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I wish I could take credit for this post, but I can’t. It’s from the blog, Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism. I highly recommend following it! It’s very informative & everything is backed up by Scripture.
That being said, please read this post. If you are debating confronting the narcissist in your life, then you especially need to read it!
I recently read an article that discussed real evil. It claimed real evil doesn’t hide, it is fearless, it makes its plans known & basically shows them off. As I read this article, I thought how completely inaccurate the statement is. Real evil isn’t always so easy to spot. If it was, life would be much easier because everyone would recognize evil & could avoid it.
In truth, real evil hides its true motives. Considering what I believe are some signs of real evil, that confirms to me what I’ve suspected for many years, that narcissism is evil & even demonic in nature.
It can come across as naivete, as if someone truly has no idea their actions are less than good & pure. Covert narcissists are prime examples of this. They often come across as simple, not very intelligent people. While their overt counterparts cringe at the thought of someone thinking they are anything less than super intelligent, covert narcissists love to be underestimated. This helps them to do whatever awful deeds they wish to do & get away with it because people think they truly don’t know any better.
Real evil also hides behind a mask of pretending that all abuse is done for the ultimate benefit of the victim. My mother used to claim that her abuse wasn’t abuse at all. It was done to help me. In fact when her abuse hit its peak when I was in my late teens, she said she was “trying to save me from myself,” & it was merely “tough love” done because she was trying to help me. That so called tough love involved raging at me daily, often multiple times a day, berating me & more. Many narcissists do the same thing to their victims, abuse them while claiming the abuse is done to benefit their victim somehow.
Real evil denies & excuses bad & abusive behavior, rather than accepting responsibility for it. A functional & healthy person may not like to do it, but they’ll admit their bad behavior & accept responsibility for it. They try never to repeat it.
Real evil also blames victims for making someone abuse them. This is incredibly low & wicked, in my opinion, because it abuses a victim twice while absolving an abuser of blame. First, the victim is initially abused, then abused again by receiving the blame for making someone hurt him or her. The abuser is exonerated of all guilt for their cruelty by putting all blame unfairly on a victim.
Real evil never apologizes. A truly evil person may say the words, “I’m sorry”, but they won’t mean it. In fact, they’ll give what I call a non apology. This means rather than saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I was wrong. What can I do to make it up to you?”, they will say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry I did that, but I wouldn’t have done it if you wouldn’t have done what you did.” or, “I said I was sorry… what else do you want from me?” The only reason they say the words “I’m sorry” is to appease their victim so they can resume their awful behavior.
While real evil can be obvious, such as in the case of serial killers, it most often is very subtle like in the examples I have given.
When dealing with a narcissist, if you start to believe their lies, I pray you’ll remember these points. Real evil is subtle & manipulative. Narcissists use it to their best advantage while tearing down their victims. Being aware of their tactics can help you to avoid further narcissistic abuse in the future.
At the time of this post, it’s October. October 3, 2017, I got the call that my father was on a ventilator without much time left to live. He died twenty days later.
During that time, as I’ve shared before, I was subjected to cruel attacks, multiple times a day, from my family because I didn’t break no contact to say goodbye to my father. My home & cell phones rang constantly, & often when they rang, they would ring for five to ten minutes straight. I got tons of text messages & social media messages. I dodged all calls & messages as best I could, but there was no escaping reading the first part of some messages due to how texts, emails & social media messages are designed. The hatred & venom coming from even that little bit I read was simply astounding! And, one of the social media messages was from the account of my aunt who had been dead for three years at that point! I’d blocked her daughter some time before & she used her mother’s account to try to bully me. Ain’t family grand?
As a result of that horrid time, every October, I struggle. It’s like a month long emotional flashback. I can count on depression, anxiety & nightmares plaguing me even more than usual on top of the natural sadness connected to my father’s death. The fact this happens during my favorite time of year makes this even more frustrating. I just want to enjoy the beautiful leaves changing & cooler temperatures in October!
The reason I’m sharing this is in the hopes of helping anyone reading this who experiences something similar.
Sometimes we go through things that are so traumatizing, that even well after the trauma is done, we can’t help but suffer effects. Even if we try not to think about it, it’s still lodged in the back of the mind, not going anywhere. We might get anxious or depressed around the anniversary of the event without even realizing the date. Or, we experience the same emotions we did at the time of the trauma. This is known as an emotional flashback.
The body remembers too, & as a result, we may feel ill, have some unusual aches or other odd symptoms without medical cause suddenly appear for a brief time. If you were physically injured at the time of the trauma, you also may feel the pain of that injury again. This is what is known as a somatic flashback.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to wave & make these symptoms stop. If only it was that easy! Instead, if you want to survive this with some semblance of sanity, you are going to have to do some work. Not all of it will be bad, but some will be pretty unpleasant.
You are going to need to face your feelings about what happened & feel those emotions. You can’t ignore feelings or they will manifest in some pretty unhealthy ways such as in the form of addictions, self harm or self destructive tendencies. My best friend says, “you have to feel your feels” & it’s true. To do this, you need to find healthy outlets that help you. For me, that means prayer & writing in a journal. For you, it could be speaking to a counselor, pastor or trusted friend. Whatever works is what matters.
“Feeling your feels” is hard work, & you will need to take breaks when you start feeling that it’s just too much. What helps you to relax? Creative outlets are wonderful for relaxing & healing your soul. If you don’t have one, it might be time to find one. If you are out of ideas, notice what your friends are doing. One of their hobbies might appeal to you. Or, consider what you enjoyed doing as a child & start doing that again. Get some finger paints, doodle, or buy a coloring book & crayons.
Take care of your physical needs as well. Make sure to allow extra time for you to rest since emotional work requires a lot of energy. If you like exercising, go for walks, swim, ride a horse… whatever you enjoy that helps you to feel good physically.
Most of all, don’t forget to lean on God. He will show you what you need to do, & help you to get through this trying time. All you have to do is ask for His help.
Everyone knows about aggressive forms of abuse, such as hitting others. There is another form that is much lesser known called microaggression. Microaggression is a term that originally referred to subtle actions done or words said to convey hostility, anger or some type of negativity towards others in particular those of other races or sexual orientations. I believe that narcissists use microaggressions as well, & not always towards people of other ethnicities or orientations.
