Category Archives: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Hoovering is when a narcissist doesn’t want to accept the fact you have ended the relationship, & they try to lure you back. If you’re not aware of hoovering tactics, it can be easy to be lured into a false sense of believing the narcissist has truly changed, & the relationship will be better this time only to be sadly disappointed when finding out the narcissist really hasn’t changed. To prevent this from happening, this post will address some hoovering tactics narcissists use.
Love bombing is very common. It involves the narcissist confessing their undying love for you, doing nice things for you, showering you with gifts &/or plenty of attention. It can be hard not to believe a narcissist really cares since they can be very convincing. It also can be hard to resist. It’s important to remember that these displays of the narcissist’s love are NOT real! They’re only designed to lure you back into the toxic relationship.
Narcissists also will use family & friends, aka flying monkeys, to talk “sense” into you. This is a very tough one. When someone you think highly of tells you that you should resume a relationship with someone else, it can make you doubt yourself. Instead, think about what this person is saying. Does this person make sense? How much do they know of the situation? Do they believe you when you say the narcissist has been abusive to you? Do they want to hear what you have to say or do they cut you off or tell you that you’re wrong? Your honest answers to these questions will determine if you should listen to what that person has to say.
Another hoovering tactic is using or faking illness or injury to reconnect with you. Most people want to help a sick or hurt person, especially if it’s someone they love. If this happens, remember- when you went no contact, it was for excellent reasons. It also was permanent, not until the narcissist got sick or injured. Maybe that sounds cold, but truly, it isn’t. It’s a person reaping what they have sown. A person who abuses another can’t expect that victim to be there for them indefinitely. Everyone has limits.
Sending cards, letters or calling on special days like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays is another common hoovering tactic. It feels wrong to spend special days not acknowledging the narcissist. For those with narcissistic parents, birthdays in particular can be difficult. And, for those with narcissistic exes, anniversaries can be especially difficult. It’s normal, but even so, remember all they are trying to do is hoover you back into the toxic relationship by using the special day.
Some narcissists give their victims months or even years of no contact when suddenly they call or write. It seems that they figure after some time has passed, the victim has forgotten just how bad the relationship was, & will be open to resuming it. If this happens, remind yourself of exactly why you ended the relationship in the first place. The chance of that behavior improving is very, very slim. Is it really worth taking a chance on resuming the relationship?
Some narcissists don’t go the route of trying to convince you that they love you or are thinking of you. They opt to get cruel.
Smear campaigns can get really nasty to provoke a response out of you & also to discredit a victim so people won’t believe them but instead they’ll believe the narcissist. You may learn that people are saying you’re crazy, stupid, spoiled, abusive to the narcissist or even a bad Christian. As hard as it can be, do NOT respond to these ridiculous accusations! Doing so only convinces people that you are the terrible person the narcissist says you are. And, if you confront the narcissist about the lies, it only gives that narcissist narcissistic supply. The narcissist can look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways.
Many narcissists who can’t win a victim back will resort to attempting to bully the victim to return to the relationship by stalking & harassing them. They’ll inundate victims with countless phone calls, emails, texts, & letters. They may show up at places the victim frequents or drive by the victim’s home frequently. Especially devious ones send others to drive by the victim’s home so if the victim says anything about the narcissist stalking them, they look paranoid or even crazy. The best things to do is block all access the narcissist uses to get to you, & document EVERYTHING. If you decide to press charges, documentation will work in your favor, even if the narcissist didn’t break the law. Documentation of bad behavior, even when legal, can only help your case.
Remember, Dear Reader, never allow the narcissist to hoover you back into the relationship. It only ends badly! The behavior is usually much worse after hoovering than it was in the first place.
Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries. This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone. Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused. Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no. How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?
Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard. They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility. Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility. Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours. You do not even need to have an opinion on these things. If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.
No one can control someone with healthy boundaries. You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.
By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide. You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated. It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.
Boundaries also enforce consequences. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems. Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere. People need consequences for their actions, good or bad! How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works? That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter. Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer? This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.
When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it. They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be. Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems. Unsafe people will not. If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you. Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.
For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:
• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?
When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.
You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:
• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary. Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is. If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.
Remember to respect the boundaries of others too. You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life. Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions. And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others. People are also allowed to freely express their emotions. While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them. If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.
You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this! Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway! The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks. You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.
One especially devious, creative ways narcissists abuse their victims is cementing facts in their brains. What I mean is, a narcissist can imply something once, then reinforce what they said by their actions instead of words. The result is you feel a certain way, & if you say anything to the narcissist, they will say they don’t know what you’re talking about or deny that they ever said anything in the first place.
As one example from my life, I have a terrible time admitting when I don’t feel well, taking time to recover or asking for help. I feel like I need to be OK at all times so I don’t upset anyone or burden anyone by asking them for help. I even question myself, wondering if I really have whatever problem I am dealing with at the time, even when my symptoms are glaringly obvious.
Do you have some false belief cemented in your mind too? If so, you’re not alone! This sort of thing happens all the time to children of narcissistic parents. There are some ways to cope.
As always, I recommend praying as the first step. Ask God for wisdom, to help you heal & anything else you can think of.
When it comes to healing, I firmly believe in getting to the root of the problem. It’s the most effective way to resolve the problem permanently. To do this, try to remember the earliest time in your life when you felt a certain way, & then deal with it from there. To explain it, I’ll tell you what I did.
