About Coercive Control

Narcissists clearly are experts in the area of controlling.  One lesser known tactic they use is called coercive control.  It is most commonly known to happen in romantic relationships, but it also can happen in parent/child relationships.

Coercive control doesn’t always involve physical violence, yet victims wonder if they don’t obey the narcissist, will it turn violent one day?  Fear is a great weapon, & those who use coercive control are well aware of that fact.  Often without so much as touching their victim, they instill a deep fear in them.

There are other signs of coercive control that people need to be aware of abusers using.

Intimidation is a big red flag.  Towards the end of my first marriage, my ex was trying to intimidate me by punching things other than me.  After, he would tell me how lucky I was he was hitting the walls instead of me.  Other forms of intimidation can include showing weapons, blocking you from leaving the room or standing over you in a way as to make themselves look much bigger than you.

“Minor” violent acts.  I hate to use the word minor with violent acts because it sounds like it’s trivializing violence.  That isn’t my intention.  What I mean is acts like pushing, holding you in place or even pinching hard.  These are so called minor violent acts.

Using threats to control.  Threatening to leave you, to commit suicide or hurt your child or pet in order to get what they want fall into the category of coercive control.

Micromanaging a victim.  When someone controls things like how you dress or how you wash the dishes, it makes you easy to control because in time, you feel as if you must ask your partner for permission to do everything.   Some parents continue treating their adult child as if they were young children in need of their guidance well into adulthood.  This is known as infantilization.

Financial abuse.  An abusive partner will keep their mate in the relationship by destroying their credit, spending all of their paychecks or refusing them all access to the couple’s finances.

Isolation is another form of coercive control.  It’s no secret that abusers isolate their victims.  Isolation makes victims easy to control by limiting the information & support they can receive from outside sources.  Abusers may claim their victims’ friends or family aren’t good for them as one way to isolate their victims.

Sex is a very commonly used method of coercive control.  Abusers may violently rape their victims of course, but that isn’t always the case.  Many use shame, saying things like, “Any other woman in the world would do this one little thing for me…” or, “If you loved me, you would do this for me.”  They also may be very good lovers at first to get you hooked on sex with them, then in time, they suddenly lose interest in having sex with you.  When you practically beg them is when they have power over you.  They use the opportunity to tell you what they want from you that will make them regain interest in sex.

When things like this happen, it’s not easy to identify these behaviors as abusive at first.  Abusers get worse gradually, to build a victim’s tolerance to abuse.  This is probably why so many victims stay… it happened so gradually, they didn’t even realize it was happening.  By the time they did, they felt unable to escape.

If this describes you or someone you know, please get out NOW!!!  These behaviors are all signs of a potentially violent person!  Protect yourself & stay safe!  xoxo

21 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

About False Strength

 

2 Comments

Filed under Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Setting Healthy Boundaries Is Just The Start With Narcissists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Subtle Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

About Being “The Bigger Person”

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Comparing Your Situation To Others That Have Been Abused

I was talking with someone recently who obviously looks down on me for having C-PTSD.  It seems to me that she thinks I’m weak for having it & my childhood was much easier than hers.

The truth of the matter is we both had terrible childhoods, just in different ways.  While she was more physically abused, I was more mentally abused.  Both types of abuse are horrible, just different.  Physical abuse leaves scars people can see & often lifelong health or mobility issues.  Emotional abuse leaves scars that aren’t visible, such as PTSD or C-PTSD.  Both are equally bad in the fact they cause a great deal of pain & suffering.

Truth be told, all abuse is horrible but different.  There’s no point in comparing your situation with someone else’s.  All it does is make you miserable.

Everyone who has been abused had it worse than some folks & better than others.  Only children didn’t have it better than those with siblings.  Children with siblings had brothers & sisters abusing them along with their parents, while only children were the only focus of their parents’ abuse & rage.  How is one of those situations better than the other?  People who were “only” emotionally abused don’t have it better than those who were physically or sexually abused.  At least with physical & sexual abuse, there is no doubt to the evilness of the abuser & victims are more likely to receive support.  With emotional abusers, there are no scars & no visible evidence of their evil deeds, so many doubt the validity of the claims of emotional abuse.  Without irrefutable evidence, many people don’t believe the claims of people who were abused.

See what I mean?  All abuse is terrible, period.  There is really no point in comparing your story to someone else’s.

Everyone who has been abused has suffered.  Everyone processes things differently too, which is why some people have a harder time coping than others.  And, no one is weak for having C-PTSD.  It is a sign of having experienced great trauma that was great enough to damage the brain.  That is NOT a sign of weakness!

