I just wanted to share a little something for those of you with narcissistic mothers who struggle on & around Mother’s Day…
Category Archives: Narcissism
Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder in which a person obsesses over flaws in their appearance. The flaws may be real or not. A person with body dysmorphia also often avoids other people because of feeling such embarrassment & even shame over their flaws. They also may seek surgery or other ways of fixing these supposed flaws in their appearance. The solutions may only provide temporary relief, but often the anxiety over the flaws returns.
Body dysmorphia can result from abnormalities or injuries to the brain. A family history of the disorder also can lead to a person being prone to developing it. I believe it also can be the result of narcissistic abuse.
Negative comments about something can be hurtful. If they are negative enough, they can make a person feel very self conscience. Narcissists don’t simply say a few random negative comments periodically, however. They frequently say the most scathing, cruel, vicious criticisms they can come up with in order to annihilate their victim’s self esteem, because a person with no self esteem is easy to control. One area narcissists often focus on is someone’s appearance.
Naturally when a parent says such things to their child, the likelihood of that child accepting the criticisms as truth is greater than if those same words were spoken to an adult by a stranger. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children, & children naturally accept what their parents say as true, even when it isn’t. Children’s brains are still forming too, which also makes it easier for them to accept their parents’ words as truth rather than question them.
When a child of a narcissistic parent grows up, it’s very likely that they will marry a narcissist. It’s also likely that the narcissist they marry will repeat certain patterns that their parents employed. Insulting the adult child of narcissistic parents in the area of their appearance is a common phenomenon.
When I was growing up, my mother was extremely critical of how I looked. While she never said the word “fat”, she implied I was extremely fat more times than I can count. Looking back at pictures of me as a child now though I realize I wasn’t fat at all, I was a normal weight.
Later when I married my ex husband, he continued her abuse in this area. He also never told me I was fat, but constantly implied that I needed to lose weight. I eventually lost weight & was too thin, yet I still wasn’t thin enough for his liking.
My situation is far from abnormal among adult children of narcissistic parents.
If you have experienced this as well, know that you are far from alone! Many people who have suffered with Body Dysmorphia after experiencing narcissistic abuse.
I never went to therapy about this because I didn’t realize it was something treatable through therapy, plus after bad experiences in therapy, I lacked trust in the mental health system. This caused me to look for my own ways to conquer Body Dysmorphia. While therapy is most likely the most effective way, I thought I would share my ideas anyway in case anyone reading this prefers to handle the situation on their own as I did.
During the time I was going through the worst of the Body Dysmorphia, I didn’t believe in God. Prayer wasn’t going to happen. I wish I had because no doubt God would have helped me so much more than anything I did without Him! Please learn from my mistake & pray.
Also, listen to what other people tell you. I spent my entire life dismissing complements rather than accepting them with a simple “thank you.” People don’t give complements easily. Listen to what they say because they mean them!
Look at yourself objectively. Ask yourself if what the narcissist said makes any sense. Most likely, it won’t.
When you hear the narcissist telling you about all of your flaws, question those things.
Doing these things won’t make Body Dysmorphia disappear overnight. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever vanish entirely since even years later, I still am quite insecure about my looks. But, at the very least they will help you to feel much less insecure, & that isn’t a bad worst case scenario!
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Several years ago, I posted something on my personal Facebook page that turned into a disaster.
The date was May 31, which is the day that my Granddad passed away in 2003. Each year in May, I get depressed because it’s been so difficult losing such a wonderful man. Some years I discuss it, some I don’t. One year, I mentioned it on Facebook & shared a few pictures of him. This simple act caused one of my relatives to be very angry with me. She left a nasty comment on my post for sharing this because she felt I was disrespecting my grandmother by not mentioning her, & only mentioning Granddad.
Think about this for a moment. It was the anniversary of my granddad’s passing. Doesn’t logic dictate that he was the center of my focus on that particular post rather than my grandmother? I adore her, but May 31 was more about Granddad in my mind & that seemed only logical under the circumstances to me. Besides, I mentioned her on her birthday, the date of her passing & my grandparents’ anniversary, so it’s not like she was ignored!
As if this relative’s reaction to my post wasn’t inane enough, it got worse.
The following May 31, I said nothing since I didn’t want to be attacked again. I didn’t think much about this until another one of my relatives (who happens to be a very malicious covert narcissist) mentioned it being the anniversary of my Granddad’s passing. This relative even shared the exact same pictures I had!! She also said similar things in her post as I had in mine the prior year! Her wording was almost word for word the same as mine. And yes, I compared our posts because I was reasonably sure she had copied mine! It was very shocking to me how she so obviously copied me, but what was even more shocking is the relative who the year prior chewed me out for being so “disrespectful” praised this person for doing the exact same thing as I had! She told this person how incredibly kind & thoughtful it was of her to remember Granddad & how much she loved her.
Frankly, the whole scene made me nauseous.
This type of scenario is very common in narcissistic families. The one who is honest about narcissistic abuse is shunned in so many ways by their own family for not conforming, for not being like the rest of the family & for being open about the family’s secrets. However, the narcissists in the family are treated so much differently! They are showered with love, support & encouragement.
If this is happening in your family, you aren’t imagining it. You aren’t over reacting. You aren’t being over sensitive for being angry about the insanity & unfairness of it. You are a person with a normal reaction to this dysfunctional situation. Unfortunately, for dysfunctional families with a narcissist (or more), their behavior is also pretty normal. Many people don’t have the courage to face the fact that someone in their family is an abusive monster or stand up for what is right. Instead, they side with the abuser. Standing up for what is right means actively doing things, like offering support to the victim & calling an abuser out on their actions. It is easier for cowardly people to side with the abuser. Besides, chances are good they will gain something from their allegiance to the narcissist. It could be favor with the narcissist or gifts or anything really.
All of this means that there is nothing wrong with you! It also is nothing personal, even though it feels that way. The problem lies with not only the abusive narcissist, but his or her flying monkeys as well. You are fine, they are not! Please try to remember that, & keep on telling your story!
I’ve noticed recently that I am way more sensitive to criticism than I used to be. It’s not that I care what people think, but I care that people feel they must share their negative opinions with me when I didn’t ask for their opinions.
When I first realized this, I chalked it up to getting older & crankier. In time though, I realized it’s not only those things. I firmly believe it is because of having experienced narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists are most likely the most judgmental & critical of all people. They must share any & all opinions of their victims they have at all times. They favor negative ones in particular as a way to chip away at their victims’ self esteem since low self esteem makes a person easy to control & abuse.
If by some chance narcissists think something positive about their victims, they won’t offer any praise. They prefer to do much crueler things. The best option is they simply withhold praise, but that seldom happens. Instead, they prefer to claim responsibility for that good thing such as by claiming if they hadn’t pushed the victim, he or she never would have gotten that promotion at work. Narcissistic parents also claim that their victim/child got whatever talent they have from that parent. This means that when their child gets praise for something, the parent often says something along the lines of, “She got that talent from me.”
