Category Archives: Mental Health

Helpful advice and information on mental health issues.

One Way Abuse Victims Process Emotions

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff.  Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.

I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings.  If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that.  I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.

Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was.  She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did.  I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me.  Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood.  I still dislike fluffy stories.

I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.

So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories.  They prefer something real even if it is sad.  Many also share my interest in true crime.

Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities.  We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick.  Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.

Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up.  Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse.  This often carries into adulthood.  We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them.  Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored.  Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet.  Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet.  They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.

Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves.  This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching.  Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself.  If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story.  Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice.  You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t.  Instead it’s redirected.

If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost!  At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to.  That is good.  Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet.  This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.

Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now?  Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal?  If it helps, talk to that child.  Write letters to him or her.  It may help you tremendously.

Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God.  He truly understands even when we don’t.  He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?

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Lies Victims Of Childhood Emotional Neglect Tell Themselves

When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways.  One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills.  As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.

Lying about what?  Anything & everything!  I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it.  Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it.  When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that.  I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason.  Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.

That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.

Another lie is “I don’t matter.”  Of course you matter!  Everyone matters!  The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter.  It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter.  Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.

“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect.  When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents.  That, however is a big lie!

“I’m unworthy to ask for help.”  Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Another common lie is, “I should be happy.  I have no reason not to be happy.”  When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood.  They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.

“I don’t need anything.”  is a common lie, too.  Of course you need something.  Every person has needs.  Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them.  Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.

Another common lie is, “I’m ok.”  When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt.  When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that.  Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.

“Anything you want is fine with me.”  When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble.  After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.

If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone!  Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself.  Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies.   Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them.  My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth.  Am I right to feel as I do?  Please tell me the truth, Your truth.  He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly.  Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.

I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life!  xoxo

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Holiday Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Frequently Used Gaslighting Phrases

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Some Narcissistic Parents Idealize Their Children Until They Grow Up

Often, overt narcissists marry covert narcissists, which is a nightmare situation for their child.  This was the situation I grew up with.  My mother was a very overt narcissist & my father very covert.

My mother was the stereotypical overt narcissist.  She was cruel with her constant criticisms, often screaming them at me.  Nothing I did was ever good enough for her.  She also was incredibly controlling, strictly limiting who was a part of my life, how I looked & much more.

My father was entirely different than my mother.  To him, I could do no wrong.  He was also free with praise, in other words, the exact opposite of my mother.

Over the years, my mother maintained her cruel demeanor with me.  My father also continued his demeanor, but only until I was in my mid 20’s.  Suddenly, there were some small criticisms.  It was strange & got my attention, but I didn’t know what to think about it.

As I got older, & started to heal from the abuse, I also started setting more & more boundaries with my parents.  As I did that, my father got slightly freer with the criticisms.

Eventually I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & ways to cope with narcissists.  I spent less time with my parents.  My father’s criticisms became a constant, which meant I spoke less frequently to him.  The less frequently we spoke, the more critical he became.  He also started trying to help me constantly, even in areas where I didn’t need help.  It was strange to say the least!

I began to wonder why this was happening.  I think I figured it out, & since I’m sure mine isn’t the only situation like this, I’m sharing my thoughts.

When one parent is an overt narcissist, it’s easy to see something is wrong.  Normal people don’t ignore, control, scream & rage at their children.  Children in this position naturally gravitate more to their other parent, the one who doesn’t do such things.  When that parent is a covert narcissist, they work this situation to their advantage.  Many of them reinforce that the overtly narcissistic parent is bad.  Many also praise their child excessively.  They realize on some level that their child is starved for praise & love, so by giving their child what they crave, they’re making that child bond with them.

Eventually, that child begins to grow up & become more independent.  The covertly narcissistic parent realizes they are losing control of their child, & must reel them back in somehow.  Their nice tactics are no longer enough.  They begin use criticism.  If their child no longer feels secure, they will look to that parent for security.

Also, once the child’s self esteem is damaged, the covertly narcissistic parent can help or even rescue the child as a way to maintain control.  This can be a very effective tactic!  The child doesn’t believe that he or she can do things, but their parent can.  They rely on that parent to do what they can’t, which gives that parent control.  The more insecure they feel, the more they rely on the parent & the cycle continues.