Dear Reader, please never compare your experiences to another person’s.  If you do, you’ll end up doing one of two things, neither of which are good.  You’ll end up either thinking you’re overreacting because you believe your situation wasn’t as bad as someone else’s, or you’ll look down on the other person because you think their situation wasn’t as bad as yours.  Neither option does you any good at all!  Someone will end up hurt & feeling invalidated either way..

Instead, stop judging.  You have to accept that your situation was bad, as was the situation of the person in question.  Your situations may have been similar or vastly different, but they were both bad.  Period.

8 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissistic Friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Comments

Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

Common Ways Narcissists Get Attention

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Why Do Children Abused By Narcissistic Parents Fall For Abusers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Signs Of Narcissism In Romantic Partners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 Comments

Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists & Respect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Comments

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

No Contact vs The Silent Treatment

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Feeling Your Feelings Is Vital To Good Mental Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Guilt After A Narcissistic Parent Dies

Losing someone you love is incredibly painful & difficult, but when that person is your narcissistic parent, it’s also incredibly complex.  Part of the complexity involves a lot of guilt.  If you have lost a narcissistic parent, I’m sure you experienced it too.  If you haven’t yet, you need to be prepared & know that it may happen with you, too.

The last time I spoke to my mother was May 5, 2016 when we had a huge argument.  We hadn’t spoken in almost exactly 3 years when she passed away.  Since she died, I’ve learned that her final years weren’t good.  Apparently my mother’s health declined quickly.  I noticed her handwriting became very shaky after our argument.  I realized through her car’s maintenance records that she must have stopped driving in 2017 not long before my father died & found a fairly big dent in her car.  Probably that was why she stopped driving – she realized she wasn’t as capable behind the wheel any longer.  Clearly she also was very depressed.  One friend of hers told me that my mother said that her cat was the only reason she wanted to live.  Also when she died & I first started to care for the estate matters, her house was in a bad state because she was unable to clean it like she once had.

All of these things have led to me feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.  Since I’m positive my situation isn’t terribly unique, I thought I would share ways I have learned to help ease that guilt.

I am truly blessed with having the most amazing best friend ever.  She reminds me constantly that there is a natural order of things & people reap what they sow.  My parents were abusive, which is why I went no contact.  I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, contrary to what my family believes, I was only trying to protect myself.  That is why every functional goes no contact, & that isn’t a bad thing.  If you too went no contact with your abusive parent prior to their death, you did nothing wrong just like me.  It was simply the natural order of things!  If they wouldn’t have been abusive, you wouldn’t have been forced into going no contact.

What happens after no contact isn’t your responsibility, & you need to remind yourself of that constantly as do I.  It’s so hard not to feel guilty in these situations when you learn your narcissistic parent suffered after you were no longer in his or her life.  I feel like I should’ve been there for them & taken care of them.  If only I could’ve stuck it out for another couple of years, I’ve said to myself.  Guessing you feel much the same way.  If so, remember, you severed those ties for very valid reasons.  Probably many very valid reasons in fact.  You did nothing wrong!  Whatever happened after you went no contact is NOT your fault or responsibility.  Besides, maybe there was a reason God wanted things to happen as they did.  Me not being in my father’s life is why he turned to God at the very end of his life!  How incredible is that?!  Maybe that is what happened with my mother too, I’m not sure.  All I know is she is in Heaven & that is a huge comfort!  Anyway, ask God what the purpose was in you being no contact with your parent at the time of his or her death.  He will answer that question.

Sometimes people may say cruel things about you not being there for your parent, making you feel worse.  Remember that those people don’t know everything about the situation, which means they aren’t fit to judge it.

I know guilt after a narcissistic parent is very hard to handle.  If & when you experience it, I hope you’ll remember this post.  You have nothing to feel guilty about.  You did the best you could in an impossible situation.

10 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

The Lens Of Victim-hood

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Characteristics Of Unsafe People

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Scapegoats Escape Their Narcissistic Parent

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!

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Reinventing The Past

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Personality Traits That Turn Off Narcissists

7 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Songs About Narcissistic Abuse

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

Soul sucker

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?

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Places Or Items Trigger Traumatic Memories

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?

16 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

How To Handle A Smear Campaign

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

My Latest Book Is Now Available!

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

The ebook version is available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/955631

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Narcissism

Another Way To Help Anxiety

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

Are You Trying To Be Stronger Than You Are?

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Ways People Excuse Abusive Behavior

 

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

God Truly Works All Things Out To Good

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!

10 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Isolation

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!

4 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

About Cognitive Dissonance

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

2 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism