaving in such a way that people want to respect you is what works.  It’s much like trust in this way.

Real respect involves boundaries.  It seems to narcissists, boundaries is a filthy, terrible word that never should be uttered.  No one in a narcissist’s life is allowed to have those awful boundaries.  This is one more piece of evidence that proves they have no true concept of respect.  A respectful person has & enforces their own healthy boundaries, while respecting the boundaries of others.

Real respect doesn’t belittle or criticize.  Constructive criticism is fine of course, when said gently.  Anyone who is making a mistake needs to know that they are making a mistake.  However, belittling & harsh criticisms have no place in respect.  If you respect another person, you won’t say cruel things to them, & if they respect you, they won’t say cruel things to you either.

Real respect isn’t selfish.  If you respect someone, you aren’t selfish with them.  You recognize they are an individual separate from you who has their own unique wants, needs & feelings.  You won’t insist on having your own way no matter what.

Real respect means you don’t assume you know best.  Respectful people recognize that other people are individuals who have their own specialties & talents.  They also know that others will know what is best for them rather than assume their way is what is best.

Real respect genuinely cares about other people.  Truly respecting someone also means you care about that person.  You value that person as the unique person they are instead of only what they can do for you.

Real respect means you care about yourself.  Self respect is so very important!  It means you won’t tolerate abuse from anyone.  It means you won’t demean yourself or compromise your values.  It means you treat yourself well.  It also means you take care of your physical & mental health.  These reasons are why narcissists try to destroy their victims’ self respect.  They don’t want them to do these things.  A person lacking self respect is controllable, unlike someone with a healthy level of self respect.

As you can see, narcissists clearly have absolutely no concept of what respect really is.  So the next time a narcissist calls you disrespectful, take it as a complement & remember they have absolutely no idea what respect really is.

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Feeling Your Feelings Is Vital To Good Mental Health

Narcissistic parents teach their children that they are to have no wants, needs & even feelings.  As a result, those children grow up out of touch with their emotions, with anger issues, their emotions can manifest in dysfunctional ways such as in picking abusive romantic partners, or they even can have physical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory disorders, diabetes, kidney or digestive problems.

Add in that dysfunctional & cruel people tell adult children of narcissistic parents things like, “Get over it.”  “Forgive & forget.”  “You aren’t honoring your parents by talking about such things.  After all, the Bible says love covers a multitude of sins!” & it’s pretty much a guarantee that the adult child of a narcissist will suffer with mental & physical illness.

A person who hasn’t felt their feelings needs to learn that there is nothing wrong with emotions!  They’re from God, & the Bible says in James 1:17 that all good things are from God.   I know, many Christians say negative emotions are sinful, but I disagree.  Even negative emotions have their place.  Anger & sadness show you that something is wrong.  If you’re going to fix something, you need to know it’s wrong, which tells me these negative emotions serve a very good purpose.  How can that possibly be bad?

My best friend has a saying.  “You gotta feel your feels.”  Obviously, she’s very wise.  It’s so true!  If you want to be mentally, emotionally & even physically healthy, you need to feel your feelings.  As hard as it can be at first to feel painful emotions, it is much easier than working to keep your feelings stuffed down.  One thing I’ve noticed is the older I get, the more my feelings demand to be acknowledged.  If I’m going to control my emotions rather than them control me, I find it best to deal with them as soon as possible.

Dealing with a lifetime of emotions for the first time can sound overwhelming, but it isn’t.  When I first began my healing journey, I naively thought I would forgive my parents for everything they ever did to me at once, & all would be right in my world.  That isn’t even close, & thank God because that was truly overwhelming!

Instead, I have found that God helps me to deal with only what I can handle at a time, nothing more.  I think about an incident & focus on that, then another & another.  Rather than focusing on everything at once, it’s easier to focus on incidents one at a time.

When something comes to mind I must deal with, I try to remember every detail about it.  My surroundings, scents, sounds, & every awful thing that was said or done to me.  Doing that stirs up emotions & from there I can pray, journal, cry, yell.. whatever helps me to cope.  If the incident was especially painful, it may take a long time or I may need to repeat this process a few times but the pain associated with that incident will subside.  I can promise you that!

This process really helps you to heal.  It benefits your mental health greatly!  You’re validating yourself by feeling your emotions.  Basically, you’re saying, “That was wrong!  That person shouldn’t have done that to me!  I deserve better than to be treated that way!”

You’re also releasing emotions that have been stuffed inside you for years or even decades.  That helps your physical health by releasing the stress & effort of stuffing down those emotions.

You also gain a great deal of peace, because you’re no longer haunted by the terrible experiences.  They lose their power over you.  You won’t feel such intense pain or devastation when you think of those things.  You’ll know you’re healing when that no longer happens & instead you feel more like you’re remembering a bad dream.  Yes, it’s unpleasant but nothing you can’t handle.

