Category Archives: Mental Health

Helpful advice and information on mental health issues.

When Tough Times Happen

Sometimes life is so hard.  It seems like things go wrong constantly & you are stressed, hurt or frustrated.  In those times, God seems far away.  Not only because of the problems you’re going through but also because it can be so easy to get caught up in them & forget to keep God first.  It is in those times that we need to stop behaving like the person Jesus described in Matthew 13:22 in the parable of the seeds sown in various types of soil.  That person is the one who is distracted from his relationship with God by the things of the world like personal problems.  Unfortunately no one is immune to behaving this way sometimes.

When you’re distracted by problems, it is vital to turn back to God as soon as you recognize what you are doing.  He deserves first place in your life after all!  Doing so also will help strengthen you & help you to figure out ways to handle your situation.  It may teach you some other things as well. God truly wants the best for His children, so He often uses circumstances to protect, teach & guide us.  Following are some examples of when He does these things.

Anything that isn’t Biblical, God will close the door to.  If you have to lie to get a new job for example, God will close that door so you don’t get the job or allow you to get it but you will be miserable with it.  It can be difficult & even painful in the moment, but truly it’s for the best!  You have learned not to behave that way, & He has something much better planned for you.  Seriously consider your situation.  If there is anything about it that goes contrary to God’s word, chances are it’s going wrong because God is trying to close that door to keep you away from that bad thing.

Sometimes God closes the door on relationships too.  Some people may look good on the surface, they may even be very good people, but they aren’t good for you.  God knows better than you what is in their hearts, so trust Him to lead you to people that are good for you.  It never hurts to ask God to give you good, healthy & Bible believing friends in your life.  If you’re looking for a romantic partner, this is an especially good prayer to pray.  Being a believer married to an unbeliever is not a good place to be!

Sometimes God uses difficult circumstances to teach us things.  We learn forgiveness when we are wronged by other people.  When we go through hard times, we learn mercy for others who go through similar hard times.  When someone tells us what we did hurt them, we learn humility.  None of these situations are fun at the time, but they do help us to learn some pretty valuable things.

There are also times God uses difficult circumstances to punish us.  Hebrews 12:6-7 in the Amplified Bible says, “For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves, And He punishes every son whom He receives and welcomes [to His heart].”  7You must submit to [correction for the purpose of] discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”  Obviously those times aren’t exactly pleasant, but they can be beneficial.  For example, your spouse tells you that they are upset about how disrespectfully your family treats them, but in spite of seeing evidence your spouse is correct, you ignore your family’s behavior or worse yet, make excuses for it.  Then you get a new coworker.  This person is very disrespectful to you.  They push you aside so they can deal with customers instead, or talk badly about you to other coworkers maybe even your boss.  You go to your boss with your concerns.  The boss tells you he doesn’t see this behavior as a problem or you have to let this go because this person has some sort of personal problems.  The way you feel in that situation mirrors much how your spouse feels.  God still loves you, but He is punishing you for treating your spouse badly.  Also, He uses this as a good learning experience.  Now that you know how your spouse feels, you are going to be more sensitive the next time they come to you with a complaint about your family’s disrespectful behavior.

The next time you are in a situation that is challenging or painful, I want to encourage you to try your best not to be so distracted by it that you ignore God.  Instead, turn to Him.  Ask what is going on, what is He trying to tell you & to help you get through it.  He absolutely will do answer your prayers!

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Validation & Praise

Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience.  The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage.  One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people.  If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway.  You just might learn something about yourself.

External validation is great.  It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong.  However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme.  It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.

Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation.  The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.

Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation.  As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value.  They don’t need to convince others they are great.  Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.

Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation.  Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional.  Not at all!  I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.

External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone.  If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy.  It also can be a sign of a personality disorder.  Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.

Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life.  It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness.  Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point. 

If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem!  I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do.  I hope what I did helps you too!

The first step for me was to turn to God.  I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am.  I also studied what the Bible says about believers.  There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children!  It’s very eye opening!

I watched my behavior, too.  If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself.  I asked myself why I felt this was necessary.  I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person.  If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important.  They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?!  I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation.  They offer it freely.

Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward.  I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts.  If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself.  If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that.  My validation became good enough for me.  That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!

I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways.  People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes.  Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!

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You Deserve Compassion & Kindness!

Once someone has been abused, often they quietly & obliviously develop the misguided belief that they are unworthy of compassion & kindness. 

Most likely this comes from their abusers constantly telling them that they are a burden, they’re stupid, do nothing but cause problems & other things that instill a deep root of toxic shame in victims.  That toxic shame tells people that their feelings, needs, wants, pains & every other thing about them aren’t valid. 

Add into this the phrase “victim mentality” & the shame society often inflicts on anyone who says they were a victim.  Clueless & often heartless people say victims should’ve just walked away, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, they should stop living in the past & being so negative.  It makes people feel that they deserved the abuse, & are weak for being abused or even having PTSD or C-PTSD as a result of the abuse, which only adds to the toxic shame.

Even worse than the toxic shame is the fact that being on the receiving end of such treatment makes people doubt the validity of their pain over their experiences.  They may think they weren’t abused so badly since their parent didn’t beat them, or their abusive husband “only” forced her to have sex a few times.  Other people have it so much worse, so their experiences couldn’t be all that bad, right?  WRONG!  They were bad!  In fact, they were worse than bad.  They were atrocious!  Being abused is horrible, no matter how frequently one is abused or whether it was verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual or financial. 

After being on the receiving end of such treatment, is it common for people to think they’re awful people, whining about trivial matters, so they don’t deserve any compassion or kindness.  Today, I want to tell anyone who feels this way that they are ABSOLUTELY WRONG!  I don’t care what your abusers said you were or that other people maybe had it “worse” than you.  Your pain is valid.  Your experiences were terrible.  You did NOT deserve any of it.  And, you deserve compassion and kindness! 

Whether you are comfortable admitting this or not, the truth is you have been through some pretty horrific things.  Those things weren’t your fault.  You did nothing whatsoever to deserve them.  You aren’t a bad person because others said you were & treated you terribly.  Their behavior speaks much more about them than it does you.  And, it doesn’t mean you are undeserving of compassion & kindness.  You are as worthy of compassion & kindness just as much as any other person.  In fact, you are just as worthy as any other person in every possible way, period.

If you haven’t begun to focus on your healing, maybe today is the day to start.  It will benefit you so much to do so!  Admitting the abuse was wrong & painful is an excellent place to start.  Also recognizing that the way your abuser treated you truly had nothing to do with you but with your abusers is powerful for healing.  Get angry about the unfairness & cruelty of what was done to you!  That will help you to see that you didn’t deserve it, & you deserve to be treated so much better.  Pray, write in a journal, seek a counselor that specializes in trauma or whatever helps you to heal.  The more you heal, the more you’ll recognize that you are valuable.  The more you recognize your own value, the less poor treatment from other people you will tolerate.  You also will recognize what you deserve, & that includes to be loved, respected & treated compassionately & kindly. 

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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Why Narcissists Feel They Must Know All About Their Victims After The Relationship Is Over

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Sincere vs Insincere Apologies

Many people who apologize are truly sincere.  They realize whatever they did was bad, & they want to make it up to those they have hurt.  These people aren’t always the same ones who say the words, “I’m sorry” though.  Sometimes people who apologize are insincere or have motives that are less than genuine.  I plan to explain how to spot the differences in this discussion.

Someone who is genuinely sorry for their actions addresses the person they hurt humbly, asking for forgiveness.  Even if they don’t say the words, “please forgive me”, their meek & remorseful behavior says it.  Someone who isn’t truly sorry won’t ask for forgiveness & will be irritated when expected to show some sort of remorse for their actions.

Genuine apologies don’t come with words like, “but” or, “if.”  Those words are followed by excuses & denial.  Those are called non-apologies.  Some examples are, “I’m sorry if you think I did something that hurt you.”  “I’m sorry I did that, but I wouldn’t have done it if you wouldn’t have done what you did first.”  Non-apologies are said usually to pacify the person offended while the offender takes no responsibility for their behavior, & are nothing like a sincere apology.

A person who is genuinely interested in apologizing also admits their behavior & that it was wrong.  They don’t gloss over it with phrases like, “I messed up,” or, “we both know what I did.  I shouldn’t have to say it again.”  Admitting bad behavior is embarrassing, possibly even humiliating, but it shows the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it up to the person who was wronged.  Someone who isn’t truly sorry for what they did won’t do whatever it takes to make it up to the victim, & that includes humbling themselves in this way.

Acknowledging the hurt caused is another hallmark of a genuine apology.  A sincere person will recognize the pain & suffering their behavior has caused another person.  The person who has done wrong won’t try to minimize or invalidate the pain.  They will say, “I know I hurt you when I did what I did, & I am so sorry for that.”  A person who offers a non-apology downplays their behavior & the effect it has on the person they have wronged.

Wronging someone has consequences, & someone who is genuinely remorseful for their behavior is willing to accept them as a natural course of events no matter how uncomfortable it is for them.  They understand that Galatians 6:7 is true, & people reap what they sow, good or bad.  Those who are insincere to avoid them.  They may demand their spouse trust them again immediately after they were caught being unfaithful, for example.

A person offering a sincere apology will be willing to do whatever it takes to make things right with the person they have hurt.  If that means apologizing every day for the rest of their life, they will do it.  The insincere have no interest in this.  They may try briefly & half heartedly to make things right, but it doesn’t last long. 

And lastly, the sincere person knows that some things take time.  They don’t try to force the person they wronged to forgive them quickly.  They give the person the time & space they need to work through things, while staying close enough that they are able to do whatever is required of them at a moment’s notice.  An insincere person is nothing like this.  They want the person they wronged to forgive & forget quickly, & if that person doesn’t, they can be downright shaming.  They often accuse the wronged person of being unforgiving, heartless, petty, overreacting, over sensitive, & even ungodly.

I hope this insight helps you to identify easily when someone is being sincere or insincere in their apology to you. 

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A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them.  Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness.  Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well.  Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness. 

Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced.  One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things.  This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent.  This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.

Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families.  They often want their children to stay close to them forever.  One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions.  They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things.  This doesn’t stop in adulthood.  When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law.  They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child.  These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family.  They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse.  Their lies are often completely outrageous.  As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this.  Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up. 

When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage.  One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying.  The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies.  Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth.  Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.

If you are the one in this situation, question everything.  Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you.  Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart.  Often family can be the cruelest to their own.  When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind.  Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening?  Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say.  If it helps, write things down.  Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate.  Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective.  Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.  

If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense.  This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all.  If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did.  When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments.  Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible.  If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.

You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.

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Finding Healing From Narcissistic Abuse With Other Survivors

My Facebook group is full of some really wonderful people.  Godly, kind, caring, & very intelligent.  I’ve made some great friends through this group.  One of which & I were talking not long ago about where we have found the most help in understanding narcissists.  She told me that I can quote her, so this is what she said.  She has been to 14 counselors including psychologists, a psychiatrist, pastors, church counselors & an EDMR specialist but none of them gave her the kind of help that I have.  Me, with no formal education in the mental health field, no LCSW or PHD or anything behind my name!

I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because what my friend said next made a very good point.  She said I have helped her more than those counselors because I’ve been through so much with narcissists.  I have no formal training, but I have plenty of experience, & sometimes that is just what you need to help you in certain situations.  Narcissistic abuse recovery is one of those situations. 

While I mean no disrespect to mental health professionals, they usually don’t know much about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any of the Cluster B disorders.  I have two counselor friends who told me something very interesting.  They don’t know each other, so naturally they never have spoken.  They are about 15-20 years apart in age & studied at different colleges in different parts of the country.  Yet, both said the exact same thing, that they had only one afternoon’s study about all of the Cluster B personality disorders.  That’s it for FOUR very complex personality disorders!  If both of the counselors I have spoken to have the exact same experience in this area of their education, I would guess it’s common if not the norm. 

Don’t take this as seeing a professional to heal from narcissistic abuse is a waste of time.  It isn’t, so long as you choose the right counselor.  You can’t pick just any counselor to help you with abuse recovery.  You will need to find a counselor that specializes in abuse recovery or trauma focused therapy. 

If you can’t find a counselor with these specialties or can’t or would prefer not to see a counselor, the good thing is healing is still possible!  The friend who inspired me to discuss this topic has made leaps & bounds in her healing journey because she found knowledge & help from others who also have been through a lot at the hands of narcissists.  Their knowledge & experiences have helped her tremendously, & their understanding & compassion validated her, which has enabled her to help other victims as she was helped.  She likened it to a relationship between a recovering alcoholic & an active alcoholic.  No one can understand the struggles of the active one like someone who has been in the same situation.  Would you expect a person who has never drank so much as one beer to understand the struggles of someone who can’t go a day without drinking a fifth of whiskey?  Absolutely not!  So why would narcissistic abuse recovery be any different?

If you are looking for help in your healing journey, & won’t see a counselor for whatever reason, you can heal!  I haven’t seen a counselor in many years either due to my lack of trust after seeing some less than caring ones.  Like my friend though, have learned a great deal from others who have experiences similar to mine as well as studying narcissism.  Consider looking for help elsewhere as she & I have.  Connecting with people who share similar experiences is invaluable!  Many online forums are available.  As I mentioned, I have a wonderful group on Facebook, but there are many others too on Facebook or other websites.  A quick internet search will point you to many of these forums. 

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Playing The Victim

Many narcissists are known for playing the victim, in particular covert narcissists.  They seem to think that everyone else has caused their problems but themselves.  Their own actions are always excused away or even denied.  They also claim there is nothing they can do about these problems. 

As a person with a kind heart, it can be easy to get drawn into this victim act & feel sorry for this person.  The problem is that is easy for these people to manipulate the kind hearted in these situations.

