As open as I try to be about my experience with narcissists, I have kept a few things private, partly due to the fact I haven’t felt the timing was right to discuss them. One of those things I feel it’s time to discuss it in the hopes this story will help some of you.
Several years ago, I was pretty close with someone. As time wore on, I began to see some signs that she was a narcissist. I wasn’t sure how to deal with the situation. We knew many of the same people, & every single one thought so well of her. I knew it’d be miserable for me when I went no contact with her because of them telling me what a great person she is, etc. I also knew her well enough to know if I went no contact, she would do her best to make my life miserable.
I began to pull away some, to help me think of how to handle things & to implement the Gray Rock method (basically, providing her no narcissistic supply so she got bored with me). During this time, something happened that ended our friendship.
I did something she didn’t approve of & she felt I tried to make her look bad when that wasn’t the case. She immediately unfriended me on Facebook, then tried to re-friend me. We exchanged a couple of messages, then I refused her friend’s request & blocked her. She tried contacting me via other means. She emailed, texted & tried reaching me via all sorts of social media. She left bad reviews for two of my books on amazon & on my website. When I blocked her from accessing my website, she used another person’s computer to access it. She copied an article I wrote on forgiveness & pasted it into an email she sent me. It gave me the chills.. I felt she was saying not only that I needed to forgive her, but also that I couldn’t stop her from accessing me if she wanted to. NOT normal behavior!
During the early stages of this, I only told my husband & one other person we both knew about the situation. I was sure if I told others who told her what I said about her, she would get even angrier at me. I could imagine her saying I was lying or trying to ruin her relationships or something like that. I finally talked to the police, & unfortunately in my state, she didn’t technically break the law with her harassment. That meant there was nothing I could do legally.
Meanwhile, I was afraid she’d show up at my home one day, even though she lived about three hours away. She seemed clearly mentally unbalanced to me, judging by her behavior. My husband said she wouldn’t go that far. The mutual friend of ours said the same, & that she’s just hurt- she’ll get bored & leave me be soon.
This harassment went on constantly for well over a year, then died down gradually. It’s been four years since it started. Recently, this person did more things.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior is very common among narcissists.
When you decide to go no contact or have an argument with a narcissist, you too may be on the receiving end of a narcissistic rage. If this happens, you need to be prepared for it.
Possibly the most common tool used by narcissists in a rage is flying monkeys. (If you click on the link in the previous sentence, it’ll take you to a helpful post I wrote on the topic.) Sometimes though, when the narcissist knows she’s wrong, she won’t use them, like in my situation. There really wasn’t a way to spin the situation I was in around to where she looked like the victim, so people might not be on her side. She had to handle the situation herself. When this happens, it can be really bad, as you saw from my story.
If you’re in a situation similar to mine, you need to protect yourself. Talk to your local police. Stalking laws vary from place to place, & you need to find out if your narcissist has broken the law.
Document every single thing. Save voicemail messages. Take screenshots. Save emails & texts, preferably by emailing them to yourself & save them on your ISP or cloud storage to protect yourself against computer or phone crashes. Even if your narcissist hasn’t broken the law, she may at some point. Then, you will have evidence of her bad behavior to show the police & that can help your case. Personally I have TONS of evidence in case it’s ever needed.
Ignore, ignore, ignore! I know this is hard. I wanted to confront my narcissist & tell her to leave me alone countless times. However, a narcissist will take confronting as proof that she is scaring or upsetting you- that will encourage her to do what she’s doing even more. Never let her know if you feel afraid or upset. Ignore her completely whenever possible. If she knocks on your door, don’t answer even if she knows you’re home. Post “no trespassing” signs on your land. Don’t take her calls or respond to emails or texts.
Think about the people you have in common. If you’re not 1,000% sure they will be on your side & keep what you say to themselves, don’t tell them about her actions. The last thing you need is someone telling the narcissist you’re talking about her. That will be a narcissistic injury. She’ll take it as you talking badly about her & for no reason. That will add to her rage & make her behavior even worse.
Narcissists can be very dangerous people, so never, ever underestimate them. They may present themselves as harmless, but they’re not. I never expected the one in my story capable of harassing me for so long. Look how wrong I was!
Most of all, pray. As God for wisdom on how to handle this difficult situation. Ask Him for strength & courage, as well as protection for you, your family, your home, your job.. anything & everything you can think of. Trust in Him to keep you safe & help you to survive this situation. He truly will!
Narcissists love to put their issues on other people rather than face them. Shame is a big one- any shame a narcissistic parent feels is going to be thrust upon their child, for example.
After a lifetime of not even realizing I was carrying around my mother’s shame, it finally hit me in 2015. As I was recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, I felt horrible for asking my husband to help me in any way. I’d nearly died for pity’s sake! Carbon monoxide poisoning has a high fatality rate & also has a very long recovery time (you do the bulk of your healing 9-12 months after poisoning) during which chances are very good you won’t heal completely. Yet in spite of all of this, I felt horrible for asking my husband for any help. After praying about it, God showed me this was all about shame. It’s very common for those abused as children to experience toxic shame, & I was no exception.