Covert narcissists in particular prefer subtle ways to abuse their victims rather than relying on the “in your face” style of overt narcissists, so it’s no wonder they enjoy microaggressive behaviors. These behaviors are hard to detect, so those employing such behaviors easily can fly under the radar. As an example, if someone says, “You’re fat!” it’s obvious that is an insult. However, if someone says, “Do you really want that second cookie?” it can appear as an innocent question. After all, the person asking the question didn’t say “you’re fat” so it isn’t necessarily an insult. It could be an implied one, however, depending on the person who asked the question & his or her relationship with the one expected to answer the question. In this situation, an outsider may think the person who feels insulted is overreacting or reading into an innocent question. While that can be true of course, when narcissists are involved, that is rarely the case.
Such ambiguous statements aren’t the only form microaggressions can take. A narcissist can “accidentally” forget things such as to invite their victim to a party that many other mutual acquaintances are invited to or forget their victim’s birthday as a way to let their victim know they aren’t important enough for the narcissist to remember.
They also ignore their victim or even give them the silent treatment to tell their victim that they aren’t worth the narcissist’s time or attention.
They may insult their victim for doing the exact same thing they brag about someone else accomplishing. This is to let the victim know they’ll never be good enough in the narcissist’s eyes.
They also like to give backhanded complements, which are an insult wrapped in a complement. An example could be, “You look so much better since you lost weight!” or, “Wow, I can’t believe you actually passed that test! Congratulations!”
Invalidation can be another form of microaggression, such as when you tell a narcissist about a problem, & they act as if you said nothing or change the subject as their way to communicate to you that your problem means nothing to them.
Offensive jokes are another way for narcissists to hurt their victim in a subtle way.
In these situations, if a victim says something to the narcissist about their behavior, the narcissist won’t apologize. Instead, they blame the victim for being upset because they are too sensitive, read into things too much, can’t take a joke or other similar statements designed to shame the victim into tolerating the abuse quietly.
They also deny meaning anything offensive. My ex husband was clearly disgusted by my weight, even when I was very thin, but not once did he ever call me “fat.” It was implied, & if I said anything to him about it, he denied calling me fat. He was right, he didn’t say that word, & I felt ashamed of myself for being oversensitive.
Microaggression is incredibly passive/aggressive, so it should be treated the same way you treat someone exhibiting any passive/aggressive behaviors.
Educate yourself on what behaviors the narcissist exhibits that demonstrate microaggression so you understand what is happening.
Pretend not to notice their behavior. Ignore their games as if you noticed nothing out of the ordinary in their behavior.
Refuse to be manipulated. Whatever the behavior is trying to accomplish, don’t do it! If it’s supposed to get you angry, then show no anger at all. Hurt? Don’t shed one tear. Naturally it’s best to deal with your emotions, but do so later once you’re away from the narcissist.
Never ask the narcissist why he or she said or did that. That only opens an ugly door for you to be insulted, shamed & otherwise treated badly by the narcissist.
If you’re struggling in this area in any way, never forget to ask God to give you wisdom. He will do so & gladly. Let Him help you!
When you have been subjected to abuse at the hands of a narcissist, whether that person was a parent or romantic partner, obviously it does a lot of damage. Most everyone knows about the depression, anxiety, C-PTSD, low or non existent self esteem, inability to make decisions & difficulty trusting other people. One thing that is almost never mentioned though is how greatly your perspective about your problems is damaged.
What I mean is this. I mentioned a problem in passing to a friend recently & didn’t really think anything of it. Her reaction was shock that this had happened. I had offered no clues anything was wrong, let alone I was going through something so difficult.
Later I thought about this & realized I’m pretty messed up!! First, the problem was serious & I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I brushed off my feelings about it as not important, & me overreacting rather than recognizing there is a problem that needs attention. Second, in coping with said problem, talking about it never crossed my mind. I’ve always been the one to talk to, not one who talks about my problems. Not to mention the bad experiences I’ve had when I finally do open up. Often when you aren’t one to talk about problems, people assume you’re stronger than you are. When you finally do open up, some people invalidate & minimize because they think you should just handle things & leave them out of it. That is a topic for another post though.
In contemplating all of this, I realized that the reason I am messed up in this area is due to narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists constantly make sure their victims feel unimportant & are all too aware that the narcissist is the only person in the relationship that matters at all. Naturally, if they are the only important person, then their problems are important too. By default, this means their “unimportant” victim’s problems are also unimportant. After being exposed to this treatment, over time, it affects a person. Eventually, you too believe that your problems are unimportant.
Narcissists also convince their victims that they are oversensitive or overreacting, which also gets inside a person over time. I haven’t been around a narcissist in years, but my automatic reaction was still to assume I was overreacting to my problem.
Narcissists also value secrecy. They forbid their victims to discuss the abuse. If they do, the victim will pay dearly. This secrecy becomes a way of life in time. Discussing things like personal problems isn’t something a victim may consider an option. For me, it’s such a deeply ingrained habit not to discuss them, it seldom crosses my mind that I have people in my life I can talk to.
If you are like me in this area, I would like to let you know what I am telling myself. It is perfectly OK to question things. If something bad is happening, don’t automatically minimize your feelings. They are valid! Consider the situation & ask yourself why do you feel this way? Maybe you are being overly sensitive, but that is fine! That simply shows an area where you need more healing. Or, maybe you aren’t. Maybe you have been wronged & are upset for a very good reason. If you need to deal with this challenging situation, your emotions can help motivate you to do that.
If you are unsure, then one thing that can help is stepping out of your comfort zone & talking to someone. You are allowed to do that! No one can tell you what you can & can’t discuss. Talk to someone safe & non judgmental. That person’s reaction will tell you plenty. Remember my friend being shocked at my situation? I honestly didn’t realize my circumstances were so bad until she reacted that way. That was very eye opening to not only that particular situation but my incredibly dysfunctional way of handling problems.
While God created people to rely first on Him, there is nothing bad about looking to friends for help sometimes. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in the Amplified Bible has this to say about friends, “Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Instilling a root of toxic shame in children is something narcissistic parents do amazingly well. And they really have to if they wish their child to be compliant & easily manipulated. A person who is ashamed of everything about themselves is very easy to control, because they assume someone else always knows better than they do. When that someone else is a person in a position of authority like a parent & the victim is a young child who naturally looks to that parent for everything, it can be very easy for that parent to plant the seeds of toxic shame in that child.