Following are some ways to identify someone who is playing the victim to help you avoid that situation.

People who play the victim obviously feel sorry for themselves.  They think the world is so cruel & unfair to them, & they’re helpless to do anything about it.

These people also have no desire to put any work into improving their situation.  They prefer staying in the bad situation than changing it or even allowing anyone to help change it. 

They also accept zero responsibility for their behavior.  Whatever is wrong is always someone else’s fault, according to them.  They did nothing wrong.  If they ran someone over with their car, they would blame the person they hit for being in that parking lot at that particular time of day rather than admit that they didn’t look before backing out of their spot.

People playing the victim are incredibly manipulative.  Once they know they have someone’s pity they feel free to get anything they want from that person.  They will gain their sympathy & support.  They will get money from them.  Most of all, they get attention & these people do thrive on that attention.

Parents who play the victim are especially manipulative with their children.  There are so many situations where an overt & a covert narcissist marry, & the covert ends up looking like the innocent victim who needs his or her children’s protection against the overtly narcissistic parent.  This was my situation.  My father claimed there was nothing he could do to protect me from my mother’s abuse, & it was so hard for him when she abused me.  I often comforted him after one of her abusive episodes rather than him comforting me.

People like this are also emotional vampires, as the saying goes.  They cling to other people & expect them to listen to their woes at any time, for as long as they want to talk, no matter what is going on in their lives.  If the listener is unavailable, that person will do their level best to make the listener feel guilty for failing to be there when they were needed the most.

Another quality of those who play the victim is how offended they are with any differences.  If their chosen listener disagrees with them or continues suggesting they make changes, they will become very angry with the listener or even cut that person out of their life.

Most people who have experienced serious problems learn to appreciate the good things in life as a result.  Even small things such as a pretty flower can brighten their day.  Not so with those playing the victim.  They are intensely negative & unappreciative.  Nothing pleases these people.

When you come across someone like this in your life, & you definitely will, the smartest thing you can do is to set boundaries.  Limit your exposure to this person & avoid them if at all possible.  If avoiding them isn’t possible, keep conversations with them short & superficial.  Talk about the weather & other light topics that aren’t about them & how they have been wronged.

If you’re like many children of narcissistic parents who feel obligated to care for others to the point it’s unhealthy, these people can be hard for you to spot at first.  As God to give you discernment & remember the signs of their toxic behavior.

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It’s Still Abuse If..

Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused.  A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her.  A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men.  Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was. 

Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse.  I did it myself.  Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me.  I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.

I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life.  I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it!  Once you face it, you can start to heal.  The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.

It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical.  Abuse comes in many forms.  Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you.  Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.

It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized.  Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again.  For a while, they don’t.  Things are good.  Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns.  An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.

It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you.  Abusers claim to love their victim.  Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.

It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child.  The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior.  Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.

It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness.  There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong.  Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.

It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser.  No relationship is completely abusive.  If so, abusers would be much easier to identify.  Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent.  People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are.  Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative.  Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other.  I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members.  Family members can be the worst abusers of all.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive.  You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior.  Exercise that right!  Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship.  If you don’t know what to do, pray.  Ask God to help you.  Learn all you can about toxic relationships.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books.  Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation. 

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How To Respond To Criticism About Being Estranged From Abusive Parents

Estrangement from abusive parents when initiated by the adult child comes with a great deal of torment.  Many people have no problems adding shame to that adult child’s torment whether or not they know the adult child, the parent or anything about the situation.  They share a lot of really ludicrous comments very freely.  My goal today is to offer some responses adult children in these situations may use when exposed to these popular & heartless comments.

“You just need to get over the past & move on.”  It is perfectly reasonable to point out to the person who says that that you don’t just get over trauma & abuse.  You can do all of the right things to help yourself but chances of complete recovery from an abusive & traumatic childhood are virtually non existent in this lifetime. If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, your chances are even slimmer because the trauma physically broke your brain.  Trauma in your past won’t let you go.

“You only get one mother or father!”  Yep.  That’s how that works.  Everyone gets one mother & one father.  So what is the point?  They only got one of you, so why not tell this person to remind your parents of that & tell them to treat you like a human being?

“Nobody’s perfect.”  That is true.  But, there is a huge difference between mistakes made & being deliberately hurtful to your own child.  Knowing your own parent did things to traumatize & hurt you on purpose is devastating, especially when that parent refuses to change their behavior even knowing how much pain they cause.  Why tolerate being treated badly by anyone, let alone someone who thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain?

“He or she had a bad childhood.  He or she doesn’t know how to be a good parent.”  Someone who was abused as a child may not know exactly what a good parent should do, but they absolutely know what not to do.  When they do things that were done to them knowing exactly how it makes a child feel, that is proof they aren’t simply damaged.  They are cruel & wicked.  How does it make sense to tolerate that treatment?

“You need to figure out how to make this relationship work!”  No.  Just no.  When most adult children are at the point of severing ties with their parents, they have tried for a long time to make the relationship work.  Eventually they realized nothing they did could fix it, because to fix a damaged relationship, both parties must work together.  When only one person tries, the relationship is doomed.  Either the one trying will stop trying & tolerate any abuse from the other person, or that one will end the relationship.

“What if your parent died tomorrow?  You’d regret this!”  Possibly the ultimate in guilt trip, shaming & disapproval comments said by a person pretending to care & be helpful.  It isn’t helpful or caring, & is a cruel thing to say.  Anyone who thinks someone who has severed ties with their parents hasn’t realized this is a possibility is an idiot.  Also, children die before their parents sometimes.  Why isn’t it ok to remind abusive parents of this & tell them they should treat their children better?

“You’re not honoring your parents!”  One of my least favorite comments because it twists Scripture around into something completely ungodly!  To honor someone means to pay them respect due to their position & to want what is best for them.  There is nothing good or holy about tolerating abuse & allowing someone to continue to engage in sinful behavior.  Where is any honor in that?

I hope I have helped you to have some comments at the ready when people say these awful things to you.  I wish you the best when these situations arise!

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How Surviving An Abusive Childhood Manifests In Relationships

When you come from an abusive childhood, that can create a lot of dysfunction in your life, but in particular in your relationships.  Today, I want to discuss some of the ways that dysfunction plays out.  Recognizing the dysfunctional behaviors may be painful at first, but it will help you by showing where you need healing.  That is valuable knowledge!

Many abused children struggle with having relationships with any genuine intimacy.  Even with those they are closest to, they aren’t comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings. desires & dreams.   They may listen to the innermost thoughts, feelings, desires & dreams of those they love, but they still won’t share their own.  They also may change the subject or deny any negative feelings they have if questioned because they are terrified of being this vulnerable with anyone.  This behavior comes from having a parent or two who ignored, mocked or rejected their emotional feelings.  When the most important person in your life who is supposed to love you unconditionally ignores, mocks or rejects something about you, it’s only natural to be afraid other people will do the same.  It takes time, prayer & good, loving, safe people in your life to overcome this behavior.  It also helps to remember that any parent who would do this to their own child clearly was the problem, not the child!

Many abused children have an intense fear of abandonment.  When a child grows up with parents whose behavior was inconsistent & unpredictable, they become afraid they would be abandoned at any moment.  They also assume other people are the same way as their parent.  This fear manifests as a person being clingy with the people in their life, even to the level of being co-dependent.  It also can manifest as being controlling of others with whom they are in a relationship.  My mother was like this.  Her parents divorced when she was very young, & her mother was a narcissist who kept her from her father.  I believe that left her with a deep fear of abandonment that manifested as being very controlling of my father & I.  Conquering this fear of abandonment isn’t easy but it is possible.  The more a person heals & becomes more functional, the healthier their self esteem becomes naturally.  As a result, a part of that is a person becomes more willing to end toxic relationships even if that means they are lonely for a season.  They also begin to attract healthier people who won’t hurt or abandon them, which helps to heal that fear of abandonment.

When parents show their children that their love is conditional, based on the child’s behavior & accomplishments, those children become people pleasers.  Children in this situation assume that unconditional love doesn’t exist, & to be loved, they must earn love.  It’s as if it doesn’t occur to them that the other person in the relationship should earn love though – only they must be the one to earn love.  Unlearning people pleasing behavior is TOUGH!  I’ve been there.  I did find that the more I healed, the less prone to it I was.  I’ve also found that slowing down & asking yourself why you are saying “yes” when you want to say no, or volunteering to do something you want no parts of to be helpful. 

Most abused children have dysfunctional relationships with abusers.  Friends, coworkers & even romantic interests often use & abuse these children until they reach a point in their lives where they start to focus on their own healing.  Possibly the most difficult part of breaking this pattern of behavior is to stop beating yourself up for getting involved with such toxic people, in particular, if you married one of them.  Just remember, you did the best you could with what you knew at that time.  If you didn’t know to do better, how could you expect yourself to do better?  That would make as much sense as expecting a toddler to know how to replace a car’s engine! 

If you find yourself in these situations I have described, it’s ok!  There is hope for you!  Focus on your healing, & the healthier you get, the healthier your relationships naturally will get as well.  I have found God to be vital to my healing.  Psalm 23:4 says that God walks with us through “the valley of the shadow of death” & I firmly believe that to be true!  He will be there for you during the hard, painful times of healing as He was with me. You’re not alone.  Lean on Him & let Him help you to heal!

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

So many times over the years, I’ve gotten comments on my blog or by email from people who recognize they had an abusive parent.  They discuss how cruel that parent was, often explaining terrible tales of brutality that no child should have to face.  At some point, they mention their other parent.  From their description, you would think that parent borders on sainthood.  They say things like, “Mom knew Dad was a monster, but she gave me pointers on how to stay out of his way & not make him angry.”  “Dad was such a good guy.  He wouldn’t see the bad in anyone, even Mom.  He dealt with things by telling me that’s just how Mom is, she can’t help it, & encouraged me to forgive & forget what she did to me.”

Stories like this just break my heart.  These people truly believe what they say, & don’t realize that a passive parent is just as bad as an abusive parent.  Long ago, I was one of these people.

My mother was an overt narcissist.  Her abuse was undeniable.  It was loud, obvious & cruel, especially when I was in my late teen years.  I cried on my father’s shoulder about it many times.  The majority of those times, he turned the situation around to how painful it was for him & how helpless he was to stop the abuse.  Those times ended with me trying to comfort him.  Other times, he simply didn’t care.  I remember one time he gave me a pat on the knee & walked off.  He didn’t say anything but his attitude was one of “Wow.. glad I’m not you!”

For years, I thought this behavior was ok.  Normal even.  He was a great guy, & simply a victim of my mother like me, which is why he couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) help me.  In fact, I felt it was my duty to care for & protect him.  Yes, I am serious.  I honestly believed that it was my duty, as his child, to take care of & protect my father while not expecting him to care for & protect me.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Sadly, many other adult children with abusive parents grew up believing the same things I did, which explains the many comments I’ve heard from adults who believe the same faulty way I once did.

The problem is this thinking is incredibly dysfunctional.  It’s not facing the truth, & the truth really will set us free!

Believing that one parent is good while the other abusive in these situations creates distrust & confusion about love & loyalty in children.  They think love & loyalty involve sacrificing not only your identity & beliefs, but even your children if need be.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you must not love that person.  This sets the stage for very dysfunctional & even abusive relationships in that child’s life. 

It also makes a child question themselves.  It’s normal for that child to grow up excessively angry at the overtly abusive parent because they simply don’t have the courage to be angry with the passively abusive parent.  One day when they realize this, they wonder what is wrong with them for not being able to accept both parents were abusive.

This type of thinking also happens a lot with people who can accept that their fathers were abusive, but not their mothers.  Admitting a father is abusive is easier than a mother.  Many mothers in such situations play up the appearance of being helpless victims who need their children to protect & coddle them.  Their children get so caught up in taking care of them, they seem to forget that it isn’t their job.  It’s their mother’s job to protect & care for them instead.

The first step to healthier thinking is to recognize both the good & bad aspects of both of your parents.  Writing these things out may be especially beneficial since written words have the ability to bring clarity that the spoken word often lacks.  Seeing your parents realistically is a healthy thing to do, & sets the stage for your healing.  This isn’t “wallowing in the past” or “blaming parents for everything.”  It is a legitimate & healthy step to take towards healing.

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Biblical Meekness  Not Necessarily What You Think

Most people are well aware of Matthew 5:5 where Jesus states that the meek are blessed because they will inherit the earth. How many people know what it means to be truly meek though?

Most people hear the word meek & think of someone who is timid, mousy & always extremely submissive. This is actually a more accurate definition of the word “weak” than “meek.” As the saying goes, “don’t mistake my meekness for weakness.”

The original meaning for the word meek in Greek was a description of war horses, believe it or not. War horses were supposed to be extremely powerful yet also very willing to submit to those in authority over them. This is power that is kept in check.

In people, true meekness manifests in a person well aware of the power that they have as children of God, but they choose to submit to Him, doing His will for their life. 1 Corinthians 10:23 in the Amplified translation sums up the way this person thinks quite well: “All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” The truly meek are also far from cowardly, trusting in God completely even when in their darkest hours.

Jesus was a perfect example of living with meekness while He was on the earth. He obviously possessed great power as evidenced by so many miracles He performed, yet in spite of His position & power, He never used it improperly. He lived His life submitted to God, willing to do anything He was asked to do, even to the point of death on the cross. And, when He knew the cross was going to happen soon, in spite of His fear & desire not to do it, He trusted God either to prevent it from happening or enabling Him to face it.

At the same time, Jesus was no pushover. Matthew 21:12 tells the story of Jesus driving out the moneychangers from the temple, & the Amplified translation says He drove them out “with force.” He also had no problems calling out people on their bad behavior, even the highly esteemed scribes & Pharisees. He called them hypocrites many times, & even called them “white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones” because although they appeared Godly, their hearts were full of things that went against God.