If this describes your situation, know you’re not alone!  Also know you can handle it!

Remind yourself what is happening.  This isn’t about you deserving the criticisms or being incapable of handling whatever your parent is trying to help you with.  This is about your narcissistic parent & them being upset that they’re losing control over you.

When your parent says you can’t handle a situation, ask yourself if this is true.  Most likely, you’ll realize you are capable of handling the situation very well without any assistance.

Whenever possible, refuse your parent’s help.  Even in small matters, refuse their help.  The more help you accept, the more control that gives your narcissistic parent & that is the last thing you need!

Always remember the Gray Rock method.  Basically, that means you become boring to the narcissist.  You provide no narcissistic supply.  See the link above for more information on my website.

Most importantly, keep your focus on God!  Ask Him for any help you need, for wisdom & creative ways to handle the situation.

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About Enmeshment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nightmares & C-PTSD

 

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No Child’s Job Is To Heal The Parent(s)

Emotional incest, covert incest, parentification & parentalizing.  All describe the same abusive behavior & a topic I’ve written about before.  When a parent treats their child as an equal rather than their child, expecting that child to listen to their woes, tales of marital discord, details of their sex life, &/or expecting their child to care for them in ways such as cooking & cleaning for them well beyond what is age appropriate, it damages the child psychologically.  The child in this situation often grows up anxious, depressed, lacking healthy relationship skills, feels guilt for things they aren’t responsible for & may even have issues with addiction.  Often at the very least, they choose very poorly suited romantic partners.

Sadly, parentalizing is barely discussed in a negative light.  Many people see a child & her parent behaving in this way & praise their “close” or “loving” relationship.  They even tell the child how lucky she is to have a mom who loves her so much, how she has to be strong for her mom or other similar comments.  And, when the child, no matter the age, does something that upsets her parent or *gasp* thinks of herself first, she is labeled unappreciative, selfish, a spoiled brat & more.  This lays even more unnecessary guilt on that child, & it is absolutely unfair!

Let’s get one thing straight.  No one is responsible for anyone else’s emotions.  Yes, someone you love can make you feel happy, sad, angry, etc. sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they are in control of your emotions.  YOU ARE!  This is especially true for children.  Children need to be children, not their parent’s emotional caregiver!

When a parent is abandoned by someone they love, & the only person close to them is their child, it can be understandable they reach out to their child for comfort & companionship.  That doesn’t make it right, though!  Children are growing up – that is enough responsibility on their little shoulders!

Children also didn’t ask to be born.  It’s not their fault if the parents couldn’t maintain a healthy & loving relationship.  Making the child feel that they must step into the role of that other parent is cruel, abusive & unfair!

If you grew up in this sort of situation, my heart goes out to you.  I am so sorry for the pain & suffering you have been through.  Having been there myself I know it is a miserable situation.

If it is still happening, you’re going to have to set some serious boundaries with your parent.  Change the subject as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable.  Tell your parent you’re leaving or hanging up the phone if she insists on talking about your other parent that way, then follow through with your threat if need be.

Whether the abuse is still happening or not, you’re going to need to heal from the damage done.  Pray.  Get angry.  Cry.  Remind yourself what was done to you was unfair & undeserved.  Write in a journal.  Talk to a trusted friend or therapist.  Do whatever helps you to heal!

You can heal from the effects of emotional incest.  It takes time & work, but it can be done.  xoxo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there are narcissists.

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

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

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

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

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 2

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Some Thoughts About Grief

Two years ago today, my father passed away.  Naturally, the date has me thinking a lot.  I tend to overthink anyway so no big surprise there.. lol

One thing that came to mind is a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye that my father liked….

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,

I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain,

I am the fields of ripening grain.

I am in the morning hush,

I am in the graceful rush

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,

I am the starshine of the night.

I am in the flowers that bloom,

I am in a quiet room.

I am in the birds that sing,

I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave bereft

I am not there. I have not left.”

Lovely, isn’t it?  It offers a great reminder that when someone we love has passed away, there are still things surrounding us that help us remember that person.  For example, when I see  butterflies, I think of my granddad, & monarch butterflies remind me of my father’s miraculous salvation at the end of his life.  They always make me smile.

When the person who died is a narcissist, it’s certainly understandable if you don’t want reminders of that person.  I understand completely, as sometimes reminders of my late parents are hard for me to handle.  However, if you have lost someone you love, those reminders can offer a great comfort.  They remind you that you can see your loved one again someday or of some good times you shared.

I’ve also come to realize that items hold energy.  I don’t mean things can be haunted like in scary old ghost stories.  What I mean is items that were particularly close to someone seem to hold a bit of that person’s “vibe” if you will.  For example, I have some of my paternal grandmother’s jewelry.  I love wearing it!  It brings me comfort, reminds me of her or good times we shared.  It’s as if I carry a bit of her essence with me when I wear it.

There also is a negative side to this.  If the person whose item you have was abusive, the item can make you feel bad.  I tried wearing some jewelry belonging to my narcissistic maternal grandmother.  It was pretty, I like pretty jewelry, so it seemed natural for me to wear it.  I quickly realized it didn’t feel right.  It also made me feel as if I carried a bit of her essence with me, but the problem was, unlike my other grandmother, she was cruel!  That wasn’t the vibe I wanted, so I stopped wearing her jewelry, pretty or not.

Considering all of this, I’ve come to believe that one thing that can help a person can get through grieving the loss of a loved one is having something of their deceased loved one’s.  I’ve also come to believe that if the person who passed away was a narcissist, it may help the person grieving to avoid their possessions.  It really depends on the relationship between the two parties involved.

I’m also not saying you have to cling to or avoid the deceased person’s item forever.  What I am saying is that I believe that it can be helpful when the death is recent & grief is at its most difficult place.  Since my father has been gone a while, now I can handle being around his possessions much easier than I could at first.

Grief is very hard & very painful, whether the person lost is someone you loved or a narcissist.  I sincerely hope this post gives you another helpful way to cope.  xoxo

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When Children Of Narcissistic Parents Aren’t Believed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stop Asking Victims To Feel Compassion For Abusers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 1

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Manipulative Memes

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.

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About Coercive Control

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

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About False Strength

 

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When To Speak Up &When Not To Speak Up To Narcissists

A very difficult subject is when should you speak up & when shouldn’t you speak up with a narcissist.

Anyone with any experience with a narcissist knows that most of the time, it’s easiest just to stay quiet.  Speaking up can trigger a narcissistic rage or a victim act (“How can you be so mean to me!?  I was just trying to help!”).  Or, if you’re angry when you confront the narcissist, there is narcissistic supply, because he or she feels powerful because of upsetting you so much.  And, since whatever they did upset you, they know to do it again & again to keep procuring their precious supply.  This kind of nonsense can make anyone want to avoid confronting a narcissist, no matter what they do.

Yet, failing to confront a narcissist indefinitely only makes you miserable while they get away with their outrageous, abusive behavior.  Talk about a no win situation!

The best thing I have learned to know when to confront a narcissist & when not to is by maintaining a close relationship with God.  He enabled me to know when & what to say to my narcissistic parents, & when to say nothing.  Sounds simple, I know, but it’s true.

When I knew I was going to see my parents, or they would call & I’d see their number on the caller ID, I would ask God to give me the words I needed & to help me get through the conversation.  That’s it.  And it worked every time!

There were plenty of times when my parents would say something hurtful & I knew in my heart that this was not the time to speak up.  Knowing that helped me to stay quiet & pretend I didn’t notice the abusive comment.

When I did need to speak up, though, God gave me exactly the right words I needed & the courage to say them.  The last time I spoke to my mother was May 5, 2016, which was also one of the last times I spoke to my father.  As I have mentioned before in this blog, we got into a huge argument that night, first my father & I argued, then my mother & I.  I went into the conversation having a fairly good idea it wasn’t going to be pleasant, but I had no idea I’d end up telling my parents off!  God knew though!  Later when I prayed & apologized to Him for my behavior, He said, “Your parents needed to see that.  They needed to know that their actions could make their normally calm & reasonable daughter would act that way.”