When considering how hard a time I’ve had admitting I have health problems, I thought back over my life, present to past, during times I was sick or injured. I remembered many, many times when my mother didn’t believe I had a health problem unless it was something very obvious, like a bad case of the flu. As a child, she complained when she had to take care of me when I was sick. When I was only 5 years old, my mother woke me up one morning by tickling me. In trying to get away from her, I slipped & hit my head on the big wooden headboard. Long story short, the result was a trip to the ER & several stitches in my scalp. Afterward, my mother took me to the mall & bought me a coloring book & crayons, something she complained about buying for years. During the experience, my mother didn’t comfort me. She was upset & I felt completely responsible for that.
These experiences taught me that I shouldn’t burden anyone with my health concerns, I should be “ok” at all times so as not to upset anyone & my problems aren’t important.
To undo this warped thinking, I found it very helpful to look at things very logically, ignoring feelings for the moment. Here are some things I came up with:
- Why did my mother take me to the mall after a trip to the hospital?! I had a head injury! I should’ve been home, resting quietly. She could’ve called my father & asked him to pick up the coloring book & crayons on his way home from work, or asked a friend or neighbor to do it.
- My mother should never have complained to me about how hard that incident was for her or having to take care of me when I was sick. That is what parents do. It’s a part of the job.
- Why has my mother not believed me or blamed me about health issues as an adult? Since narcissists love projection, it makes me think it’s because she has either exaggerated or even faked her own health problems & thinks other people do the same
I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% ok now. I can say though, that since thinking about these things, I’ve already gotten better at admitting when I don’t feel well. I haven’t needed to ask anyone for help yet, but I am certain that will be easier too. It seems to me that when you face things, they lose much of their power over you. When you examine them & realize how wrong they were, they lose even more power.
What false beliefs are cemented in your mind? I would like to encourage you today to face them. No, it isn’t easy, but it is possible. The things I mentioned earlier did hurt me when I first thought about them, & made me angry. However, I’m still glad I did because that enabled me to remove the false beliefs I’ve carried around my entire life & replace them with healthier beliefs. I firmly believe the same thing can happen to you!
Although the title of this post may sound like common sense, it may not be to everyone. Or, you may logically understand that yet still don’t feel you have the right to go no contact with the narcissist in your life. Narcissists are very good at destroying how you think, even making you feel you have to have that abuser in your life. (God forbid you think in a healthy way! You’re so much easier to manipulate if you are dysfunctional!)
I just want to remind you today, Dear Reader, that you absolutely have the right to protect yourself. You have the right to set healthy boundaries & expect them to be respected. You have the right to enforce consequences when they aren’t respected. You have the right to expect to be treated with civility & basic respect. And yes, you have the right to end an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter if that abuser is a friend, significant other, sibling or even a parent. No one has the right to abuse you! NO ONE!
I understand that many people who read my blog are in situations where they are unable to end their abusive relationship for various reasons. I certainly am not trying to make you feel bad for your position!! Everyone’s situation is different. But, of all the reasons to stay in such a relationship, the false belief that one doesn’t have the right to end it should not be one of those reasons!
After years of being in all kinds of relationships with narcissists (family, friendship & romantic), I realize I’m different than your average woman. This happens to victims of narcissists. Even once we realize what has happened to us, we’re different because of the experience. Trauma has a way of changing a person.
Those changes can be for the better, such as when we are able to recognize abusive people quickly & set boundaries with them. The changes also can be for the worse. Sometimes dealing with those closest to us, especially our spouses, can be difficult even when it shouldn’t be simply because of our past experiences. I am hoping this post will help victims & their partners to understand what is happening so they can work through the problems together.
Victims are taught not to have needs & feelings & if they express any, narcissists shame them for having them. This can make it incredibly difficult to open up to anyone, even someone we love who isn’t a narcissist. First, a victim feels wrong & ashamed for feeling or needing whatever they do. Then that person is terrified of being shamed or invalidated for having them. Even if someone has been nothing but kind to a victim, the victim still can fear that person’s disapproval or rejection. If your partner is that way, please don’t take it personally. It isn’t your fault! It’s a side effect of narcissistic abuse. Please just be patient. Listen without offering advice unless you are asked for it. If you don’t understand something, ask questions without sounding judgmental.
Being overly negative happens sometimes too. Partner, it’s not your fault! Healing from narcissistic abuse is a long, arduous, painful journey. Sometimes it gets to be too much. It feels like everything is bad, even when it truly isn’t. It can be very easy for a victim to get mired down in negativity. Please do NOT tell this person to cheer up, others have it worse or get mad. That will only add to the negative mindset. Maybe suggest going out to dinner or to the park- some small gesture to distract the victim could be helpful. Make your loved one feel loved & safe. Let her know she can talk to you if she wants to, but doesn’t need to if she doesn’t want to.
Along the lines of being very negative is making small things a big deal. When you feel overwhelmed in trying to heal, or if you have C-PTSD or PTSD like so many victims of narcissistic abuse, sometimes you feel you can’t handle one more thing. Then when that one more thing comes along, it’s too much & you blow up. Even something as simple as misplacing a pen can push you over the edge & you snap at your spouse who had nothing to do with the missing pen. If this is happening, try suggesting some down time to your spouse. Suggest lunch out with a good friend, or you both go somewhere you enjoy like the movies. Even a brief reprieve can be helpful in regaining a better perspective.