Another common scenario with narcissists is to twist the good thing in their victim around so it looks bad, thus ruining that good thing. For example, many years back, before I decided to focus only on writing, I did some editing work. I was blessed to work with one amazing client & mentioned the work to my mother. That was a huge mistake, but at that time, I didn’t know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I mentioned my client & the work I was enjoying doing for her because I naively thought my mother would be happy for me. She always fancied herself a skilled writer, & she was, but she never worked in the field. I thought she might be happy that I was working in the field & enjoying myself. Well, not only did she not share my joy, but a few days later she ruined mine. She did this by saying she was thinking of getting into editing work because (& this is her wording), “it’s such easy money. Obviously anyone can do it.”
Narcissists also beat their victims down with criticism. When my husband & I got together, his mother repeatedly told me how much she hated my car. For years, I heard constant hateful comments. Many times I wanted to tell her, “I know. You hate my car. You think it’s the worst car in the whole world. There’s no need to keep telling me. I figured out how you feel after the first 50,000 times you mentioned it!”
After going through these things for years at the hands of narcissists, I really think that no matter how much we may have healed, criticism is still a very tough thing for us to handle, even when we don’t care about someone else’s opinions. We are burned out on criticism, negativity & cruelty. We also had it drilled into us how awful we are or something about us is. After years of this, we get to the point where criticism, unless it’s clearly well meaning & meant to help, is incredibly irritating. So many times I have wanted to tell someone, “Your opinion wasn’t asked for & truly means nothing. Why must you share it? And, why do you think it’s ok to be such a disrespectful jerk?”
If this describes you, I so relate! It’s frustrating! I have learned the best way to handle criticism that is unasked for & unfair is to stop for a moment. Inhale deeply then exhale to calm your mind & body. Remind yourself that you are having a reaction to the narcissistic abuse, nothing more. Also remind yourself that not all people have good social skills. Some are very critical simply because they haven’t learned any better. That doesn’t mean they are narcissists or are out to hurt you. They are simply oblivious. And, remember that just because someone is criticizing you doesn’t mean what they said is true. Consider what they have to say, & if it’s wrong, disregard it. If they are right, although it was a painful way to learn, you still learned something. That is a good thing.
If you know the person who is critical, then you know if you can talk openly to them or not. If you can, gently let them know how you feel. They may have simply not realized how what they said sounded. Or they may be struggling with something & took their frustrations out on you.
And as always, remember to pray. Ask God for wisdom & help in your situation, & He will provide you whatever you need!
The Bible has many wonderful verses about forgiveness. They are scattered throughout both the Old & New Testaments
There is a slight problem with these verses though. It isn’t even the verses, but how verses are quoted by some people. I’ll give you an example from my own life. Years ago, my father was in the hospital briefly. I did most of the communicating with the medical staff. Some of the care he received was terrible & I was angry about it. I was also frustrated because as his daughter, there wasn’t much I could do on his behalf. That was my mother’s job & she didn’t seem to want to do anything. One of my father’s sisters called me one day after an especially frustrating time at the hospital. Upon realizing I was angry, she scolded me for being angry. Said I need to let this go & forgive the people who caused my anger & do it NOW. While I did that eventually, that was the lowest priority in my life at that time. My anger helped motivate me to push the staff to treat him better & to push my mother to do what she needed to do as well. It was also reasonable to be angry in that situation, contrary to what my aunt seemed to think. Scolding me for responding appropriately didn’t help & in fact, made the situation worse in a way because then I was also angry with her.
This sort of scenario happens often with people who have been abused when they tell Christians about it. I heard early in my Christian walk that I needed to focus on forgiving my parents & ex husband. In fact, one woman told me, “I don’t know what your problem is. God says forgive so I just do it.” Talk about shame inducing!
It also doesn’t help that many people think to forgive someone always means you “forgive & forget.” That is often the worst thing a person can do!
Forgiveness Scriptures are a wonderful thing, but unfortunately many people misunderstand & misapply them.
For one thing, to forgive someone doesn’t necessarily mean “forgive & forget”. It can, of course, but for small things only. Your best friend forgets your birthday should be one of those, especially if that person has a lot going on in their life & this is the first time it’s happened. Applied to those of us who have been abused however? Forgiving & forgetting is a terrible mistake! Doing so only sets yourself up for further abuse. It also doesn’t give the other person consequences for their actions, so they continue with their bad behavior not only with you but with others as well. This is obviously NOT a good thing!
Forgiveness also doesn’t necessarily equal reconciliation. It can, but it doesn’t have to mean that. Regarding the narcissists in my life, I thought of forgiving them more like forgiving a debt. When someone forgives a debt, that means they no longer expect the borrower to repay them what they owe. In abusive relationships, the abuser does owe the victim at the very least an apology. When you release the abuser from owing you that apology & whatever else they owe you, you have forgiven them. You may still feel some anger towards them, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven them. It means you released them from owing you anything for the suffering they caused. In time, the anger will lessen, but it may not go away entirely. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because abuse should be something that stirs up anger in everyone!
Also, to truly forgive someone, you have to feel & process your emotions first. Forgiveness can’t truly happen until you do that, I believe. That process can take a long time sometimes, especially when a person has been abused.
Dear Reader, don’t let anyone shame you for not forgiving your abuser quickly enough. I firmly believe that as long as you want to do that & are working on it, God isn’t angry with you. He understands that you simply aren’t able to do it right this moment. He will help you get there too. All you need to do is ask for that help!
I recently had an interesting dream. In it, I was at a concert of one of my favorite bands ever, Motorhead. The dream was a bit odd since I’m not exactly a concert goer. Watching them on TV is as close as I get.
When I woke up, I prayed then looked up what music & concerts meant on my favorite dream dictionary website, dreammoods.com. According to the site, dreaming of a concert symbolizes unity & cooperation. Very cool.. my husband & I were moving soon & the dream made me realize how well we’re working together to accomplish this. Dreaming of music meant something different though. The site said that dreaming of music depends on the dreamer. Each genres means something different & if the genre is something you like, the music is offering you advice. When I read this, it clicked in my brain immediately.
I’ve been a Motorhead fan for a long time, but in particular a fan of their late singer, Lemmy Kilmister. In some ways he was your typical heavy metal musician. But, in other ways he wasn’t & I always thought those ways were really interesting. Not only was he highly intelligent but had a very unique personality. He was fascinated by history. Most of all though, he was unapologetic for being himself. Not like a narcissist of course, just he had this attitude of, “This is who I am. I like me. Your approval isn’t required.” Never having such an attitude myself, I admire & even somewhat envy it in others.
I believe my dream was trying to tell me that I need to share Lemmy’s attitude. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin & not caring what others think about you. I realize narcissists try to make victims feel that way, but that doesn’t mean they’re right. They don’t want victims to feel that way because an insecure victim with low, or better yet NO, self esteem is easy to control. A person who is insecure doesn’t know what they want, think, feel & believe, which means they are going to be easily controlled.