On first glance, it may be somewhat hard to recognize exactly how a parent accomplishes this goal. That is why we’re talking about it today, to help you recognize how your narcissistic parent created this root of toxic shame in you.
Narcissistic parents primarily instill toxic shame in their children by destroying their child’s self confidence. This is done by telling the child they can’t do anything right, by doing things for the child & claiming it’s because that child can’t do tasks right, telling embarrassing stories about them that may or may not be true, exaggerating any faults the child has or once had, or reminding the child of the many times that parent rescued the child from his or her bad decisions even though those times may not have even happened. Such actions can destroy a child’s self confidence & leave them to think they are so incapable that they need their parent to take care of them, even as adults.
When a narcissistic parent says, “I was just joking,” you can count on that being a way to instill shame in their child. No, they weren’t just joking. They were deliberately saying something cruel to their child as a way to build that toxic shame. When the child showed hurt feelings, the parent said they were “just joking” as a way to make that child feel ashamed of being upset at the parent. If the parent can convince the child that he or she was just joking & the child was wrong to be upset, the child will tolerate the cruel words said in this instance & in the future. Sometimes the child in this situation will defend themselves to their parent. Their parent uses their normal reaction to prove to the child how unstable the child is. Narcissistic parents can use either reaction to create toxic shame in their child.
Blame shifting is another effective way to instill toxic shame in children. I remember when my mother would say the most unimaginably cruel things to me, usually screaming them at me when we were alone, & blame me for making her say those things. I felt terrible for making her behave so awfully. That is typical. Blame shifting enables narcissists to abuse their child without accountability. The child learns to tolerate abuse because they are to blame. If they would just act right, the parent wouldn’t be abusive. What the child fails to realize is nothing they could do would make that happen, so when their parent is abusive repeatedly, they accept that it is their fault, which results in feeling toxic shame.
Narcissistic parents who play the victim instill toxic shame in their children. Covert narcissistic parents in particular love the victim act, but overts aren’t above using it either. Narcissistic parents will infuriate their children then use their children’s reaction to prove to the child just how mean & horrible that child is to their parent. This naturally makes the child in this situation feel ashamed of themselves for being so terrible to their parent for no good reason.
Talking above or below the child’s level instills toxic shame. Talking above a child makes the child feel stupid for not understanding what their parent is talking about. Never mind that parent may not be as intelligent as the child & is talking in circles with confidence in their words to confuse the child. Talking down to a child by treating a child or adult child as if they are still very young makes the child feel as if their parent is superior to them.
If you have experienced these things from your narcissistic parent, hope is not lost. You can heal! It will take time & effort, but you can do it. You need to identify your parent’s shaming voice & what it tells you, then counteract that voice with the truth. Write things down if it helps you. If you struggle with this, asking God to help you can do wonders to shut down the shaming voice & help you to see the truth!
Everyone knows some basic red flags in relationships that people can show, such as lying, cheating, stealing money or possessions. There are other ones though that don’t seem terrible at first but they actually are bad. Many of these relate to romantic relationships, but in some cases, even abusive friends can behave in similar ways.
When someone is jealous of time that you spend with friends or family, that is a red flag. It really isn’t normal for someone to be jealous of time spent with the other people in your life unless you are obviously out of balance. (Such as ignoring your spouse to spend time with your family on a regular basis.) This could be a sign of the jealous person wanting to isolate you, so they can abuse you without interference from other people.
Along those same lines is the person who does their best to discourage you from spending time with your friends & family. Naturally if someone is toxic, anyone who loves you will want you to stay away from that toxic person. If that is not the case though, someone who behaves this way is trying to isolate a person from people who love them.
Constantly calling &/or texting can be another red flag. We all have people we’re especially close to. They are the ones we call & text often possibly even a couple of times a day. Even so, these people know when we are going to be busy & don’t call or text at that time. Abusive people will call & text constantly even during those times. They have no problem interrupting your time spent with that friend you haven’t seen in years or while you’re busy studying for a test. They do this in order to keep tabs on what you are doing to be sure you aren’t doing something they disapprove of & also to annoy the person you’re with enough that they will end the time spent together early so you will return to them.
Money can be another red flag. If someone constantly asks to borrow money from you that they never pay back, even with what sounds like good excuses, that is someone irresponsible with money who will take advantage of you. Or, if you’re married to someone who controls all the money & won’t discuss what they do with it, that is another huge red flag. That is a controlling person who probably also has something to hide.
Similarly, the husband who wants you to stay home so he can “take care of you” isn’t necessarily as loving as he may sound. Many abusive husbands start their financial abuse of their wives by gently suggesting they quit their job & let him take care of her. Over time, he renders her unable to find or keep a job if she opts to return to the work force. He can refuse to repair her car or give her money for the train to go to work, or if she does get a job, he may frequently call her or demand she leave early so her boss fires her.
Wanting you to look as they want to is another red flag. People who love you may have opinions on your clothes, hair & makeup but they won’t tell you how they think you should look. A controlling person may come across nicely by saying they think you look good when you look a certain way, but eventually that gives way to demanding you look the way they want you to.
There are some red flags where sex is concerned, too. Violently raping someone isn’t the only way a person can abuse sexually. Trying to coerce someone who doesn’t want to have sex by using guilt, shaming someone for not wanting to do certain activities or trying to get someone drunk or high in order to have sex with them or get them to do something they are against are also abusive behaviors.
If someone you know behaves in any of these ways, know that this is just the tip of the abusive iceberg. It is going to get so much worse! Please protect yourself & abandon this relationship as soon as possible!
When children grow up with narcissistic parents marry, it can be incredibly challenging. Usually, either one person is a narcissist & the other isn’t, or one is trying to heal & the other prefers staying in their dysfunction. The last scenario seems to be the most common. There isn’t a lot of information available on the topic, which is why I opted to discuss it today. It happens pretty often & people in this situation know how to handle it!
When you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be so incredibly freeing! That’s how it is when you learn truth, though. Not everyone sees it that way, however. The truth isn’t always pleasant or easy, so many folks prefer to avoid the ugly truth in favor of pretty lies. The pretty lies are easier & preferable to some people because they’re what is familiar. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Sometimes it breeds cognitive dissonance in the adult children of narcissistic parents.