Also, your self esteem will improve which will benefit you in so many ways!  You’ll have no more trouble setting boundaries & you’ll know yourself much better.

I want to encourage you today to “feel your feels.”  It truly will help you!  xoxo

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

Guilt After A Narcissistic Parent Dies

Losing someone you love is incredibly painful & difficult, but when that person is your narcissistic parent, it’s also incredibly complex.  Part of the complexity involves a lot of guilt.  If you have lost a narcissistic parent, I’m sure you experienced it too.  If you haven’t yet, you need to be prepared & know that it may happen with you, too.

The last time I spoke to my mother was May 5, 2016 when we had a huge argument.  We hadn’t spoken in almost exactly 3 years when she passed away.  Since she died, I’ve learned that her final years weren’t good.  Apparently my mother’s health declined quickly.  I noticed her handwriting became very shaky after our argument.  I realized through her car’s maintenance records that she must have stopped driving in 2017 not long before my father died & found a fairly big dent in her car.  Probably that was why she stopped driving – she realized she wasn’t as capable behind the wheel any longer.  Clearly she also was very depressed.  One friend of hers told me that my mother said that her cat was the only reason she wanted to live.  Also when she died & I first started to care for the estate matters, her house was in a bad state because she was unable to clean it like she once had.

All of these things have led to me feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.  Since I’m positive my situation isn’t terribly unique, I thought I would share ways I have learned to help ease that guilt.

I am truly blessed with having the most amazing best friend ever.  She reminds me constantly that there is a natural order of things & people reap what they sow.  My parents were abusive, which is why I went no contact.  I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, contrary to what my family believes, I was only trying to protect myself.  That is why every functional goes no contact, & that isn’t a bad thing.  If you too went no contact with your abusive parent prior to their death, you did nothing wrong just like me.  It was simply the natural order of things!  If they wouldn’t have been abusive, you wouldn’t have been forced into going no contact.

What happens after no contact isn’t your responsibility, & you need to remind yourself of that constantly as do I.  It’s so hard not to feel guilty in these situations when you learn your narcissistic parent suffered after you were no longer in his or her life.  I feel like I should’ve been there for them & taken care of them.  If only I could’ve stuck it out for another couple of years, I’ve said to myself.  Guessing you feel much the same way.  If so, remember, you severed those ties for very valid reasons.  Probably many very valid reasons in fact.  You did nothing wrong!  Whatever happened after you went no contact is NOT your fault or responsibility.  Besides, maybe there was a reason God wanted things to happen as they did.  Me not being in my father’s life is why he turned to God at the very end of his life!  How incredible is that?!  Maybe that is what happened with my mother too, I’m not sure.  All I know is she is in Heaven & that is a huge comfort!  Anyway, ask God what the purpose was in you being no contact with your parent at the time of his or her death.  He will answer that question.

Sometimes people may say cruel things about you not being there for your parent, making you feel worse.  Remember that those people don’t know everything about the situation, which means they aren’t fit to judge it.

I know guilt after a narcissistic parent is very hard to handle.  If & when you experience it, I hope you’ll remember this post.  You have nothing to feel guilty about.  You did the best you could in an impossible situation.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Scapegoats Escape Their Narcissistic Parent

Being the scapegoat child raised by a narcissistic parent is a terrible thing.  Not only do you have an abusive parent, but other members of the family feel it is their right to abuse you as well.  Maybe they believe the lies of the narcissistic parent about what a terrible person the victim is.  Maybe they assume because a parent is abusive to the child, it’s ok to abuse this person.  Or, maybe they are so blinded by the narcissist’s false persona that they will protect their delusions of this person at all costs, including abusing the victim in an attempt to keep this person from divulging the truth about the narcissist.

In any case, chances are good that the scapegoated child will become fed up & walk away.  Setting  healthy boundaries didn’t work.  Confrontation didn’t work.  In fact, most likely such actions only made things worse.  Deciding to walk away is the only thing left to do.

What is truly the saddest part of this scenario is the scapegoat is abandoned by their family when they need love & support the most.  Rather than receive kindness, most scapegoats only receive tormenting, a vicious smear campaign & abandonment.   Some will reach out to the victim only to tell them that they shouldn’t abandon their narcissistic parent because “your parents are getting older..” or “you only get one mother/father”.  Some folks also claim the victim needs to fix this or isn’t a good Christian because they aren’t “honoring” their parent.  Meanwhile, their narcissistic parent receives kindness, understanding & compassion.

As the scapegoat, you can survive this terrible situation!  I know it seems impossible, but it is possible to survive & even with your dignity in tact.

One fantastic way to start is by staying close to God.  Psalm 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.”  (AMP)  He will be there for you, to comfort & protect you, & you will need that at this time.