Someone who has a healthy self esteem, however, is a threat to narcissists. They know who they are. They know what they want, think, feel & believe. They are well aware of their boundaries. Because of such things, they aren’t easily controlled or manipulated. They may be briefly but they catch on fast, & put an end to being treated that way even if it means ending the relationship.
Anyway I don’t think the lesson in this dream was only for me. I think it was for other victims of narcissistic abuse. If it was for you too, I’m sure this resonates with you as it did with me.
I have tried to develop Lemmy’s attitude. This is what I figured out about how to do that.
Naturally pray. Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself. That alone is eye opening! I did that myself some time ago & was shocked at what He had to say. He told me to research the personality of wolves, because that is what he created me to be like. I assume because of being such an animal lover, that was why He used that example. It was fascinating & so eye opening! I never would have thought that is what God created me to be like.
Once you do this, remind yourself often of whatever it is He tells you about yourself. Having the knowledge is a good thing of course, but reminding yourself of it often is what will get that knowledge inside of you. This was where I made my mistake. I didn’t focus on it as much as I should have, which is probably why I had the dream. Learn from my mistake! Think about what He said. If it helps leave notes or pictures around your home that remind you of it. Let this valuable knowledge get inside you & help you to blossom into the wonderful person He created you to be!
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When someone goes no contact with their parent, it usually comes about after a lot of thought, sometimes even over a period of years. It also comes after preparation for full no contact. What I mean is often the adult child has tried setting boundaries & limiting contact with their parent. Often, they start small & work up to more boundaries & less contact before full no contact is initiated. I did this myself. I contemplated no contact for a long time before deciding it was what I needed to do. I knew I wasn’t ready & also that timing wasn’t right, however. I leaned on God for guidance & also for strength. He showed me small boundaries I could set. That strengthened me to set larger boundaries & limit my contact with my parents. In time, I knew the time was right for no contact, & I also had the ability to do it.
This isn’t the case when narcissistic parents cut ties with their children.
Narcissistic parents don’t go no contact as a way to protect themselves from abusive people. They inatead use the silent treatment as a way to punish & manipulate, although they may claim they are setting a healthy boundary with an abusive person.
This behavior can be incredibly hurtful to the adult child of a narcissist! It also leaves them questioning what they did wrong & what they could’ve done better. Sometimes they even question what they did because they have no idea. My mother stopped speaking to me for 18 months once, & I never learned why.
If you’re in this situation & struggling with these feelings, you’re normal! It can feel otherwise, but I promise, you’re normal!
Please keep in mind your parent is manipulating you. That’s just what narcissistic parents do. It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. In fact, you probably did something right. If you set a healthy boundary, no doubt your parent is angry & punishing you for it. Maybe you had some personal success. That could have stirred up envy in your parent & he or she wants to hurt you for looking better than them. Whatever the case, your parent is clearly the one with the problem, not you. If you remember that, it will help you not to be as upset about your parent’s behavior. In fact, it may help you to enjoy the repreive from the abusive, awful behavior.
The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions. It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.
Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people. There are various reasons they can feel this way. Possibly because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent they hate them. Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought. It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence.
Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated. Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them. Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people. This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them. It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long. This makes them terrible victims of narcissistic abuse.
For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming. They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance. In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!” “Wives should submit to their husbands!” “Love covers a multitude of sins!” When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better. People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…” “That’s just how he is.” “You need to understand her better.” “But he was abused by his parents!!”
Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist. A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused. They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things. It can hurt though & can be rather hard not to take the shaming personally sometimes.
If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things. You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person. They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments. Then ask God to tell you the truth & ask if they were right in what they said.
It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense? If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick to help. Pretend a friend has come to you & told you of this same situation happening to them. Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation. Please remember, Dear Reader, to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are. Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse. Don’t accept their shame! The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry it!
Finding a good therapist isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Every person has their own unique personality, beliefs, ways of thinking & more, so finding a therapist who is compatible with you can be a challenge. When you are seeing one to help you to deal with the effects of narcissistic abuse however, the challenge can be much more difficult.
For one thing, there are many therapists out there who are narcissists. Narcissists are drawn to the helping type professions such as teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement & even the mental health field. I’m not saying all teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement officers & mental health professionals are narcissists of course. Many very good people are in those fields too. When it comes to finding a therapist that can help you cope with issues stemming from narcissistic abuse though, it’s especially important to be certain your therapist isn’t a narcissist. No one needs to be subjected to a narcissistic therapist! It only makes things much worse!
There is also the fact that most in the mental health field received little to no training on the cluster B personality disorders like narcissism. Unless a therapist has personal experience with a narcissist, chances are they won’t know ways to help you to heal. They may not even recognize the type of person who abused you. And, if they don’t understand the person who abused you, there is the chance that they may not believe you let alone be able to help you heal. Honestly, much of what narcissists do is pretty unbelievable. I think back to the things I was subjected to at the hands of narcissists, & can barely believe it. I was there! It shouldn’t be hard to believe it, yet it is. If your therapist doesn’t believe you, that is a sign you need to find a different one.
If you are considering therapy after narcissistic abuse, I hope I haven’t dissuaded you. That certainly isn’t my intention at all. I just want to let you know that finding one who can help you may not be easy. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though!
Many therapists have areas they specialize in such as drug rehabilitation, sexual problems, marriage counseling & more. Find one who specializes in trauma & abuse. Often their specialty is listed on their website or on your insurance carrier’s list of providers who accept your insurance.
If you know other people in your area who have been to counseling, ask them about their counselor. What did they like or dislike about that counselor? Even if they saw that counselor for a different issue than what you want to see one for, you never know. That counselor may not specialize in helping others recover from narcissistic abuse, but may be highly empathic & able to think outside the box enough to help you.
Remember that the first counselor you see may not be one that you stay with. Or the second counselor. Or even the third. Things may start out just fine then something happens that makes you think this counselor may not be the one for you. Don’t worry about that! It happens sometimes. Not everyone is compatible with every counselor. Don’t give up easily, but don’t stay with a counselor for longer than you feel comfortable either. The goal is to help yourself, so do what you need to in order to help yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure if it takes you seeing a few counselors before you find one that you really like.
Don’t be biased, either, when seeking a counselor. If you’re a woman, you may be more comfortable talking to women about personal issues as a general rule, but that may not be the case with a counselor. You may end up finding a male counselor more effective for you. Or, vice versa- a man may prefer a female counselor. Remember, men & women think very differently as a general rule, & sometimes those differences can be very helpful.
I wish you the best in your quest to find a good counselor!
One of the many ways narcissists are incredibly dangerous is how they want to win over the friends & families of their victims. While this may not sound particularly dangerous, it truly can be. It also can be destructive to a person’s life.