Many victims project the image of not needing their partner. People who grew up with narcissistic parents had to be very self reliant. It became a way of life. Even if a victim has shed that behavior, if there is any issue in the victim’s marriage, self preservation kicks in & this behavior comes to the surface. As the person who sees this behavior, let it be a sign to you that something is wrong in your marriage. Try to figure it out. Ask your spouse if everything is OK & be reassuring of your love.
Emotional withdraw is common too. Suddenly, those little nice things your mate did for you stop or seem to be a burden to do. Maybe your mate is too tired for sex when that was never an issue before. This is a sign something is wrong. Try doing nice gestures like bringing home your partner’s favorite coffee or a new book, CD or DVD. Little gestures like that can be reassuring & may make your spouse feel more willing to open up to you.
Being married to someone who has survived narcissistic abuse can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. A little love, compassion & understanding can go a long way.
One weapon narcissists use is to tell their victims “I know you better than you know yourself.” While it may sound rather innocuous, that phrase, especially when said by a parent to a child, can be devastating to the self esteem.
My mother said this to me my entire childhood. I ended up feeling like I was stupid (how can a person not know themselves after all?!) & like I had to look to her to know what I liked & didn’t like, my opinions on things, what I should & shouldn’t do. I was so insecure, & partly because of that stupid phrase! Even now, in my mid 40’s, I have issues sometimes with figuring out what I really like & don’t like.
Have you heard this insidious phrase from your narcissistic parent too? If so, you’re not alone!
The key to letting go of the insecurity caused by hearing this phrase is to pay attention to yourself. Get to know you. The real you, the person God made you to be & not the person your narcissistic parent tried to make you into. Notice how you truly feel about everything.
Chances are, when you first start to do this, you’ll feel some guilt, like you’re going against your narcissistic parent’s wishes. That is normal. Just remind yourself that you are allowed to be an individual. God created you to be an individual. You were made to be you, not some cheap imitation of you & certainly not some lump of clay molded by a narcissistic parent only concerned with their wishes.
As you begin to know yourself, your narcissistic parent will disapprove. Don’t let that disapproval discourage you. The disapproval doesn’t mean you’re wrong or a bad person at all! It means the narcissist is disappointed in you for not continuing to allow her to control you. If your narcissistic parent attempts to make you feel bad, wrong, guilty or ashamed because you’ve changed, pretend you don’t notice. Ignore the comments! You do what is best for you, NOT the narcissist!
Anyone who has made the decision to go no contact has no doubt thought about resuming that relationship at some point. This is especially common when a person ends a familial relationship.
I really think this is because God made people to need relationships, in particular those with our families. Ending a familial relationship is abnormal, no matter how valid the reasons. It goes against nature so it’s very painful to do & also to live with. As a result, it’s only natural to reconsider the decision to go no contact with family. When parents are involved, that decision is doubted even more often.
If you’re reconsidering your decision to go no contact, first of all, please know you aren’t abnormal, a glutton for punishment or anything else bad you may be feeling right now. You’re normal. In spite of the tremendous amount of prayer & consideration that goes into going no contact, I seriously don’t think there is one person who doesn’t have doubts about it at some point. I certainly haven’t talked with anyone who hasn’t doubted their choice. I can honestly say every single person has, including myself.
If you end a relationship with a family member, chances are slim that person will be out of your life entirely. You may see each other at family parties, reunions, weddings & even funerals. Even if you haven’t spoken to each other in a long time, you still share relatives & they will mention that person at some point. They may mention what is new in that person’s life or that they saw that person recently. If that person develops health problems, you are guaranteed to hear all about it, whether you want to or not.
When you see that person after a long time or when a mutual friend or relative mentions that person is having health problems, those are likely times for you to consider reconnecting. Before you do that, please pray & think long & hard before you do anything.
When you pray about it, listen to what God has to say. He probably won’t give direct orders by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord….” Instead, you may feel a “knowing” about what you need to do. Listen to that! I firmly believe those “knowings” are from God.
Think long & hard about what this person you’re considering reconnecting with is doing. When your mutual friend or relative talks about that person, do you see old familiar patterns in that person’s behavior? Is that person still controlling? Critical? Abusive? If so, reconnecting is a terrible idea!
Another thing to watch for- if that person has told someone to tell you that they are sorry, do that person’s actions back up the words? Has the person accepted responsibility for their abusive actions? Did she mention specific acts that she was apologizing for or did she say non apologies like “I’m sorry you feel I was mean to you” or “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did wrong”? Non apologies are NOT real apologies! They are said to lure you back into the relationship thinking all is OK now.
Also watch the person’s behavior. Does that person respect the fact you wish to stay no contact or try to contact you even years later? Safe people don’t like when someone ends a relationship with them, but they at least respect that person’s decision. They don’t inundate them with phone calls, texts, emails, posts on social media, etc. They stay out of the life of the person who ended contact with them. Unsafe people are much different. If they don’t want to end a relationship, they will fight hard not to let it end. They often harass, stalk, & bully. My mother & I stopped speaking to each other in 2016, & all was fine.. until my father was dying in October, 2017. Suddenly she called & sent me notes in the mail often & the flying monkeys attacked me constantly. Two months to the day after he died, & also two days before Christmas, I received a letter from her lawyer in the mail trying to force me to talk to her. This behavior shows me that nothing has changed with her. She still believes what she wants is what matters.
So Dear Reader, if you are considering ending no contact with someone, then please consider what I said. Pay attention to what you hear & observe about the person before allowing that person back into your life. And most of all pray! God will NOT lead you wrong!