One way God showed me to deal with this shame is to imagine myself holding a big box containing shame, handing it off to my mother while telling her “I refuse to carry this for you a moment longer”, then walking away.
It sounds silly, but this was very helpful for me. Even though I can’t physically give my mother back her shame that she’s put on me, by imagining returning it to her, at least I was able to stop carrying it somehow. It’d be the same as a real scenario if she wouldn’t hold the box. If I placed it at her feet, I wouldn’t be carrying it any longer. What she would do at that point would have no effect on that fact.
I can’t say I am 100% cured of this toxic shame, but it drastically improved my problem. I no longer feel incredibly guilty about writing about my experiences or asking my husband for things (either stuff or help), & these used to be very big issues for me. I still fight the guilt with my husband sometimes, but that’s better than every single time.
Have you ever tried something like this, Dear Reader? It doesn’t have to be shame.. it can be anything your narcissistic parent put on you- self-hatred, eating disorders, believing you’re ugly or stupid. Obviously I can’t guarantee it’ll cure you immediately, but I do believe it’d help you as it helped me. It’s worth a try, right?
A recent conversation with my husband gave me an interesting revelation.
He said when I talk about the traumatic things I’ve been through, it’s almost always what my parents did rather than how I feel or how things affected me. He’s right. I immediately chalked that up to having C-PTSD. The disorder means sometimes I have to talk things to death to come to some sort of terms with them. However, I felt there was something I wasn’t realizing about this. God revealed to me what it is.
Surviving growing up with narcissistic parents instills a need for constant validation in a person. That is why I talk more about the things they did rather than my feelings. I can handle my feelings just fine on my own. What I need help with is understanding exactly how bad my parents have been to me.
When you’re raised by narcissists, your reality is much different than real reality. In my case, I learned my mother was always right & should get whatever she wants even if that means hurting me. I learned my father is very helpless, & couldn’t do anything to take care of me or protect me from my mother’s abuse. I also learned very early in life that my parents’ emotional needs were my responsibility. I was to have no needs or feelings of my own since that could be a distraction from them & their needs & feelings.
Pretty messed up, huh?
Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve learned how wrong, dysfunctional & abusive these things are. Even so, I still battle them to a degree simply because these beliefs were very deeply instilled in me. If I tell someone about some awful thing my parents did to me & they get angry & say things like, “That was terrible! It was wrong to do that to you!” their outrage helps to validate my pain & tear down those false beliefs. An objective third party seeing that they were wrong & I wasn’t to blame (as I always was with my parents), is a huge help to me!
Are you like me? When you discuss the abuse, do you discuss more about the events than how you feel about them? Or, do you seek validation frequently by asking people if your perception or feelings are OK? If so, know there is nothing wrong with you, even though it may feel that way. It’s just one more thing that narcissistic abuse can cause in a person. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept it for what it is, & ask God to help you heal.
Lately, I’ve been having a problem. I’ve been doubting myself. A LOT. Am I really doing God’s will by writing about narcissism? Am I even writing the things He wants me to write about? Is my information accurate? Am I wrong for being no contact with my parents, even though I know beyond a doubt that relationship would’ve killed me from stress?
God taught me some interesting things while praying about all of this. I think what He taught me can help at least some of you too.
For one thing, this doubt is normal under the circumstances. As God reminded me, I’ve had a lifetime of my parents force-feeding me their views & allowing me no room for freedom of my own. Even fighting it & forming my own, their views will still pop up sometimes, but it will stop in time. Doubting what I write about is normal since my mother used to scream about how I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry” every time she even suspected I was talking about her abuse. No doubt you’ve been through something similar with your narcissistic mother, Dear Reader. When you find you doubt yourself, that may be what’s happening to you too. You can’t expect a lifetime of programming to vanish quickly. It takes a while! I’ve noticed it happens much less frequently with me than it did even a year ago. I can’t say I’m delivered from self doubt, but I know I’m well on my way.
I also learned that if you ask God to send you confirmations, He doesn’t mess around! lol A couple of days ago, I asked Him to show me if I’m on the right track, & it’s been interesting since! At first, it was a ton of memes on Facebook that spoke directly to me. Then, my father called.. six times in two minutes to be precise. (I didn’t answer of course. My call block lets blocked numbers ring once, then it hangs up on them, which is only long enough for the number to register on the caller ID. That’s how I knew he called). It hit me how that is just like him- he wants to talk to me so that is all that matters to him. The fact I have no desire to talk to him doesn’t matter- only his wants matter. This sort of thing has happened so many times prior to me going no contact. He’d call repeatedly when I wasn’t home or was very busy, & when we later spoke, he was upset I didn’t answer his call. Not being home wasn’t a good enough excuse & neither was having a life. Thinking of this was all good for me to remind me why I’m no contact!
