Category Archives: Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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?
I love memes. In fact, I saved many over the years. Some inspire me with quoting Scripture. Others inspire because of the beautiful pictures. And then there are ones like this one that was popular on Facebook for a while. It said, “It is very sad when members of the same family do not talk to each other. The children suffer for the adult ego. Cousins miss the wonderful opportunity to be together, & all due to a bruised adult ego. Stop getting offended. Reunite with your family members. One day your imaginary conflict will all come to an end…with or without you. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Type yes if you agree.”
That one about made me gag.
I will admit, there are families where someone is being a petty jerk & not speaking to other family members. It does happen, but I don’t believe it’s all that common.
What is much more common is when someone in a family is abusive, & their victim gets fed up. They sever ties with that abuser to protect themselves & sometimes also their spouse & children. The abuser & their devoted flying monkeys harass the victim, drag their name through the mud & blindly support the abuser. Meanwhile the victim is left behind in a state of shock & deeply hurt by the betrayal of not only the abuser but the family members who once said they loved the victim. I guess that truth doesn’t make such a “nice”, wholesome sounding meme though, does it?
If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am. Not only for myself since I have been in this position but for the countless others who have been as well.
It’s not right to abuse someone in the first place. There is no reason to abuse anyone. The only thing that makes this even worse is when people know about the abuse, but treat the abuser with kindness & the victim with disdain. Treating someone who has the courage to open up about being abused is one of the cruelest things a person can do to another in my opinion. It takes a lot of courage to go against the abuser’s wishes in any way, especially their desire to keep their acts secret, because once it’s out, you can’t take it back. To treat someone in this position as if they’re lying, making a big deal about nothing, acting like a spoiled brat, trivialize their feelings or experiences or claim they want to hear nothing about it is absolutely disgraceful & disgusting. Anyone who does this should be utterly ashamed of their actions, but sadly that is rare.
People who act this way are people who are fans of the meme I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Those people obviously have issues. Since I’m related to many of that type of person & have seen their sick behavior first hand, I think I can say that without any doubt. Thanks to these people, I have learned a few things about this kind of person.
People who treat victims as they do often have abuse in their past. They don’t have the guts to face that fact, so they deny it. They put on a fake happy face & tell stories of their happy family. Their denial runs deep so they don’t have to face the pain. Any perceived threat to it & they attack. This includes silencing other victims who are willing to speak out, even when those victims are their own family.
There are others who know the narcissist & refuse to believe the truth. They believe the “nice guy/girl” act & will also attack any threat to their denial of the truth.
People like this are just as toxic as the narcissist who abused you in the first place. And sadly, they’re out there creating memes like this & hurting & manipulating God only knows how many people who see it. It’s utterly disgusting! You really can’t believe everything you read, because sometimes it’s nothing more than garbage written by toxic people.
Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling. One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control. It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.
Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day? Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact. Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.
There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.
Intimidation is a big red flag. Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me. After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me. Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.
“Minor” violent acts. I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence. That isn’t my intention. What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard. These are so called minor violent acts.
Using threats to control. Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.
Micromanaging a victim. When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything. Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood. This is known as infantilization.
Financial abuse. An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.
Isolation is another form of coercive control. It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims. Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources. Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.
Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control. Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case. Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.” They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you. When you practically beg them is when they have power over you. They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.
When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first. Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse. This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening. By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.
If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!! These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person! Protect yourself & stay safe! xoxo
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!
I was talking with someone recently who obviously looks down on me for having C-PTSD. It seems to me that she thinks I’m weak for having it & my childhood was much easier than hers.
The truth of the matter is we both had terrible childhoods, just in different ways. While she was more physically abused, I was more mentally abused. Both types of abuse are horrible, just different. Physical abuse leaves scars people can see & often lifelong health or mobility issues. Emotional abuse leaves scars that aren’t visible, such as PTSD or C-PTSD. Both are equally bad in the fact they cause a great deal of pain & suffering.
Truth be told, all abuse is horrible but different. There’s no point in comparing your situation with someone else’s. All it does is make you miserable.
Everyone who has been abused had it worse than some folks & better than others. Only children didn’t have it better than those with siblings. Children with siblings had brothers & sisters abusing them along with their parents, while only children were the only focus of their parents’ abuse & rage. How is one of those situations better than the other? People who were “only” emotionally abused don’t have it better than those who were physically or sexually abused. At least with physical & sexual abuse, there is no doubt to the evilness of the abuser & victims are more likely to receive support. With emotional abusers, there are no scars & no visible evidence of their evil deeds, so many doubt the validity of the claims of emotional abuse. Without irrefutable evidence, many people don’t believe the claims of people who were abused.
See what I mean? All abuse is terrible, period. There is really no point in comparing your story to someone else’s.
Everyone who has been abused has suffered. Everyone processes things differently too, which is why some people have a harder time coping than others. And, no one is weak for having C-PTSD. It is a sign of having experienced great trauma that was great enough to damage the brain. That is NOT a sign of weakness!