That close relationship with God has been a true lifesaver for me in knowing when to confront, & when not to confront, but, I realize not everyone reading this shares my faith.  For those of you in that position, I recommend learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & your narcissist.  If you study this person, I would guarantee you’ll find that he or she only has a few moves in their repertoire.  Most narcissists are that way.  While most narcissists are quite intelligent, they also aren’t overly creative.  They have a few weapons that get them what they want & use them over & over.  Learning what those weapons are will help you a great deal in that you will be prepared for what they most likely will do in most any situation.  It’ll also help you to know whether or not to confront this person & what most likely will happen if you do.  Preparation is a wonderful thing!

I know the tips in this post are pretty simple, but they really can be of a great help.  I wish you the best in your situation!

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Setting Healthy Boundaries Is Just The Start With Narcissists

When reading about how to recover from narcissistic abuse, you are guaranteed to see something about how you need to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  I think every author mentions it.  I know I have.  Repeatedly.  There is a problem with this however, & I am just as guilty as other authors of it.  We fail to mention that setting these boundaries is only the beginning, it’s not a guaranteed solution.  One of my favorite blog followers pointed this out recently & I thought I would cover the topic.

Setting healthy boundaries with anyone is a very good thing, especially with narcissists.  They need to be made aware that you will tolerate only so much from them.  Often though, this is where the trouble begins.

It’s empowering when you start setting those boundaries too, especially after years of tolerating anything they do.  They see their once meek victim gaining strength & realizing that they don’t have to tolerate abuse, which makes narcissists panic.  They seldom show that panic at first.  They may be so stunned to see you, their favorite punching bag, saying no, that they go along with the boundary.  As time goes on however, & more boundaries are set, the more unsettled the narcissist is.  You need to be prepared for what is going to happen.

Rather than respect boundaries like your average functional person, narcissists turn up the abuse.  Overt narcissists may rage loudly, as many do.  They may yell or call you names.  They may mock you, call you arrogant, selfish, stupid or other nasty things.  Covert narcissists, true to their nature, aren’t so brazen.  They may make snide, subtle comments, implying that you are arrogant, selfish, stupid, etc.  They may go all passive/aggressive & give you the silent treatment.  They may show they are angry with you in sneaky ways, yet deny feeling any anger.  They may  attempt to make you feel guilty or even ashamed of yourself for having any boundaries with them.  Most likely, the covert narcissist will fall into their favorite role, being a victim.  They will twist the situation around to where you look completely unreasonable or even abusive, & tell everyone how mean you are to them for no good reason whatsoever.

Whether the narcissist in your life is overt or covert, your response should be the same to their antics – show absolutely no emotion.  Any hint of emotion is nothing but narcissistic supply to narcissists.  Show them nothing, no matter what you are feeling inside.  Once you’re safely out of their presence, you need to deal with those emotions however works best for you, of course, but in their presence, be completely stoic.  That can be hard to do sometimes, I know, but remind yourself that it is for your best interest.  If you can be unemotional for the time you’re in the narcissist’s presence, it will help you in the long run.

When the narcissist tries to convince you how awful you are for setting your boundaries, it helps to have some responses ready.  What will your narcissist most likely say?  Think about stoic responses you can have.  Some examples are:

  • “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
  • “If you want to do that, that’s up to you.  I meant what I said though.  If you do it, I will *insert your consequence here*”
  • “I didn’t ask for your opinion & don’t need it, but thanks anyway.”
  • “You’re entitled to your opinion, but I am too.”

Another thing I found incredibly useful was to ask God for creative & effective ways to set boundaries.  When you say to a narcissist, “It hurts me when you do that.. please don’t do it anymore” that only makes them want to do that more.  You’ll need much more creative & effective ways than that, & God will give you such ideas.  He certainly did me.  My mother began to respect some of my boundaries, even though she clearly didn’t want to.  It was amazing!

When you have to enforce your boundaries with the narcissist, don’t back down.  Just keep in mind that setting them is just the beginning & be prepared for their resistance.  I know it can be scary at first, but you can do it!  

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Subtle Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Being “The Bigger Person”

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Comparing Your Situation To Others That Have Been Abused

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.

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Narcissistic Friends

Many of us who have been raised by narcissistic parents seem to end up with many other narcissists in our lives.  We often end up romantically involved with them or friends with them.  Like many others, I have experienced both, mostly narcissistic friends.  I’ve also found precious little information available about narcissistic friendships, so I decided to tackle the topic myself.