That cognitive dissonance can be incredibly difficult to live with for someone married to a person who prefers to avoid it whenever possible. When you see the truth so clearly & someone you love avoids it like the plague, it is so frustrating!! You just want them to wake up & see the truth, but they won’t. Instead they continue to tolerate their toxic parents abusing them & even you & your children if you have them. They also will fight you on this topic, even if they aren’t normally disagreeable. If you complain about their parents, they will tell you things like it’s your problem & to leave them out of it. If this kind of thing doesn’t make you want to scream, nothing will!
I prayed about this behavior recently when it came to mind & God showed me some things.
While this behavior feels intensely personal, it isn’t. It’s about them, their dysfunction & self preservation.
When a person has a spouse that loves them & a narcissistic parent, the spouse is the safer of the two people. In this situation, the adult child knows someone is going to be angry & they will suffer for it. In their minds, the spouse is the safer one. They’ve had a lifetime of knowing just how incredibly cruel their narcissistic parent can be, so they do their level best to avoid their anger & cruelty. It’s safer to deal with the anger of a loving spouse than a narcissistic parent, so they choose (albeit unconsciously) the safer of the two people to anger.
Unfortunately for the spouse, this means that their dysfunctional mate is going to put them in some pretty awful positions. They’ll expect their healing spouse to tolerate whatever the narcissistic parents dish out, & when the healing spouse doesn’t, arguments are going to happen. Even if the narcissistic parent in question is the healing spouse’s parent, the dysfunctional spouse most likely will be upset if the healing spouse is setting boundaries or even severs ties with their parent. The dysfunctional spouse is going to minimize, excuse or even deny abusive behaviors. This can be so difficult because the healing spouse wants to heal but also wants to have a good relationship with their dysfunctional partner. Sadly, the relationship can only be so good while one is dysfunctional & the other is trying to heal.
If you’re in this position, you will need God’s guidance on how to navigate this situation. He knows so much more than you could possibly know so let Him help you! And, pray for your spouse to see the truth & be able to handle it, too. That is what someone in that position truly needs!
Also always remember that your spouse’s reactions aren’t personal. They’re about that person’s dysfunction. Keeping that in mind will help you to be less hurt & angered by their behavior, which will in turn help you to deal with the situation more effectively.
Don’t be afraid to set your boundaries! Just because your spouse is fine with being abused doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it. Protect yourself & if your spouse is angry about it, that is that person’s problem. There is nothing wrong, bad or even un-Christian about protecting yourself!
When you must discuss your spouse’s or your narcissistic parent with your spouse, try to keep your emotions under control. Any anger shown on your part could make your spouse become very protective of the parent in question, which will start a fight between you. Avoid it as much as possible by remaining calm when discussing parents!
Lastly, don’t give your partner an ultimatum to choose either you or their parent if you want to stay married. Those who do that usually lose their spouse. The one given the ultimatum feels their spouse is being manipulative, which naturally pushes them away & towards the parent. Don’t put your spouse or yourself in that position. If you end up wanting to go your separate ways, find another way to discuss it. Ultimatums end in anger & make the situation worse.
I wish you the best!
The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions. It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.
Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people. There are many various reasons they can feel this way. Possibly the main reason is because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent so they hate them. Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought. It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence.
Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated. Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them. Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people. This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them. It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long. This makes them very unnerving for narcissists.
For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming. They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance. In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!”, “Wives should submit to their husbands!” & “Love covers a multitude of sins!” are some examples of Scriptures being used to shame victims into tolerating abuse. When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better. People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…”,“That’s just how she is.”, “You need to understand her better.” & “But he was abused by his parents!!”
Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist. A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused. They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things.
If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things. You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person. They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments. You also can ask God to tell you the truth about this situation, & ask if they were right in what they said.
It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense? If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick that can help. Pretend a friend has told you of this same situation happening to them. Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation.
Please remember to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are. Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse. Don’t accept their shame! The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry it!
Many of us raised by narcissistic parents didn’t realize something was terribly wrong with our upbringing. We did, however, realize that we were lonely because we felt so different or even weird.
To cope, whether or not we realized what we were doing, we created these fantasies of one day finding the perfect romantic partner. We were certain we would find that one person that would love us unconditionally & take away all of the loneliness & pain we felt. Certainly there was someone out there who could make everything better, with whom we could live happily ever after. We would never argue or even disagree. We would be perfectly compatible, like something out of a cheap romance novel.
Then one day, we meet someone who is interested in us & we put all of our unrealistic expectations on that person. Often, that person is another narcissist, yet we fail to recognize those similarities between this person & our narcissistic parent. Instead, we see their flaws but excuse them away, waiting on them to turn into that perfect romantic partner who will make our lives happy. Or, we may not become involved with another person who is a narcissist, yet we still put our unrealistic expectations on that person, expecting them somehow to make our lives complete. Yet sadly, these people don’t make us happy. Instead, we suffer with the cognitive dissonance of our situation, wondering what is wrong, why can’t this person make me happy?!
It takes time to realize what is really happening. It takes learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to understand that we have been through some very serious & life altering cruelty that has skewed our views of ourselves as well as of our fellow humans. We must learn that many times, children of narcissistic parents fall in love with narcissists. It’s normal, but dysfunctional.
The good news though is that we can change. We can become healthier & recognize the utter dysfunction of this situation. We also can see our romantic partner for who they are. If they are also narcissists, we can abandon the relationship. If they aren’t, we can accept their normal human limitations & stop expecting them to make everything better for us. To do this, we must be open to learning, changing & growing.
If you’re just starting to learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & recognize yourself in this post, please know that there is hope for your situation! Things will get better! Be patient with yourself. Keep reading, keep watching YouTube videos & listening to podcasts. Keep talking with safe people who won’t judge your situation. Join online support forums. The more you do these things, the healthier you will become & the better your life will be. You also naturally will develop healthier boundaries & relationships, which includes having healthier expectations of any relationships in your life, romantic & otherwise. Please just keep doing these things because although it’s hard work, the rewards are amazing & you deserve nothing less!
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent, you can’t help but to have a root of shame. This is because shame is a very powerful weapon to help a person control another, & narcissists are incredibly talented at using it to their best advantage.