When a narcissist befriends those close to their victim, the narcissist learns a lot about that victim. Naturally the narcissist & the victim’s loved one will discuss the victim at some point, & the victim’s loved one will mention something about them that will benefit the narcissist. Maybe the victim started a new job or moved. This person telling the narcissist information has provided the narcissist important information. If the narcissist is the stalking type, now he or she knows new locations to find the victim. If the narcissist doesn’t stalk, he or she still can cause problems. The narcissist can make anonymous phone calls to get the victim in trouble with their boss or landlord.
Or, the victim’s loved one may mention something just in passing that infuriates the narcissist, such as the victim has started dating someone new. If the narcissist hasn’t moved on, this will be a huge narcissistic injury. Some especially malignant narcissists may be so evil, this news makes them decide to kill the victim. If the narcissist isn’t that malignant, he or she still can cause problems for the victim & their new love interest in countless ways. The narcissist might show the new love interest pictures of the victim & narcissist together claiming they never broke up. The narcissist may even show provocative pictures taken of the victim during their time together. The possibilities are endless.
There is also the likelihood that the victim’s relationships will be damaged, often beyond repair, by this new “friendship” with the narcissist. When someone you’re close to suddenly becomes friends with your ex, it can be hurtful. It’s also very suspicious if they never were friends while you were together. When they know that your ex was abusive & are unapologetically on good terms with that person, that is a thousand times more hurtful. It’s an obvious betrayal & proof that this person isn’t loyal to you. That alone can end a relationship with a friend or relative, but if that person becomes the narcissist’s flying monkey, it’s pretty much a guarantee the victim will end that relationship.
The narcissist doesn’t have to be an ex significant other for this to happen either. It happens often in families when one relative is abused by their narcissistic parent. People take sides, & usually they side with the narcissist. It seems that every culture has this unspoken belief that parents can do no wrong & children should love them no matter what. Plus, narcissists are very convincing actors, which helps them win people over to their side.
In either scenario, once the narcissist befriends their victim’s friends or family, that victim will end up losing relationships.
Narcissists are aware of such things happening which is why they try to befriend their victim’s friends & family. They stand to gain a great deal by doing this. They also know they are stealing their victim’s support system, which hurts the victim. They enjoy being able to hurt that person without so much saying a word to them. If you are in this situation where the narcissist in your life has befriended those close to you, my heart goes out to you. Not only were you hurt by the narcissist, but by people you never thought would hurt you. If you are still in a relationship with those people, chances are excellent that it’s in your best interest to end those relationships immediately. Anyone who can befriend someone who abused you is NOT your friend. They are too cowardly to stand up for what is right by telling the narcissist to get lost.
This post is for those of you who have made the bold, painful step of going no contact with your narcissistic parents.
All of us who have gone no contact with our narcissistic parents know that in such situations, the relationship had become utterly intolerable & that pushed us to the desperation of no contact. The constant control, vindictive criticisms & abuse became too much from the overtly narcissistic parent. The constant shaming, manipulation, childish behavior & abuses so subtle most people didn’t see them from the covertly narcissistic parent also were too much. Who can live with this indefinitely?! No one with any normal human emotions could!
Upon ending the relationship, the shock of the flying monkeys & their despicable abuse was next. The constant comments of, “But that’s your mother or father!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They’re getting up in years. How do you think you’ll feel when they die?” & other venom comes from their mouths. When guilt & shame don’t work, they attack your character. They call you ungrateful, spoiled, a brat, evil & more. If you’re a Christian, your faith will be attacked, too. As they like to claim, by severing ties with your abusive parents, you obviously have no idea what it means to honor your parents. You must be a hypocrite!
Trauma doesn’t end with no contact. Thanks to flying monkeys, it often continues for quite some time until they find a new target.
The time immediately after no contact is a very difficult time. The guilt, the doubts & the abuse from flying monkeys are all incredibly hard to deal with! Also many times, C-PTSD goes into overdrive after no contact. No longer needing to function in survival mode seems to make the brain think that since you’re safe now, it’s time to deal with all those old issues you put on the back burner for so long. All of these things can make you wonder if you did the right thing by going no contact. Sometimes it seems easier to remain in the relationship just to keep the peace, but it truly isn’t easier.
Once you are no contact, you’re finally free. Free from the barrage of abuse from your narcissistic parent. Free from your parent trying to make you into whatever they want you to be. Free to do what you want without your parent trying to tell you how wrong you are & shaming you for your so called bad decisions. Free to be the wonderful person God made you to be. You’re finally free!!
From day one, narcissistic parents try to make their children into whatever sick fantasy they have. They don’t care one iota about the child’s talents, interests or anything like that. They are narcissists, after all, so all that matters to them is what they want. Growing up like this, finally experiencing freedom can be scary. The assaults of the flying monkeys & often the harassment from the narcissistic parents can add to the fear. You know something though? Going through the fear is totally worth it. On the other side of that fear are peace, joy & bravery like you have never known!
And, you don’t have to walk through that fear alone. God will be right by your side! Remember, Psalm 23 says that He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. I have experienced that first hand, & I can tell you that as painful as those times were, especially after going no contact with my parents, it was all worth it. I ended up closer to God than ever, & He enabled me to do the unimaginable. He will do the same for you if you allow Him to. Dear Reader, as hard as no contact with narcissistic parents can be, don’t give up. Don’t go back. Don’t listen to the absurd ramblings of those who don’t know your situation like you do. Lean on God. Let Him support & guide you through this process. xoxo
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others. A lot of children of narcissistic parents use the fawn response.
The fawn trauma response is when a victim tries hard to please their abuser so the abuser will stop whatever painful thing they’re doing. They will try to distract the abuser somehow, do something they know their abuser likes, & go along absolutely anything the abuser wants. While this may stop an abuser at the moment, over the long term, this doesn’t work. Fawning shows abusers that their abusive, toxic ways can be used to get whatever they want from their victim.
Fawning still affects a person long after the abuser is out of their life. Fawners are often very devoted people pleasers who have no real boundaries. They falsely believe that losing yourself in relationships is totally normal. They also are prone to very dysfunctional & abusive relationships, including more than one relationship with narcissists. This leads them to focus on the needs & wants of other people much more than their own & often to their own detriment. They also seem to have no real identity of their own, often becoming what other people say they should be.
Fawning often is encouraged in society. Primarily by abusers but also by ill informed people who see people who fawn as generous, loving, even Godly rather than dysfunctional. This makes overcoming fawning behavior especially hard for those engaging in this behavior, because even though it can hurt a person, it also can be the one area they feel gets them love & approval, & maybe even makes them feel worthy of love.
There is hope for replacing this dysfunctional behavior with much healthier behavior. As always, I firmly believe prayer is the best place to start. God will help you, so let Him!
Focus on healing from the trauma in your life that made you develop your fawning ways. The more you heal, the healthier you will become in every way. That means you will decrease your unhealthy behaviors more & more as you heal.
Remind yourself as often as you need to that not pleasing someone doesn’t mean you’re bad, wrong, or unworthy of love. You simply may have made a mistake. Or, maybe they were wrong to expect this particular thing out of you. Don’t assume you were automatically wrong. It is just as possible the other person was wrong.