Your body remembers everything that you’ve experienced, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, & stores such memories on a cellular level. Your brain may or may not remember things, but your body does. This is why certain smells, sounds, tastes, feelings or sights bring specific feelings to mind.
Body memories are especially common with victims of sexual assault. Even if the assault happened when the victim was too young to recall details, smelling the same cologne the attacker wore, or hearing music that was playing in the background during the assault can trigger incredible anxiety in the victim, even a panic attack. The victim’s mind may not recall the assault, but the body remembers every detail.
Body memories aren’t only linked to sexual assault, however. They also happen with victims of other types of abuse, including narcissistic abuse.
Often, narcissistic abuse is a series of constant traumatic events. I think of it much like a machine gun of abuse- one trauma immediately follows another then another & yet another in rapid succession. You don’t have time to heal from one trauma when another five are thrown your way. It may be too much to cope with, so your mind forgets some of the abuse as you try to survive the constant trauma. However, your body remembers it all. That is why certain things trigger anxiety, fear, anger, etc. in you for no obvious reason. It is your body’s way of trying to protect you from things like that happening again.
A couple of years ago, I went to my old high school with a friend. They were having a craft show & we thought it’d be fun to check it out since we both love crafts & both attended that school. From the moment we set foot on the campus, I became anxious & even panicky. I had trouble holding back the tears until we left. It turned into a miserable experience for me. I had no idea exactly why I was in such a state then. Since, I have remembered a few instances of abuse at the hands of my mother on the property of that school though, which apparently my body remembered even though my mind didn’t at the time.
When things like this happens, you need to remember you aren’t crazy! Your body is remembering something pretty terrible. There is pain that you need to acknowledge. Some people suggest talking out loud to yourself. Remind your body that what happened won’t happen again, & that you survived. You’re OK now.
I think prayer is a better idea, however. Asking God to help you to cope. Or, maybe a combination of prayer & talking to your body. Whatever works for you is what matters. Body memories can be a very unpleasant thing to deal with, but at least they can help offer some insight into areas where you need healing.
Being raised by a narcissistic parent or two causes a person to act differently than people raised by healthy, functional parents. Aside from the most obvious common problem, C-PTSD, being raised by narcissists creates certain unique behaviors that almost every victim exhibits. This post addresses those behaviors.
Being afraid to say no. Narcissists don’t allow their children to have boundaries. “No” can be met with abuse- name calling, scathing criticisms, guilt trips & even physical violence. Children use “yes” as a survival skill as a result. They learn early in life that it’s easier to do whatever their narcissistic parent wants than to say “no” & face the consequences. This behavior becomes such a habit that it is often carried into adulthood. While it served a good purpose as a child, it no longer does as an adult. Being a healthy adult means having healthy boundaries. You need to start asking yourself why are you saying yes? Are you saying yes because you want to or because you’re afraid of disappointing someone if you say no? Start saying no when you’re saying yes when you don’t want to. Some people won’t like it, but one thing to keep in mind- healthy, good, caring people respect boundaries. Users & abusers don’t. If someone gets upset with you for having a healthy boundary, that isn’t the kind of person you need in your life.
Apologizing too much. Narcissistic parents blame their children for every single thing, so their children learn to apologize for everything, whether or not it’s their fault. This dysfunctional survival skill also carries into adulthood, & needs to stop. When you feel the urge to apologize, pray. Ask God is this truly your fault? Should you apologize or are you only doing so out of habit?
Being unable to express emotions in a healthy way. Narcissists can’t handle the emotions of other people, including their children. They force their children to stifle their emotions, often by shaming them for having them. This tells children their emotions are bad. To cope, may continue to repress their emotions while others express them in inappropriate ways such as getting angrier than is appropriate for the situation. It can be hard, I know, but you need to learn to get in touch with your emotions & give them a healthy outlet. Ask God to help you to do this, because it will get scary, especially showing anger after a lifetime of stifling it. Journaling can be helpful, too- seeing things in writing brings clarity.
Not trusting your intuition & perception. Constant gaslighting is possibly the most cruel form of abuse there is, & also a favorite of narcissists. Gaslighting makes a person second guess everything about themselves- their instincts, perception, feelings, thoughts- because it makes a victim feel that they are wrong about everything or even crazy. The fact is though that you aren’t wrong or crazy- you are FINE! The gaslighting made you doubt these things but it doesn’t mean that they are actually wrong or flawed somehow. Your instincts, perceptions, feelings & thoughts are just fine. They are trustworthy! Ask God to help you to learn to trust yourself. Pay attention, too. You’ll see that the more you you’re right about little things, the more you learn to trust yourself.
Over explaining yourself. Narcissistic parents demand their children behave in certain ways that are acceptable to them, no matter how their child feels about it. When the child fails to meet the impossibly high expectations, the parent demands an explanation for the failure. One more dysfunctional survival skill children of narcissists learn is to explain anything & everything, & again, this often continues into adulthood. It feels strange at first to stop over explaining yourself, but if you stick with it, it gets more comfortable as time goes on. Always remember, not everyone needs an explanation for what you do.
These behaviors, although dysfunctional, don’t have to be permanent. With prayer & work, you can make healthy changes.
Many of us who grew up with narcissistic parents ended up with food issues or even full blown eating disorders. This usually isn’t because we were using some poor coping skills to deal with the abuse. It’s because many narcissists are obsessed with food, & they put their own issues onto their children
Some narcissists hoard food, not even wanting to share it with their own child. Some complain incessantly about what their child eats or doesn’t eat. Some expect & even demand their child like & dislike the same foods the parent likes & dislikes. When the child has a different opinion, the parent invalidates & criticizes the child. Some force their child to eat when they’re not hungry, & then complain because they did eat. Many also criticize their child’s weight extremely harshly, ridiculing the child for being too fat or too skinny, even when the child is a healthy weight. Some narcissistic parents even withhold food from their child as a punishment. Growing up in such madness definitely creates food issues for a child. How could it not?
I grew up hearing how fat I was ever since I can remember. Looking at childhood pictures though, I don’t see a fat child- I see a normal child. Well, now I do. When I was a child, I saw someone incredibly fat & disgusting. So much so, I went through anorexia at about age 10, then later bulimia in my teens. My mother also criticized what I ate & how my entire life. According to her, I either ate way too much or way too little & was wasting her money on food. She even made me eat when I didn’t want to & called me a hog if I ate the last of something, such as the last cookie in the package. And, she encouraged emotional eating. Sad? Have a snack. Happy? Celebrate by having a snack. Angry? Eat.. it’ll make you feel better. I also wasn’t even allowed in my mother’s kitchen growing up. I wasn’t even allowed to get myself something to eat or drink. Neither was my father. The kitchen was my mother’s private domain, & no one was allowed to enter unless they wanted to face her wrath.
I bet many of you can relate to some if not all of my story, can’t you?
I think the reason so many narcissists behave so crazily about food mostly boils down to narcissistic supply. Food is necessary for life. Eating is a way to take care of yourself. Narcissists never want their victims to do anything good for themselves since it might contribute to healthy self esteem- something they refuse to allow victims to have. Supply is gained if they can tear apart someone’s self esteem or prevent someone from gaining any boost to it. Plus, parents can control what their children eat, & control is a great way to provide a narcissist with supply.
Projection also can be why narcissistic parents behave this way with food. If your narcissistic mother has her own food issues, she won’t deal with them as a normal person would. Instead, she’ll try to put them on you so she can get upset about them while refusing to take any responsibility for them. This certainly happened with my mother. She was raised by her own narcissistic mother, & one of her coping skills her mother taught her as a child was to turn to food. She maintained that skill as an adult & judging by how she’s always been with me, is deeply bothered by it.
Personally, I’m still trying to sort out my own food issues since most of the time, I don’t want to eat, but at least it’s much better than it once was. It’s a long journey towards healing in this area. God has truly helped me a great deal with it though. He has helped me to understand that my mother did wrong in this area (among others) with me, & the things she said to me & accused me of were wrong. He’s also helped me to understand food better & reject the awful teaching I received about it growing up. He can do the same for you, Dear Reader. Turn to God. Ask Him to help you heal in this area & to teach you whatever it is you need to know. He loves you so much & will be more than happy to do so!
When a person cuts a narcissist out of their life, no matter if the relationship is romantic, a relative, a parent or a friend, many times, that narcissist will harass or stalk that victim for months or even years. They relentlessly call, text, email, drive past the victim’s house, stalk the victim online, & send flying monkeys to pressure the victim into resuming the relationship. While this may not sound all that bad, I can tell you from personal experience, it is REALLY bad.
When you are constantly bombarded by someone who is trying to get you to talk to them & you don’t want to, or told how horrible you are for not talking to them, it’s painful. It’s also scary because you don’t know where the person will come from next. This creates a state of hyper vigilance. Each day when you wake up, you wonder what the person has planned for you on that day. Will this person fill your inbox with angry emails? Will you have to change your phone number yet again? Will that person kill you? That may sound like a big leap, but I can tell you that when someone inundates you with abuse, you really wonder how far away that person is from killing you.
And, when the abuse stops, you don’t trust it. You wonder how long before it starts up again? When will the other shoe drop? Did that person hear about something that happened in your life & will they resume harassing you because of it? To date, I’ve been harassed since 2013 by a narcissist. I haven’t heard anything from her since October, 2017 when she used the opportunity of my father dying as an excuse to email me to tell me I was a narcissist. Yet, even though here we are, over four months later & I don’t believe that was the last I’ll hear of this person. She may read this post, realize I’m talking about her & start up again for all I know. It’s happened before.
I am far from the only person that this sort of thing has happened to. Many others have experienced long term stalking & harassment by their narcissist after they initiated no contact. One thing we all have in common is wondering why has this happened?
I firmly believe the reason that narcissists react this way boils down to narcissistic injury. It’s painful for anyone when another person ends a relationship with them, but that pain is greatly intensified when the person is a narcissist. Narcissists rely on others to make them feel good about themselves so they can gain narcissistic supply. Any little thing can make them feel smart, strong or attractive. If someone says, “That’s a good idea” to a narcissist, they take that as they are exceptionally smart whereas the average person would thank the person for saying it & simply go on with their day.
On the opposite side of the same coin though, any little thing can make them feel badly about themselves, or cause a narcissistic injury. If a narcissist’s friend was recently dumped by a new love interest, & while upset, is short with the narcissist, the narcissist takes it personally. The narcissist may even end that friendship. Most people wouldn’t respond that way. They would realize the friend isn’t attacking or being abusive- the friend is upset & spoke out of that upset. If a small thing like that can cause a narcissistic injury, then doesn’t it just make sense that ending a relationship would cause a much greater injury & naturally much greater reaction to it?
Also, narcissists want to be the ones in control, including being the ones who end relationships. If you end the relationship, this takes away their control. Now you have someone who has lost control AND a relationship that they weren’t ready to end.