Also, as painful as it is when your family turns against you, try to think of it this way.  You aren’t losing good, loving people.  If they truly were good or loving, they wouldn’t blindly believe the lies of the narcissist, nor would they try to encourage you to stay in an abusive relationship.  Talking about your experiences with a narcissistic parent is a very effective way to find out who your true friends are!

Don’t defend yourself against the smear campaign.  I know this is hard!  I’ve been there, & I so wanted to tell people off for the cruel things they said.  However, doing so only throws gas on that fire.  They will think what you say only proves the narcissist is right & you are crazy, angry, abusive, & they will behave even worse towards you.  Don’t defend yourself.  Let them think whatever they want.  Their opinion isn’t important anyway.

Some flying monkeys harass & stalk the scapegoat after going no contact to punish him or her or to try to bully the scapegoat into returning to the relationship.  Block every means of contact these people have with you.  Block phone numbers, emails, social media accounts.  If you are in a situation where you can’t do this, refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.  Tell them you have nothing to say on the matter, then change the subject.  Do it repeatedly.  Be rude about it if you must.  But do NOT discuss the narcissist with this person!  It only will hurt you to do so!

If someone is stalking or harassing you, they may change their email or call from a number you don’t recognize as ways to try to force you to talk to them.  If this happens, block that access too.  You do NOT have to talk to anyone who wants to force you back into an abusive relationship.

And, document everything!  This information may be useful at some point, especially if you need to get the law involved, so save every single thing you can.  Voicemail messages, texts, emails, etc.  Save everything either on cloud storage or email it to yourself so even if your phone or computer crashes, you won’t lose your documentation.

There are some things you can expect to happen after going no contact that you need to be prepared to face.

While no contact is incredibly helpful, it doesn’t fix everything.  After functioning in survival mode for so long, you will have to adjust to life not in survival mode.  It can be difficult.  As you feel safer, your mind seems to think now is the time to start dealing with things you couldn’t deal with while trying to survive the abuse.  You may find yourself having more nightmares &/or flashbacks.  You might be very sensitive & moody, crying or getting angry easier than usual.  This is a normal part of the healing process.  You aren’t going crazy, even though you probably feel that way at this point.  Try to use these things in your favor.  Figure out the root of the behavior, nightmare or flashback, & deal with that however works best for you.

You’ll start to question things.  Years of gaslighting take a toll on a person!  No one can undo that damage & the warped beliefs over night.  It takes time & lots of questioning yourself.  Get in the habit of asking yourself “Why do I think that way?  What evidence is there that this is right?” when you realize dysfunctional beliefs & thoughts are coming to mind.

Along those lines.. most people have a last straw moment that makes them decide no contact is their best option.  For many of us, that last straw moment isn’t even the worst thing that the narcissistic parent ever has done.  It’s just their average abusive, hateful behavior.  For some reason though, something in us snaps & we are done.  That can make a person wonder why was this the last straw when so many other things were worse?  Well, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing ever done, but after a lifetime of so many bad things, enough was enough.  This just happened to be the thing that told you now is the time for no contact.

You’re going to grieve, so accept that.  It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.  It means you’re a normal human being!  Just because your parent was abusive doesn’t mean you don’t care about your parent.   You’ll probably discover though that you aren’t missing your parent per se, but the parent you wish you could have had.

Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without judgement.  Losing a parent in any capacity isn’t easy, but in particular when that parent in question is a narcissist.  You’ll feel all kinds of emotions.  It’s ok & even normal.  Allow yourself to feel all of those emotions without judging or criticizing the feelings or yourself.

If your narcissistic parent is elderly or frail, you are going to feel a tremendous amount of guilt for going no contact.  It’s normal.  I did the same thing.  There is one thing that you need to consider though.  People reap what they sow.  A person who is kind & good to others won’t be abandoned in their time of need, because they sowed good seeds.  The abusive person won’t experience that same harvest because they sowed bad seeds.  Everyone has a limit on abuse, so it’s only natural that a victim will walk away at some point.

One beautiful thing you can expect is in time, the fog of abuse will lift, & you will see everything with so much more clarity!  You’ll see why your narcissistic parent & other relatives were so cruel to you, & you’ll clearly see that they were wrong.  You didn’t make them act that way.  That was all on them, in spite of what they told you.  You’ll see them as the pathetic & wicked people that they are.  You’ll also see that you’re not whatever they said you were, but instead you’re a wonderfully made child of God, made in His image & to do great things in your life!

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

My Latest Book Is Now Available!

My latest book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide to Toxic In-laws” is now available in both print & ebook versions.

The print version is available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/regrettably-related-a-guide-to-toxic-in-laws/paperback/product-24225183.html

The ebook version is available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/955631

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Narcissism