One of the many problems that shame causes is the lack of ability to accept a complement in a normal, healthy way. I admit to struggling with this to this day, although much less than I have in years prior. In my younger years both as a child & younger adult, if someone paid me a complement, I would tell them why what they said was wrong. Anyone could have done that thing I did, so it’s nothing special & I’m not smart. Or, I’m not pretty because I’m fat & ugly. You get the picture. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have behaved in much the same way.
While this may not appear be the biggest problem shame causes or even a huge interruption in life, it can be an incredibly annoying problem. It also can compound the shame that is already there. When you don’t know how to do something so simple as accepting a complement, it makes you feel stupid. Most of us have been told by the narcissists in our lives how stupid we are, so feeling stupid validates their cruel criticism & adds to the shame they have made us feel.
So why do people do this? Is it really that hard simply to say “Thank you” & go on with your day? Honestly? Yes. Yes it is that hard for some people. The reason is that complements go against our sense of self that we learned from the abusive people in our lives. Parents in particular have a great deal of power over their children’s sense of self because they are there during their children’s formative years. Anyway when a complement goes against that sense of self, & it triggers shame. It goes against that sense of self, & causes a person to feel as if they have tricked someone into believing they are much better than they really are.
This is a very difficult habit to overcome, especially after a lifetime of functioning this way. It is possible though.
As always, pray. Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself & listen to what He has to say. Let Him help build up your self esteem & to help you to see that the narcissist in your life lied to you.
Remember too, when people say something genuinely complementary, they aren’t doing so from a place of selfishness. They are saying something they truly believe, something that comes from their heart. You can trust what they say.
Consider what the person has said too. Why do you think what they said is wrong? Is that something you honestly believe yourself or is it because you were told to believe it by the narcissist in your life? If it’s because of the narcissist, ask yourself why you would continue to believe something told to you by this person. Narcissists lie & try to destroy their victims. They don’t do constructive criticism, so what they said was clearly NOT meant to help you!
If you’re still struggling, ask God to tell you the truth about this complement. Is it really true or are you whatever bad thing you’re thinking you are, then listen for His answer. You are going to be very pleasantly surprised by what He has to say to you.
I know it can be hard, but please try to remember simply to say “Thank you” the next time someone complements you. Countering their complement makes them feel uncomfortable & adds to your shame, so why do it? Instead, simply thank the person who was kind enough to complement you. The more you do that, the easier it gets to do. And, the more you argue in favor of the complement & against the criticisms of the narcissist, the more accurately you will see yourself. You might even start to like what you see!
One thing I have noticed a great deal of in the community of abuse survivors is comparisons.
Those without PTSD or C-PTSD sometimes think those with either disorder are weak, & shame them for being so weak.
Those who have siblings shame those of us who are only children, because they think we had it so easy growing up without abusive siblings.
Still others who were older children look down on their younger siblings for having it so easy as to be “spoiled” by the same parents that abused them.
The problem is that these mindsets make no sense whatsoever.
Someone who managed to escape an abusive childhood or abusive marriage without PTSD or C-PTSD should be grateful for that fact rather than judging others who live with these disorders. Those without such disorders are in the minority. The fact is that surviving an abusive relationship often causes either disorder, & it’s not very common to escape without them. Rather than looking down on those of us you may deem weak, instead be grateful that you don’t live with PTSD or C-PTSD. Be grateful you don’t have any idea what it’s like to live with crippling anxiety & depression, or have nightmares every night, or live with being so hyper-vigilant that your own spouse coming into the room where you are can make you feel blind terror for a few moments. Living with such horrible things is an absolute nightmare. Be glad you don’t suffer with this!
If you think those of us who were only children had it easy, then think again. I won’t say it’s easier for only children to survive an abusive upbringing than those with siblings, because each situation has its own unique challenges. I will say as an only child, I can speak from experience in saying that being the sole focus of a narcissistic parent’s rage is a nightmare. It’s just as bad of a nightmare as it is for someone who grows up with siblings who turn out like their parents, & abuse their scapegoated sibling. One is no better or worse than the other, simply different. Different does NOT mean one had it easy & another did not.
Rather than waste time comparing your experience to someone else’s, I would like to encourage you today to accept not only your experiences but the experiences of others to be valid. Everyone who has survived abuse has seen some horrific things. While yes, some experienced worse than others, that does not make the experiences of those who experienced less horrific abuse any less valid or abusive. Abuse is abuse & it hurts. Period. Accept that. Validate your experiences. There is nothing wrong with this! In fact, doing so can help you to heal. Not doing so, & comparing your experiences to that of others invalidates your pain. It makes you feel your experiences don’t matter. They weren’t so bad, so just ignore them & pretend they never happened. That mindset is incredibly unhealthy! I know facing your demons is hard, but it also is healthy, brave & a strong thing to do. It’s necessary if you wish to heal from the trauma in your life. So why waste time comparing your experiences to those of other people when you can help yourself to heal?
I read a truly interesting article recently on TheMighty.com. The author spoke of her life with C-PTSD. She was in a relationship with someone who pointed out how she was able to (as he described it) swallow physical pain & continue on as if nothing happened. Apparently she didn’t realize she did this, which lead her to research why she behaved in such an unhealthy way.
Long story short, she learned that people with PTSD tend to be very out of touch with pain or very highly in tune with it, depending on their mental state at the time. Often in times of really bad anxiety, people with PTSD experience oversensitivity to pain. Anxiety causes the body to tense up, which certainly could explain that. It also explains why many people with anxiety experience chronic pain in their bodies.
Interestingly though is what the author described next. After a serious injury, her anxiety levels were very high, which triggered other pain not related to the injury. The man she was dating then noticed how at times she’d just “swallow” the pain after a minute & go on as if nothing happened.
This is a survival skill that can be very useful. If you’re in a dangerous situation & can ignore the pain long enough to get yourself to safety, clearly this is a very useful survival skill! In daily life however, it isn’t. In daily life, it means you will ignore your pain & not take the time to rest & recover that you need.
I have realized I do this. After my back injury at 19 when my mother threw me into a wall, although I was in constant pain of varying degrees for 10 years, there were times I was so disconnected from the pain, I wondered if people who said I was faking the pain so I didn’t have to work were right. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad or maybe I wasn’t even injured at all. Hardly healthy behavior!
Another point in the article is people with PTSD who dissociate generally tend to have a much higher threshold of pain than people without the disorder. Dissociation is known for allowing a person to disconnect from emotional pain, but it also can allow a person to disconnect from physical pain as well. This means they naturally won’t feel pain as intensely as others who don’t dissociate.