Feel your feelings. Whatever you are feeling, accept those feelings without judgment. As you do, you may see that they aren’t appropriate to your current situation. They could simply be triggered by old issues. They also may give you insight on ways you can do things better. In any case, they can teach you, so let them do that by feeling them.
Slow down & examine your motives. Ask yourself why are you doing something for someone.. is it out of love or out of hoping to get their approval? Am I saying I’m happy to do this even though it is too much for me right now? Am I taking on too much responsibility?
In time, your fawning ways can & will be replaced by healthy ones.
When someone has experienced trauma, in particular repeated trauma, they learn to use specific trauma responses to help them survive their particular situation. While many waver between two or more, most people primarily use one trauma response. Many people raised by narcissistic parents primarily use the freeze response.
Freezing means much like the name implies, you freeze & are unable to handle the situation in a healthy way. Think of a deer on a highway during the night when a truck comes barreling towards him. He stands still, staring at the truck & unable to move to save himself. People can & do react the same way sometimes. Sadly, freezing often is a good choice when dealing with a narcissistic parent, because it reduces the likelihood of that parent turning even more abusive. Equally sadly though is this survival tactic doesn’t help when dealing with other people. In fact, often the lack of response of a victim is taken as consent, so the other, non-freezing person assumes whatever they said or did was acceptable to the freezing person.
As an example from my own life, as I’ve written about before, I lived with awful back pain for ten years. During a fight with my mother, she threw me into a wall. I felt my entire spine crack from my tailbone into my neck when I hit the wall & was in pain for ten years after. I saw several doctors, had over fifty x-rays & an MRI. I was told no injuries showed up on the x-rays or MRI. Every single person I saw with the exception of one chiropractor was convinced I was faking the pain. I should have stood up to all of them, but instead I quietly accepted their diagnoses. Between that & other people in my life who were convinced I was faking it, I wondered many times if they were right. By silently accepting people’s accusations of faking my pain, that only seemed to confirm their suspicions of me. It also made me wonder more & more if I really was faking my back problem or if something was truly wrong.
This happened all because I learned how to use the freeze response so well as a child.
If you have used it as well, you probably can relate to my story. Also like me, you probably dissociated often as a child & possibly still do to some degree, struggle with making decisions, & isolate yourself. You also probably come up with good responses hours or even days or weeks after a confrontation but can’t think during the confrontation.
While freezing may have helped you to survive the narcissist in your life, it doesn’t help you in other relationships. In fact, it is likely to hurt you instead of help you.
When in situations that trigger your freeze response, your best place to start is with prayer. God will help you & ground you so you can function in a healthier way. Also, please remind yourself that you are safe now. You don’t have to freeze to protect yourself. You have rights including the right to speak up for yourself & to protect yourself. You aren’t doing something bad by taking care of yourself. The other person in question isn’t the narcissist who would abuse you for taking care of yourself.
Also take a deep breath in & exhale slowly. It will help you to calm your body & mind very quickly, which will help you to figure out a better way to handle your situation.
Doing this will help you over time to reduce the frequency of the freeze trauma response & enable you to respond in a healthier way. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen. Hang in there!
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.
Some people favor the flight trauma response over the other three options. This basically means their instinct during a traumatic event is to do anything they can to avoid the trauma. If they can run away, they will. During a traumatic event, someone who favors the flight trauma response but cannot escape will be pretty easy to identify. They are clearly anxious, which means their breathing is shallow & rapid. They may be restless, and this shows by tapping their feet or fingers. Their eyes dart around, looking for a means of escape.
In situations where traumatic experiences are repeated, such as in cases of child abuse, some long term problems develop from using this trauma response over & over again. Flight is used as a coping mechanism, & it manifests in many ways. Workaholism, perfectionistic ways, micromanaging others, the need to keep busy constantly, obsession with video games, endlessly surfing through channels or social media, & other avoidance type behaviors can be signs of someone who has experienced the flight trauma response regularly. These behaviors are designed to keep someone from thinking about past trauma. There are other signs too, such as anxiety disorders, constant worrying, inability to relax, hyper-activity & being overly analytical.
Like other trauma responses, it is understandable a person could react this way to trauma & behave this way after repeated triggers of their flight response. That doesn’t make the behavior healthy, however. Being constantly on the go whether it is mentally or physically takes a toll on a person’s mental & physical health. Changes need to be made & they can be!
As always I recommend prayer to start. Ask God to guide you, to help you to behave in a healthier way & anything else you can think of.
Look at your life. What is unhealthy? Are you constantly working eighty hour workweeks? Spending every free moment playing video games? Do you feel as if you must stay busy every waking moment? These are some examples of red flags. It also may help to ask those people who are closest to you for their thoughts as well.
Once you have identified the problem areas in your life, then figure out a plan on how to make appropriate changes. Cut back on hours spent at work if at all possible, or find another job. Set times for certain activities & stick to the limits.
Lastly, it will help you tremendously to finally face what you have been avoiding. I know it’s hard! I know it’s scary! I also know that until you do this & focus on healing & becoming healthier, any changes you make most likely will be temporary. Emotions demand to be dealt with, & if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way, they will manifest in unhealthy ways. You’re going to suffer from the pain of the trauma or of the pain of the unhealthy manifestations of your emotions. Why not make the pain count & focus on your healing? At least that way, the pain will end & you will be much happier & healthier for it.
Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences. Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.
During traumatic experiences, those who exercise the fight response do exactly as you would expect. They fight. They are obviously angry, they will cry, ball up their hands into fists, their jaws will be clenched tightly, & they look ready to attack anything that is in reach. Sometimes they do, usually punching walls or slamming doors.
Clearly this type of trauma response can be useful. If someone is afraid of you, they aren’t going to attack or abuse you. Unfortunately though it can backfire, & in particular with children with narcissistic parents. When a young child gets angry at their narcissistic parent, that parent won’t tolerate that. Narcissists want their children to show no emotions whatsoever, & anger at the narcissist’s abusive ways is the least tolerated emotion. Narcissists expect everyone, in particular their children, to tolerate their abuse indefinitely & without complaint. Standing up to a narcissist says their behavior is wrong & won’t be tolerated, which creates a narcissistic injury. In other words, their pride is damaged when they are told their behavior is anything less than perfect. Often narcissistic parents step up their abuse in these situations. These children learn not to show anger towards their parents, & often take it out on innocent victims.
The repeated use of this trauma response can cause many problems that last into adulthood. Some problems are the inability to handle anger in a healthy way, a quick temper, becoming a bully, becoming controlling & sometimes even becoming narcissistic or showing some narcissistic tendencies while not being a full blown narcissist. It seems to me these behaviors are all about having some control &/or hurting others before the angry person can be hurt.
This sort of behavior doesn’t have to be permanent though! With effort & time, you can develop healthier habits!
As always, I highly recommend starting with prayer. Ask God to help you change, to show you what you need to do & anything else you can think of.
You will need to accept that you don’t have to control or bully others, too. Remember, even God doesn’t control people. If anyone has that right, it’s the Creator of the universe! If He won’t do it, what makes you think you have the right to do so?
It will help to consider other people more often, too, not only yourself. Consider others when you make decisions, when you make plans, when you speak. Consider their wants & needs, too. What do those close to you want & need? How can you help to meet those needs & wants?
When you feel yourself getting angry, stop. Take a deep breath & release it slowly. This will help to calm your body & mind, & that will allow you to think clearly about the situation. When you think clearly rather than simple react, you may realize the situation isn’t really worth being angry about like you thought it was at first.
Also please know that you are going to need to heal from the events that created this behavior in you in the first place. I know it’s a scary thing, but you need to face those things in order to heal. I promise you, it WILL be worth it!
The lasting effects of an overused fight trauma response don’t need to be such a big part of your life. While it did help you survive for some time, & can be a useful tool, there are clearly many negatives! You can make healthy changes & live a happier life!
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In families with narcissistic parents, the person who marries into this family is in for quite the adventure. I learned this from my own experience, but apparently a lot of stories are very similar to mine. Parents decide immediately whether or not they like the person their son brings home. That decision is often based on simply ridiculous, trivial things such as what kind of work does she do or where she grew up. It can be even more ridiculous such as something about her appearance being a problem. If she is too pretty, if she is over or under weight or maybe she is tall when their family is short. It also could be simply a matter of differences in personality. Rather than be polite for the sake of their son, they hate this new woman in his life. They also demand she respect them while not returning respect to her. And, their definition of respect is that she be seen & not heard, only doing what benefits the family. Her needs & wants mean nothing to this family.
In these situations, the family functions as one unit in an “it’s us against her!” manner. As I have said before, they remind me of the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. They all function as one, focused only on what the Collective dictates. In this case, the Collective is usually a narcissistic mother pulling everyone’s strings to make them act according to her whim. One whim the “Collective” usually has is to tell the son & have others in the family tell him as well what a terrible person this new woman is. She isn’t good enough, she stole him from their family, she keeps him from them & similar lies are the most common, but some also will say more drastic things she is unfaithful, steals, uses drugs & more.
It never seems to cross their collective mind that this man could get fed up & walk away. And really, why would it? No doubt he has tolerated all manners of maltreatment & even abuse at the hands of his family. They place demands on him like giving them money or otherwise bailing them out of their problems with no thought to how this could affect him, & he does as he is told. Why wouldn’t he? This is what he has done his entire life. Often siblings in these situations call this one mean spirited nicknames his entire life, even as an adult, as an attempt to let him know that he is still a child in their eyes.
Families like this are entitled beyond belief. They honestly think they are entitled to treat this poor man any way they like. By default, they believe they are also entitled to treat his significant other just as badly. They have groomed this man to take any abuse they dish out without complaint, & expect the same behavior from his wife. If she complains, all hell can break loose.
At this point, families like this don’t consider anything that led up to the complaints. They only see the problem at hand, which is someone is setting boundaries on their abuse. The horrors!!
Sadly, the son in this situation doesn’t often realize how disrespectful & insulting his family is to him.
His family has no respect or love for him if they won’t at least try to be civil to the woman he loves. If they did, they would manage basic civility, unless of course that woman was abusive to him.
Clearly his family also thinks he’s stupid. After all, they expect him not to think for himself, but instead to blindly listen to them regarding his life. As if he doesn’t know what is best for him or isn’t smart enough to choose a good woman to marry! How insulting is that?!
It’s a truly sad situation! If you are in this situation, my heart goes out to you! I pray you & your spouse can work together to set healthy boundaries with this Borg-like family. Being clearly a team is the best thing you can do as a couple in this situation.
It seems that many people have some very black & white opinions when it comes to those of us raised by abusive parents. No doubt you have experienced some of that thinking first hand. Hasn’t at least one person told you that parents always love their children, you’re not honoring your parent by setting boundaries, your parent didn’t abuse you because they never hit you or other similar comments?
There is another example of black & white thinking & it comes with going no contact with your abusive parent. Many people assume that eliminating your parent from your life means you hate that parent. Not long after my mother died, I ran into an acquaintance. He said, “I’d say I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but I know you’re glad she’s gone.” I thought later that no doubt many people think exactly the same thing.
What people who think this don’t realize is the children of abusive parents don’t always hate their parents. Some do, yes, but not all. In fact, I would guess that most love their parents. It’s their behavior they hate.
These folks also fail to realize that because we don’t hate our abusive parents, we end up with a lot of confusing & mixed feelings about our parents. Those feelings are seldom validated, even by some who have survived similar situations to ours. Some I’ve spoken with actually got angry at me for not hating my parents like they did. Some also said I needed to accept that they’re just evil & forget about them. People can be very cruel sometimes!
For those who are in the position of having gone no contact with their abusive parent(s), I just want you to know that whatever you feel, your feelings are valid!
If you hate your parent(s), that is valid. It’s understandable to feel that way after someone inflicts horrific abuse on you!
If you love your parent(s), that too is valid. We all only get two parents & that gives them a very unique position in our lives. It’s understandable to love them even if they have hurt you terribly.
If deciding to go no contact was an easy decision for you, that is valid as well. You knew what you needed to do & followed through with it. That is great you were able to do that!
If deciding to go no contact was a tough decision for you, that is valid too. It’s a big decision, & not always an easy one to make. Some people naturally struggle with that decision more than others.
I also want you to know that protecting yourself is ok! It’s a good thing to do, even if you are forced to protect yourself from your parents. Not all parents are capable of loving their children or being good parents. It isn’t your job or duty to tolerate their abuse just because they’re your parents.
Protecting yourself from them also doesn’t make you a bad person, heartless, spoiled or a fake Christian. It doesn’t mean you’re dishonoring your abusive parents, either. It means you are putting your mental & emotional health above your parents’ sick need to abuse you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Having chosen no contact with my parents, my heart truly goes out to others in that situation, because I remember the struggles, the guilt, the doubt, the intense anxiety & the useless & even cruel input of others at that time. Many people have been in this situation other than you & I. You’re not alone! If you need support, there are plenty of online options. There are counselors & pastors that can help as well. Mostly, there is a loving God who wants to help you. Let Him. You won’t be sorry!
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After ending a romantic relationship with a narcissist, they are often quick to get back into dating. They seem to think this makes them look like they weren’t the one with the problem in the relationship. Or, maybe it is an attempt to make the one who left them believe they were the problem in the relationship. After all, in their opinion, if the narcissist was really the problem, how could he or she find someone else so quickly?
What most people don’t know is behind the scenes, the narcissist is acting out of a narcissistic injury. Narcissists seem to think their victims will tolerate their abuse indefinitely without complaint. It’s just assumed that the dysfunctional status quo will continue to be the dysfunctional status quo forever. When a victim finally says enough is enough, & ends the relationship, they are genuinely stunned. I have yet to know of one narcissist who wasn’t stunned when their victim ended the relationship with them, no matter the nature of the relationship.