In addition, most victims have been in the relationship for at least a little while. Narcissists expect their victims to continue tolerating abuse indefinitely. It seems to shock them when that doesn’t happen, & a victim stands up for him or her self.
All of these things combine for a perfect storm of rage inside the narcissist. Once that rage kicks in, nothing can stop it & whoever they feel is to blame for that rage must pay.
If you find yourself in the unenviable position of being on the receiving end of a narcissist’s stalking & harassment, you must protect yourself! Never, ever underestimate one of these raging narcissists. Don’t make the mistake of brushing off their awful behavior & thinking it’s no big deal. Maybe it isn’t a big deal & maybe they’ll leave you alone soon, but maybe it’ll become a bigger deal & they won’t leave you alone.
Look into the stalking & harassment laws in your state. Get familiar with them, so you know when you can get the police involved if need be.
Document EVERYTHING. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you saved it. Even if the narcissist’s behavior wasn’t always illegal, just mean spirited, that still can work in your favor with law enforcement, because it shows a history of bad behavior. Save screen shots, texts, emails, etc on cloud storage or email them to yourself, saving them on your email provider. Phones & computers die, so saving things elsewhere means they are there forever.
Do NOT interact with the narcissist. This is tough, because you want to just rip that person apart & tell them exactly what you think of them for all they have done to you. That would be a horrible mistake though! Do you realize how much narcissistic supply that would give this person? The narcissist would then be the victim, in her mind, & you the abuser. She could tell people how mean you were & for no good reason. Or, if you said anything to the narcissist in front of others, it would just prove her case that you are the real problem, the abuser, or even crazy. Plus, since the narcissist could get this reaction out of you, she would do whatever she could to get it again & again, to gain more supply. As difficult as it is, deprive them of the supply. Give them absolutely NO reaction or response unless it is through the police. If you decide to get the police involved, pray & seriously consider it before you do.
I know it’s hard, Dear Reader but you will get through this! xoxo
Some time ago, I wrote about the miraculous events that surrounded my father’s death last October. (If you missed that post, I’d really like to urge you to read it now. It’s quite a story!)
Recently I’ve been thinking about those events a lot. One aspect of it in particular that is on my mind is how God told my friend to tell me never stop praying for my mother.
Looking at the situation now, her salvation seems utterly impossible. She’s a narcissist. We all know how they are- they know best about everything. This makes them very closed off to listening to anyone tell them about salvation through Jesus, & my mother is no exception. In fact, my mother has told me she has a “direct line” to God & “when she prays, God listens!”
This can be very discouraging. On a positive note though, I also know what happened with my father which eliminates my discouragement. While I know God is the One who did all the work to save my father, I prayed & asked many other people to pray for him as well. Not trying to take any credit from God of course, but I do know that my prayers & those of others made a big difference for my father. James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (KJV, emphasis added)
As my prayers & those of my friends made a big difference with my father, so can yours with the narcissist in your life.
I know, praying for someone who has hurt you is a very, very hard thing to do. Like it or not though, as Christians, we are commanded to do so….
Matthew 5:43-48 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 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; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (KJV)
I would guess these verses aren’t anyone’s favorites… lol They certainly weren’t mine for a long time. Then a few years ago, I felt that God wanted me to start to pray for some people who have been abusive to me. Much as I didn’t want to, I did it anyway, even when I didn’t mean it because I was still angry with them. As time passed though, it got easier. Then I felt He wanted me to pray for more people who had abused me, then more. At the current time, I am praying daily for a lot of people who have treated me terribly every single morning. And you know something? It’s not hard to do anymore. In fact, I have an alarm set on my cell phone to ring each morning to remind me to pray, but even with my terrible short term memory, I usually remember to pray long before the alarm goes off. Often even before I get out of bed in the morning.
Praying for these people is something I look forward to now. Since I began to do so, I have felt closer to God than ever. Even if I am angry at them at the time I pray for whatever reason, I know God appreciates the fact I’m trying to do as He wants in spite of how I feel.
It also has helped to release the anger I felt towards these people. I can’t explain how it works, but somehow it does work! Of course, if something new happens, I may get angry- that’s just normal- but at least I’m not walking around full of unforgiveness & bitterness anymore. (For the record, this also doesn’t mean some people will be allowed back in my life- forgiveness does NOT equal reconciliation. It means I released the anger I felt at them, period. Trusting them again would be foolish unless their actions changed dramatically.)
I’ve also realized that maybe no one else prays for them. Have you ever considered that about the narcissist in your life? I thought about this after my ex husband’s mother passed away in 2010. She was a devoted Christian, but I am unsure if any other of his relatives are. Since he said he didn’t believe in God, it’s safe to assume he didn’t seek out Christian friends. There is an excellent chance he has no one praying for him aside from me! That to me is heartbreaking! And, if it could happen with him, it could happen with others as well. So many narcissists claim to be atheists & have no patience for Christians so they don’t exactly surround themselves with them. You may be the only person who prays for that narcissist in your life! I tell you this not to make you feel obligated or guilty somehow- it’s just a simple fact & it may be possible in your situation.
I know it’s hard to pray for someone who has hurt you so deeply as only a narcissist can, but please, Dear Reader, try it. Hopefully you’ll see the results of your prayers in that person’s life. If you don’t, however, you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing, you can enjoy the new closeness to God & feel better with less anger inside of you!
