Category Archives: Narcissism
Narcissistic parents teach their children that they are to have no wants, needs & even feelings. As a result, those children grow up out of touch with their emotions, with anger issues, their emotions can manifest in dysfunctional ways such as in picking abusive romantic partners, or they even can have physical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory disorders, diabetes, kidney or digestive problems.
Add in that dysfunctional & cruel people tell adult children of narcissistic parents things like, “Get over it.” “Forgive & forget.” “You aren’t honoring your parents by talking about such things. After all, the Bible says love covers a multitude of sins!” & it’s pretty much a guarantee that the adult child of a narcissist will suffer with mental & physical illness.
A person who hasn’t felt their feelings needs to learn that there is nothing wrong with emotions! They’re from God, & the Bible says in James 1:17 that all good things are from God. I know, many Christians say negative emotions are sinful, but I disagree. Even negative emotions have their place. Anger & sadness show you that something is wrong. If you’re going to fix something, you need to know it’s wrong, which tells me these negative emotions serve a very good purpose. How can that possibly be bad?
My best friend has a saying. “You gotta feel your feels.” Obviously, she’s very wise. It’s so true! If you want to be mentally, emotionally & even physically healthy, you need to feel your feelings. As hard as it can be at first to feel painful emotions, it is much easier than working to keep your feelings stuffed down. One thing I’ve noticed is the older I get, the more my feelings demand to be acknowledged. If I’m going to control my emotions rather than them control me, I find it best to deal with them as soon as possible.
Dealing with a lifetime of emotions for the first time can sound overwhelming, but it isn’t. When I first began my healing journey, I naively thought I would forgive my parents for everything they ever did to me at once, & all would be right in my world. That isn’t even close, & thank God because that was truly overwhelming!
Instead, I have found that God helps me to deal with only what I can handle at a time, nothing more. I think about an incident & focus on that, then another & another. Rather than focusing on everything at once, it’s easier to focus on incidents one at a time.
When something comes to mind I must deal with, I try to remember every detail about it. My surroundings, scents, sounds, & every awful thing that was said or done to me. Doing that stirs up emotions & from there I can pray, journal, cry, yell.. whatever helps me to cope. If the incident was especially painful, it may take a long time or I may need to repeat this process a few times but the pain associated with that incident will subside. I can promise you that!
This process really helps you to heal. It benefits your mental health greatly! You’re validating yourself by feeling your emotions. Basically, you’re saying, “That was wrong! That person shouldn’t have done that to me! I deserve better than to be treated that way!”
You’re also releasing emotions that have been stuffed inside you for years or even decades. That helps your physical health by releasing the stress & effort of stuffing down those emotions.
You also gain a great deal of peace, because you’re no longer haunted by the terrible experiences. They lose their power over you. You won’t feel such intense pain or devastation when you think of those things. You’ll know you’re healing when that no longer happens & instead you feel more like you’re remembering a bad dream. Yes, it’s unpleasant but nothing you can’t handle.
Also, your self esteem will improve which will benefit you in so many ways! You’ll have no more trouble setting boundaries & you’ll know yourself much better.
I want to encourage you today to “feel your feels.” It truly will help you! xoxo
Not all unsafe people are narcissists. Unfortunately, those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse can be so focused on spotting & avoiding narcissists that we don’t notice traits in your garden variety unsafe people. It can be all too easy to overlook some unsafe qualities because if you compare them to narcissistic traits, they don’t seem all that bad. That doesn’t mean that these people are ok, however. It just means they aren’t as unsafe as narcissists. They still can cause frustration, hurt & pain.
Below is a list of traits of unsafe people I have compiled.
Unsafe people can come on too strong. Granted, narcissists do this, so it is at the very least a sign of an unsafe person, if not a narcissist. Watch out for anyone who says, “You’re going to be my best friend!” about as soon as you meet, or someone you date who starts discussing marriage almost immediately. Being so clingy simply isn’t normal.
Unsafe people also avoid facing their own problems, & will do about anything to avoid it. When my father was dying, my family & even strangers came out of the woodwork to attack me for not being there to say good bye, as I’ve said before. It went on for months but happened daily for his final three weeks when he was in the hospital. I asked God why this was happening & He told me something interesting. Some people were in deep denial. They didn’t want to face their own past abuse. Me not being there threatened their denial. I have been open about the abuse in my past, & me having the strength to face it made them feel bad for not doing the same. They felt they had to shut me down & make me do what they felt I should do so they could continue that denial. Rather than face difficult issues, many people will go even to such extremes to maintain their denial.
Unsafe people have no interest in improving themselves. Safe people want to learn & grow, lose bad habits, & other good things. Unsafe people couldn’t care less about such things.
Unsafe people act like they know everything. You can’t tell an unsafe person anything, because they know it all. They aren’t open to any knowledge, not only knowledge about how to improve themselves.
Unsafe people also become defensive at constructive criticism. Constructive criticism can help a person learn, grow & improve him or her self. Naturally this is a huge turn off to unsafe people since they have no interest in doing any such things.
When an unsafe person hurts another person, chances of accepting responsibility for their actions, a genuine apology & changed behavior are very, very slim. If you tell someone that something they said or did hurt you, & they act this way, it is a huge red flag saying this person is unsafe.
Unsafe people also demand trust rather than accepting the fact trust is earned. So many people say, “You can trust me” that it isn’t often noticed. It’s something that needs to be noticed, however! A healthy, safe person knows trust is earned, not given on demand.
Unsafe people can be very selfish. I don’t mean in a narcissistic way, where every single thing has to come back to them & they rage if it doesn’t. Not all selfish people are malicious, they are simply thoughtless. Even so, their selfishness can hurt you. If this happens & the person accepts responsibility, apologizes & their behavior changes, this is a very good sign that this person is safe. If none of that happens, however, this person is unsafe.
Unsafe people can be demanding of your time. Part of the selfishness factor, unsafe people want to monopolize your time. Naturally, not everyone who wants to spend time with you is unsafe. Good friends & loved ones naturally want to spend time with each other. Extroverts love to spend time with people. The key to recognizing an unsafe person in this area is someone who pretty much demands you spend time together when they want, & either acts offended or gives guilt trips when you are unavailable.
I believe these tips can help you to recognize unsafe people easily. And, when you come across them, always remember to keep your boundaries firmly in place, & be ready to enforce them as needed.
Being the scapegoat child raised by a narcissistic parent is a terrible thing. Not only do you have an abusive parent, but other members of the family feel it is their right to abuse you as well. Maybe they believe the lies of the narcissistic parent about what a terrible person the victim is. Maybe they assume because a parent is abusive to the child, it’s ok to abuse this person. Or, maybe they are so blinded by the narcissist’s false persona that they will protect their delusions of this person at all costs, including abusing the victim in an attempt to keep this person from divulging the truth about the narcissist.
In any case, chances are good that the scapegoated child will become fed up & walk away. Setting healthy boundaries didn’t work. Confrontation didn’t work. In fact, most likely such actions only made things worse. Deciding to walk away is the only thing left to do.
What is truly the saddest part of this scenario is the scapegoat is abandoned by their family when they need love & support the most. Rather than receive kindness, most scapegoats only receive tormenting, a vicious smear campaign & abandonment. Some will reach out to the victim only to tell them that they shouldn’t abandon their narcissistic parent because “your parents are getting older..” or “you only get one mother/father”. Some folks also claim the victim needs to fix this or isn’t a good Christian because they aren’t “honoring” their parent. Meanwhile, their narcissistic parent receives kindness, understanding & compassion.
As the scapegoat, you can survive this terrible situation! I know it seems impossible, but it is possible to survive & even with your dignity in tact.
One fantastic way to start is by staying close to God. Psalm 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” (AMP) He will be there for you, to comfort & protect you, & you will need that at this time.
Also, as painful as it is when your family turns against you, try to think of it this way. You aren’t losing good, loving people. If they truly were good or loving, they wouldn’t blindly believe the lies of the narcissist, nor would they try to encourage you to stay in an abusive relationship. Talking about your experiences with a narcissistic parent is a very effective way to find out who your true friends are!
Don’t defend yourself against the smear campaign. I know this is hard! I’ve been there, & I so wanted to tell people off for the cruel things they said. However, doing so only throws gas on that fire. They will think what you say only proves the narcissist is right & you are crazy, angry, abusive, & they will behave even worse towards you. Don’t defend yourself. Let them think whatever they want. Their opinion isn’t important anyway.
Some flying monkeys harass & stalk the scapegoat after going no contact to punish him or her or to try to bully the scapegoat into returning to the relationship. Block every means of contact these people have with you. Block phone numbers, emails, social media accounts. If you are in a situation where you can’t do this, refuse to discuss the narcissist with them. Tell them you have nothing to say on the matter, then change the subject. Do it repeatedly. Be rude about it if you must. But do NOT discuss the narcissist with this person! It only will hurt you to do so!
If someone is stalking or harassing you, they may change their email or call from a number you don’t recognize as ways to try to force you to talk to them. If this happens, block that access too. You do NOT have to talk to anyone who wants to force you back into an abusive relationship.
And, document everything! This information may be useful at some point, especially if you need to get the law involved, so save every single thing you can. Voicemail messages, texts, emails, etc. Save everything either on cloud storage or email it to yourself so even if your phone or computer crashes, you won’t lose your documentation.
There are some things you can expect to happen after going no contact that you need to be prepared to face.
While no contact is incredibly helpful, it doesn’t fix everything. After functioning in survival mode for so long, you will have to adjust to life not in survival mode. It can be difficult. As you feel safer, your mind seems to think now is the time to start dealing with things you couldn’t deal with while trying to survive the abuse. You may find yourself having more nightmares &/or flashbacks. You might be very sensitive & moody, crying or getting angry easier than usual. This is a normal part of the healing process. You aren’t going crazy, even though you probably feel that way at this point. Try to use these things in your favor. Figure out the root of the behavior, nightmare or flashback, & deal with that however works best for you.
You’ll start to question things. Years of gaslighting take a toll on a person! No one can undo that damage & the warped beliefs over night. It takes time & lots of questioning yourself. Get in the habit of asking yourself “Why do I think that way? What evidence is there that this is right?” when you realize dysfunctional beliefs & thoughts are coming to mind.
Along those lines.. most people have a last straw moment that makes them decide no contact is their best option. For many of us, that last straw moment isn’t even the worst thing that the narcissistic parent ever has done. It’s just their average abusive, hateful behavior. For some reason though, something in us snaps & we are done. That can make a person wonder why was this the last straw when so many other things were worse? Well, maybe it wasn’t the worst thing ever done, but after a lifetime of so many bad things, enough was enough. This just happened to be the thing that told you now is the time for no contact.
You’re going to grieve, so accept that. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It means you’re a normal human being! Just because your parent was abusive doesn’t mean you don’t care about your parent. You’ll probably discover though that you aren’t missing your parent per se, but the parent you wish you could have had.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without judgement. Losing a parent in any capacity isn’t easy, but in particular when that parent in question is a narcissist. You’ll feel all kinds of emotions. It’s ok & even normal. Allow yourself to feel all of those emotions without judging or criticizing the feelings or yourself.
If your narcissistic parent is elderly or frail, you are going to feel a tremendous amount of guilt for going no contact. It’s normal. I did the same thing. There is one thing that you need to consider though. People reap what they sow. A person who is kind & good to others won’t be abandoned in their time of need, because they sowed good seeds. The abusive person won’t experience that same harvest because they sowed bad seeds. Everyone has a limit on abuse, so it’s only natural that a victim will walk away at some point.
One beautiful thing you can expect is in time, the fog of abuse will lift, & you will see everything with so much more clarity! You’ll see why your narcissistic parent & other relatives were so cruel to you, & you’ll clearly see that they were wrong. You didn’t make them act that way. That was all on them, in spite of what they told you. You’ll see them as the pathetic & wicked people that they are. You’ll also see that you’re not whatever they said you were, but instead you’re a wonderfully made child of God, made in His image & to do great things in your life!
Anyone who has experienced a relationship with a narcissist knows that they love to reinvent the past. In their version of events, they weren’t abusive. They were just trying to help.
Narcissists aren’t the only ones who are able to reinvent the past, however. Sometimes their victims do as well. I have a very good example of this phenomenon.
I know of someone who was what I refer to as a holiday Nazi. She demanded her adult children, their spouses & grandchildren spend holidays with her, & they had to celebrate on the exact day. There was no acceptable reason not to do this, it seemed.
One Christmas season, her adult children decided they wanted to spend the day with their respective families rather than their parents. Apparently, Mom didn’t approve. She stopped taking her insulin a few days before Christmas & ended up in the hospital either Christmas day or within a couple of days after, I can’t remember which. She told her adult children that she did it because she was too busy baking Christmas cookies that she didn’t have time to take her insulin.
Some time after this fiasco, her son who had heard what she said & even repeated it said that never happened. It was during the time when she was having trouble regulating her insulin dosage.
Rather than admit how manipulative his mother was, & how she would risk her own health just for some attention, he convinced himself that was not the case. He convinced himself that this happened because the doctors hadn’t regulated her insulin need at that time.
If you have done something similar, you’re not alone. There is no need to be ashamed of yourself for doing it. There is, however a need to change that behavior.
Reinventing the past only gives the narcissist power, because their actions are being excused rather than holding them accountable for their actions. Narcissists realize they can do anything, & you’ll pretend they didn’t. In fact, you may even end up blaming yourself for what they did. You won’t punish them for their actions, so this makes them believe they can do anything without fear of consequences. There is no reason to limit their abusive actions.
It also makes the victim feel like they have to tolerate the abuse. They convince themselves that what happened was ok by pretending it didn’t happen as it actually did. This means victims will tolerate a LOT of abuse.
You can change your behavior into something much healthier!
Writing is an incredibly useful tool. I don’t mean writing a book or blogging about your experiences. I mean writing in a journal or writing letters you don’t send. Seeing your experiences in writing helps to make them more real somehow. It’s very validating! Writing also gives you an outlet for getting your emotions out with no fear of anyone judging you, which can be incredibly helpful. It can show you, too, just how much you’ve grown & healed, which is very encouraging. And regarding changing this habit of reinventing the past, writing also gives you a written record of events, so you can’t reinvent anything. If you wrote something down, you can revisit that knowing that is what happened rather than this different scenario you started to form in your mind.