Then, I got a wonderful note telling me how much my work has changed someone’s life. That was an incredible blessing! I do what I do to help people, & hearing that because of my writing, someone’s life was drastically improved made my day! Well, more like month! It was also a good confirmation that I’m doing God’s will.
The icing on the cake however was this Scripture that God brought to my attention this morning. Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (NIV) It was such a wonderful reminder that my pain wasn’t in vain- that God can use even the worst & most painful circumstances for good. Joseph spoke these words to his brothers. If all he suffered could count for something, our pain can as well!
Aside from bragging about the goodness of God, I wanted to share this with you to encourage you, Dear Reader. I know first hand how hard it can be sometimes when self doubts kick in. It can make you feel wrong, bad or even crazy. I want to encourage you to do as I did- talk to God about it. He is so patient & loving, wanting to help & encourage you when you need it! Look at all He did for me when all I did was ask for a little help! Pretty cool stuff, I think! He can & will do the same for you!
Something I’ve wondered about & I’m sure many others have as well is why does it seem like so many bad people lived charmed lives while the rest of us struggle on a daily basis. I mean, just look at most narcissists as one example- they often go through life with few health problems, while those around them have illnesses & diseases of all kinds. Many narcissists are very successful in their careers or financially comfortable. They also never seem to have any consequences for their evil actions. Meanwhile, their victims are often sick, living with mental illnesses such as C-PTSD, depression & anxiety & often broke financially.
I know, the Bible says we aren’t to worry about this. Psalm 37:1-4 says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (KJV) I do trust God, & don’t get mired down in envying such people. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been curious over why things are this way.
Recently, the movie “God’s Not Dead” came on television & answered this question for me. What a fantastic movie!! If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Anyway, there is one scene where a very successful man visits his aging mother with dementia in the nursing home. As he visits her, he says that he doesn’t understand why this happened to her. She prayed & was a very good person, yet this happened to her. Meanwhile, he had no problem lying or cheating to make his money, & living the good life. His mother had a moment of clarity, & told him the devil leaves some people alone so they never feel the need to reach out to God for anything. She quickly returned to her sad, catatonic type state after saying this. The scene was quite moving.
The wisdom in that lady’s statement made so much sense to me! It answered a question I’ve had since I became a Christian over 20 years ago. These people aren’t blessed. God isn’t blessing them in spite of the bad seeds they sow. The devil is simply not opposing them like he does with many people. Instead, he allows these people to live successful lives, so they won’t feel the need to reach out to God. Most of us became Christians in dark times so it seems logical to have some people avoid dark times thus making them feel no need to reach out to God.
Believe me, I’m not one to blame the devil & his demons for every bad thing. I believe his power is limited, & he isn’t an impressive foe. However, I do believe he tries to influence people & creates some bad circumstances with his limited repertoire. It makes perfect sense to me that he would think this way.
Honestly, I can’t say this is true, or back it up with Scripture. I’m just saying I think this may be the case. Since I found it interesting, I thought I would share it with you, Dear Reader, in case you think so too.
If you’re in the unenviable position of having a narcissist in your life on a regular basis, you have to do all you can to protect your mental health. Narcissists do their level best to obliterate a person’s self-esteem & sometimes even their sanity.
One important way you can protect your mental health is not to make excuses for their bad behavior.
It might just be human nature, but people often want to justify someone’s bad behavior. In many cases, that’s fine. When someone cuts you off in traffic, maybe he didn’t mean to be a jerk, he was just in a hurry. When your best friend snaps at you, it’s probably because her stressful job is getting to her- she didn’t mean to hurt you. Small things like this it’s easy to forgive & forget. They aren’t a big deal because the chances that person meant to upset or hurt you are virtually non existent.
With narcissists however, this isn’t the case. Their entire existence revolves around getting narcissistic supply in any way they can. If people are hurt in the process, so be it. That doesn’t matter to a narcissist.
I used to make excuses for the behavior narcissists in my life. As a child, I told myself my narcissistic mother was simply overprotective, not manipulative & controlling to an extreme. When my father did nothing to protect me from her abuse, I told myself he just couldn’t do anything. It’s not his fault.
It took me a long time, but I’ve finally accepted the truth- that there is no excuse for narcissists to behave as they do. They know what they’re doing & if they didn’t, they wouldn’t work so hard to hide their behavior. They also know the difference between right & wrong- they just don’t care. Yes, these are some ugly truths, but they are also truths you need to accept about narcissists.
Making excuses for a narcissist’s behavior only benefits the narcissist, never a victim. Excuses show the narcissist that you will tolerate their abuse without complaint & excuse it away. This basically gives them the green light to do whatever awful things to you they want to do.
Excuses also imprint in your mind that you don’t have the right to speak up, that you must tolerate abuse, because the narcissist has a good reason for behaving that way. This is absolutely NOT the truth, & you do NOT need to believe that it is!
Excusing a narcissist’s behavior is basically gaslighting yourself. You’re lying to yourself, telling yourself the behavior is normal or understandable when it’s anything but. You get enough gaslighting from the narcissist- don’t add to it by excusing her behavior.