There is a lot of information out there about going no contact, but not a lot of it is good, in depth information. It isn’t always helpful for those who are seriously considering going no contact with their narcissistic parent. The purpose of this post is to provide a deeper look at things to consider when going no contact.
No contact is a very serious decision, & never should be entered into lightly. Never, ever initiate it unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s the right thing for you to do. Never initiate it during the heat of the moment such as during an argument. Only initiate it after a great deal of serious prayer & consideration.
No contact also is a permanent decision. If you resume contact with a narcissist, chances are excellent that this person’s behavior will be a LOT worse than it was before you started no contact. If you let that person suck you back into a relationship or if you are the one who initiates contact again is not important. The important thing is you’re back. The narcissist will start out behaving with you to test the waters, but that won’t last long. They see you as being weak with weak boundaries (easy prey in other words), since you allowed this relationship to be reconciled. Also, since you set that boundary of no contact, you must be punished for that as well. This is why no contact must be a permanent decision! Once ties are severed, accept no communication from the narcissist at all. Block all emails, phone numbers, social media accounts.. any access that person can use to contact you. If they find ways around it, block that access too. You may need to change your email address, phone number or name on your social media accounts.
No contact isn’t easy. You lose people you never expected to lose from your life, even family members. That is incredibly painful, but it’s very common. It seems to me that the majority of people would rather side blindly with the narcissist than stand up for what’s right. Maybe they’re afraid of facing the narcissist’s wrath if they side with you. Maybe they think it’s easier to get you to change than the narcissist & they’re just looking for an easy way out of this situation. Or, maybe they’d rather think of you as bad, wrong, crazy, etc. than admit to themselves that you were abused & they didn’t protect or help you. Whatever their “logic”, it’s still going to hurt you a LOT when they abandon you in favor of your abuser. On the good side though, you do find out who your real friends are. Those who stand by your side even if they don’t understand the situation are your real friends. Those who don’t judge you or tell you that you need to “forgive & forget” are your real friends. Those who refuse to give your abuser the time of day are also your real friends.
Your emotions are going to go haywire for a while. I believe this is because your mind is finally free from constantly having to think about the narcissist. They seem to take up all the room in any relationship, leaving no room for you or even for you to think about things other than them. You are to find ways to appease & please them, avoid their wrath, anticipate all of their needs & wants, prop up their ego at all times & more. Then, once you realize how messed up all of this is, you need to find ways to stop providing them with narcissistic supply, battle their gaslighting so you can keep your sanity & avoid them as much as possible. Any relationship with a narcissist is a LOT of work! Once that is done, it’s like your brain finally realizes it’s free of that, & decides now is the time to start dealing with that stuff it couldn’t deal with when in the relationship with the narcissist. All kinds of memories come to the surface & with them, a ton of emotions. Even when memories aren’t popping up, your emotions can go haywire because finally you can feel instead of only focusing on the narcissist.
If anyone tells you that no contact is taking the easy way out, don’t listen to them. No contact is usually the necessary step to take, but that doesn’t make anything about it easy!
Narcissistic parents might like to think they’re the best parents ever, but they are so far from it. They instill the worst possible beliefs in their children that often follow (well, maybe more like haunt) those children for the rest of their lives. Below is a list of a few of them.
- “You need to be able to do anything & everything I tell you to, no matter what! Not because you’re talented or capable, so don’t think that! But because I want you to do those things!” Narcissistic parents are a confusing group. One way they are confusing is treating their children like they should be able to do anything, yet also making sure they know they aren’t smart, talented or capable. As an example, my parents were very parentalizing. In other words, they wanted me to take care of them rather than them taking care of me. Even as a young child, they’d come to me with complaints about their marriage & sometimes, they’d expect me to fix whatever disagreement it was that they had. I was just supposed to know how to fix things for them, but at the same time, both let me know they didn’t think I was smart. This type of behavior can lead to an adult who is terrible at self care. The adult may not recover as long as necessary from surgery, may go back to work immediately after giving birth or experiencing a trauma such as the death of a loved one. They don’t take care of themselves because they believe they don’t deserve to.
- “If you want to be loved, you have to earn it.” Narcissists actually have no real grasp on what it means to truly love someone. What they call love is conditional love at best. They will abuse their children & only stop it when the children do things that please them. This makes children of narcissists work so hard to please their parents. They are so starved for love, they’ll do about anything for their parents in order to earn some “love.” This can lead to adult children of narcissists who are frequently used & abused. They try to earn love from others. Abusers seek this out in a victim, because it means that victim will put up with anything.
- “Your worth depends on what you do only.” Related to #2, this means that you only have value when you please the narcissist. If you discovered the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s & heart disease, & made it free & readily available to every human being on the planet, if your narcissistic parent didn’t have a vested interest in these cures, your parent would still see you as worthless. Yet, if you bought a pen for your parent you knew she liked, it would gain more approval than inventing those cures. She would see you as more worthy for getting her that pen than when you invented the cures for diseases that plague humanity.
- “Your emotions aren’t important. In fact, you aren’t allowed to have them!” The only person that really matters to a narcissist is that narcissist. No one else is even human, merely a tool to be used. Don’t “bother” a narcissistic parent with your feelings. After all, tools don’t have feelings, so you shouldn’t either. Besides, their emotions are the only important ones! Adult children of narcissists have become professionals at stifling their emotions. As a result, they end up miserable or sick (high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety, etc.).