Dealing with the traumatic event also will help you to stop reinventing the past. Reinventing things happens as a way to avoid pain. If you face that pain & deal with it. you automatically won’t try to reinvent the scenario. I know that seems terrifying, but truly it will help you a great deal if you face it. It’ll hurt for a while but not forever. You’ll heal & that situation won’t have power to devastate you anymore. At most it may sting a bit when you think of it. Wouldn’t you prefer that to being devastated?
And as always, never forget to turn to God & trust Him to help you to do what you need to in order to release that unhealthy habit of reinventing the past. xoxo
I’m really into music, mostly classic & hard rock/metal. I find music to be very good for one’s mental health. A song can transport you back to a special memory such as your first slow dance or maybe the day you met your spouse. It also has a way of putting your feelings & experiences into words when you lack that ability.
Recently I realized something as I was listening to some hard rock & heavy metal music. I think some artists have experience with narcissists & have made songs about it. I found their songs oddly validating, & hope you will too.
Below are the songs that made me come to this realization. The titles are links to the song’s video on YouTube if you want to check it out. If not though, I understand. Not everyone is a fan of this kind of music. I included links to pages that contain just the lyrics for my readers who don’t share my musical tastes.
Thorn In My Side, from the 1992 album “Force Of Habit” by Exodus. Here is the link to the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/exodus/thorninmyside.html In particular, notice the chorus. If this doesn’t describe what it’s like growing up with a narcissistic parent, I don’t know what does. The video also tells the story well. It nearly brought me to tears the first time I saw it.
You are a thorn in my side,
all my life you never left me alone
Thorn in my side, in your mind you wish I never were born
Thorn in my side, through it all I think you pushed me to fail
Thorn in my side, it’s about time you’re recognized
for your lies and your worthless alibis
Soul Sucker from the 2010 album “Scream” by Ozzy Osbourne. Here are the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ozzyosbourne/soulsucker.html The chorus on this song in particular struck me as being very interesting. It describes very well what it’s like being in a relationship with a narcissist, don’t you think? Whether the narcissist is a parent or romantic partner, this describes very well how it feels.
Stop talking to me
Just like I don’t even bleed
This cross is heavy when
You’re my soul sucker
Get out of my face
The past is running in place
The slivers cut me as you
Suck the soul right out of me
Holier Than Thou from the 1991 album “Metallica” (or The Black Album) by Metallica. Here are the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/metallica/holierthanthou.html To me, the lyrics sound like they’re describing a narcissist. So many use God & religion to abuse their victims, & definitely display that “holier than thou” behavior. My mother did it. When I was in my teens, she told me she was going to Heaven because she was such a good person, but being such a bad person, I was bound for Hell. Anyway, I found this part of the song in particular especially interesting:
Before you judge me take a look at you
Can’t you find something better to do
Point the finger, slow to understand
Arrogance and ignorance go hand in hand
These songs have made me wonder what other songs out there of any genre also came to be due to narcissistic abuse. Do you know of any? Do you find listening to them validating?
This post is going to sound a bit odd to many of you, I’m sure, but I hope you’ll read it anyway as I believe it can be beneficial to those in similar situations.
I saw a quote on Facebook that got me to thinking. It was long, so I’ll summarize. It suggested that you talk to nature. Before cutting a tree or plant, tell it what you have in mind to do, & talk to animals with respect. That sort of thing.
Having some Native American Indian heritage in me, I tend to do this. It just seems to be in my blood. I never thought much about it though until reading the quote.
I’ve always talked to my pets as if they were people, & treated them with love & respect. Many people including many at their vet’s office have commented how well behaved, smart & loving they are.
After my mother died, I took over some of her house plants. I’ve never been particularly good with plants, but decided to try with some of them anyway. I started talking to them when I decided to bring them home. I told them I was taking them home soon & I’ll do my best to take good care of them. They’re doing surprisingly well!
Before reading this Facebook post though, I began doing this more, & that even includes talking to inanimate objects. Reading the post only confirmed to me that I was onto something.
When my mother died, & I learned I was to be her personal representative, I was less than thrilled to put it mildly. I hated going into her house for years, I even hated the house itself, because of all the awful memories it held. It seemed every room had some bad memories attached. Knowing I’d have to spend a great deal of time there triggered horrible anxiety & even anger in me. I had no idea how to deal with this, so I asked God for help. He told me, “Talk to the house.” I thought I must be imagining things… then my very logical husband said the same unusual thing a day or two later, even though I told him nothing about God saying that.
One day when I went to my parents’ house, I started talking to it. Obviously, I felt strange, talking to this inanimate object, but I did it anyway. I told the house I realized I was wrong for being upset with it for things that people who lived in it did to me. It wasn’t fair to blame the house for the actions of people, & I was sorry. Let’s get to know each other better. Suddenly I began to feel a lot more comfortable in the house. I’m not angry at the house & I don’t cringe every time I see a location in it where something bad happened anymore.
I also did this with my mother’s car, which is now mine. There were a lot of pretty bad memories of times with her in that car, so I dreaded dealing with the car. The first couple of times I got behind the wheel, I talked to the car much like I did with the house. And you know something? I don’t mind driving that car now. I’m comfortable with the car now.
Like many of us in our family, my mother named her car. Her name is Peaches, so when I take her out I often say things like, “Hey, Peaches.. ready to go for a drive?” I also told her she was getting new tires recently. I do the same for the house, saying hi & good bye, or telling the house what I’ll be doing today in what room.
I firmly believe a lot of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse have similar feelings. Some things & places can offer reminders of awful situations, or even trigger flashbacks. I suggest talking to the item in question. It really can help you! I know it sounds crazy, but isn’t it worth a try? Whatever helps you to remove some pain is a good thing. So please, give it a try.. what do you have to lose?
My latest book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide to Toxic In-laws” is now available in both print & ebook versions.
The print version is available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/regrettably-related-a-guide-to-toxic-in-laws/paperback/product-24225183.html
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There is a lot of talk lately about being a minimalist. In other words, not having tons of stuff. Some people even give away of most of their belongings & moving into a tiny house or tiny house trailer.
By their definition, I’m not a minimalist. I need a slightly larger house than that! However, I’ve always been of the mindset I don’t need a lot & regularly clean out some of my belongings.
Since I periodically help my husband with the unpleasant task of emptying his late parents’ home & am in the process of doing the same to my late parents’ home, I’ve realized this minimalist thing needs to be taken up a notch in my life. No, I won’t sell my home & replace it with a 300 square foot tiny house, but I am cleaning out.
I’ve found a great deal of pleasure in downsizing. Recently I went through our entire CD collection. Somehow it grew to just over 300 CDs! Since I’d ripped most of them & safely stored those mp3 files on online storage, I figured this is ridiculous. They take up a lot of space in my small house & I’d like my space back. I made sure everything was ripped & got rid of all but 31 CDs that have some sort of sentimental value. They now fit in a storage box that’s slightly larger than a shoe box! I can’t tell you how good it feels not to have that big collection anymore!
I realized that my paternal grandmother was right. Too much stuff is just more to maintain & clean, which takes up precious time that could be put to more pleasant uses. Some of those uses are hobbies, hanging out with people you love, volunteering… I’d love more time for those things, wouldn’t you?