Knowing this information was very helpful for the author of the article, because it helped her to change how she thinks about her chronic pain & treating it. I believe it also can be extremely helpful for the rest of us whether or not we have issues with chronic pain.
Recognizing that it is very unhealthy to disconnect from physical issues helps you to have a better perspective on them. Unless you’re in a very dangerous situation, this survival skill isn’t needed. It’s healthier to recognize what is happening & deal with the issues accordingly.
Having this problem myself, I also realize that there are times it feels like you should be ashamed of having a physical problem which probably contributes to disconnecting from your pain. The narcissists that have been in my life had zero tolerance for my illnesses or injuries. In fact, I never told my parents I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015 because of that.
I know health situations can be incredibly hard to handle. Adding in this dysfunction to the health problems can make them utterly miserable. In fact, I’m not really great at handling health issues myself. I have found something that helps me to have a healthier perspective on health issues. That is to remind myself constantly that there is no reason to hide the problems anymore. My health is my responsibility, & I have every right to handle it however I see fit. If that makes me something bad in the eyes of other people, so be it. They don’t live in my body & don’t know how I feel.
Sometimes there will be simply dysfunctional but not narcissistic people who have no patience for others with health problems. When dealing with them, I remind myself of the same things. Also, when their opinion hurts because it is so negative & unexpected, I remind myself they must have some sort of dysfunction when they respond to the health problems of someone they care for in such a bad way. Doing that helps to take much of the sting out of their thoughtless words. It’s an excellent reminder that what they say isn’t personal. It’s about their dysfunction, not me.
Narcissists with any knowledge of the Bible whatsoever, no matter how minimal, often portray themselves as all knowing on the topic. They use their so called wisdom to help them abuse their victims. One way they do this is by convincing their victims that if they are truly Christians, they will forgive & forget anything the abuser says & does to them. They may mention how “real” Christians always turn the other cheek. They refer to Matthew 5:38-39 to prove their point. In the English Standard Version, these verses say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” As usual, they take this completely out of context. When these verses are said alone, without reading the rest of the chapter or at the very least, the surrounding verses, they do sound like you should simply forgive & forget, & tolerate abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth, however!
Matthew 7:6 also in the English Standard Version says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” There are a couple of interesting points about this Scripture . First, dogs & pigs are used to represent those who detest holy, sacred things in the Bible. Second, giving these unholy ones things that are valuable & holy means they will turn on you & attack you.
Doesn’t this sound like a narcissist when you forgive & forget? When you forgive & forget, they don’t change their ways. If anything, they get worse. They know they can do whatever they like without having to face any consequences.
If a narcissist tells you that you need to forgive & forget or else you’re not a good Christian (whatever that means to them), then please remember this! They are only saying such things to try to force you to tolerate their abuse. It’s not true! There is absolutely nothing good, holy or Godly about tolerating abuse, period!
What is good, holy & Godly is exercising wisdom when you must deal with narcissists. Have & enforce good, healthy boundaries. No, the narcissist won’t like that, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong or bad or whatever else they say you are. By limiting or even eliminating their chance to abuse you, you are not only protecting yourself, but you’re also helping them. They need to know there are consequences for their behavior, & they can’t always treat people any old way they want to & get away with that forever. Boundaries also remove the opportunity for the narcissist to sin. That is always a good thing!
It also is good, holy & Godly to remember what the narcissist has done. Knowledge truly is power. Whether you allow the narcissist in your life or cast them out of it, never forget what they have done! Remembering it keeps you on guard against them & other people who behave the same way. It also helps you to spot toxic people easily, so you won’t end up in other abusive relationships. You also have knowledge that can help someone who doesn’t have that same knowledge. You can give them such a gift by sharing that knowledge with them.
I’ve noticed that people respond very passionately to genuine people, either positively or negatively.
I realized something else about this phenomenon. The healthier a person is, the more positively they will respond to genuine people. The more dysfunctional, the more negatively they will respond to genuine people. This makes sense when you think about it….
Healthy people are genuine. If they’re having a bad day, they won’t deny it. They will say, “Today hasn’t been a good one” rather than pretend all is right in their world. Not to say they’re negative, of course, they’re just being real & admitting the truth. They also have no trouble admitting they make mistakes or have flaws. They don’t judge others for their mistakes or flaws either.
Dysfunctional people are very different. They value the appearance of good over what is real. I learned this when my father was dying, & various relatives attacked me for not going to say goodbye to him. Their daily influx of abuse was intense to say the least. One day, I asked God why they acted this way. He showed me that they were operating out of their own dysfunction. One of the reasons behind their behavior was they didn’t want to face bad or traumatic things. They clearly never dealt with their own traumatic experiences. They instead created this illusion that all was right in their world & everyone in our family was good. Me not being there for my father at the end of his life threatened this delusion by showing that things were so bad, I opted not to say good bye to my father at the end of his life. Rather than face the fact that maybe this delusion isn’t a good thing, they tried to force me to go along with their delusion so it could be reinforced. If I had gone, they would have had proof everything was good, & could continue in their dysfunction as they had before.
My situation with these dysfunctional people wasn’t terribly unique. Many of my readers have said they experienced something similar with their family. Sometimes it was when a narcissistic relative was dying, but not always. It also happened when some severed ties with a narcissist. They were attacked by their own family, those who should have been there to support & love them.
To sum it up, it seems to me dysfunctional people often treat genuine people like the scapegoat. They act like genuine people are the ones with problems, who are lying & nothing but troublemakers.
The more you heal from narcissistic abuse, the more genuine you will become. It just seems to be a natural event. Unfortunately, this can mean the dysfunctional people around you will be cruel to you for it.
My hope is that you will see the situation for what it is & not change your ways! Being genuine is a wonderful thing! It’s so refreshing in a fake world! Don’t try to change to please these people who are too dysfunctional to appreciate the real you. Instead, you just do what is right. Be genuine & if others don’t like that, remember that is not your problem. They are functioning in their own dysfunction. Their negativity or even abuse isn’t personal. It’s simply a reflection of their dysfunction rather than a reflection of you. They’re allowed to be dysfunctional if that is what they want to do. It’s certainly not a good choice but it is their right. And, you also have rights. You’re allowed to be functional & protect yourself from their toxicity.