Remember, Dear Reader, narcissists abuse for one simple reason- themselves. They want narcissistic supply. There is no excuse for that. Don’t tell yourself otherwise!
Tomorrow is hubby’s & my 19th anniversary. It’s been quite the adventure, being married for this amount of time. It’s taught me a lot too.
One very important thing I’ve learned is the importance of having fun together.
My husband has a very good sense of humor, but he’s also very logic driven & hard working. (If you know anything about the Myers Briggs personality test, he’s a very typical INTJ.) Although I’m pretty hard working, I like to have fun. Yet, when my C-PTSD flares up, depression sets in or symptoms from the carbon monoxide poisoning I survived in 2015 kick in, I lose the desire to have fun. Also, sometimes things happen that distract us from having fun- bills pile up, someone gets sick, etc. As a result, we sometimes do like many married couples- slip into a routine & not really do anything fun together.
Don’t do that, Dear Reader! If you want to be each other’s best friend, you need to have fun with your spouse & do it often. There is something about playing together that keeps that spark alive in your marriage. Not sure why it works that way but it really does.
Do fun stuff with your spouse. Play silly pranks on each other (nothing mean or hurtful of course). A while back, I crocheted a clown that resembles Pennywise from Stephen King’s “IT”- a super scary movie & book, & one of my favorites. We hide Pennywise around the house to scare each other. I’ve put him in my husband’s lunch cooler, hanging out on the steering wheel of his truck & even taped him to the underside of the toilet lid (I can’t take credit for that- a friend of mine came up with that stroke of evil genius…lol). He’s put Pennywise under the covers on my side of the bed, by my shampoo & on this little decoration in my bedroom. I also crocheted a little Freddie Mercury (remember the late singer from Queen?) & sometimes Pennywise & Freddie have adventures together. Silly? Sure, but it makes us laugh when we find Pennywise &/or Freddie unexpectedly.
Play games together- video games, card games, board games- whatever you like. My husband & I love the old video games we grew up with in the 70s & 80s. Locally, there’s an arcade full of them that we frequent. For $5, we can enjoy a couple of hours of fun together. We also have a Wii & some board games we play at home.
There are plenty of things you & your spouse can do together that are lots of fun & that don’t cost a lot of money, if that’s an issue. You can even find things on Craigslist or other sales sites, like ping pong or pool tables for cheap or even free. All you really need is some creativity!
I hope you & your spouse start having fun together, if you aren’t already. It really can help bring some fun into your marriage. During the hard times, don’t forget to have some fun. Those are the times you need that joy the most.
Triggers are things that remind you of something else. Sometimes, they can be good such as the sound of whipped cream being sprayed from that can reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who loved it & would do a little dance for a spray of whipped cream.
Often though, when you come from an abusive past, triggers aren’t so nice. Certain scents, sights, sounds or situations can take you right back to a traumatic event, making you feel like that scared child you once were.
Triggers are easy to understand when they are obvious. The scent of a perfume that your abusive mother wore when you were a child or a cruel nickname that your father called you are obvious. Not all triggers are so obvious though.
Some triggers appear to have absolutely nothing to do with why you feel the way you do. Those triggers are what we’re going to talk about today.
Some triggers on the surface seem innocuous, yet you end up feeling just as bad as you did as a child in a traumatic situation. Talking to someone who shows no empathy may enrage you because it makes you feel like it did when you were growing up with your narcissistic parent, for example.
When this happens, it can be confusing. Having a strong reaction to something that isn’t really a big deal can make you wonder about your sanity. It’s a horrible feeling, but it can be dealt with.
As soon as you can, go somewhere where you can be alone & pray. Ask God to show you what is going on, what’s the root of this feeling? He will show you, & from there, you can begin to heal. It may be something that you thought was small, but apparently it wasn’t since it’s still causing you problems. Or, it may be a big, ongoing issue. Either way, once you know what the problem is, then ask Him to help you to heal & show you what you need to do in order to heal. Write your experiences & feelings in a journal. Talk with a therapist or trusted friend. Work on this however helps you, & the trigger will lose its power.
There are two types of narcissistic mothers- ignoring & engulfing.
As the name implies. the ignoring narcissistic mother ignores her child. The child’s interests, needs, & feelings mean virtually nothing to the mother. She may meet her child’s basic needs for food, clothing & shelter, but it is done grudgingly. Other needs such as teaching & nurturing aren’t met. The ignoring narcissistic mother simply doesn’t want to be bothered with her child.
Engulfing narcissistic mothers are the polar opposites of ignoring narcissistic mothers. They are deeply involved in every aspect of their child’s life. They control how their child dresses, the child’s interests & even friendships (if friends are allowed, that is). Engulfing narcissistic mothers see their child as an extension of themselves, so they do their best to mold them into what they want the child to be. What their child wants is of absolutely no importance. This is the type of mother I grew up with. I wasn’t allowed to choose my own clothes even in high school- my mother had to approve everything. I wasn’t allowed to spend time away from her other than at school or work, & even then, she would often spend my lunch hours with me during my last two years of high school. Everything about me was scrutinized & criticized.