Too much stuff also can create anxiety. Something about living in a cluttered space makes me VERY anxious, as no doubt it does many other people. Since those of us who survived narcissistic abuse usually deal with a lot of anxiety, that is what made me think writing about this topic may be a good idea.
If you’re considering downsizing, I have some tips to help you get started.
When considering getting rid of an item, ask yourself what function it has in your life. Does it make your life easier? Does it bring you joy? If the answers are no, it may be time to let that go.
When was the last time you used/wore the item in question? If it’s been a while, it may be time to let it go. But, if it’s something you do use, just only maybe once or twice a year, that may be an item to keep. As an example, not everyone needs a deviled egg plate daily, but sometimes it can be useful.
Consider what your life would be like without the item in question. Do you think you would feel better or worse without it? If better, send it to a new home!
If you’re going through items like books, scrapbooks, pictures, movies or music, do you enjoy the hard copy or could you be content with digital only versions? Digital versions don’t take up space like hard copies do & can be right at your finger tips, so they have a big advantage like that. However, some things are irreplaceable, so it would be very hard & even depressing to get rid of them. Use wisdom & balance in these situations. I have a ton of pictures stored online, but I also have quite a few printed pictures from years ago. Also, if you opt to keep digital versions, remember – phones, computers, & external hard drives crash. I recommend using a reputable cloud storage for such things to be sure nothing gets lost. I like Dropbox but there are also Google Drive & other online storage options.
Is the item a one of a kind item? That can make it trickier to give away. If the item has sentimental value because it once belonged to someone you love that has passed on, I recommend keeping it if you can. If you don’t feel peace about that though, find someone special to pass it along to that you know will love it as you have.
I firmly believe in downsizing, balance is the key. Clean out! Give away things that don’t serve you well, but keep things that do serve you & bring you joy. You may be surprised how much less anxious you are when you realize you have a lot less stuff in your home than you once did.
Society values the strangest things anymore. For example, being busy is admired these days. Strange thing to admire since being too busy is unhealthy physically & mentally.
It also seems to me a false strength is admired. What I mean by false strength is when a person feels unable to continue doing something, but goes on anyway. Like when a loved one dies, the surviving people are expected to just go on like nothing happened. People seem to think once the funeral is over, their grief should be too. It’s time to go on with life at that point. They don’t realize that for most people, that is when their grief really begins. Or, if a person is physically ill or disabled yet pushes him or herself to the point of extreme pain &/or fatigue, that is admired.
Another type of false strength that seems to be admired in society is going on as if nothing happened after being abused. “It’s in the past,” “let it go,” “stop wallowing in the past,” “get over it” & other heartless comments are commonly made to abuse survivors. What many people fail to realize is we want to let it go & get over it, but we can’t. We have to process things fully before we can truly let things go.
The simple fact is childhood is an extremely important time in a person’s life. All things, good, bad or indifferent that happen to children make a very deep imprint on them. Much deeper than on an adult. When bad things happen to a child, that child carries that into adulthood, possibly even for their entire life.
Many people who suffered child abuse also have PTSD or C-PTSD. These are disorders where the victim has experienced so much trauma, their brain has physically changed, broken even. Neither disorder is something that can be shaken off, & they should be taken seriously. Many, many people with PTSD or C-PTSD have committed suicide & many consider suicide on a regular basis – these are potentially life threatening disorders!
If you too suffer with PTSD or C-PTSD, then I am particularly writing to you, however, I think this article can benefit most anyone.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I was told constantly how lazy I was. This has stuck with me – I still battle feeling lazy constantly even though I’m in my 40’s. Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with share similar stories with similar results. I believe for many of us, this is at the root of this “I always have to be strong & productive” behavior. As a result, we continue pushing ourselves beyond our physical & mental limits constantly rather than be “lazy” like Mom always said we were.
No matter what the reason, continuing to push yourself beyond your limits isn’t being strong- it’s unwise, because you’re putting your physical & mental health at risk!!
I hope to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to learn to take better care of yourself. The fact you have made it this far shows you are strong- you have nothing to prove to anyone. Listen to your body & mind. If they feel stressed, then it’s time to rest. There is no shame in resting your body & mind. Even God rested. Genesis 2:2 states, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” (KJV) In fact, there are also several accounts in the Bible where Jesus took off to be by Himself. There is NOTHING wrong with rest. It helps you to renew your strength. In fact, if you incorporate rest into your life as you need it, you will be stronger. In 2000 when I was one of my grandmother’s caregivers, she ran me ragged. Once I stopped being at her beck & call constantly, & started making time to rest & take care of myself, I was better able to take care of her. (And, with her being a narcissist, I needed every advantage I could get too! lol)
If you truly want to be strong, practice self care & abandon pushing yourself too hard! It really does make a difference!
My husband & I were talking last night about the relationship with my parents, & I thought I’d share a bit of that talk with you…
I was quickly reaching a point probably about 10 years ago where I wanted no further contact with my parents. I prayed about it, & knew God was leaving that decision up to me, & would support me either way. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I maintained the relationship.
As many of you know, in 2015 I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. While I was in the emergency room & still very delirious, I told my husband not to tell our parents about this at any costs, because if he did, I would kill him. In spite of being totally in my own delirious world at that time, I still have some vague memories of thinking of how my parents would respond to my situation & knew there was NO way I could handle their lack of concern.
While recovering, I remembered this, & it hit me… my word!! I can’t even expect comfort from my parents when I nearly died! How messed up is this?! That revelation threw me for a loop. I was incredibly sad & angry about it at the same time. That was when I told God, enough is enough. I want these people out of my life! I’m done! Yet oddly, this time I felt He was saying, “No. Wait. I’ll show you when the time is right.”
Well, I waited & kept saying, “Now?! Please?!” “Wait.” *sigh* Ok…
Then May 5, 2016, I had a big fight with my parents. I knew that night my mother wouldn’t speak to me for quite a while, then she’d call like nothing ever happened. That is how she always operated. I also knew my father would demand to me to try to smooth over this fiasco. What I figured would happen, happened. Over the next few months, I made the decision that I was officially done with my mother, then later decided I was also done with my father. I felt God was saying the timing was right, so I blocked my parents’ phone numbers.
For a while, I wondered why that timing was right & why I felt God didn’t want me to end contact for that period of time. Eventually it hit me. I learned a LOT in the final couple of years of my relationship with my parents. I learned a lot more in that short time than in the other years. I started to understand what makes narcissists tick & figured out some pretty effective ways to cope with them. This gave me a LOT of good information to write about & to share with my readers.
I am so glad to be able to help people, in particular ones for whom no contact isn’t an option. That is such an awful place to be! I am grateful I learned what I did during that time, in spite of how incredibly miserable that time was.
I’m telling you this so that you hopefully will be inspired to think the same way about your situation. I’m not saying be grateful for the abuse you endured of course. Who could be?! But, chances are there is some good that came of it. Being abused gives people a deep empathy & caring for other people, because they understand suffering so well. That is a blessing. Learning how to spot abusive people & how to deal with the ones you can’t avoid is another blessing. Learning about how to set & enforce healthy boundaries is still another.