Dear Reader, please never compare your experiences to another person’s. If you do, you’ll end up doing one of two things, neither of which are good. You’ll end up either thinking you’re overreacting because you believe your situation wasn’t as bad as someone else’s, or you’ll look down on the other person because you think their situation wasn’t as bad as yours. Neither option does you any good at all! Someone will end up hurt & feeling invalidated either way..
Instead, stop judging. You have to accept that your situation was bad, as was the situation of the person in question. Your situations may have been similar or vastly different, but they were both bad. Period.
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
Not all unsafe people are narcissists. Unfortunately, those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse can be so focused on spotting & avoiding narcissists that we don’t notice traits in your garden variety unsafe people. It can be all too easy to overlook some unsafe qualities because if you compare them to narcissistic traits, they don’t seem all that bad. That doesn’t mean that these people are ok, however. It just means they aren’t as unsafe as narcissists. They still can cause frustration, hurt & pain.
Below is a list of traits of unsafe people I have compiled.
Unsafe people can come on too strong. Granted, narcissists do this, so it is at the very least a sign of an unsafe person, if not a narcissist. Watch out for anyone who says, “You’re going to be my best friend!” about as soon as you meet, or someone you date who starts discussing marriage almost immediately. Being so clingy simply isn’t normal.
Unsafe people also avoid facing their own problems, & will do about anything to avoid it. When my father was dying, my family & even strangers came out of the woodwork to attack me for not being there to say good bye, as I’ve said before. It went on for months but happened daily for his final three weeks when he was in the hospital. I asked God why this was happening & He told me something interesting. Some people were in deep denial. They didn’t want to face their own past abuse. Me not being there threatened their denial. I have been open about the abuse in my past, & me having the strength to face it made them feel bad for not doing the same. They felt they had to shut me down & make me do what they felt I should do so they could continue that denial. Rather than face difficult issues, many people will go even to such extremes to maintain their denial.
Unsafe people have no interest in improving themselves. Safe people want to learn & grow, lose bad habits, & other good things. Unsafe people couldn’t care less about such things.
Unsafe people act like they know everything. You can’t tell an unsafe person anything, because they know it all. They aren’t open to any knowledge, not only knowledge about how to improve themselves.
Unsafe people also become defensive at constructive criticism. Constructive criticism can help a person learn, grow & improve him or her self. Naturally this is a huge turn off to unsafe people since they have no interest in doing any such things.
When an unsafe person hurts another person, chances of accepting responsibility for their actions, a genuine apology & changed behavior are very, very slim. If you tell someone that something they said or did hurt you, & they act this way, it is a huge red flag saying this person is unsafe.
Unsafe people also demand trust rather than accepting the fact trust is earned. So many people say, “You can trust me” that it isn’t often noticed. It’s something that needs to be noticed, however! A healthy, safe person knows trust is earned, not given on demand.
Unsafe people can be very selfish. I don’t mean in a narcissistic way, where every single thing has to come back to them & they rage if it doesn’t. Not all selfish people are malicious, they are simply thoughtless. Even so, their selfishness can hurt you. If this happens & the person accepts responsibility, apologizes & their behavior changes, this is a very good sign that this person is safe. If none of that happens, however, this person is unsafe.
Unsafe people can be demanding of your time. Part of the selfishness factor, unsafe people want to monopolize your time. Naturally, not everyone who wants to spend time with you is unsafe. Good friends & loved ones naturally want to spend time with each other. Extroverts love to spend time with people. The key to recognizing an unsafe person in this area is someone who pretty much demands you spend time together when they want, & either acts offended or gives guilt trips when you are unavailable.
I believe these tips can help you to recognize unsafe people easily. And, when you come across them, always remember to keep your boundaries firmly in place, & be ready to enforce them as needed.
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!
Anyone who has experienced a relationship with a narcissist knows that they love to reinvent the past. In their version of events, they weren’t abusive. They were just trying to help.
Narcissists aren’t the only ones who are able to reinvent the past, however. Sometimes their victims do as well. I have a very good example of this phenomenon.
I know of someone who was what I refer to as a holiday Nazi. She demanded her adult children, their spouses & grandchildren spend holidays with her, & they had to celebrate on the exact day. There was no acceptable reason not to do this, it seemed.
One Christmas season, her adult children decided they wanted to spend the day with their respective families rather than their parents. Apparently, Mom didn’t approve. She stopped taking her insulin a few days before Christmas & ended up in the hospital either Christmas day or within a couple of days after, I can’t remember which. She told her adult children that she did it because she was too busy baking Christmas cookies that she didn’t have time to take her insulin.
Some time after this fiasco, her son who had heard what she said & even repeated it said that never happened. It was during the time when she was having trouble regulating her insulin dosage.
Rather than admit how manipulative his mother was, & how she would risk her own health just for some attention, he convinced himself that was not the case. He convinced himself that this happened because the doctors hadn’t regulated her insulin need at that time.
If you have done something similar, you’re not alone. There is no need to be ashamed of yourself for doing it. There is, however a need to change that behavior.
Reinventing the past only gives the narcissist power, because their actions are being excused rather than holding them accountable for their actions. Narcissists realize they can do anything, & you’ll pretend they didn’t. In fact, you may even end up blaming yourself for what they did. You won’t punish them for their actions, so this makes them believe they can do anything without fear of consequences. There is no reason to limit their abusive actions.
It also makes the victim feel like they have to tolerate the abuse. They convince themselves that what happened was ok by pretending it didn’t happen as it actually did. This means victims will tolerate a LOT of abuse.
You can change your behavior into something much healthier!
Writing is an incredibly useful tool. I don’t mean writing a book or blogging about your experiences. I mean writing in a journal or writing letters you don’t send. Seeing your experiences in writing helps to make them more real somehow. It’s very validating! Writing also gives you an outlet for getting your emotions out with no fear of anyone judging you, which can be incredibly helpful. It can show you, too, just how much you’ve grown & healed, which is very encouraging. And regarding changing this habit of reinventing the past, writing also gives you a written record of events, so you can’t reinvent anything. If you wrote something down, you can revisit that knowing that is what happened rather than this different scenario you started to form in your mind.
Dealing with the traumatic event also will help you to stop reinventing the past. Reinventing things happens as a way to avoid pain. If you face that pain & deal with it. you automatically won’t try to reinvent the scenario. I know that seems terrifying, but truly it will help you a great deal if you face it. It’ll hurt for a while but not forever. You’ll heal & that situation won’t have power to devastate you anymore. At most it may sting a bit when you think of it. Wouldn’t you prefer that to being devastated?
And as always, never forget to turn to God & trust Him to help you to do what you need to in order to release that unhealthy habit of reinventing the past. xoxo
I’m really into music, mostly classic & hard rock/metal. I find music to be very good for one’s mental health. A song can transport you back to a special memory such as your first slow dance or maybe the day you met your spouse. It also has a way of putting your feelings & experiences into words when you lack that ability.
Recently I realized something as I was listening to some hard rock & heavy metal music. I think some artists have experience with narcissists & have made songs about it. I found their songs oddly validating, & hope you will too.
Below are the songs that made me come to this realization. The titles are links to the song’s video on YouTube if you want to check it out. If not though, I understand. Not everyone is a fan of this kind of music. I included links to pages that contain just the lyrics for my readers who don’t share my musical tastes.
Thorn In My Side, from the 1992 album “Force Of Habit” by Exodus. Here is the link to the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/exodus/thorninmyside.html In particular, notice the chorus. If this doesn’t describe what it’s like growing up with a narcissistic parent, I don’t know what does. The video also tells the story well. It nearly brought me to tears the first time I saw it.
You are a thorn in my side,
all my life you never left me alone
Thorn in my side, in your mind you wish I never were born
Thorn in my side, through it all I think you pushed me to fail
Thorn in my side, it’s about time you’re recognized
for your lies and your worthless alibis
Soul Sucker from the 2010 album “Scream” by Ozzy Osbourne. Here are the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ozzyosbourne/soulsucker.html The chorus on this song in particular struck me as being very interesting. It describes very well what it’s like being in a relationship with a narcissist, don’t you think? Whether the narcissist is a parent or romantic partner, this describes very well how it feels.
Stop talking to me
Just like I don’t even bleed
This cross is heavy when
You’re my soul sucker
Get out of my face
The past is running in place
The slivers cut me as you
Suck the soul right out of me
Holier Than Thou from the 1991 album “Metallica” (or The Black Album) by Metallica. Here are the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/metallica/holierthanthou.html To me, the lyrics sound like they’re describing a narcissist. So many use God & religion to abuse their victims, & definitely display that “holier than thou” behavior. My mother did it. When I was in my teens, she told me she was going to Heaven because she was such a good person, but being such a bad person, I was bound for Hell. Anyway, I found this part of the song in particular especially interesting:
Before you judge me take a look at you
Can’t you find something better to do
Point the finger, slow to understand
Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand
These songs have made me wonder what other songs out there of any genre also came to be due to narcissistic abuse. Do you know of any? Do you find listening to them validating?
This post is going to sound a bit odd to many of you, I’m sure, but I hope you’ll read it anyway as I believe it can be beneficial to those in similar situations.
I saw a quote on Facebook that got me to thinking. It was long, so I’ll summarize. It suggested that you talk to nature. Before cutting a tree or plant, tell it what you have in mind to do, & talk to animals with respect. That sort of thing.
Having some Native American Indian heritage in me, I tend to do this. It just seems to be in my blood. I never thought much about it though until reading the quote.
I’ve always talked to my pets as if they were people, & treated them with love & respect. Many people including many at their vet’s office have commented how well behaved, smart & loving they are.
After my mother died, I took over some of her house plants. I’ve never been particularly good with plants, but decided to try with some of them anyway. I started talking to them when I decided to bring them home. I told them I was taking them home soon & I’ll do my best to take good care of them. They’re doing surprisingly well!