Some time ago, I shared something on Facebook someone else disagreed with. The way this person stated their opinion triggered shame in me because they sounded much like my mother & ex husband used to sound when they disagreed with me. The good part about this was I realized very quickly what was happening. This person didn’t intend to shame me. The way they stated their opinion was simply a trigger, nothing more. I also realized this person was wrong, but rather than blindly believe this person or get into some big debate (which I absolutely hate), I simply deleted my post.
Do you have any idea how very important this is?!!?
Until the last few years, when someone disagreed with me, I automatically assumed I was wrong, they were right & I should be ashamed of myself for thinking what I did. Growing up hearing how wrong you are about everything will do this. You naturally assume you’re wrong about everything, even when every fiber of your being knows otherwise. I’m sure many of you who also were raised by narcissistic parents can relate all too well to this. The behavior goes deep & is hard to change. Yet, I conquered it!!! That is worth celebrating!
Another common behavior of those of us with narcissistic parents is to minimize our accomplishments & not celebrate them. I always thought my parents expected me to do great things not because I was smart or talented, but just because they thought I should do those things. As a result, I learned not to celebrate anything I did because I figured I was just supposed to do those things. It took me writing several books before I created a celebratory ritual that I do once I publish a book. Prior to that, I just published a book & started another. No celebration was involved.
Some time back, after considering such things, I decided to celebrate more often & that includes when I recognize how much I’ve healed. The incident I mentioned at first almost went uncelebrated. Old habits die hard, after all. It took a few days for me to realize what had happened & that I should be proud of myself for healing to this point. When I did though, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for healing.
I want to encourage you, Dear Reader, to do the same.
There are going to be times when you backslide in your healing journey. We all do that. Chances are good you spend plenty of time beating yourself up for those times. I certainly do! Why not spend at least the same amount of time celebrating your successes? The more you do that, the better you’ll feel about yourself. And as an added bonus, the less the backsliding times will affect you. They’ll still annoy you of course, but they won’t be devastating.
By celebrating these times, I don’t mean you have to have a big party or anything so elaborate. If you like that, by all means, go for it! If not, that’s fine too. The celebrations can be simpler. I often reminded myself of how far I’ve come. I remember some things from my younger & much more dysfunctional days then thought of how that person is now a stranger. God has helped me heal so much, I don’t even recognize the old me. I sit with that for a while, knowing God truly has blessed me. Sure, I still have issues. I still have C-PTSD. But, I also no longer make rash or foolish decisions based on what other people want while ignoring what I want. Other people can no longer control or manipulate me. These are really important accomplishments! It took a lot of work & listening to God’s guidance to get to that point & I am proud of myself for what I have done.
You should feel the same! Be proud of everything you have accomplished in your healing. Even the baby steps count, so if you feel you’ve healed in one tiny way, be proud of yourself for that! That still took work & is something special. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!
When you have experienced trauma in your lifetime, in particular repeated trauma, it’s going to affect you. Some expected signs of trauma in a person are things like depression & anxiety. There are a host of other, lesser known signs that can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life.
Hyper-vigilance may be the most common sign of trauma in a person’s life. It happens often in a person who has lived with their abuser, such as the child or spouse of the abuser. Living with an abusive person means you must be on your guard at all times, so you don’t do anything that upsets the abuser. That hyper-vigilant behavior often stays with a person long after they have ended the relationship with their abuser. It also leads to a host of other problems.
Physical pain in victims of abuse is often a sign not of an injury or illness, but of having experienced trauma. In particular, this pain often manifests in the neck & back. This is due to living in a hyper-vigilant state for an extended period of time. Hyper-vigilance causes your body to be in a state of not only emotional but physical stress, & that can cause physical pain in spite of there being no injury.
An extreme startle response is also caused by having to be in a state of hyper-vigilance. It manifests as being drastically more startled than you would expect to be in a specific situation. This startle response often cause anger or even tears in the startled person.
Sleep disturbances is another common sign of trauma in a person’s life. Nightmares that either relive the trauma or trigger emotions similar to those experienced during traumatic episodes happen often. Waking up often during the night or struggling to fall asleep in spite of doing things to help even including taking sleep aids are also common. Some people can wake up throwing punches, because they are so accustomed to protecting themselves. This happens with those suffering from PTSD who have served in the military or those in law enforcement.
Being too busy is a trauma response that many people employ. These people will keep themselves as busy as possible during their waking hours. They work long shifts, participate in many activities & rarely take time to just rest, even when they’re sick. They do this as a way to avoid facing their pain. If they don’t have time to think, they also don’t have time to think about their pain.
Similar to being too busy is losing yourself in activities. Staring at social media or watching tv for hours is another way to escape facing pain by focusing attention elsewhere. While neither is bad, doing so for hours on end is unhealthy, especially if the one doing so is unable to stop.
Eating disorders can be another sign of unresolved trauma. It is a way to regain some control when a person feels like they have no control otherwise.
Avoiding places & people that remind a victim of past trauma are more trauma responses. No one wants to face reminders of pain, of course, but those who have been through extreme trauma will go to great lengths to avoid it.
Avoiding conflict is very common in those with traumatic pasts. When abuse happens during conflict instead of dialog designed to work things out, it instills fear in a person about conflict with anyone, not only the abuser.
If you recognize yourself in some or even all of these symptoms, hope is not lost! The more you deal with the trauma in your life, the more these unhealthy patterns will break. Not overnight, but they will happen. Keep working on your healing however works for you. Pray, write in a journal, talk to a supportive friend or therapist… whatever you do that helps you, keep on doing it even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress. Healing isn’t a simple thing. Sometimes it looks like nothing is improving, then suddenly you make big progress. Other times, you’ll slip back into old, dysfunctional habits. It’s ok! It’s just a part of the healing journey. Don’t give up!
Most people have little patience for the obviously foolish people, such as those people who repeatedly make poor decisions & are shocked when those poor decisions don’t turn out well for them. The older we get & the emotionally healthier we get, it seems that tolerance gets lower & lower. It certainly has for me. It doesn’t take much for me to become very irritated at the obviously foolish. One particular feature of foolishness especially irritates me though: people who are only interested in sharing their opinions while not wanting to listen to those of other people.
The Bible even addresses this behavior specifically. Proverbs 18:2 in the Amplified Bible says, “A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity].”