Like I said, I’m not saying you should be grateful you were abused. That would be weird & I’d think very unhealthy to boot. However, if you can find some good in it all, it can help you a great deal, because you know that your pain wasn’t pointless. It had some purpose. What others meant to destroy you, not only didn’t accomplish that, but it gave you some blessings as well. God wastes absolutely nothing, & He was able to glean something good out of anything, even something so awful. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (AMP)
So when you consider the awful experiences you have been through, please try to remember that some good things did come out of them! Of course, it would’ve been nice if they came another way, but at least they did come to you. Your pain wasn’t in vain!
Narcissists love keeping victims to themselves, & will go to any means necessary to accomplish it. Isolating a victim gives an abuser plenty of advantages…
The victim with no support system without caring friends & family, which often makes a victim easier to control. Supportive friends & family give a person strength & help to raise their self-esteem, which are two qualities no abuser wants in a victim.
If a victim doesn’t even realize the situation he or she is in is abusive, caring people in his or her life will recognize it. They will call the victim’s attention to it & convince the victim that he or she deserves better. They also will do their level best to help the victim to escape. Certainly no narcissist wants this scenario!
Lacking that support system also can lead to depression. Depressed people are much easier to control than happy people. They simply don’t care as much about anything, including themselves, so they may go along with all kinds of things. They also won’t talk back or question an abuser like a healthy person would. They don’t think they deserve any better, so they are easy to manipulate which works out very well for abusers.
Also with isolation, this severely limits the information available to a victim. This means a victim is less likely to realize how wrong the abuse is & more likely to tolerate the abuse without question. Isolation also means an abuser can control what information the victim is privy to, which is extremely advantageous to abusers.
Isolation can be accomplished by several different means, & abusers will use any or all of these tactics to get their way.
If a victim already has friends &/or relatives they are close to when the abusive relationship begins, most abusers will sow seeds of doubt in their victims’ minds about those relationships. My ex husband did this. We met just before I turned 17, & even then, he was starting to work on isolating me. It got worse after we were married, though. He began telling me that my best friend wasn’t really a good friend. At the time, her now ex husband was doing the same thing regarding me. As a result, our friendship ended. (Thankfully we got back in touch after our divorces & are now inseparable.) My ex also told me that my grandparents, who I adored, hated me & didn’t believe me that my mother was abusive, so I shouldn’t talk to them anymore. He did it enough that I did sever ties with them for years.
If an abuser isn’t successful at making a victim doubt a person, they have other ways to destroy the relationship. If their victim is with someone, they can call constantly, interrupting that time together & generally being highly annoying. Before getting together with someone, the abuser can create some crisis, forcing the victim to cancel their plans. Bonus for them is if they can make the victim not tell the person they had plans with, to just stand them up, because certainly that person will be angry. Abusers also may keep victims so busy, they simply have no time to spend with anyone but the abuser.
Another way to isolate victims is for an abuser to show their disgust with the victim’s friends or family. Constantly talking about how bad the people the victim cares about are can erode the love the victim feels for them. The victim may begin to see these people as the narcissist does, & the victim ends those relationships voluntarily.
If the victim grows up with an abusive parent, that abuser has a big advantage that a romantic partner lacks. The abusive parent can control the child from birth, & refuse to allow that child to befriend anyone of whom the parent doesn’t approve. The parent can keep the child so close that the child has no opportunity to make friends. A parent can even home school the child or refuse to allow the child to spend time with extended family, & the child must do as he or she is told.
If you’re involved with someone, anyone, who undermines your relationships or tries to separate you from others, it’s a HUGE red flag! If at all possible, don’t let this person isolate you! Maintain your healthy relationships! They are truly invaluable!
Cognitive dissonance describes the very uncomfortable feeling of learning that something you believed was true is indeed not true. Imagine living your life always believing the sky was green. It never crossed your mind thinking it was anything but green. Suddenly one day, someone tells you the sky is blue. You know the person who told you it is blue wouldn’t lie to you. You also see for yourself that it’s blue. You now have to accept this new fact that that the sky is blue. That awkward feeling of struggling to accept the new reality is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a very common problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse. Narcissists lie about pretty much everything, especially to their victims. They have no problem lying & do it constantly. Anything to get them what they want. Because of this, victims often struggle with cognitive dissonance when they learn the truth. I’ve been there many times.
Most recently, I’ve experienced cognitive dissonance upon learning after my mother’s death that my parents loved me, in some way (just not a normal, healthy way). As a child, I just assumed they did, because that’s what children do. As I got older, I didn’t think they did due to their abusive ways, & worked hard to accept that painful truth. Then after my mother’s death, in the process of clearing out the house, I found they had saved cards & things I’d given them, school projects & other things that they wouldn’t have saved if they didn’t love me. Talk about difficult to accept & rectify in my mind!
Experiencing cognitive dissonance can be very difficult & painful. Learning some truths can be downright excruciating. There is also the fact of learning that someone you love lied to you. That broken trust can be very painful. There is also the subject matter of the lie. That can bring up sadness, anger, hurt & all kinds of unpleasant emotions.
When facing this distressing & challenging situation. as always I recommend beginning with prayer. Ask God for whatever you need, such as help in getting through this, strength, courage.
Consider the evidence facing you, too. Is it clearly the truth? If someone has told you something that is causing this cognitive dissonance, is that person trustworthy?
Always remember that there is no shame in believing something wrong. We all have done this! The only problem would be if you were unwilling to be open to new perspectives & beliefs.
There is also no shame in that you trusted someone who lied to you. This is something every single person has done at some point. It happens! it doesn’t mean you are foolish or naive or anything else. It means you’re human!
Also think about this: the person who is willing to challenge their beliefs, to learn & grow, is brave & intelligent. Many people prefer to stay in their own little box. They are content with not changing, learning or growing. The person they were five years ago is the same person they are now & will be in five years. Actually, if you think about it… that describes flying monkeys. They accept something as truth (such as the narcissist being a good person) & refuse to change their minds even when faced with evidence to the contrary, like when the narcissist shows their abusive ways. You aren’t like that, though! You’re willing to face truth no matter how painful it is.
Humility is another thing that shows when you are dealing with cognitive dissonance. Being willing to change your perspective shows that you realize you don’t know everything. That is a very good quality!
Don’t let your experience with cognitive dissonance make you feel badly about yourself. Everyone has experienced it at some point.
You will survive this painful time with your sanity in tact, even though it may not feel like it at the time. xoxo
Shame is a powerful weapon in the hands of an abuser. It can cause a person to rely on their abuser for pretty much any information & make them easy to control by causing them to think they need someone smarter to tell them what to do. Narcissists know this, & they have fine tuned many very effective ways to use shame to abuse their victims.
Narcissists will destroy a person’s self esteem in order to create toxic shame in a victim. They point out a person’s flaws (real or imagined) constantly & tell embarrassing stories about them. This keeps a victim on their toes, trying to be better, to please the narcissist, & to avoid doing embarrassing things that the narcissist will use to embarrass the victim with at any given time.
Narcissists also will invalidate a victim. If they tell an embarrassing story, for example, & the victim becomes rightly upset, the narcissist will say things like, “I was just joking.” “You can’t even take a joke!” My narcissistic mother did this one constantly, & when I got upset, would tell me, “There’s something wrong with you. You shouldn’t feel that way! That was funny!”
Narcissists also love to reinvent the past. They claim to be responsible for their victim’s successes, claim the successes weren’t all that great or even deny they happened. Regarding their abuse, they will claim the abuse never happened or if it did, it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims or the victim made the narcissist do it.