Before reading this Facebook post though, I began doing this more, & that even includes talking to inanimate objects. Reading the post only confirmed to me that I was onto something.
When my mother died, & I learned I was to be her personal representative, I was less than thrilled to put it mildly. I hated going into her house for years, I even hated the house itself, because of all the awful memories it held. It seemed every room had some bad memories attached. Knowing I’d have to spend a great deal of time there triggered horrible anxiety & even anger in me. I had no idea how to deal with this, so I asked God for help. He told me, “Talk to the house.” I thought I must be imagining things… then my very logical husband said the same unusual thing a day or two later, even though I told him nothing about God saying that.
One day when I went to my parents’ house, I started talking to it. Obviously, I felt strange, talking to this inanimate object, but I did it anyway. I told the house I realized I was wrong for being upset with it for things that people who lived in it did to me. It wasn’t fair to blame the house for the actions of people, & I was sorry. Let’s get to know each other better. Suddenly I began to feel a lot more comfortable in the house. I’m not angry at the house & I don’t cringe every time I see a location in it where something bad happened anymore.
I also did this with my mother’s car, which is now mine. There were a lot of pretty bad memories of times with her in that car, so I dreaded dealing with the car. The first couple of times I got behind the wheel, I talked to the car much like I did with the house. And you know something? I don’t mind driving that car now. I’m comfortable with the car now.
Like many of us in our family, my mother named her car. Her name is Peaches, so when I take her out I often say things like, “Hey, Peaches.. ready to go for a drive?” I also told her she was getting new tires recently. I do the same for the house, saying hi & good bye, or telling the house what I’ll be doing today in what room.
I firmly believe a lot of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse have similar feelings. Some things & places can offer reminders of awful situations, or even trigger flashbacks. I suggest talking to the item in question. It really can help you! I know it sounds crazy, but isn’t it worth a try? Whatever helps you to remove some pain is a good thing. So please, give it a try.. what do you have to lose?
Society values the strangest things anymore. For example, being busy is admired these days. Strange thing to admire since being too busy is unhealthy physically & mentally.
It also seems to me a false strength is admired. What I mean by false strength is when a person feels unable to continue doing something, but goes on anyway. Like when a loved one dies, the surviving people are expected to just go on like nothing happened. People seem to think once the funeral is over, their grief should be too. It’s time to go on with life at that point. They don’t realize that for most people, that is when their grief really begins. Or, if a person is physically ill or disabled yet pushes him or herself to the point of extreme pain &/or fatigue, that is admired.
Another type of false strength that seems to be admired in society is going on as if nothing happened after being abused. “It’s in the past,” “let it go,” “stop wallowing in the past,” “get over it” & other heartless comments are commonly made to abuse survivors. What many people fail to realize is we want to let it go & get over it, but we can’t. We have to process things fully before we can truly let things go.
The simple fact is childhood is an extremely important time in a person’s life. All things, good, bad or indifferent that happen to children make a very deep imprint on them. Much deeper than on an adult. When bad things happen to a child, that child carries that into adulthood, possibly even for their entire life.
Many people who suffered child abuse also have PTSD or C-PTSD. These are disorders where the victim has experienced so much trauma, their brain has physically changed, broken even. Neither disorder is something that can be shaken off, & they should be taken seriously. Many, many people with PTSD or C-PTSD have committed suicide & many consider suicide on a regular basis – these are potentially life threatening disorders!
If you too suffer with PTSD or C-PTSD, then I am particularly writing to you, however, I think this article can benefit most anyone.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I was told constantly how lazy I was. This has stuck with me – I still battle feeling lazy constantly even though I’m in my 40’s. Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with share similar stories with similar results. I believe for many of us, this is at the root of this “I always have to be strong & productive” behavior. As a result, we continue pushing ourselves beyond our physical & mental limits constantly rather than be “lazy” like Mom always said we were.
No matter what the reason, continuing to push yourself beyond your limits isn’t being strong- it’s unwise, because you’re putting your physical & mental health at risk!!
I hope to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to learn to take better care of yourself. The fact you have made it this far shows you are strong- you have nothing to prove to anyone. Listen to your body & mind. If they feel stressed, then it’s time to rest. There is no shame in resting your body & mind. Even God rested. Genesis 2:2 states, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” (KJV) In fact, there are also several accounts in the Bible where Jesus took off to be by Himself. There is NOTHING wrong with rest. It helps you to renew your strength. In fact, if you incorporate rest into your life as you need it, you will be stronger. In 2000 when I was one of my grandmother’s caregivers, she ran me ragged. Once I stopped being at her beck & call constantly, & started making time to rest & take care of myself, I was better able to take care of her. (And, with her being a narcissist, I needed every advantage I could get too! lol)
If you truly want to be strong, practice self care & abandon pushing yourself too hard! It really does make a difference!
My husband & I were talking last night about the relationship with my parents, & I thought I’d share a bit of that talk with you…
I was quickly reaching a point probably about 10 years ago where I wanted no further contact with my parents. I prayed about it, & knew God was leaving that decision up to me, & would support me either way. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I maintained the relationship.
As many of you know, in 2015 I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. While I was in the emergency room & still very delirious, I told my husband not to tell our parents about this at any costs, because if he did, I would kill him. In spite of being totally in my own delirious world at that time, I still have some vague memories of thinking of how my parents would respond to my situation & knew there was NO way I could handle their lack of concern.
While recovering, I remembered this, & it hit me… my word!! I can’t even expect comfort from my parents when I nearly died! How messed up is this?! That revelation threw me for a loop. I was incredibly sad & angry about it at the same time. That was when I told God, enough is enough. I want these people out of my life! I’m done! Yet oddly, this time I felt He was saying, “No. Wait. I’ll show you when the time is right.”
Well, I waited & kept saying, “Now?! Please?!” “Wait.” *sigh* Ok…
Then May 5, 2016, I had a big fight with my parents. I knew that night my mother wouldn’t speak to me for quite a while, then she’d call like nothing ever happened. That is how she always operated. I also knew my father would demand to me to try to smooth over this fiasco. What I figured would happen, happened. Over the next few months, I made the decision that I was officially done with my mother, then later decided I was also done with my father. I felt God was saying the timing was right, so I blocked my parents’ phone numbers.
For a while, I wondered why that timing was right & why I felt God didn’t want me to end contact for that period of time. Eventually it hit me. I learned a LOT in the final couple of years of my relationship with my parents. I learned a lot more in that short time than in the other years. I started to understand what makes narcissists tick & figured out some pretty effective ways to cope with them. This gave me a LOT of good information to write about & to share with my readers.
I am so glad to be able to help people, in particular ones for whom no contact isn’t an option. That is such an awful place to be! I am grateful I learned what I did during that time, in spite of how incredibly miserable that time was.
I’m telling you this so that you hopefully will be inspired to think the same way about your situation. I’m not saying be grateful for the abuse you endured of course. Who could be?! But, chances are there is some good that came of it. Being abused gives people a deep empathy & caring for other people, because they understand suffering so well. That is a blessing. Learning how to spot abusive people & how to deal with the ones you can’t avoid is another blessing. Learning about how to set & enforce healthy boundaries is still another.
Like I said, I’m not saying you should be grateful you were abused. That would be weird & I’d think very unhealthy to boot. However, if you can find some good in it all, it can help you a great deal, because you know that your pain wasn’t pointless. It had some purpose. What others meant to destroy you, not only didn’t accomplish that, but it gave you some blessings as well. God wastes absolutely nothing, & He was able to glean something good out of anything, even something so awful. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (AMP)
So when you consider the awful experiences you have been through, please try to remember that some good things did come out of them! Of course, it would’ve been nice if they came another way, but at least they did come to you. Your pain wasn’t in vain!
Narcissists love keeping victims to themselves, & will go to any means necessary to accomplish it. Isolating a victim gives an abuser plenty of advantages…
The victim with no support system without caring friends & family, which often makes a victim easier to control. Supportive friends & family give a person strength & help to raise their self-esteem, which are two qualities no abuser wants in a victim.
If a victim doesn’t even realize the situation he or she is in is abusive, caring people in his or her life will recognize it. They will call the victim’s attention to it & convince the victim that he or she deserves better. They also will do their level best to help the victim to escape. Certainly no narcissist wants this scenario!
Lacking that support system also can lead to depression. Depressed people are much easier to control than happy people. They simply don’t care as much about anything, including themselves, so they may go along with all kinds of things. They also won’t talk back or question an abuser like a healthy person would. They don’t think they deserve any better, so they are easy to manipulate which works out very well for abusers.
Also with isolation, this severely limits the information available to a victim. This means a victim is less likely to realize how wrong the abuse is & more likely to tolerate the abuse without question. Isolation also means an abuser can control what information the victim is privy to, which is extremely advantageous to abusers.
Isolation can be accomplished by several different means, & abusers will use any or all of these tactics to get their way.
If a victim already has friends &/or relatives they are close to when the abusive relationship begins, most abusers will sow seeds of doubt in their victims’ minds about those relationships. My ex husband did this. We met just before I turned 17, & even then, he was starting to work on isolating me. It got worse after we were married, though. He began telling me that my best friend wasn’t really a good friend. At the time, her now ex husband was doing the same thing regarding me. As a result, our friendship ended. (Thankfully we got back in touch after our divorces & are now inseparable.) My ex also told me that my grandparents, who I adored, hated me & didn’t believe me that my mother was abusive, so I shouldn’t talk to them anymore. He did it enough that I did sever ties with them for years.
If an abuser isn’t successful at making a victim doubt a person, they have other ways to destroy the relationship. If their victim is with someone, they can call constantly, interrupting that time together & generally being highly annoying. Before getting together with someone, the abuser can create some crisis, forcing the victim to cancel their plans. Bonus for them is if they can make the victim not tell the person they had plans with, to just stand them up, because certainly that person will be angry. Abusers also may keep victims so busy, they simply have no time to spend with anyone but the abuser.
Another way to isolate victims is for an abuser to show their disgust with the victim’s friends or family. Constantly talking about how bad the people the victim cares about are can erode the love the victim feels for them. The victim may begin to see these people as the narcissist does, & the victim ends those relationships voluntarily.
If the victim grows up with an abusive parent, that abuser has a big advantage that a romantic partner lacks. The abusive parent can control the child from birth, & refuse to allow that child to befriend anyone of whom the parent doesn’t approve. The parent can keep the child so close that the child has no opportunity to make friends. A parent can even home school the child or refuse to allow the child to spend time with extended family, & the child must do as he or she is told.
If you’re involved with someone, anyone, who undermines your relationships or tries to separate you from others, it’s a HUGE red flag! If at all possible, don’t let this person isolate you! Maintain your healthy relationships! They are truly invaluable!
Cognitive dissonance describes the very uncomfortable feeling of learning that something you believed was true is indeed not true. Imagine living your life always believing the sky was green. It never crossed your mind thinking it was anything but green. Suddenly one day, someone tells you the sky is blue. You know the person who told you it is blue wouldn’t lie to you. You also see for yourself that it’s blue. You now have to accept this new fact that that the sky is blue. That awkward feeling of struggling to accept the new reality is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a very common problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse. Narcissists lie about pretty much everything, especially to their victims. They have no problem lying & do it constantly. Anything to get them what they want. Because of this, victims often struggle with cognitive dissonance when they learn the truth. I’ve been there many times.
Most recently, I’ve experienced cognitive dissonance upon learning after my mother’s death that my parents loved me, in some way (just not a normal, healthy way). As a child, I just assumed they did, because that’s what children do. As I got older, I didn’t think they did due to their abusive ways, & worked hard to accept that painful truth. Then after my mother’s death, in the process of clearing out the house, I found they had saved cards & things I’d given them, school projects & other things that they wouldn’t have saved if they didn’t love me. Talk about difficult to accept & rectify in my mind!
Experiencing cognitive dissonance can be very difficult & painful. Learning some truths can be downright excruciating. There is also the fact of learning that someone you love lied to you. That broken trust can be very painful. There is also the subject matter of the lie. That can bring up sadness, anger, hurt & all kinds of unpleasant emotions.
When facing this distressing & challenging situation. as always I recommend beginning with prayer. Ask God for whatever you need, such as help in getting through this, strength, courage.
Consider the evidence facing you, too. Is it clearly the truth? If someone has told you something that is causing this cognitive dissonance, is that person trustworthy?
Always remember that there is no shame in believing something wrong. We all have done this! The only problem would be if you were unwilling to be open to new perspectives & beliefs.
There is also no shame in that you trusted someone who lied to you. This is something every single person has done at some point. It happens! it doesn’t mean you are foolish or naive or anything else. It means you’re human!
Also think about this: the person who is willing to challenge their beliefs, to learn & grow, is brave & intelligent. Many people prefer to stay in their own little box. They are content with not changing, learning or growing. The person they were five years ago is the same person they are now & will be in five years. Actually, if you think about it… that describes flying monkeys. They accept something as truth (such as the narcissist being a good person) & refuse to change their minds even when faced with evidence to the contrary, like when the narcissist shows their abusive ways. You aren’t like that, though! You’re willing to face truth no matter how painful it is.
Humility is another thing that shows when you are dealing with cognitive dissonance. Being willing to change your perspective shows that you realize you don’t know everything. That is a very good quality!
Don’t let your experience with cognitive dissonance make you feel badly about yourself. Everyone has experienced it at some point.
You will survive this painful time with your sanity in tact, even though it may not feel like it at the time. xoxo
Shame is a powerful weapon in the hands of an abuser. It can cause a person to rely on their abuser for pretty much any information & make them easy to control by causing them to think they need someone smarter to tell them what to do. Narcissists know this, & they have fine tuned many very effective ways to use shame to abuse their victims.
Narcissists will destroy a person’s self esteem in order to create toxic shame in a victim. They point out a person’s flaws (real or imagined) constantly & tell embarrassing stories about them. This keeps a victim on their toes, trying to be better, to please the narcissist, & to avoid doing embarrassing things that the narcissist will use to embarrass the victim with at any given time.
Narcissists also will invalidate a victim. If they tell an embarrassing story, for example, & the victim becomes rightly upset, the narcissist will say things like, “I was just joking.” “You can’t even take a joke!” My narcissistic mother did this one constantly, & when I got upset, would tell me, “There’s something wrong with you. You shouldn’t feel that way! That was funny!”
Narcissists also love to reinvent the past. They claim to be responsible for their victim’s successes, claim the successes weren’t all that great or even deny they happened. Regarding their abuse, they will claim the abuse never happened or if it did, it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims or the victim made the narcissist do it.
Narcissists will twist a situation around to make themselves look like the victim rather than the abuser. They do this in two ways. They will tell others about how angry their victim is, how he or she yells at them, while leaving out the things they did that got the victim to that state. They also will use a victim’s own valid reactions to their abuse to prove to the victim that the victim is abusive &/or is mentally unstable.
Narcissists never speak to their victims as if the victim is their equal. Sometimes they will talk down to their victim, in particular if the victim in question is their child. They want to maintain that adult/child relationship in order to make their child feel inferior to them, therefore making them easier to control.
Other narcissists will talk in circles, use big words, speak with authority & basically try to talk above their victim, which makes even the most intelligent victim feel stupid. They may change their body language or physical position so they literally can look down at their victim.
If the narcissist’s victim has any sort of religious faith, the narcissist will not hesitate to use their beliefs to shame the victim. Many tell their victims things like they are going to hell because of how they treat the narcissist, or they aren’t honoring their parent. They let their victims know they are a total failure in every way, including their religious beliefs.
Narcissists view everything as a competition, & they will use comparisons to shame their victims. If a narcissist & their victim have something in common, you can guarantee the narcissist will make sure the victim knows the narcissist does it better or has a better one or is more successful at it. Whatever “it” is, the narcissist is the master, the victim the failure, according to the narcissist.
When a narcissist behaves in these ways towards you, keep in mind what is really happening! You have no reason to be ashamed of yourself, no matter what the narcissist is saying. He or she is only trying to make you feel that way in order to abuse & manipulate you. Like everything when it comes to narcissists, it’s all about the narcissist, & has nothing to do with you. Never forget that!
In today’s society, keeping busy, even too busy, is seen as admirable. When people haven’t seen you for a while, & ask how have you been or what have you been up to, “Been busy” is an answer that always seems to get approval. Saying, “Not much” on the other hand gets looks of disapproval.
I don’t subscribe to the admiration of busyness. While I’m not advocating for being lazy & unproductive, I don’t think being too busy is wise in many ways. The stress of it can cause physical & mental exhaustion. That stress also can cause health problems such has high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease & heart problems. Most people are aware that these things can happen.
What I don’t think most people are aware of is that making yourself too busy also can be an unhealthy way to cope with trauma.
After experiencing trauma, some people cope with it however works for them. They do what they can to heal & they move on as best they can. On the other hand though are people who have been through so much pain, they feel they can’t take anymore. They don’t see that facing their pain is going to help them, or they’re afraid of the pain. Maybe they think that it’ll take over & or they can’t recover from it, so they decide to hide from it. Many in this position turn to addictions such as drugs, alcohol, sex or even shopping. Making their lives too busy is a much lesser known addiction, but it is just as dangerous as the others.
A person who is too busy has no time or energy to devote to healing. This enables the person to avoid their pain very well by removing the opportunity even to think about it. Stuffing pain inside is unhealthy! Doing so can cause big physical & emotional problems. Emotions demand to be felt, & if they are ignored, they’ll find other ways to manifest, & chances are that manifestation isn’t going to be a healthy one.
It is much better to face your pain than to ignore it. Yes, it’s painful, but it is much less painful than living with dysfunctional ways of trying so hard to ignore it. Think of it like draining an infected wound. Sure, the draining process is painful & well, pretty gross. Once it’s done though, the wound heals much quickly & may not even leave a scar. Ignoring the wound means it’ll take much longer to heal, if it does heal, & an ugly scar will be left behind.
Traumatic events are like the poison in an infected wound. You can drain your traumatic wound by dealing with that pain. Face the trauma, admit it happened, admit it was terrible, admit you never deserved it, admit you didn’t make anyone abuse you & feel those feelings attached to it. Doing these things will help you so much to heal!
If you’re too busy, however, you can’t do this so easily. You’re going to need to make some life changes first. To begin, I strongly recommend prayer. Ask God to guide & help you in this situation.
Also consider all of the things that are taking up your time. How necessary is each activity? What is your motivation for participating in each activity? Which activities bring you joy? Which ones do you dislike?
Once you know which activities you need to eliminate & which to continue, think about creating more efficient ways to do these things. Let your dirty dishes soak while you run the vacuum so you spend less time scrubbing dishes. Take turns with another parent of a child on your child’s sports team driving your kids to practice. Common sense little time savers like these may not seem important, but they really can add up quickly, giving you more time to relax, enjoy your life do what you really need to do, including working on your emotional healing.
Ruminating thoughts are very common after someone has experienced trauma, in particular in cases of PTSD & C-PTSD. They are when a person can’t stop thinking about their awful experiences.
Like many people, I experienced them once C-PTSD developed, but I still had a slight degree of control over them. Sometimes, I could force them to stop & think of something else. After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning though, my brain was damaged. Part of that damage was no longer having the ability to control those ruminating thoughts. I had to learn new & effective ways to cope with them.
After my mother’s sudden death in April, my ruminating thoughts got really, really bad! At first it was incredibly hard to handle them on top of everything else about the situation. With God’s help, after a few months of this, I’ve gotten a much better grip on the awful ruminating thoughts.
When they happen, I’ve learned it’s best if at all possible to get alone & sit with the thoughts. I let them run their course, reminding me of whatever awful thing they are about. I also allow myself to feel the emotions that the thoughts trigger. Whatever it is, be it anger, sadness, hurt, I feel them. No, this isn’t easy. In fact it’s incredibly difficult, but it is also well worth it. The more I do this, the less frequent the ruminating thoughts on that particular topic are.
Immediately following my mother’s death, I kept having ruminating thoughts about the night the police came to give me the news of her passing. It was hardly a pleasant experience to say the least. I would relive their visit over & over in my mind. At first, I did my best to ignore these thoughts. I didn’t see it could do me any good to think about that night.
As time went on though & the thoughts were still frequent, I realized something had to give. I started allowing myself to think about that awful night, & to feel the emotions that I remember feeling that night. I leaned on God to help me but even with Him, it was still quite painful. However, the more I did this when they happened, the less painful remembering that night became. As an added bonus, the less frequently the ruminating thoughts about that night became. I still remember that night pretty frequently & it still hurts to be honest, but now I think it’s on a much more normal level. After all, it’s only been just under 4 months since my mother died. That isn’t a long time at all, so it’s totally normal considering the length of time, our lack of relationship & the rest of the odd situation that I’d still be very upset about her death.
If you suffer with ruminating thoughts, I recommend that you do the same things I have. Get alone with the thoughts as soon as you can. Let them run their course & feel your feelings. Let God help you to get through them, too. Tell Him what you feel & allow Him to validate & comfort you. It’s going to hurt at first, but I promise, it gets easier as you do it! I also promise it’s well worth the pain you feel at first when those ruminating thoughts come less frequently or even disappear in time. It’s kind of like lancing a boil. That doesn’t even sound pleasant & must be awful to experience, but it must be done in order to release the infection so the body can heal. You’re doing the same basic thing – you’re going through the discomfort of facing these ugly things head on so your mind can heal.
Ruminating thoughts are a miserable thing, I know. They don’t have to cause you unnecessary suffering anymore, however! You can make these miserable things work in your favor. You can use them as a tool towards healing!
Overt narcissists & covert narcissists often marry because this creates a perfect, dysfunctional union. The real problem begins when they have children. Overt narcissists are not only able to be the center of attention in this family but also abuse the child without interference from the covert partner who refuses to defend the child. The covert narcissist is able to look like the martyr, the long suffering spouse. People wonder how this wonderful person can put up with being married to that awful spouse. The covert narcissist is also able to convince everyone, including the abused child, that there is no way for him or her to protect the child. In fact, often, the child becomes protective of the covertly narcissistic parent & comforts that parent when the overtly narcissistic parent abuses them rather than the parent comforting the child as it should be. The covertly narcissistic parent appears to be the true victim in this scenario, not the child.
Once that child grows up though, she usually learns first that the overtly narcissistic parent was abusive. She accepts that truth, as painful as it is. She may even change her behavior to be healthier such as setting boundaries.
The problem adult children in this situation often have is the covertly narcissistic parent. Accepting that parent was equally if not more abusive is a very hard pill to swallow.
I wondered why this is for a long time, & came up with some ideas.
When you compare an overt & a covert narcissist, the covert doesn’t look so bad. That person isn’t the one who beat you, cussed you out, tore your self esteem to shreds or destroyed your identity like your overtly narcissistic parent did. It was much harder to deny that your overtly narcissistic parent was abusive when that parent did such awful, hurtful things to you. Your covertly narcissistic parent probably seemed normal or even loving by comparison because of not doing those terrible things.
Chances are, your covertly narcissistic parent also was nice to you sometimes, maybe doing nice little things for you that your other parent didn’t know about. Nice behavior mixed in with abusive creates a great deal of confusion, especially in a child. No one wants to believe that a person who can do such nice things can be abusive.
And, that parent made you feel as if you needed to care for him or her instead of he or she caring for you. That created a strong bond to that parent that wasn’t created with your overtly narcissistic parent. Caring for another person naturally creates a bond. Look at mothers who care for their children or adult children who care for their elderly, frail parents for example.
When discussing this topic with a friend of mine some time ago, she also added that she thinks part of the reason it’s harder to accept that the covertly narcissistic parent is abusive is because that means that neither of your parents truly loved you, which is incredibly hard to face. That is an excellent point.
Accepting one parent was abusive & didn’t love you is hard enough, but BOTH parents?! That is incredibly painful. No one wants to feel they aren’t loved by one parent, let alone both. Even if you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realizing both your parents didn’t love you can be devastating to your self esteem. It can make you feel unworthy, because you think if your own parents don’t love you, you must be unworthy of love.
Dear Reader, if you’re in the position of having one overt & one covert narcissistic parent, please know you aren’t alone. This sort of situation happens more often than you might think. And if you’re struggling coming to terms with it, you’re definitely not alone. Many, many people have been there, including me. As painful as it is though, you need to find a way to come to terms with the fact your covertly narcissistic parent is also abusive & not the good parent you thought he or she was. It’s hard, but you can do it! It will help you to accept the truth. After all, the truth sets us free! xoxo