People who come on too strong when first meeting you can be narcissists.  That new friend who you just met yet who wants to spend lots of time with you or claims you’re their best friend may be a narcissist.  Some folks who act in this way are simply insecure, but even so, you should be aware that there is a possible a sign of narcissism.

Friends who talk down to you are often narcissists.  Narcissists seem to think they are superior to their victims, & don’t mind showing it.  They act smug & talk to victims as if they are much less intelligent than the narcissist.

Your friend who can’t be bothered with your problems is probably a narcissist.  Remember, narcissists all lack empathy.  If you tell your friend you have a problem & they act bored, act as if they can’t be bothered, trivialize your problem or change the subject, these are all red flags of a lack of empathy.

If your friendship is one sided, that’s a big red flag of narcissism.  A good friendship is balanced.  Sure, sometimes your friend will need more from you than usual, but there are also times you will need more from your friend than usual.  It balances out.  When the bulk of your friendship is your friend taking from you while giving nothing in return, chances are your friend is a narcissist.

Narcissists expect their friends to be available to them 24/7, & believe there are no excuses for not being available.  Narcissistic friends have no problems calling at 11:00 at night even knowing you need to be up for work at 5 a.m.  If you don’t take their call, they say you’re a terrible friend, accuse you of not caring  & more. If they need a ride somewhere, that is what you are for, to provide it.  In fact, if they need anything, you are supposed to meet that need.

If your friend talks non stop about himself or herself, while never or almost never asking about you, that is another sign of narcissism.  Narcissists almost never stop talking about themselves.  Overt narcissists may brag about their fantastic accomplishments or covert ones may be subtle in discussing the things they do for others.  They may discuss their problems or interests non stop.

Once you realize your friend is a narcissist, it’s usually best to end the friendship if at all possible, as is often the solution with any narcissistic relationship.  Most often I believe the Gray Rock method is the best way to end a relationship with a narcissistic friend.  In other words, become boring to your friend.  Take their calls, spend time with them & do things for them less & less.  When they get mad at you, pretend it doesn’t bother you in the slightest.  Show them no reaction or emotion.  If they demand to know why you weren’t available, give no excuses.  Just say you were busy, & change the subject.  When they talk about themselves, act disinterested.  The more boring a narcissist finds a person, the less time they want to spend with that person.  Often, they get bored enough to discard their victim.

Having a narcissistic friend isn’t easy, but you can protect yourself & handle the situation!  Remember the kind of person you are dealing with, keep your emotions under control around them & conduct yourself accordingly.

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Common Ways Narcissists Get Attention

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Why Do Children Abused By Narcissistic Parents Fall For Abusers?

So many children of narcissistic parents end up in many abusive relationships over the course of their lives.  It starts out with abusive parents, then moves on to friends, later adding in co-workers & often eventually marrying a narcissist often from an equally narcissistic family.

As if the additional abuse isn’t bad enough, we also tend to verbally abuse ourselves about the situation.  We beat ourselves up for getting involved with people who are so much like our abusive parents.  We think we’re stupid, hopeless & much more.  We can’t imagine why we would do such a thing.  The aim of this post is to explain some possible reasons why we end up with these abusive people.

One reason is abuse is normal to us.  We’re so accustomed to it, if a person isn’t abusive, we simply don’t know what to think of that sort of behavior.  We choose an abuser over a safe, not abusive person simply because it’s familiar.  There is a degree of comfort in familiarity, even when it is abusive.  Thankfully, the more we heal from childhood, the more abnormal abuse becomes, & we stop attracting & being attracted to abusive people.

Children of narcissists grow up trying to find love, the love we never received as children.  In a romantic relationship, this can give an abusive person a great deal of power & control.  Until you recognize the signs of abuse, their power & control comes across as confidence, which can make you feel safe & loved, even there isn’t anything safe or loving about someone being controlling.

We also don’t really recognize what healthy love looks like.  It’s not like a narcissistic mom & dad could provide good example of that.  We think being loved means being abused, even though nothing could be further from the truth.  When someone comes along & claims to love you, even if that person treats you like dirt, you think that person actually loves you.