Narcissists will twist a situation around to make themselves look like the victim rather than the abuser. They do this in two ways. They will tell others about how angry their victim is, how he or she yells at them, while leaving out the things they did that got the victim to that state. They also will use a victim’s own valid reactions to their abuse to prove to the victim that the victim is abusive &/or is mentally unstable.
Narcissists never speak to their victims as if the victim is their equal. Sometimes they will talk down to their victim, in particular if the victim in question is their child. They want to maintain that adult/child relationship in order to make their child feel inferior to them, therefore making them easier to control.
Other narcissists will talk in circles, use big words, speak with authority & basically try to talk above their victim, which makes even the most intelligent victim feel stupid. They may change their body language or physical position so they literally can look down at their victim.
If the narcissist’s victim has any sort of religious faith, the narcissist will not hesitate to use their beliefs to shame the victim. Many tell their victims things like they are going to hell because of how they treat the narcissist, or they aren’t honoring their parent. They let their victims know they are a total failure in every way, including their religious beliefs.
Narcissists view everything as a competition, & they will use comparisons to shame their victims. If a narcissist & their victim have something in common, you can guarantee the narcissist will make sure the victim knows the narcissist does it better or has a better one or is more successful at it. Whatever “it” is, the narcissist is the master, the victim the failure, according to the narcissist.
When a narcissist behaves in these ways towards you, keep in mind what is really happening! You have no reason to be ashamed of yourself, no matter what the narcissist is saying. He or she is only trying to make you feel that way in order to abuse & manipulate you. Like everything when it comes to narcissists, it’s all about the narcissist, & has nothing to do with you. Never forget that!
In today’s society, keeping busy, even too busy, is seen as admirable. When people haven’t seen you for a while, & ask how have you been or what have you been up to, “Been busy” is an answer that always seems to get approval. Saying, “Not much” on the other hand gets looks of disapproval.
I don’t subscribe to the admiration of busyness. While I’m not advocating for being lazy & unproductive, I don’t think being too busy is wise in many ways. The stress of it can cause physical & mental exhaustion. That stress also can cause health problems such has high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease & heart problems. Most people are aware that these things can happen.
What I don’t think most people are aware of is that making yourself too busy also can be an unhealthy way to cope with trauma.
After experiencing trauma, some people cope with it however works for them. They do what they can to heal & they move on as best they can. On the other hand though are people who have been through so much pain, they feel they can’t take anymore. They don’t see that facing their pain is going to help them, or they’re afraid of the pain. Maybe they think that it’ll take over & or they can’t recover from it, so they decide to hide from it. Many in this position turn to addictions such as drugs, alcohol, sex or even shopping. Making their lives too busy is a much lesser known addiction, but it is just as dangerous as the others.
A person who is too busy has no time or energy to devote to healing. This enables the person to avoid their pain very well by removing the opportunity even to think about it. Stuffing pain inside is unhealthy! Doing so can cause big physical & emotional problems. Emotions demand to be felt, & if they are ignored, they’ll find other ways to manifest, & chances are that manifestation isn’t going to be a healthy one.
It is much better to face your pain than to ignore it. Yes, it’s painful, but it is much less painful than living with dysfunctional ways of trying so hard to ignore it. Think of it like draining an infected wound. Sure, the draining process is painful & well, pretty gross. Once it’s done though, the wound heals much quickly & may not even leave a scar. Ignoring the wound means it’ll take much longer to heal, if it does heal, & an ugly scar will be left behind.
Traumatic events are like the poison in an infected wound. You can drain your traumatic wound by dealing with that pain. Face the trauma, admit it happened, admit it was terrible, admit you never deserved it, admit you didn’t make anyone abuse you & feel those feelings attached to it. Doing these things will help you so much to heal!
If you’re too busy, however, you can’t do this so easily. You’re going to need to make some life changes first. To begin, I strongly recommend prayer. Ask God to guide & help you in this situation.
Also consider all of the things that are taking up your time. How necessary is each activity? What is your motivation for participating in each activity? Which activities bring you joy? Which ones do you dislike?
Once you know which activities you need to eliminate & which to continue, think about creating more efficient ways to do these things. Let your dirty dishes soak while you run the vacuum so you spend less time scrubbing dishes. Take turns with another parent of a child on your child’s sports team driving your kids to practice. Common sense little time savers like these may not seem important, but they really can add up quickly, giving you more time to relax, enjoy your life do what you really need to do, including working on your emotional healing.
Ruminating thoughts are very common after someone has experienced trauma, in particular in cases of PTSD & C-PTSD. They are when a person can’t stop thinking about their awful experiences.
Like many people, I experienced them once C-PTSD developed, but I still had a slight degree of control over them. Sometimes, I could force them to stop & think of something else. After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning though, my brain was damaged. Part of that damage was no longer having the ability to control those ruminating thoughts. I had to learn new & effective ways to cope with them.
After my mother’s sudden death in April, my ruminating thoughts got really, really bad! At first it was incredibly hard to handle them on top of everything else about the situation. With God’s help, after a few months of this, I’ve gotten a much better grip on the awful ruminating thoughts.
When they happen, I’ve learned it’s best if at all possible to get alone & sit with the thoughts. I let them run their course, reminding me of whatever awful thing they are about. I also allow myself to feel the emotions that the thoughts trigger. Whatever it is, be it anger, sadness, hurt, I feel them. No, this isn’t easy. In fact it’s incredibly difficult, but it is also well worth it. The more I do this, the less frequent the ruminating thoughts on that particular topic are.
Immediately following my mother’s death, I kept having ruminating thoughts about the night the police came to give me the news of her passing. It was hardly a pleasant experience to say the least. I would relive their visit over & over in my mind. At first, I did my best to ignore these thoughts. I didn’t see it could do me any good to think about that night.
As time went on though & the thoughts were still frequent, I realized something had to give. I started allowing myself to think about that awful night, & to feel the emotions that I remember feeling that night. I leaned on God to help me but even with Him, it was still quite painful. However, the more I did this when they happened, the less painful remembering that night became. As an added bonus, the less frequently the ruminating thoughts about that night became. I still remember that night pretty frequently & it still hurts to be honest, but now I think it’s on a much more normal level. After all, it’s only been just under 4 months since my mother died. That isn’t a long time at all, so it’s totally normal considering the length of time, our lack of relationship & the rest of the odd situation that I’d still be very upset about her death.
If you suffer with ruminating thoughts, I recommend that you do the same things I have. Get alone with the thoughts as soon as you can. Let them run their course & feel your feelings. Let God help you to get through them, too. Tell Him what you feel & allow Him to validate & comfort you. It’s going to hurt at first, but I promise, it gets easier as you do it! I also promise it’s well worth the pain you feel at first when those ruminating thoughts come less frequently or even disappear in time. It’s kind of like lancing a boil. That doesn’t even sound pleasant & must be awful to experience, but it must be done in order to release the infection so the body can heal. You’re doing the same basic thing – you’re going through the discomfort of facing these ugly things head on so your mind can heal.
Ruminating thoughts are a miserable thing, I know. They don’t have to cause you unnecessary suffering anymore, however! You can make these miserable things work in your favor. You can use them as a tool towards healing!
Overt narcissists & covert narcissists often marry because this creates a perfect, dysfunctional union. The real problem begins when they have children. Overt narcissists are not only able to be the center of attention in this family but also abuse the child without interference from the covert partner who refuses to defend the child. The covert narcissist is able to look like the martyr, the long suffering spouse. People wonder how this wonderful person can put up with being married to that awful spouse. The covert narcissist is also able to convince everyone, including the abused child, that there is no way for him or her to protect the child. In fact, often, the child becomes protective of the covertly narcissistic parent & comforts that parent when the overtly narcissistic parent abuses them rather than the parent comforting the child as it should be. The covertly narcissistic parent appears to be the true victim in this scenario, not the child.
Once that child grows up though, she usually learns first that the overtly narcissistic parent was abusive. She accepts that truth, as painful as it is. She may even change her behavior to be healthier such as setting boundaries.
The problem adult children in this situation often have is the covertly narcissistic parent. Accepting that parent was equally if not more abusive is a very hard pill to swallow.
I wondered why this is for a long time, & came up with some ideas.
When you compare an overt & a covert narcissist, the covert doesn’t look so bad. That person isn’t the one who beat you, cussed you out, tore your self esteem to shreds or destroyed your identity like your overtly narcissistic parent did. It was much harder to deny that your overtly narcissistic parent was abusive when that parent did such awful, hurtful things to you. Your covertly narcissistic parent probably seemed normal or even loving by comparison because of not doing those terrible things.
Chances are, your covertly narcissistic parent also was nice to you sometimes, maybe doing nice little things for you that your other parent didn’t know about. Nice behavior mixed in with abusive creates a great deal of confusion, especially in a child. No one wants to believe that a person who can do such nice things can be abusive.
And, that parent made you feel as if you needed to care for him or her instead of he or she caring for you. That created a strong bond to that parent that wasn’t created with your overtly narcissistic parent. Caring for another person naturally creates a bond. Look at mothers who care for their children or adult children who care for their elderly, frail parents for example.
When discussing this topic with a friend of mine some time ago, she also added that she thinks part of the reason it’s harder to accept that the covertly narcissistic parent is abusive is because that means that neither of your parents truly loved you, which is incredibly hard to face. That is an excellent point.
Accepting one parent was abusive & didn’t love you is hard enough, but BOTH parents?! That is incredibly painful. No one wants to feel they aren’t loved by one parent, let alone both. Even if you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realizing both your parents didn’t love you can be devastating to your self esteem. It can make you feel unworthy, because you think if your own parents don’t love you, you must be unworthy of love.
Dear Reader, if you’re in the position of having one overt & one covert narcissistic parent, please know you aren’t alone. This sort of situation happens more often than you might think. And if you’re struggling coming to terms with it, you’re definitely not alone. Many, many people have been there, including me. As painful as it is though, you need to find a way to come to terms with the fact your covertly narcissistic parent is also abusive & not the good parent you thought he or she was. It’s hard, but you can do it! It will help you to accept the truth. After all, the truth sets us free! xoxo
When your average person experiences something that could be drastically life altering or even life ending, they are shaken up badly by the entire experience. Your average person may use the terrifying ordeal as a motivation to make positive changes in their life, such as working less hours or spending more time with their loved ones. They look at life differently. They become more appreciative of people & tell them how much they are appreciated.
This doesn’t happen with narcissists.
Narcissists think so differently than mentally healthy people, it makes sense that they also won’t respond in a normal way to such events.
A narcissist diagnosed with a deadly disease, for example, may complain a lot about it. They may feel sorry for themselves a great deal. They will look for pity from others.
A narcissist who survived a potentially deadly accident or terrible health scare often fails to see that they were blessed to survive & have this second chance at life. Instead, they may act like they are too good to have died in that way.
In an elderly narcissist who is getting more frail, the entitlement attitude becomes even more obvious than ever. Elderly narcissists often expect their spouses & adult children to take care of them 24/7, even doing things that the narcissists are still able to do. They use their failing health as an excuse to get out of doing things & a way to manipulate their families. Some have been known to take too many or too few medications to make themselves sick in order to gain attention.
In situations like these, narcissists may feel similar fear & terror everyone would feel. The difference is they don’t admit to these feelings. Instead, their sense of entitlement & grandiosity comes into play. They feel entitled to have their families, neighbors & doctors swarm around them to take good care of them.
And, if the narcissist in question recovers from a serious illness or survives a potentially deadly accident, don’t count on him or her changing. Narcissists don’t process things like healthy people do, as I mentioned earlier in this post. They won’t be inspired to make good, positive & healthy changes in their lives. In fact, some narcissists seem disappointed that their health problem has improved since it means they no longer are able to be the center of attention.
Witnessing such behaviors can be shocking, even when you know quite a bit about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s impossible for a normal, functional person to grasp fully narcissistic behaviors. They’re so drastically opposed to functional behaviors, it’s often impossible for a non-narcissist to wrap their mind around such things. If you feel this way upon witnessing a narcissist act in their totally dysfunctional way after a crisis, you’re not alone! My mother has had heart surgery twice in her life. The first time she seemed to have changed, but it didn’t last long. She was back to her overt narcissist ways in no time. The second time, there wasn’t any change, not even for a day. Witnessing both times was very difficult for me because it made no sense. Then having my own brush with death in 2015, it became even more mind boggling.
While I often suggest trying to understand what makes narcissists tick as a way to help victims protect themselves from accepting the blame for the problems in the relationship & predicting what the narcissist will do, in this area, I say give up. There’s no way to understand this bizarre behavior. Chalk it up to one more extremely dysfunctional way of thinking on the narcissist’s part.
Lastly, if you experience some sort of health scare, bad medical diagnosis or close call of some sort, I don’t recommend telling the narcissist in your life if you can help it. The vast amount of concern the narcissist has for herself won’t be showed to you. If the narcissist has experienced the same thing or knows someone who has, she WILL invalidate you. They had it worse, you just need to suck it up or take a pill. This sort of thing is why I never told my parents about my brush with death. When in such a situation, you don’t need their toxicity. You need compassion & gentleness, which are 2 things narcissists lack.
People often think it’s necessary to have some sort of closure at the end of a relationship, & it’s impossible to move on without it. Sometimes, however, closure isn’t a possibility. When it comes to narcissists, that is absolutely the case.
When an average relationship ends, it comes after two people have tried to work out their differences yet were unable to do so. They agree that the best solution is separation. Maybe some harsh words are said & the people decide to move on, each in their own direction. Each person also grieves, but in time, they do move on.
When a relationship with a narcissist ends, none of this happens. Narcissists see this as a rejection & narcissists’ simply can’t handle rejection in any form, ever. It’s a narcissistic injury. In other words, it is a direct blow to their self esteem. Rather than risk feeling not good enough or people finding out someone thinks the narcissist isn’t good enough, narcissists rage. The rage may be either a physical or verbal attack on the person ending the relationship, creating a smear campaign to discredit anything their victim says, recruiting flying monkeys to attack the victim, harassment & stalking or they simply pretend the victim never existed & meant nothing to them.
However the narcissist handles the relationship ending, it leaves no opportunity for real closure for the victim. The reason being the victim is too busy trying to process the trauma from the narcissist, survive the pain of people the victim thought cared turning on them, dodge the flying monkeys’ attacks, finding ways to protect him or herself from the narcissist’s harassment or stalking or processing the pain of the narcissist moving on as if the victim never existed. Such situations prohibit victims from being able to get closure in the traditional way.