All of these false beliefs are just that- FALSE! They have no basis in reality. Their basis is in the narcissist’s reality which is a world full of insanity. If you grew up learning such nonsense, then Dear Reader, it’s time to get rid of those false beliefs. Ask God to tell you the truth. Are you worthy? Are you deserving of love or does it depend on what you do? Any questions you can think of, ask Him & listen to what He has to say. You will find out quickly that these beliefs are not true. God thinks so much more of you than your narcissistic parent did. Let Him show you what He thinks of you. It’ll heal you & bring you joy.
Kinda along the lines of my last post about marital rape…
Another way narcissists can abuse their partners is by withholding intimacy. Although this is commonly thought to be something only women do, men do it as well.
Withholding sex can be as emotionally damaging as forcing it, but in different ways. Withholding can make a person question & doubt herself. She thinks things like she isn’t attractive or desirable or even thinks she is disgusting in some way, which is why her partner refuses to make love to her. This particularly cruel type of rejection is devastating to the self-esteem, & a person with low self-esteem is easy for an abuser to control. Low self-esteem means a person will tolerate a lot of abuse from her partner, & for a long time. She does not think anyone else would have her, so why leave?
Sex also can be used as manipulation. An abuser may promise sex if his partner does something else he wants, & the partner, wanting sex, will do whatever the abuser asks.
It also can be used as a punishment. For example, if you do something your partner didn’t want you to do, he may refuse to have sex with you for weeks or even months
If you are experiencing these things with your spouse, they are abusive! Don’t doubt that for a moment!
Also don’t doubt yourself. I know it’s hard, but the way you feel is wrong! You aren’t unworthy of your partner’s love- your partner is being abusive, & that is no reflection on you whatsoever. Talk to God about how you feel, & ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are. I also have some affirmations on my website that may help you. They are available at the following link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php
People say, “Just let it go!” all the time to those who have been through bad experiences or abuse, but what do they really mean? I think many people who say that don’t say it to try to help you. Instead, I think they really mean, “Stop talking about it. It makes me uncomfortable!”
Unfortunately, this statement can make a person feel ashamed of themselves for being unable to “just let it go.” They feel like something is wrong with them, or maybe they’re a bad Christian when the truth is, they’re simply human.
The fact is, most people just can’t “let go” of pain. It’s not that we want to hold onto it at all- we have no choice in the matter. It’s kind of like a splinter. You can’t wish it away or let it go- you actually need to deal with it to get rid of it.
If you really want to let something go, once & for all, it takes work. You need to feel the anger, feel the hurt & get it out of you. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you weren’t allowed to show your emotions as a child, but it does get easier in time.
When it happens with me, I make time to write in my journal. Writing is often easier than saying things out loud for me, so although often prayer is my first place to start, journaling is in this particular situation. I let it all out- name calling, bad language & all. Sometimes I’ll write as though I’m speaking to the person, sometimes I just vent about them & what they did. I just follow whatever feels right, & let it all out. I pray after, & ask God to help me. For many things, this helps to purge me of the anger & hurt completely. For other things, I have to repeat it a few times. I’ve learned not to judge it- abuse does bad things, & everyone heals differently.
Maybe what I do will help you as well. It’s worth a try anyway, right? If you’re sure it won’t, then do whatever does work for you. Or, ask God to show you what you need to do. Healing is a very individual thing, & there’s nothing wrong with you if something other than what I do helps.
Remember, Dear Reader, if you can’t “just let it go”, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s OK! It’s perfectly normal to have to feel things to heal.
Narcissists have a way of making their victims feel like we are the problem. This is awful for the victims, because as a result, we end up tolerating their abuse for years. We think they’re good to put up with us, & we try harder & harder to be good enough for them. Meanwhile, as we’re losing ourselves in trying to please the narcissists, the narcissists are gaining tons of supply.
So how does this happen? How can a person honestly believe they’re the problem when the narcissist clearly is? Narcissists accomplish this in several ways.
Projection. Narcissist always accuse others of their own flaws. This makes a person feel inadequate. A person may even become angry but feels they don’t have the right to be angry since they are the flawed one.
Narcissists don’t examine their behavior, only yours. If you’re angry with a narcissist, all that narcissist sees is how you’re acting. They don’t ask themselves why you’re angry or is it something they’ve done. They see you acting in a way they consider irrational, & make you feel crazy for your behavior.
They gaslight. All narcissists love gaslighting their victims. Gaslighting is basically when you say the sky is blue, & the narcissist says it’s clearly green & something is wrong with you for thinking otherwise. Granted, that is an extremely obvious example, but that’s pretty much how gaslighting works. Narcissists see the same thing you see (that blue sky) but don’t want you to see it that way. Rather than agreeing that the sky is blue, they’ll tell you it’s green & try to make you feel crazy for thinking it’s blue. Narcissists do this often with abusive things they have done. They may deny the events happened entirely, or try to convince you that they happened in a very different way.
Narcissists provoke their victims to rage while maintaining their cool. One primary feature of narcissism is their complete lack of empathy. This enables narcissists to feel no guilt or remorse for abusing a victim. This also means they can maintain their calm demeanor while simultaneously driving a victim to the brink of madness. When this happens, a victim feels insane. After all, the victim is the one screaming & crying while the narcissist is cool & collected. The victim looks crazy to herself & anyone else who may be witnessing this phenomenon.
If you’re in a relationship of any sort with a narcissist, these things are most likely happening. When they do, please remember this post & remind yourself that you are NOT the problem! The narcissist is only trying to make you think you are!