Children of narcissists also settle.  My mother told me no man would ever want me, so when my ex husband pursued me when we were in the eleventh grade, I felt like I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity even though he really wasn’t the type of guy I found attractive at all.  After all, no one else would ever want me, I thought.  Even dating other men after high school didn’t change that false belief I had.  Many other adult children of narcissists I’ve spoken with have had similar experiences, & like me, settled for someone they didn’t love & who was abusive.

Gaslighting is your norm.  You are so accustomed to being manipulated that you don’t recognize it as a problem.  Since you don’t recognize this problem, the abuser can manipulate you in any way he or she sees fit.  One common way narcissists keep their victim/spouse down is to make that person think that they are the problem in the relationship.  When a person has low (or no) self-esteem, believing they are the problem will make that person feel as if they have to work hard to please their partner to make up for all of the misery they put that partner through.

If you too have experienced abusive relationships, then please stop beating yourself up!  As you can see, it’s understandable!  What matters is you escaped the abuse & learned from the awful experience.  You’ll also find that the healthier you get & the more you learn, the more narcissists & other abusers will leave you alone.

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Signs Of Narcissism In Romantic Partners

I recently caught an episode of the true crime show “Evil Lives Here” on the ID channel.  The episode was an interview with Debra, the ex wife of The Truck Stop Killer, Robert Rhoades.  He is suspected of raping & murdering over 50 women from the mid 1970’s to 1990.

His ex wife mentioned how he was very particular about how she dressed & would tell her what to wear.  She told the story of how one night he told her to wear a particularly sexy outfit so they could go to dinner.  He failed to mention it was at a swinger’s club.  He continually pushed the swinging issue even though from that night at the club she told him that wasn’t an option.  He told her she was immature & “No other woman would feel this way” about it.

Her story horrified me because that is almost exactly how things were with my ex husband.  He wanted me to look & dress a certain way.  He also wanted me to participate in some sexual activities that I refused to do, then told me that “no other woman would feel that way about these things.”  I also remembered how at the time of our separation, he was becoming quite fascinated with weapons & there were signs he had a real potential for violence.  This made me thank God for getting me away from him safely!

This also made me think of the signs that a romantic partner is dangerous that he displayed.  No doubt other narcissists display those same signs, so I thought I would share some of them today.

In the beginning, things are good, then suddenly they aren’t.  In or out of the bedroom, the person you’re involved with wants to please you.  Then suddenly, they lose interest in working so hard to please you.  No explanation or evidence of why, they simply stop.

When the narcissist stops wanting to please you, & you ask what changed, they act like (or say) you’re imagining things or you’re crazy.  They claim they haven’t changed, so since you think they have, obviously something is wrong with you.  This obviously makes you very confused & willing to do what you can to please them so hopefully they’ll want to be that great person they were at first.

The narcissist wants you to look a certain way when you have sex.  Many people want their partners to wear sexy lingerie, which naturally isn’t terribly uncommon.  What is uncommon is how some narcissists pretty much demand it.

The more time progresses, the more unusual the sexual proclivities of the narcissist become.  At first, the sex is pretty normal.  Nothing really kinky.  Then little by little, they try introducing new & more deviant things.  The desire to have sex more often happens as they become more interested in these more deviant behaviors.

When you refuse to participate in the desired activities, the narcissist shames you.  As I mentioned earlier, my ex would tell me that no other woman in the world would feel about doing what he wanted to do as I did.  They also may call you immature, oversensitive, close minded & more.

If the activity causes you physical pain or risks your health, the narcissist won’t care.  Since all that matters to a narcissist is what they want, if their desire causes you physical pain or puts your health at risk, that won’t matter.

No is never an option.  If you’re sick, tired or simply not in the mood, that won’t be important to a narcissist.  They want what they want, when they want it, & nothing else matters.  I remember my ex punching walls when I was sick & told him I wasn’t in the mood.

Forcing sex isn’t too low for a narcissist.  After all, what narcissists want is all that matters to them, so they have no trouble using physical force, manipulation or guilt to get whatever they want.

If your partner exhibits such behaviors, these are big red flags!  Please protect yourself & get away from this person as soon as you possibly can!  You deserve to be treated better than this & to be safe!

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Narcissists & Respect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Contact vs The Silent Treatment

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Feeling Your Feelings Is Vital To Good Mental Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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