When a relationship is ended against their will, narcissists seem to think something along the lines of this: “This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen! What is wrong with this person? I’ve been nothing but good to them! After all, I put up with them for so long! I just don’t understand why this person would leave me! It makes no sense! I financially supported them &/or put up with their trivial needs &/or listened to their whining (in other words, confrontations about the abusive behavior. Never mind the narcissist didn’t change it).”
Ending a relationship with a narcissist creates a huge blow to their ego! While any normal person receives a narcissistic injury to some degree when another ends a relationship with them, it is a great deal more devastating to a narcissist.
Also, when this narcissistic injury happens, narcissists don’t respond to it as a normal person would in this situation. A functional person would take time to mourn the loss of the relationship & figure out how to be a better significant other in their next relationship, if they want one. Narcissists instead plot their revenge against the person who broke up with them.
Maybe the narcissist had another relationship on the side, so it looks to those who don’t know about this person that they found someone very quickly. Only the ones closest to the narcissist know the truth in this situation. No narcissist wants to be seen as a cheater, since many people look down on such behavior. However, that won’t stop a narcissist from having a “back up” boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if they don’t expect anyone to break up with them, having another (or several) romantic partner makes them feel more desirable & builds up their ego. Either way, having someone else on the side is a win/win for narcissists.
In this situation, if the narcissist doesn’t have someone else on the side, they may want to get into another serious relationship quickly. They seem to think that if someone falls in love with them, it proves they are good people. They fail to realize that it’s all too easy to fall for the good person act narcissists put on, but in time, there will be times they slip up in their act & let their true colors show.
Other narcissists prefer not to get into a serious relationship, but date a lot of people. Maybe in their mind it proves that they are desirable because they can attract many people. Attracting one person may not be a big deal to them, but attracting many makes a good case in their minds for them being very desirable.
It can be easy for victims who see this to think maybe they really were the problem all along. Maybe they’re not worthy of love. After all, the narcissist has moved on quickly. It must be them.
Nothing could be further from the truth!! If you are or have been in this situation, please know that whatever the narcissist has tried to make you think is wrong. Sure, you’re imperfect. All humans are! But that doesn’t mean you are unlovable or bad or whatever the narcissist said you were. If that person is moving on quickly, that isn’t a good sign! It’s a sign that the person most likely is a narcissist trying to make you look & feel badly. That is no reflection on you! It is, however, a reflection on them.
Narcissists expect everyone to be just like them. Not only do they expect other people to lie, manipulate & project, but they expect other people to share their likes, dislikes, beliefs & more. When others aren’t exactly like them, narcissists shun & try to change those people.
My late mother in-law & two sisters in-law have been great examples of this in my life. My personality is naturally quite different than theirs. We never shared likes, dislikes, beliefs or really anything in common.
The three of them hated how different I was, & tried to make me like things they did. Usually by insulting things I care about, like my mother in-law insulting me for “liking to be all dirty” by helping my husband repair our car. There was also manipulation though. In passing, some time before Christmas one year, I’d mentioned to my mother in-law how I dislike cooking. Apparently she told her daughters, because that Christmas, all three of them gave me cooking paraphernalia. Cookbooks, utensils, food, seasonings & more. I refer to that Christmas as the Christmas of cooking.
They all are much more extroverted than me, too. Naturally I’m pretty quiet but compared to any extrovert, I seem excessively quiet. One sister in-law told my husband that I was a snob, thought I’m so much better than them & treated them all as, “Poor white trash”.
My own family is no better. My parents insulted my writing even before I started writing about narcissism. My mother called it a “waste of time”. My father asked me one day in a skeptical tone, “Does anyone even buy those books you write?” Others have insulted me for writing about the topics I do, in particular my faith. Obviously I’m not a good Christian in their opinion, because of what I write about.
There is nothing abnormal about this at all for narcissists. This is how they all seem to think. If you don’t fit inside their box, that means you’re bad, wrong, stupid & even crazy.
If you have witnessed this sort of behavior, it’s not your imagination. Really, this is how they & their flying monkeys act! You’re not overreacting! Maybe you were on the direct receiving end of the hatefulness. Maybe you have seen it happen to others, for example in an online forum. If you were a witness to this behavior & defended the person that was targeted, chances are you quickly were targeted. Anyone who disagrees with a narcissist is targeted. Their egos can’t handle that someone might think they are wrong about something, so rather than reflect & consider their own perspective, they prefer to attack an innocent person.
If this is your situation please know there is nothing wrong with you. Your flaws are only in the mind of the narcissist. Everyone is different, & that is ok! There is nothing wrong with you for having different likes & perspectives from a narcissist. There is nothing wrong with you for defending someone you think it was unfair of them to attack or at least judge & criticize. In fact, I think defending that person makes you a good person because it shows you won’t be one of those people who does nothing in the face of injustice. That is a rare & wonderful quality!
Just remember, when this happens to you that this isn’t proof that something is deeply wrong with you. It proves that something is deeply wrong with the one behaving in this manner. Healthy, functional people accept that not everyone is the same & even appreciate the differences in others. Only completely dysfunctional, closed minded & foolish people want everyone to be just like them.
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Toxic shame is a serious problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse. This type of shame goes far beyond thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have done that”. Toxic shame thinking things like, “I’m a terrible person because I did that.” In other words, toxic shame judges the person rather than the act.
The reason toxic shame is so common in those who have survived narcissistic abuse is because of the way narcissists abuse their victims. Overt & covert narcissists may be quite different in many ways, but both types will not hesitate to use shame as a weapon. They harshly judge & criticize their victims about everything. Nothing is off limits! The victim’s religious beliefs, morals, hobbies, likes, dislikes, taste in clothing, taste in cars, career choice, significant other, children, extended family, friends…. You name it. Anything can be used. They criticize the victim for caring about what they care about & not caring about the things they don’t care about incredibly harshly. They imply or even say outright that something is very wrong with their victim for feeling as they do. They must be stupid or even crazy. My mother gave me a very good example of this a few years before she died. I don’t like donuts, & apparently she was unaware of that. One day she mentioned liking them & asked which kind I liked. I said none. She said, “You don’t like donuts? What’s wrong with you? You can’t be my daughter!” At the time I was thinking, “I wish!” but I also realized what was happening. I didn’t feel the same way she did, & rather than simply accepting we felt differently about something, she tried to shame me for being different.
The underlying message that narcissists give when shaming their victim is this: “You must not make mistakes, have your own feelings, thoughts, needs or interests because that makes you unacceptable, unlovable, intolerable, stupid &/or crazy.”
Toxic shame is a very effective weapon for narcissists, especially when their victims are unaware of what exactly is happening. Over time, the shame takes a deep root in a person. At that point, it annihilates one’s self esteem because they believe they are seriously broken, flawed & unlovable. It also destroys a person’s identity because the shaming made this person think they shouldn’t feel or believe as they do. It can make them doubt that they really feel or believe that way. Or, more commonly, they may purposely try to change because it seems better than dealing with the narcissist’s cruel shaming.