Both ignoring & engulfing narcissistic mothers also get upset as their children get complements. Narcissists are known for being incredibly envious, especially when it comes to their children. When their child is complemented, they will tell the child the person was lying or reasons why the complement was wrong. Narcissistic parents do NOT want their children to feel good about themselves even for a moment. The worse a child’s self-esteem, the easier that child is to control.
Once the child of an engulfing narcissistic mother gets older, big problems really begin. As a child grows up & naturally becomes more independent, narcissistic mothers take this as a betrayal. They want their children to stay young & obedient forever. Growing up is unacceptable, & narcissistic mothers often act like their child is doing it simply to hurt them. Ignoring narcissistic mothers seem to be more relieved that their child is no longer their responsibility anymore, although some do get angry their child is becoming an adult & harder to control.
Once the child becomes an adult, engulfing narcissistic mothers continue to try to be engulfing. They try to monopolize their adult child’s time, even if the child has a spouse & kids. They demand their child spend holidays, birthdays & special occasions with them. They demand their child frequently visit them.
Ignoring narcissistic mothers often carry their lack of interest in their child into the child’s adulthood. They often even show little to no interest in their grandchildren. Or, they may show some interest in them until the grandchild is old enough to start forming her own likes, dislikes, opinions & personality.
Interestingly, often narcissistic mothers swing back & forth between ignoring & engulfing. This is especially confusing for their child because of the very mixed signals they send.
Both types of narcissistic mothers create a great deal of pain for their children. My mother was an engulfing mother & her mother was ignoring. She used to tell me how she always knew her mother never wanted her, from the moment she found out she was pregnant with my mother. She worked her entire life trying to gain her mother’s approval, which never happened. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Yet, my mother went on to go in the complete opposite direction with me, which caused me awful anxiety, low self-esteem, C-PTSD & more that I still live with even in my mid 40’s.
Whichever type of narcissistic mother you had, I hope this post reminds you that she was the problem, not you. Nothing you did or didn’t do could have made her treat you as she did. xoxo
A couple of years ago, two of my wonderful readers told me about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (aka MBTI) personality test. Since, I’ve become utterly fascinated with it!
This test gives you a four letter description of your personality. I found it to be incredibly accurate for myself & my husband. Here is the link if you want to try it: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
While I realize not everyone is as fascinated with psychology & what makes people “tick” as I am, I still recommend taking the test & learning as much as you can about your personality. This is especially important to survivors of narcissistic abuse, I believe.
Whether the narcissist in your life was a parent, sibling or spouse, narcissists do a tremendous amount of damage, as you no doubt know all too well. One thing they all try their best to do to their victims is to turn the victim into what they want that person to be. Narcissists want victims to lose their natural, God given personality & become someone pleasing to the narcissist. Before you realize that is happening, chances are you lost a lot of yourself thanks to the narcissist.
Learning about your personality type can help you to regain the part of you that was lost. It also can help you to learn about things you never understood about yourself. For example, I always thought I was weird. I’ve been told it often enough! I constantly try to understand people’s motivations & solutions to problems, when many people don’t bother with such things. My mother used to criticize me as a child for “always thinking” because of this. I took that to mean that something was wrong with me. Once I learned of my personality type, I learned that there isn’t something wrong with me. It’s just my natural personality, which happens to be the rarest one.
Another benefit of learning about personality types can happen when you learn the types of those in your life. Since I learned my husband’s type, I understand him even better now than I did before he took the test. And, as a bonus- he got interested in learning about his type as well so he’s developed a better understanding of himself.
Dear Reader, I hope you will take the test & learn about your personality & those of your loved ones as well. The test only takes a few minutes & is free, but it can be very beneficial.
A common criticism from narcissistic parents to their children is calling them lazy. I can’t count how many adult children of narcissists have said their parent constantly called them lazy. I’m also one of them. These parents don’t allow their children to rest when sick or simply relax after a long day without criticisms.
While being called lazy & not being allowed to rest & relax doesn’t really sound like a big deal, it actually is.
Being treated this way is surprisingly damaging to a child. It can cause a child to carry a tremendous amount of guilt & even shame until the child dumps the dysfunctional false belief put on her. Many so called lazy kids show the following characteristics that stem from being called lazy…
- Feeling as if you never should rest or relax.
- Feeling intense guilt &/or shame if you need to rest, such as when sick or injured. Along those lines- resuming activities quickly, not giving your body time to recover.
- Feeling unappreciated.
- Feeling as if you never can do enough.
- Developing OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), & being fanatical about cleaning your home or doing your job.
- Going in the opposite direction from OCD & being extremely messy.
If any of this sounds familiar, then it’s time to make some changes.
I have found that looking objectively at myself was a good place to start. I looked at what I do & realized I do quite a bit. Granted, in the past few years, my health has forced me to streamline my routine so I don’t do as much at a time as I once did, but I still do quite a bit.
I also looked at my mother objectively. She is rather lazy. She’s never been one to keep her home spotless. Since marrying my father she put him in charge of not only maintaining her car but cleaning it as well. She doesn’t cook often & never has. She hasn’t held a job since before getting married, other than a part time job for a week or two in 1989. This tells me that her calling me lazy was simply projection rather than fact. (Projection is when a person behaves in a certain way, then accuses another of being that way when they truly aren’t. It allows the accuser to get mad about the flaw without taking responsibility for it. It’s a very common tool used by narcissists.)
I began to tell myself I’m not lazy. I believe in working smarter not harder, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was starting to sink in, until I got sick in 2015 with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It took every ounce of energy out of me for months on end, & I felt like the laziest human on the planet since all I could do was lay around. As I lay there recovering, I watched a lot of TV. One evening, out of the blue, God spoke to my heart & told me why He allowed me to get sick. One of the reasons was I needed to rest more. In spite of starting to realize I wasn’t lazy, I still pushed myself too hard. Now I have to rest sometimes- my body just can’t work as hard as it once did. He said if I continued pushing myself too much, it would kill me eventually. It had to stop.
I can’t believe I’m the only person God would do this too, so I’m including it as a warning to you, Dear Reader. If you are that typical adult child of a narcissistic parent who pushes yourself too hard, it’s time to stop. If you don’t, what’s to say God won’t allow something to happen to you that causes you to need to rest? It’s much better to rest on your own terms! Try what I did- look at your situation objectively & you’ll see you aren’t lazy, & there is nothing wrong with resting & relaxing! You also deserve to have joy in your life, & how can you do that if you work non stop? Take better care of yourself, Dear Reader! You deserve it!
When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.
When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms. I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events. Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.
Not even close!
I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012. And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma. Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter. I honestly wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through? It seemed completely bizarre to me.
Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had. The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.
I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.
I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.
If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone. Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.
As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you. Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings. They’re never random, even though they feel that way.
Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well. They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of. They also can simply help you because your brain is processing some information. The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.
If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start. Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.
A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too. I use a website (there are many to choose from). They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams. Write them down & look them over from time to time. That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come. It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.
Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them. Colors, objects, people, feelings. Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant. It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times. It could benefit you as well
Children need to believe that their parents love them. Normally, this is a very good thing, since most parents do love their children. When the child’s parent is a narcissist, however, this is NOT a good thing!
Because of this need, abused children will make excuses for their parent abusing them. I did – I told myself my mother loved me which is why she was “overprotective” rather than admitting she controlled my every move.
Children also will come up with reasons why the abuse was their fault, not the parent’s, taking all the blame while the parent gets away with abusing the child. The child will think that she needs to get better grades in school, be better behaved, etc. to please the parent, so the parent doesn’t have to abuse her anymore. Children don’t realize that narcissists are impossible to please, & will abuse their child even if the child is 100% perfect.
Some parents are actively abusive – they mentally, physically &/or sexually abuse their child – while others are more passive in their abuse, standing by quietly while the other parent obviously abuses the child. Passive abusers also do not care about the child’s pain, & often will turn the active abuser onto the child if that person is mad at the passive abuser, simply to distract them. If a child has one actively abusive parent & one passively abusive one, the need to believe that her parents love her will cloud her discernment greatly. Even if she comes to realize that the actively abusive parent is abusive, it will take much longer to realize the passively abusive one is equally abusive. The desperation to believe that at least one parent loves her will make the child think that the passive abusive parent loves her because at least that parent isn’t verbally, physically or sexually abusing her. The child also may make excuses for that parent, saying that parent just didn’t know what to do or had no power to stop the abuse. In fact, the child may feel pity for that parent, offering comfort after the child has been abused. This happened with my father. My mother would abuse me, & my father would tell me how he couldn’t do anything to stop it, & how hard it was for him knowing how mean she was to me. I would comfort him rather than him comforting & protecting me.
This need to believe parents love their children can cause many problems for adult children of narcissists, as you can see. So I urge you today, Dear Reader, to look at your situation. Are you harboring any beliefs that stem from that need? Are you making excuses for your parent(s) because you think it’s easier than admitting your narcissistic parent never loved you? If so, you’re only hurting yourself.
John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV) This Scripture is absolutely true! As difficult as facing the truth about your parents is, it is worth it. Clinging to the childish belief that your parent loves you only hurts you. It’s a domino effect of dysfunction, really. You make more & more excuses for your parent’s abuse because you want to believe she loves you. This only serves to keep you tolerating more & more abuse. Facing the truth is the only thing that will set you free.
Admitting that your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you & never has is painful. I understand this all too well. It causes you to grieve your loss of not having a loving parent. However, doing so will enable you to see things much more clearly & objectively, which helps you to find ways to become healthier. You’ll be able to think more about ways to set & enforce healthy boundaries instead of tolerating abuse so you don’t hurt your parent’s feelings. You may limit your contact with your parent or go full no contact with that parent because you realize that your parent only wants you in her life to provide her with narcissistic supply, & you deserve better than that.