Christians are supposed to imitate Jesus in their behavior, & that includes being meek. If you aren’t sure exactly what this means to you, I would like to offer you some food for thought today.

Being meek means standing up for what is right in the right way. This doesn’t have to mean a big production. It means living a life of integrity, doing is right & what needs to be done. It also simply can mean saying, “This is wrong.” That sort of statement said to someone suffering at the hands of another can be life changing.

Being meek means being gentle in interacting with other people. It means you don’t have to be heard while quieting others, & allowing others to speak to you without fear of your judgment or criticism.

Being meek means accepting your limitations. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to improve yourself, of course. It means that you know you can’t do everything, & that is OK.

Being meek means realizing you don’t know everything, & admitting that rather than pretending to know everything. People respect those who are genuine. Even if they may be frustrated you don’t have the answer they’re looking for, they will respect you more for admitting than they would if you pretended to know.

Meekness is a truly undervalued attribute. Why not be someone who helps bring this admirable quality into the lives of those you love, & be a good example of meekness?

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

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Big Sale On My Print Books! 20% Off!

My publisher is offering a sale- 20% off all of my print books! Simply use code SNEAKPEEK20 at checkout. This code is valid until November 4, 2022.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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Being In A Relationship With Someone Who Is Extremely Independent

Being extremely independent is looked upon as a good thing by most people.  There are times when it can be a very good thing, like when it comes from a position of faith that God will help you to do anything you need to do rather than putting faith in people.  Sadly, it also can be a problematic trauma response.  I know this since this is why I tend to be overly independent in many ways.

When someone grows up with an abusive parent or two, they learn very early in life that people can’t be trusted.  After all, if someone who was supposed to love, care for & protect you is untrustworthy, how can anyone be trusted?  That logic absolutely makes sense.  Yet at the same time, it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

A problem with this quality of extreme independence is that it can cause a person to find safety within his or her self & withdraw from other people, even the safe ones.  It pushes people away, whether or not that is the intention. 

Growing up accustomed to being let down by those who are supposed to love us most causes us to realize we don’t need anyone.  We’ll always say that we don’t need help.  We can do this thing without any help.  Even if we truly need help, admitting that fact is very unlikely to happen, which naturally is a problem in so many ways.  Refusing help when it is needed causes a person to make mistakes or even fail at whatever project they are doing.  It also pushes people away, which can damage or even destroy their relationships.

This extreme independence leads to thinking about romantic relationships like, “I don’t need you.  I want you.”  That naturally can be a good thing in some ways, but when you’re married to someone, you need to need your spouse.  God created people to need each other, but in particular their spouse.  That is why when people marry, they should share many qualities, but also be better in some areas than their spouse, & their spouse should be better in other areas than they are.  This kind of couple makes an amazing team with many talents.  They are so much better together than they were independently. 

Another problem of being in a romantic relationship with someone extremely independent is that if you give this person a reason to leave, they will, & the reason doesn’t always have to be a good one.  It can be something simple such as you forgot that you were supposed to go to dinner together one evening.  It isn’t necessarily that the person was looking for an easy way out of the relationship.  It’s more because they are afraid of being let down & hurt yet again.

A person who wants to be in a relationship of any sort, in particular romantic, with someone like this must make their actions align with their words.  After a lifetime of being disappointed by people, if actions don’t continually line up with words, an extremely independent person will leave rather than risk being disappointed frequently yet again.

Being in a relationship with a very independent person can be incredibly challenging, & truly isn’t for everyone.  However, the person who is willing to be understanding, patient & sincere stands a great chance of breaking through the barrier of extreme independence & finding a very loving & loyal partner. Winning the trust of someone extremely independent isn’t easy, & it won’t be taken for granted!

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When Narcissists Criticize You It Is About Them Not You

One of the cruelest things narcissists do to their victims is either saying or implying the most heartless, cruel things to their victims until their victims believe what the narcissist says about them is true.

What victims who are either currently being subjected to this or have recently escaped it don’t realize that the narcissist is lying.  They don’t believe a single word of what they say about their victims.  In fact, chances are that they find those things they criticize about their victims to be very good or enviable qualities.  If you think about what a narcissist has told you, you’ll probably see that this is what happened with you.

Did the narcissist tell you that you’re stupid?  Clearly you aren’t & others have admired your intelligence.  The narcissist had to beat you down by making you think you aren’t intelligent so that way you won’t realize what he or she is doing to you.

The same goes with your looks.  If a narcissist tells you that you’re too fat or thin, that’s a sign you have a great figure.  If they criticize your looks in general, they clearly have noticed other people either noticing how attractive you are or flirting with you.  Narcissists can’t handle their significant other thinking they are attractive.  That person might actually gain some self esteem & realize that they really can do much better than the narcissist if that were to happen.

If a narcissist criticizes some talent you have, that isn’t because you are doing something poorly or possess a talent that has no worth & value.  They may envy your talent, & since they can’t do it, they want to stop you from doing it too.

When a narcissist hates someone you love, that also isn’t because that person is a bad person.  Quite the opposite.  The narcissist recognizes that he or she loves you & is a good person.  My narcissistic ex husband hated my best friend & did his best to ruin our friendship.  I firmly believe it’s because he knew she saw the kind of person he really was, & was afraid she would talk me into leaving him.  This scenario happens all the time with narcissists.

This cruelty goes for any criticism the narcissist says.  They have various reasons for doing this beyond what I mentioned already.

Mostly when narcissists are critical, narcissists are trying to gain control over their victim.  If a person is beaten down enough by someone, they will relinquish control to that person because they feel they are incapable of doing much of anything.  Narcissists are extremely skilled at gaining control over people in this way.

Also, when a narcissist’s victim outshines them in any capacity, it threatens the narcissist’s ego.  They can’t handle such threats so they try to tear that victim down as a way to eliminate the threat.  I experienced this so much with my mother.  Anytime I received a complement in her presence, she would punish me for it.  Often, she would be angry with me, & become especially cruel with her criticisms.  Other times, she would tell me that the person who said that was stupid or had poor judgment.  Either way, the message was clear- I didn’t deserve the complement.  I needed to be put back in my place, which was definitely beneath her.

If you have been or are currently being subjected to the cruel, scathing criticisms of a narcissist, I hope you will remember what I have said.  Please don’t take what they say to heart, because what they say isn’t true!  It’s a lie said for the sole purpose of benefitting them somehow.

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For Those Who Blindly Support Parents Whose Children Severed Ties With Them

Severing ties with one’s parents is becoming a more common activity.  Sadly, many people abuse do this because of very valid reasons such as their parents are abusive.  Even more sadly though is it seems the parents in these situations get so much more love & support than their children.

Abusive parents in these situations are often very loud with their feelings, anger, lies, justifications but not the truth.  The closest they come to the truth is stating half truths, such as their child severing ties with them.  They fail to share the reasons why their adult child severed ties, only that they did.  That half truth combined with their lies & false accusations mean people listen to them & support them, often blindly.  They pity these poor people who are now getting older, & their own children won’t even help them out.  How selfish & entitled their adult children are, they say.

These same devoted supporters offer not one iota of concern or care for the adult children in these situations.  In a way that makes sense since they believe that the adult children in question are such horrid people as to abandon their own parents for no reason whatsoever.  It makes you wonder if these people have any desire to know the truth about what really has happened.

I want to ask these devoted supporters some questions today.

Did it ever occur to you that there are other sides to this story beyond the side you heard from the abandoned parent?  You have heard ONE side to this story only.  Why is that acceptable to you? 

Do you realize that abusive people create a false persona that they show to other people & only their victims see their abusive, evil side?  It’s true.  Look at well known serial killers.  Ted Bundy was described as charming, Jeffrey Dahmer as quiet & John Wayne Gacy as a pillar of the community. 

Did you ever take two seconds to question why any child, no matter their age, would abandon their parent?  While it’s true, some people abandon people in their lives for no valid reason, they are in the vast minority.  The majority of people have valid reasons for ending relationships, in particular those closest to them.

Did it ever occur to you that someone ending a relationship, in particular such a close one as the parent/child relationship, almost never does so on a whim?  When people end relationships of any sort, thought goes into it.  The closer the relationship, the more thought is going to go into ending that relationship.  The adult child who goes no contact with a parent may have done so in a way that appears sudden, but rest assured, PLENTY of thought went into that action prior to following through with it.  Sometimes what triggers no contact isn’t the worst act the abusive parent has done.  Instead, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If the parent in this situation is so upset about their child “abandoning” them, why did they not treat that child better in the first place in the hopes of preventing this from happening one day?

Do you realize that no contact is different than the silent treatment?  Someone who gives the silent treatment will speak to that person they swore never to speak to again, then stop speaking to them, then start speaking to them, & stop, & the cycle repeats.  No contact is as its name states – no contact.  When someone truly goes no contact, they block all access to someone & refuse to interact with them on a permanent basis.  This is done to protect themselves.  The silent treatment is so wishy washy because it is all about manipulation.  It is done to punish someone, & when they have begged & pleaded enough, they will be allowed to return to the person’s life until their next transgression.  If you look at the person’s behavior that has stopped speaking to their parent, you can tell the difference very easily.  No contact is a healthy & even Godly option, unlike the silent treatment.

Where is your concern for real victims?  Do you have any?  It would do you well to spent less time trying to shame victims into returning to an abusive situation & more time showing them compassion & love.

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When Narcissistic In-Laws Say “You Stole My Son Or Daughter!”

In the years I’ve been writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’ve talked to lots of people.  As if my own experience didn’t teach me enough, I’ve learned a lot more from the wonderful people who shared their stories with me.

One of the things I’ve learned about people with narcissistic in-laws is what I want to talk to you about today.

Narcissistic in-laws often are cruel to the spouse of their adult child in countless ways.  One of them is shaming that person for having complete control over their adult child.  This often manifests for others in the same way it did for me.  Like many others with narcissistic in-laws, I was accused of “stealing” my husband & keeping him from his family. 

For the sake of simplicity & also because it’s just fun to say it this way, I will refer to the accusers as “in-laws” & those of us who supposedly steal someone from their family as “outlaws.” 

Narcissistic in-laws must have things their way in every area, including in their children’s lives.  Many would prefer that child not marry, so that way, there is no interference in the control they have over their adult children.  If he or she does marry however, they need to marry someone of which the in-laws approve.  Marrying someone who doesn’t meet up to the in-laws’ standards means things will get ugly, in particular for the outlaw. 

In addition to the frequent scathing criticisms, excluding & shunning the outlaw, & a thousand other ways they let the outlaw know they are not good enough for this family. One thing almost all narcissistic parent in-laws or narcissistic siblings will say is that the outlaw stole the victim from his or her family.  Outlaws like me who are accused of this are almost always shocked since they are hardly controlling people, let alone manipulative enough to control their spouse.  Yet, the accusation is said anyway.

Chances are, when this outlaw talks to their spouse, the victim of the in-laws, he or she will defend the in-laws, minimize their behavior or even deny it entirely.  Naturally this causes a lot of problems in the marriage.

If you are in this situation of being an outlaw as I have been, I know it’s hard.  You definitely will need some ways to cope while minimizing the chances of the in-laws getting their way & destroying your marriage.

When you & your spouse discuss the in-laws, maintain a calm demeanor as much as you possibly can.  Showing your anger will make your spouse feel he or she must defend & protect the in-laws.  Staying calm minimizes the possibility of that happening so you can have an actual discussion about the problem.

Use logic & ask questions when your spouse defends the in-laws.  It is totally reasonable to ask why your spouse thinks it’s acceptable for your in-laws to do what they do to you both.  Ask why he or she doesn’t consider their behavior disrespectful to you, your spouse & your marriage.  Ask for examples of the bad behavior they accuse you of doing.  Expect answers, & don’t let your spouse avoid giving them.  Being forced to think about these things will hurt, so he or she most likely won’t want to give them, but it is vital.  He or she needs to see the truth of the situation in order to deal with it correctly.

If your spouse refuses to see the truth, you may be forced to sever all ties with the in-laws.  It won’t make your spouse happy, but you must protect your mental health & avoid these toxic people.  If you must do this, stick to your convictions & refuse to talk to them at all while not telling your spouse that they must choose you or their family.  The person who gives the ultimatum on these situations almost always ends up abandonded, which is why I say that. 

Most of all, pray, pray, pray!  In such a delicate situation, you need God’s wisdom & for Him to guide your timing & words.  Leaning on Him is the smartest thing you can do in this situation.

I truly wish you all the best in your situation, & am praying for you!

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When Your Family Refuses To See You As Anything But A Dysfunctional Child

When you grew up in a dysfunctional family, one of the most frustrating parts of it is that your family never sees you as a mature, independent adult.  If you have done your best to escape the dysfunction & live in a healthier way &/or have decided to live your life for Jesus, this is especially common & frustrating.  The dysfunctional family never will see you as a healthy, God fearing adult.  Instead they only see you as the dysfunctional child you once were.

This is so incredibly frustrating!  Even when you know that they’re content remaining in their dysfunction, it seems like they could at least acknowledge that you have changed.  Even if they disagree with your changes, that doesn’t seem like to much to ask, yet sadly it really is for the most dysfunctional of people. 

People who are content living their dysfunctional lives hate those who are a threat to it in any way.  Anyone who doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction obviously is a problem.  Anyone who is a part of this toxic family & doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction is especially problematic for such people.

A member of such a family who dares to live their life in such a way as to be different from the family or the family’s expectations for them is absolutely a problem for these people.  That behavior is seen as being rebellious or even betraying the family.  It’s as if they think, how dare someone be so arrogant & think that they’re so much better than the family as to live life on their own terms rather than fit onto the mold the family has made for them!

Even Jesus faced this problem.  His own family didn’t take Him or His work seriously.  Imagine that.  The family of Jesus didn’t take Him seriously!  Isn’t that amazing?!  In Matthew 13:57-58 in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, “And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief.”

If you’re from a dysfunctional family & they treat you as they always have in spite of you growing up, getting healthier & even turning to God, then you are truly not alone!  Even Jesus experienced this.

I know it hurts when your own family treats you so poorly.  It can seem like the best choice would be to return to your old, dysfunctional ways so they stop mistreating you, but I promise you, that isn’t best!  I have been in this position since my family never saw me as anyone but the dysfunctional, blindly obedient & foolish child I once was.  Returning to those behaviors may have made them tolerate me, but I would have been miserable!  What is best is to keep walking the path that you know God has for you.

It also helps to remember that when people treat you in such a manner, it isn’t personal.  It literally has nothing to do with you, even though it certainly feels personal.  It has everything to do with the person behaving this way, their toxicity & their desire to avoid becoming healthier at all costs.  They are so truly toxic that they have zero problem with hurting another person if that will protect their dysfunctional ways & help them to avoid facing what made them this way.  That is pretty terrible!  There is no shame in being dysfunctional of course, so long as you are willing to work on it & improve yourself!  Being determined to live that way forever, no matter how much pain it causes other people, however, is absolutely toxic.

If at all possible, your best bet it to avoid such people.  If that isn’t possible, then do your best to minimize contact with them, stay true to yourself & your beliefs, & never forget to ask God to help you find creative & effective ways of dealing with such people.

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I’d Love Your Thoughts On A New Idea I Have

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some digital ebook type courses, maybe printables. Nothing overly expensive of course. I always try to minimize costs of everything I write & these would be no exception to that. (Kinda weird to do, by the way.. I want costs to be cheap but not so cheap people see them & think “This can’t be any good.. it’s too cheap!” lol)

I need your thoughts on this idea.

First of all, is this something you would be interested in? I know written type courses aren’t as popular as audio or video, so I wonder if this would be appealing.

Second, if you like the idea, got any ideas on topic matter? I have a few but still would love to hear your thoughts to see if I’m on the right page (so to speak) with my readers.

If you’d like to answer my questions, feel free to comment or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

Thank you for your help, everyone!! I love & appreciate you! 😘❤️

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

Many people who were raised by narcissistic parents find themselves in other relationships with narcissists.  They work with them, they become friends with them & worst of all, they become romantically involved with them.  I am no exception.  I grew up with an overtly narcissistic mother & covertly narcissistic father.  There are a lot of narcissists in my family on both sides.  I married a covert narcissist that I divorced six years later.  I have lost count of how many covertly narcissistic friends I have had over my lifetime.

For a long time I wondered why this happened to me.  I thought maybe somehow I put out some sort of “vibe” that told people it was ok to abuse me.  Or, maybe narcissists just have some sort of sense for people that make good victims.  I think I have some ideas though & I hope they can help answer this question for you.

For those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents, we were born with a job.  That job was to take care of our narcissistic parents.  For some, it meant doing household chores well before an appropriate age such as cooking dinner or caring for younger siblings.  For others, it meant being a parent’s therapist of sort, listening to all of their woes, & comforting them when they were upset.  For still others, it meant protecting a covertly narcissistic parent from the rages & even physical assaults of the overtly narcissistic parent.  Whatever the scenario, the fact is being born with the job of caring for a narcissistic parent means you are used to caring for dysfunctional people.  This makes you gravitate to continuing that role in other relationships. 

This role often means getting into relationships with other narcissists.  If there is a narcissist in your vicinity, you will be drawn to that person like bees to honey.  You may feel sorry for this person because he or she has few or even no friends.  After some time passes, you see why that person had no friends!  Who wants to be friends with a narcissist?! 

Or this role could mean that you get involved with another child of narcissistic parents that isn’t facing that pain.  Maybe you fall in love with someone who seems great.  You’re comfortable together, & get along great.  They might even tell you they have this awesome family & can’t wait for you to meet them.  Then you meet his or her family & see the truth.  That awesome family is anything but.  There are narcissists everywhere!  If you say anything about the toxicity of this family, you are told you’re wrong, oversensitive, & more.  They are defended fiercely & you are left wondering how to help this person you love see the truth. 

If you have been in such situations, I know it can be frustrating.  Once you realize that you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you probably are going to beat yourself up a lot & question what is wrong with you.  That is normal!  It also is a waste of time & energy.  Instead, try to focus on healing from the abuse.  Healing naturally helps you to develop healthier boundaries, so when you meet someone without friends, you won’t try to befriend them immediately.  The more you heal too, the more healthy people will seem attractive to you & the more you’ll want to avoid the toxic ones.  As a bonus, the healthier you become, the more toxic people will leave you alone.  Toxic people want someone dysfunctional because that is someone they can use & manipulate.  Healthy people don’t tolerate such things.

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Highly Functional Versus Highly Dysfunctional

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

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Baiting Tactics And Ways To Cope

Some people thrive on getting attention, whether it is positive or negative.  Love them or hate them, either is great as far as they are concerned, just don’t ignore them!  In fact, that need for attention is one of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

One way they get this attention is by something called baiting.  Baiting is anything said or done to provoke a strong emotional reaction.  Behaving this way gives a baiting person a feeling of strength, because they possess such control over another person as to provoke them into very strong reactions.

Baiting is most commonly used by either covert narcissists or elderly narcissists.  It is effective, easy for them to do, subtle & offers plausible deniability to the baiting person.  They often claim they had no idea what they said would upset their victim or the victim took it wrong.  It also can be a useful way for the baiting person to make their victim look bad to other people.  These people quietly will say something cruel to upset their victim when others are around, so when the victim gets noticeably upset, others see the victim as irrational or yelling at the baiting person while that baiting person remains quiet & calm.  To those who don’t know what was said, the victim looks like the problem, ill tempered or even crazy while the baiting person appears to be the rational one.

There are many ways baiting is accomplished, & some of those tactics are as follows:

The baiting person may accuse their victim of something that is completely out of character & offensive to them, such as illegal behavior, cheating on their spouse or abusing their pets or children.  The shock value combined with the offensive nature of the insults easily can trigger someone into reacting badly & the baiting person may at this point accuse their victim of being mentally unbalanced. 

The baiting person also may “accidentally” damage something important to their victim.  Maybe they drop a treasured & fragile family heirloom or park beside their victim’s classic car & when they open the door, hit the victim’s car with their door.  Anyone in this situation naturally would be absolutely furious, yet the baiting person appears innocent because what they did didn’t look intentional.

A baiting person also will love insulting something their victim loves.  I have the most experience with this one.  Both my mother & mother in-law loved to insult my cats & my cars, both of which always have been very important to me.  My mother usually said her cruel comments very quietly & calmly so when I got upset, I looked irrational to anyone around us.  My mother in-law preferred no witnesses, so if I told anyone what she said, no one believed me because they never saw her treat me that way.