This toxic shame also can create false beliefs in a person, such as the person isn’t entitled to have any needs, wants or feelings. When married to my ex husband, I repeatedly told myself I needed to ignore my needs, wants & feelings & focus on him. I truly felt that I wasn’t entitled to have such things, only he was.
An overdeveloped sense of responsibility can come from toxic shame as well. A person can come to believe that they are responsible for others, including their emotional state. This is especially true of the narcissist in their life. If someone they know is sad, they should cheer that person up. They should fix all of the problems in that person’s life. They come to believe that their own life isn’t as important as this other person’s is.
There are ways to heal from toxic shame. Prayer is always the best place to start, in my opinion. Ask God to speak his truth to you & to heal you.
Study about who you are as a child of God. There is plenty in the Bible that proves you are worthy & wonderful. I created a pretty long list of these Scriptures. It’s available on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com on the Positive Affirmation link at the top of the page.
If you do these things, you won’t be set free of the bonds of toxic shame overnight but it will happen. Don’t give up! You deserve to be set free!
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Narcissists have an incredibly skewed view of loyalty.
Narcissists demand blind loyalty from people in their lives, no matter what. The average person has the sense to realize that if they do certain things, people in their lives won’t approve, & if they do really bad things, they will lose those people. While this seems like common sense, it’s not to narcissists. Those in their lives are supposed to be blindly loyal to them no matter what they do. No matter how badly they abuse & cause pain & suffering, their victims are supposed to remain by their side. They could set an orphanage on fire on Christmas Eve while kicking puppies & they would expect people in their lives to support this decision whole heartedly. Failure to support the decision is proof of disloyalty to the narcissist.
Narcissists demand people forgive & forget any egregious behavior on their part, no matter how horrific. A part of the blind loyalty narcissists demand from their victims is for them to forgive & forget, so the narcissist can continue abusing them without consequences. Any confrontation from the victim seems to be taken as a betrayal by the narcissist. They act like the victim has no right to complain about their behavior. Narcissists also expect others the victim may tell about the abuse also to forgive & forget, to make excuses for the abuse, to deny it ever happened or to blame the victim for making the narcissist behave in such a manner. Doing those things proves loyalty to the narcissist.
Narcissists seem to take their children growing up as a form of betrayal, as if the child has done this terrible thing on purpose just to hurt them. Children grow up. Everyone knows this. Except narcissists. To them, growing up proves their children are nothing but disloyal, disobedient & out to hurt their narcissistic parent.
All narcissists expect blind obedience, & lack of blind obedience is taken as a betrayal & sign of being disloyal. Overt & covert narcissists demand obedience in different ways, but make no mistake about it – they do demand it. Overts will use threats or raging while coverts use guilt, shaming & act disappointed in those who disobey them. Either way, whatever a narcissist wants someone to do for them, it’s expected to be done post haste, & not doing so is proof of disloyalty. Even if whatever the action is goes against someone’s morals or causes physical pain or financial loss, if the action isn’t done, the narcissist will see this person as disloyal.
Narcissists are of the mindset, “If you’re not for me, you’re against me.” Narcissists take a difference of opinion as a personal attack & proof of your disloyalty. They can’t seem to grasp that people don’t all think like them & it’s ok. Thinking differently than them is wrong in their mind & proof a person isn’t to be trusted.
Clearly the view of loyalty narcissists have proves their thinking is very messed up to put it nicely. Like their views on other topics like respect, their views on loyalty are incredibly dysfunctional & wrong.
Actually, the way narcissists view loyalty also explains a lot about the people narcissists are close to. They share these very skewed views of loyalty. They also have absolutely no integrity to be so incredibly loyal to someone like a narcissist even when they know the person is harming other people. Any person with a conscience couldn’t be so loyal to a person with such terrible character deficits.
If the narcissist in your life says you’re disloyal, then take it as a complement! It shows you’re not thinking the same warped way they are!
I really am a firm believer in writing things down. It gives you clarity & insight & is one way to help you heal from trauma. That being said though, speaking out loud has its pluses too.
The Bible has a LOT of Scriptures regarding what we say out loud. Possibly the most powerful example being Proverbs 18:21 which says that there is life & death in the power of the tongue.
So many verses focused on one topic tells me that topic is very important, otherwise God wouldn’t have wasted space in the Bible discussing it. We need to be well aware of the importance of our words, even in the area of healing from narcissistic abuse, & use them wisely.
Sometimes you have to speak things out loud to heal. It can help you to hear the words describing what you have been through as well as seeing the reactions others have when you tell them your story. Discussing traumatic events can help you to get validation from others & even to validate yourself. I found writing my own story when I wrote my autobiography was incredibly validating. Seeing clearly on paper what I went through was eye opening. But, hearing yourself talking about the horrors you experienced can be validating as well. Something about getting your story out of you either verbally or in writing can be incredibly therapeutic. It makes the events more real, somehow. Possibly because after experiencing repeated abusive & traumatic episodes, a person often becomes desensitized to it all. It hurts, sure, but it just is what it is. Speaking about these things removes the desensitizing even if only for a while.
Talking also can be helpful for processing the trauma. Some people do better with writing theirs, but there are others who are helped more by speaking about it. Something about verbalizing things helps people to process their pain or come to ways to help them process it & heal. That is one of the purposes behind talk therapy, after all.
Also when you talk to someone, they can help you to see things from a different perspective. That can be incredibly helpful sometimes!
If you talk to another victim of narcissistic abuse, there is another potential benefit, too. They may have found ways to cope with a similar situation to yours, & can help enlighten you to new ideas that may help you. Or, they may have made mistakes & can tell you what didn’t work & why. Both are very beneficial.
I learned another benefit of talking several years ago. I wrote about it when it happened. May 5, 2016, I had a huge argument with my parents. I knew it was coming, so before I took their call that night, I asked God to guide my words. Well, He did, but not as I expected Him to! Rather than remaining calm & providing no narcissistic supply, I yelled, cussed & cried. As soon as I hung up the phone, I got in prayer. I told God I was so sorry! I must have somehow missed His guidance.. maybe I should call my parents back & apologize. As clearly as I’ve ever heard His voice, He said, “No. Your parents needed this. They needed to see their normally calm, rational daughter terribly upset because of them.” Why, I have no clue but I know He knew. It also showed me that although most times when dealing with narcissists, it is foolish to be outspoken with them, there are certain times when it is necessary. If you trust God, He will help you to do it.
While talking about things obviously can be helpful in many ways, never, ever forget to be wise with whom you share your story of narcissistic abuse. There are many people out there who support narcissists, & will hurt you for talking about your experiences. If they know the narcissist, they’ll also tell him or her everything you say. Remember Matthew 10:16, & be wise as serpents, harmless as doves!