I know admitting your parent doesn’t love you is painful, but I can promise you that it is well worth the pain. And, it’s much less painful than clinging to that false belief!
Last night, I had two extremely vivid nightmares about my parents. I woke up anxious & afraid from both, but especially the second one.
I got to thinking & praying about the dreams, I realized they showed me something. It is incredibly hard to accept a covert narcissist parent as the evil, abuser that they are!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a LOT of dreams about my father & when I prayed, God would tell me to pay attention to them- they are showing what he is really like, as He did when I asked about last night’s nightmares. Yet in spite of the many warnings, I was still shocked when he did certain things like calling the police twice on me for “welfare checks” after I stopped speaking to him, accused my husband of keeping me from him or sending several flying monkeys after me.
When you’ve been raised with an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist, it is hard to accept the covert narcissist is bad. After all, compared to the overt, the covert doesn’t seem so bad. The covert doesn’t scream at you or hit you or shred your self-esteem. Plus, it’s incredibly hard to accept that both of your parents didn’t love you. One is hard enough, but two? Incredibly painful. So, many people tell themselves that their covertly narcissistic parent isn’t so bad. Sure, that parent has flaws, but it could be worse, right?
I firmly believe covert narcissists are way worse than overts. At least with overt narcissists, you know where you stand & what they’re capable of. Not so with covert narcissists. Due to their subtlety, they can abuse so discreetly, a person doesn’t even realize it’s happening. They also give such a good appearance as a victim that on the off chance you recognize they’re behavior is abusive, you don’t have the heart to upset them by confronting them. They also love to appear naive & innocent. This makes you doubt they know what they’re doing is wrong. It also means if you tell people you both know, you won’t be believed. Covert narcissists also make you feel sorry for them, which is another guarantee that you will let them get away with anything they want to do.
If anyone meets my father, they get the impression he’s a simple country boy- laid back, good sense of humor & a pleasant person. And, now that he’s pushing 80 & has Alzheimer’s & other health problems, they also feel bad for him. They don’t realize the incredibly evil, twisted things he is capable of because they only see the way he presents himself. They don’t believe that when my mother abused me, he not only failed to protect me, he also turned the situation around so I would comfort him because he said he was upset she hurt me. They wouldn’t believe he expected me to apologize to him for breaking a wall when my mother threw me into it when I was 19. Yet, these things are absolutely true.
Dear Reader, if you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please pray about your situation. If you’re maintaining that relationship thinking that parent isn’t as bad as your overtly narcissistic one, you’re probably wrong. I thought that myself & I certainly was. It’s taken me a lot of painful events, & long time to see my father for the wicked narcissist he is. It took many nightmares & painful events to realize it. I would love to spare you the kind of pain that I have had to experience because I didn’t want to accept the truth, so please, please pray about your situation. Ask God to show you the truth about your parent, to enable you to handle it & what you should do about it.
When you begin talking to people about experiences with narcissistic abuse, it can be tempting to compare your experiences. Especially in online groups, it’s very easy to see people in different levels of healing. It can be discouraging seeing people who are obviously in a better place than you.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader. Stop comparing your healing with that of other people! Nothing good comes from comparison! It only makes you feel badly about yourself!
Instead, remember- people are very different. We all respond to things differently, we feel things differently & we process things differently. Even if you & another person have very similar experiences with narcissistic abuse, those differences mean your healing will be unique to each of you.
One area in particular I struggled with is anger. I think many people struggle in this area. I used to feel badly because I’d see so many others who weren’t angry. Yet, there I was, livid every time I thought of certain things my parents had done. Others had experienced similar situations, yet obviously weren’t as angry as I was. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. I went to God with my concerns, & He shared some interesting things with me.
If you weren’t allowed to show anger as a kid, as is the case with most narcissistic parents, you’re going to be very angry as an adult. The anger built up over the years because you had no way to release it. Some children of narcissistic parents are fortunate enough to find outlets for their anger, so they don’t feel as angry as adults. I was never allowed to show anger, not even simple frustration, as a child. I was shamed greatly if I got angry, so I learned to avoid showing anger at all costs. It’s only natural that I have a bigger problem with anger than someone who found outlets for their anger as a child.
There are also folks who continue to hold in their anger. They deny feeling it, because they are still convinced that anger is a terrible thing that should be avoided at all costs. These people may even be shaming towards others who feel anger, although unintentionally. For example, they often try to be extremely positive in order to deny their anger, which makes someone who is angry feel bad for not doing the same, even though being too positive isn’t mentally healthy. (Being realistic is much healthier)
I hope you see that comparing your healing journey to that of other people is a complete waste of time. There is truly no good that can come of it! Walk your individual path proudly. God has a unique plan just for you! xoxo
Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life. Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream. Her cuteness always made me smile.
Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma. Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible. So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there. On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel! Thankfully it happened at a red light. Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)
When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible. Even so, triggers still happen. No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about. It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.
Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen. The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded. Good triggers can help in this situation. I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid. Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it. Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).
I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold. I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger. If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.
The older I get, the more I value comfort. The cozy feel of freshly washed bed linens, the warmth of raspberry or lemon herbal tea on a cold day, the look of a fresh manicure & pedicure are some things that come to my mind that bring me comfort. I spend a lot of time in my bedroom because it’s very comfortable & cozy, which always feels good to me.
Indulging in comforting things is one way to care for yourself. It makes you feel safe & secure- something most of us raised by narcissistic parents are very unfamiliar with feeling, & we need to become familiar with.
It also helps you to feel loved, when you are shown love. Even when that act of love comes from yourself, it still feels good.
What makes you feel comforted? Below are some possibilities if you need help coming up with ideas.
- going for a walk in the woods
- doing something creative- draw, paint, crochet, make something with clay, etc.
- listening to music
- watching reruns of an old TV show or movie
- drinking herbal teas
- getting a manicure &/or pedicure
No contact is often the only solution preached when a victim of narcissistic abuse looks for advice. People make it sound like once you get that narcissist out of your life, everything will be peachy keen. However, this is not the case!
No contact is a wonderful thing. I am very much in favor of it since often it is the only solution that can help a victim keep their sanity. It creates the distance needed to help the victim have clarity of thought that is impossible while involved with a narcissist. That being said, though, there needs to be more to it than simply cutting the narcissist out of your life.
If your parents are narcissists, chances are you find yourself in friendships & romantic relationships with narcissists. You can end the relationship with your parents, but if that’s all you do, you’ll continue to find yourself in these toxic relationships.
Rather than cutting ties only, you need to learn all you can about narcissism. Doing this will help you to spot narcissists easily, before they lure you into their dysfunctional web. It also will show you that you are not to blame for anything they did to you. Narcissists love blaming their victims for the abuse they dish out, which leaves victims feeling guilty unnecessarily. Learning about narcissism will help you to get a revelation on the fact that their abuse was all on them. You truly aren’t the problem, a bad person or anything else they said you were!
Also, focus on your own healing. Grow stronger & healthier emotionally. Get to the root of your issues so you can truly heal. As you get healthier, your self esteem will heal too, & you will find yourself attracted to & attracting healthier people into your life. You also will find you can handle yourself with the abusive ones that are impossible to avoid.
If you are considering going no contact, then please keep these points in mind! Going no contact can help you a great deal of course, but you don’t need to stop there. Learn about narcissism & focus on your healing as well as going no contact, as these things will benefit you immensely!
For years, one thing that has bothered me about the relationship with not only my narcissistic mother, but also narcissistic grandmother & narcissistic mother in-law is the waste of it all. I was pretty much nothing but a bother to my narcissistic mother. When I was one of the caregivers for my narcissistic grandmother, she ordered me around like the hired help & was constantly hateful & cruel to me. We should’ve been close since I spent so much time with her, but instead I was nothing but a servant to her. As for the mother in-law, she hated me since we met, never giving me a chance. I’m just the woman who stole her son.
This is so sad to me. It seems like nothing but waste. Narcissism stole any chance at me having a decent, at the very least civil, relationship with any one of these women. On top of the damage it causes, such as stealing joy & destroying self-esteem, narcissism also steals relationships.
It’s also sad to me to think about what these narcissists in my life missed out on. Admittedly, I still have issues with self-esteem, but even so, I realize I’m not a bad person. I have a good (albeit warped) sense of humor. I like to help people. These people have missed out on that, & it’s a shame for them.
Have you ever thought about that? About what your narcissistic mother has missed out on by treating you the way she has?
It’s common I think to be so focused on what we, the victims, missed out on, but I think contemplating what they, the abusers, missed out on too can be helpful. It helps you to realize you aren’t unworthy, as you were made to believe.
If you really think about it, your narcissistic mother missed out on a lot. You have many great qualities, & it is her loss not to be able to enjoy those. What good qualities do you have? Are you loyal? Compassionate? Fun? Helpful? She also missed out on so many of those lovely mother/daughter moments, such as picking out a prom dress, planning your wedding, or helping you pick out paint colors for your first home. So many mothers & daughters are very close friends- she missed out on your lovely friendship. You aren’t the only one who missed out on those- they would’ve been a blessing to her as well. She missed out on watching you grow & appreciating you in each phase of your life.
Your narcissistic mother has missed out on so much with you. You are truly a gem, & it’s her loss that she’s been so involved with her narcissism that she missed out on that. Do you know that?
If you’ve never thought like this before, I’d like to encourage you to think about it. What has your narcissistic mother missed out on with you? Think about the wonderful qualities you bring to a relationship. When you do, you’ll see that your mother has lost a special gift in you. You’ll also see that just maybe, you aren’t as terrible as she always tried to make you believe.