Another tactic of a baiting person is to hint that they have something to tell you that will hurt your feelings, & say they don’t want to upset you by telling you that thing.  Basically they make their victim feel obligated to say, “It’s ok.  You can tell me.”  They then dump that pain on their victim, & then enjoy that person’s pain, comfortable that the victim brought it on themselves.  After all, they think, the baiting person warned the victim, so they aren’t to blame for his or her pain.

Baiting triggers a person’s adrenaline & fight or flight responses to kick in, which is why it can be so challenging.  You can handle it though!  Immediately, inhale deeply, then exhale to give your mind & body a moment to calm down.  In that moment, ask God for help, too.  My simple prayers of “HELP!” proved surprisingly helpful plenty of times.

Remember what is happening.  Someone is trying to upset you as a way to make them feel better about themselves.  Don’t give that person the satisfaction.  Do NOT react.  Stay calm.  The less you react, the less likely it is this person will use this tactic again with you.  Once away from this person though, vent however helps you to feel better.  Holding in such negative emotions for a long period of time is unhealthy.

If at all possible, leave this person or hang up the phone immediately.  Say you just remembered something you have to do & go.  This isn’t a lie – you just remembered that you have to protect yourself from such volatility!

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

No family is perfect, but some families are less perfect than others.  Many of those “less perfect” families are downright dysfunctional & even abusive.  Today I’m sharing signs of the dysfunctional & abusive family.

Parentification is a big indicator of a dysfunctional & abusive family situation.  This is when the parent & child roles are reversed, & the child is supposed to care for the parent.  Children in this position are supposed to do things no child should have to do, such as being their parent’s emotional caregiver including such inappropriate things as listening to their parent’s woes about their marital problems or sex life, nurse them back to health after a hangover or overdose, or even care for younger siblings as a parent should do.  Parentified children are often described as growing up so fast because their role has forced them to behave as adults rather than allowing them to be children.  They also lack healthy boundaries, tolerate one sided relationships & continue to keep their parents as their top priority over their spouse, children & even themselves.  When they are growing up, people on the outside often think these children & their parents are close, & praise this relationship.  This leads the child to feel confused & even ashamed that they are unhappy with this role.

Unmet needs are another sign of a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.  Children have a lot of needs that go beyond the basic food, clothing & shelter such as nurturing, teaching & caring for their emotional health.  Many abusive parents meet those basic needs, yet neglect those other important needs.  Children who grow up this way have trouble with being inappropriately clingy in relationships & overly dependent or they go the opposite way & become very cold & aloof.  Either way causes problems in their relationships.

Unrealistic expectations definitely point to a dysfunctional & abusive family.  Some parents hold their children to higher standards than adults.  Those children are never allowed to be in a bad mood or fail a test, yet their parents are allowed to yell or even hit the child just because they had a bad day at work or someone cut them off in traffic.  This puts incredible stress on the child who feels they must be perfect as a way to earn their parent’s love.

Parents who often fight in front of their child are creating a very dysfunctional & abusive situation.  I grew up this way, & can tell you from experience it is a horrible way to grow up!  I felt so insecure when my parents fought & also like I should do something to help them stop fighting.  This is so typical of how children in this situation feel.  It leads to these children feeling intense anxiety at any hint of conflict & also feeling overly responsible for the other people in their lives, as if they must take care of those people.

People who grow up in such environments grow into dysfunctional adults with a lot of relationship troubles.  They may become controlling people who will do anything or hurt anyone they deem necessary to avoid further pain.  More commonly though, they also may go the exact opposite way & become extremely submissive.  They become people pleasers who will do anything for anyone even at the expense of themselves. 

If any of this describes you, please remember some things.

You are only responsible for yourself.  You are not responsible for meeting the needs of other people.  Yes, you can help them, but doing so to the extent of harming yourself is dysfunctional. 

There is nothing wrong or bad about caring for yourself & having reasonable boundaries.  You need to take care of yourself just as much as & even more than you are willing to do for other people.

Family shouldn’t demand all of your time, energy, finances, etc.

Healthy relationships are a two way street.  Toxic relationships are not.  They take while giving nothing or almost nothing back.

Love should be unconditional, never conditional.  In other words, someone should love you based on who you are, not what you do for them.  Conditional love is one of the hallmarks of abusers.

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

As the adult child of a narcissist, I can’t count how many times I have felt overly responsible for other people in so many ways.  One of those ways was how people feel about me.

If I met someone who didn’t like me, I felt it was my responsibility to change so they could like me.  If someone felt envious of something about me, I had to downplay that thing they viewed that way.  If they felt I was a snob, I had to prove to them that isn’t the case, & I am just quiet.  If they thought something was wrong with me because I love my cats & old cars, that too had to be trivialized around them to make them feel better about me.  And honestly, it got old.

As I healed more & learned more about people, not only narcissists, I realized something.  How someone feels about me isn’t my responsibility.

People are often quick to judge others they have just met.  I do it myself.  Upon first meeting someone new, I pick up on someone’s energy & the subtle cues they display quickly & that determines if I am willing to speak to them more or not.  Unfortunately mistakes can be made with snap judgments.  As I mentioned earlier, people have thought I’m a snob because I’m quiet.  My one sister in-law told my husband this many years ago, & she was far from the first one to make such a foolish assumption about me.  And interestingly, she also wasn’t the only one who behaved in the manner in which she accused me of behaving. 

When people make judgments about other people, often they can do as my sister in-law did, & project their flaws onto another person.  Narcissists haven’t cornered the market on projection, although they definitely do it more often than the general public.  The average person will do it too sometimes, & their projection makes them feel negatively about the victim of their projection.

Insecurity is also a reason people may feel negatively towards a person.  Their insecurity makes them feel threatened or badly about themselves.  If you are someone in a minimum wage job who dropped out of high school, for example, imagine how you would feel around a biochemist.  Clearly they make a lot more money than you & have a much more advanced education.  You easily could feel inferior.  Most people would be uncomfortable in this situation but wouldn’t act out on their feelings.  Some insecure people however, wouldn’t hesitate to let the biochemist know they dislike him or her, are unimpressed with their intelligence, etc.

Along the lines of insecurity is envy.  Envy can make a person feel badly about themselves, & wish to make the person who made them envious feel just as badly.  Women in particular are known for doing this.  Some women see another woman that they believe is much prettier than them, & they will talk negatively about her behind her back.  Their envy makes them behave badly.

No matter what someone’s reasoning for their negative perceptions of you, their perceptions are just that – theirs!  They chose to see you a certain way & not learn the truth.  A person who is unwilling to learn the truth about another clearly has issues, & those issues have nothing to do with you.  So the next time you find out someone thinks badly about you, just remember that you are NOT responsible for how other people feel about you.

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

My publisher is having yet another sale! 15% off all print books when you use code PUMPKIN15 at checkout.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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