None of this means that a victim can’t have closure after ending a relationship with a narcissist, however. It just has to come in different ways.
One way to help get closure is to accept the fact you won’t get it in the normal ways, & there is nothing you can do about that. Narcissists are far from normal people, so why would getting closure after ending the relationship with one be normal?
Another helpful thing you can do is accept the fact that the relationship meant nothing to the narcissist beyond what you could do for him or her. There was absolutely nothing you could have done to make that relationship healthy or loving, & that is NOT your fault! The blame for that lies on the narcissist.
It’s also common for people to beat themselves up after ending a relationship with a narcissist. Whether the narcissist was a spouse or parent, people often get angry with themselves for tolerating the abuse for too long or making excuses for it. That is nothing to be ashamed of! Any normal person wants to believe the person they love is a good person, which makes it hard to believe otherwise. Plus, narcissists are excellent manipulators. By being good sometimes, it thoroughly confuses victims. It makes them want to think the bad times aren’t the norm, that the good times are. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome or trauma bonding.
Since narcissists are so good at manipulation, that is why even some people close to you go to the side of the narcissist. If someone has their own issues, they may blindly fall for the narcissist’s manipulations. Someone abused as a child yet not facing their pain may side with your narcissistic parent because siding with you reminds them of their own pain & issues they fail to face. Or, they may be cowardly & see siding with the narcissist as the easiest path. The narcissist may benefit them somehow & not being on his or her side would mean losing that benefit. People like these are easy for narcissists to manipulate.
Lastly, as always I recommend praying. Ask God to help you. He will show you what you need to do as well as help you to heal. He will do so gladly, so why not let Him?
Closure with narcissists is difficult, but it is possible. It just isn’t what most people think of when they hear the word “closure.”
People who grew up with narcissistic parents learned early in their life that their feelings didn’t matter & in fact, they weren’t even allowed to have feelings. The only feelings that are important to any narcissist are the feelings of that narcissist, after all. Growing up in such an environment, it’s very common for children to learn to ignore their feelings or on the off chance they feel something, to stuff that emotion deep down inside & ignore it.
This is very unhealthy behavior!! Feelings don’t just disappear or die. They remain, even when ignored & neglected. Sure, you can ignore or even numb them successfully for a time, but they will demand attention at some point.
Feelings are actually a wonderful thing, in spite of what our narcissistic parents taught us. They let us know when things are good or bad. They warn us when something harmful is happening & give us a release when too many bad things are happening at once. Sharing your feelings also can create intimacy with someone by making you vulnerable with that person. That really is a good thing, provided you share with a safe, loving person.
After a lifetime of ignoring your feelings though, where do you begin?
First, start paying attention to yourself. Notice how you really feel about things. Do some things make you happy? Sad? Angry? Pay attention to what those things are & how they make you feel. This will help you to get to know yourself better as well as how you honestly feel about things. You can journal about your discoveries, too, as having a written record to look back on can be very helpful.
Also, never judge yourself for what you feel. Feelings just are, they just happen, even the strange ones. You aren’t wrong if vanilla ice cream makes you angry. Chances are that if you get angry when you see vanilla ice cream that there is some trauma in your past connected to vanilla ice cream, & that is why you feel that way. Figure out what that trauma is & face it head on. Sure, that sounds odd, but things like that can happen. I believe God lets us face only what we can at a time which is why some repressed memories start as unusual things like the ice cream example. That first strange little thing is a stepping stone to a larger thing that needs your attention.
Don’t forget to talk to safe, good people about your feelings. It helps to have caring people validate your feelings. There is nothing wrong with you for what you feel, but it can feel that way at first. Having someone you can trust tell you that you’re OK, & there is nothing wrong with you for what you feel can be incredibly helpful!
Most of all, don’t forget to pray & pray often. God will help you however you need the help, so let Him! Tell him whatever you think & feel, ask for whatever you need & listen to His voice as He speaks to you. You’ll be glad you did!
Narcissists love attention, & many must be the focal point of everyone’s attention at all times. Overt narcissists are naturally more brazen in how they command attention than their covert counterparts, but covert narcissists love attention too. There are countless things they can do to draw all attention to themselves, but this post addresses some of the more commonly used tactics.
Narcissists have no manners whatsoever. Add that in with their insatiable desire to have everyone’s attention, & you have a person who WILL interrupt whoever is talking. When a person interrupts, they naturally become the center of attention, so it’s a useful & very commonly used tactic for narcissists.
Overt narcissists can be loud in how they interrupt people. They usually will talk over people. Covert narcissists, as usual, are more subtle. They will try to have the final word in any conversation. There is also a trick my covertly narcissistic father used. As I would start to speak, he’d act like he was going to speak. Naturally, I’d apologize & let him talk. Eventually I realized that was his goal. He didn’t want to hear what I had to say. He wanted to shut me up so he could talk, & knowing I hate bad manners, I’d be polite & let him talk.
And, if a narcissist is hard of hearing, interrupting becomes easier yet. Many have what I call selective hearing. While they may indeed have diminished hearing, they also use the excuse of not hearing a person when it fits them. If they want someone else to stop talking so they can talk, they can just start talking & claim they didn’t hear the other person talking.
Another way narcissists gain attention is by turning a conversation back to themselves. After all, if people are talking about something that isn’t the narcissist, that means the narcissist isn’t the center of attention. They will spin the conversation around to themselves in such a way that no one will have a clue how that happened.
Narcissists also gain attention by telling stories about you to other people, preferably in a group of which you also are a part. Not good stories like how you got that big promotion at work or were your high school valedictorian, only stories that embarrass you. This tactic is especially popular with narcissistic parents, but spouses also may use it, especially if the narcissist is older than the victim. Telling embarrassing stories makes a person feel shamed & foolish, which makes a person easier to control, so that is an added bonus to the attention the stories gain. And, the narcissist may spin the story so it looks like he or she rescued you somehow.
If the narcissist has some sort of pain like back pain, arthritis, or even a short term problem such as a broken leg, the problem will be used to his or her advantage. You can expect this person to claim unbearable pain when not receiving all attention. A similar scenario can happen if the narcissist has an illness or disease. If this narcissist isn’t the center of attention, suddenly he or she will claim symptoms are flaring up, or maybe that he or she must lay down or go home immediately. In either scenario, most people will focus on the narcissist & try to help, returning him or her to the center of attention.
Shock value is another favorite way narcissists gain attention. My mother literally crashed my late father in-law’s funeral in 2018 to get her precious attention. She drove to the graveside as the funeral was just starting & wouldn’t get out of her car. People were shocked, & staring. It worked as she wanted. Other shock value tactics may include things like burping or passing gas loudly, or saying something totally outrageous such as gory details of how someone was murdered. Shock value naturally stuns people, & they focus all attention on the narcissist, as was the goal.
When the narcissist in your life behaves this way, deprive them of that attention. If they interrupt you, talk over them or talk to someone else. If they change the topic back to themselves, change it back to the original topic. If they use embarrassing stories, pain or shock value, ignore them. Depriving a narcissist of attention means that action won’t be used again because it doesn’t work.