This behavior is so common in society isn’t it? It’s all over social media but also people behave this way in person. If you have any doubts, mention your thoughts on politics. I don’t care what your thoughts are, there will be people who tell you that not only are you wrong, but you’re foolish for thinking as you do. If you site evidence that supports your thoughts, then your evidence will be criticized as well as where you obtained said evidence.
One very bad thing about this behavior is it can be excessively triggering for those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse. Whether you grew up with a narcissistic parent or two, were once married to a narcissist or have had narcissistic friends, you know first hand just how critical narcissists are. They love to pick apart every single little thing about their victims because it makes them so easy to control & manipulate. This is clearly very traumatic for victims. So traumatic that even years after the last episode of abuse, when someone is critical, even when that person isn’t a narcissist, it can trigger intense rage, anxiety & even flashbacks.
Unfortunately, people like this are impossible to avoid, so you need to learn how to cope with them because at some point, you will be forced to interact with them.
The first step I have found to take is to accept that this is going to happen & ask God not only to help you accept that, but handle it when it does. If you think you can avoid people like this, you are sadly mistaken. That is impossible because these people truly are everywhere! The smartest thing you can do is accept that you won’t have a choice but to encounter people like this sometimes.
This can be hard to do in the situation due to the triggering of old emotions, but if at all possible, remind yourself of what is happening. The reason this is so upsetting is simply because this person reminds you of the abusive narcissist you have experienced. Nothing more. Although this situation makes you feel awful, the truth is that this person can’t hurt you or control you because you know what is happening. You are safe!
While some people who are very firm in their beliefs periodically are open minded about listening to other input, not all are. A person who isn’t that open minded is someone that God refers to as a fool. There is no reasoning with a fool. Instead, go your separate way from this person as soon as possible. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:7, “Leave the presence of a [shortsighted] fool, For you will not find knowledge or hear godly wisdom from his lips.” There is no point in wasting your precious time on someone like this.
One subtle way narcissistic parents abuse their children as adults is called infantilization. This means that the parents continue treating them like they’re much younger than they are. While this may not sound so bad, it truly is because of the damage it causes. It often creates severe anxiety, insecurity & lack of faith in one’s abilities to the point they can be debilitating. It sets a child up for failure as an adult by making sure that child can’t do what they need to. Even if that adult child has the ability to do something, they honestly believe they can’t. This means that adult child settles for relationships that are at best mediocre or at worst abusive because they don’t believe they can attract good people. Even worse, they don’t believe they deserve to be in relationships with good people. They settle for dead end jobs or careers they hate because they don’t believe they’re smart or talented enough for anything better. They settle for much less than they deserve in all areas.
Possibly the saddest part of this is that this particular type of abuse is rarely acknowledged. Parents who behave this way are seen as overprotective or maybe even a bit eccentric, but not as the vicious predators that they are. The adult child often suffers alone & their feelings are invalidated.
Narcissistic parents accomplish this subtle & sinister form of abuse in many ways.
Starting in childhood, these narcissistic parents don’t let their child do much. They may start to do something but their parent takes over because they say the child is doing it wrong. Rather than let the child learn from their mistake or simply do the activity a different way to get the same result, the parent clearly sends the child the message, “I have to do things for you because you aren’t capable.”
Normal age appropriate activities are discouraged. Attending school activities, attending sleepovers or even simply spending time with friends are frowned upon or simply not allowed. As children get older, narcissistic parents often discourage them from working, getting a driver’s license, going to college or even moving out.
Narcissistic parents trying to infantilize their adult children will tell their children how they feel about things. A prime example I witnessed was when my mother did this to my father. At a restaurant one evening, he wanted to try something different for a change of pace. My mother told him he didn’t want that, & to order what he usually ordered. They were both over 60 years old at that time.
Another thing they do is discuss things with the adult child that they liked when they were children & act as if they still are into those things. They don’t acknowledge that their child is now an adult with adult interests.
Telling embarrassing stories about their adult children is another tactic designed to keep the adult child childish. It is designed to humiliate that adult child. When the adult child speaks up about their feelings, their narcissistic parent will shame them for not having a sense of humor or being too sensitive.
Remember how in Genesis chapter 3 how the serpent spoke to Eve to manipulate her into disobeying God? He instilled doubt in her by saying, “Did God really say that?” That is much like how narcissistic parents make their children feel incapable of doing things even as adults. They often say things like, “Do you really think you can handle doing that?” “Aren’t you a little young to do that?” The underlying message is “You’re too stupid to do that.” The questions are asked to make you doubt yourself & look to your parent for answers. The more someone relies on another for answers, the more that someone can control the one looking for answers.
If you are in this situation, you need to remember what is happening. Your parent is trying to control you. Whatever your parent says isn’t true- it’s said for manipulation only. You are capable! You are smart! You are talented!
I also found it helpful to ask God for creative & effective ways to handle the situation. He definitely will provide them!
Lastly remember, never let your narcissistic parent see how they hurt you. If they do, they’ll only do that thing again & again. Don’t let them have that opportunity! Act as if their words don’t affect you in the slightest bit while you are in their presence. Later when you’re alone, you can deal with the emotions however works for you.
I wish you the best in your situation!
I have had more people come to me with their problems during my lifetime than I can remember. It just seems to be a fact of my life. Most of the time, I find people usually just want someone to validate them & say things like, “I understand” or, “I’m sorry that happened to you!” It can be draining, but I can handle that.
Then there are the emotional vampires like narcissists who only want a listening ear. Unlike other more functional people, they don’t want validation. They don’t want advice. They want to treat someone as their emotional trash can, dumping all of their negativity onto that person in order to make themselves feel better with no regard to that person’s feelings.
For a long time, I didn’t realize one of these two types of people was just using me & being toxic. Eventually I figured out some ways to tell the difference & I hope sharing them will help you.
If someone needs to vent, often they have respect for your time. They will ask if you have a few minutes because they need to vent. You are free to say not now & their feelings won’t be hurt. The more toxic the person, the less likely they will do this & the more likely they also will take up a LOT of your time. As an added “bonus”- they won’t apologize for taking up your time when they realize they have been talking for hours.
Someone who is venting wants a solution. If there isn’t one, they are frustrated about that fact. A person who is toxic has no desire for a solution. Instead, they simply ramble on & on about their issue, & every time a possible solution is offered, they offer reasons why that solution won’t work.
Similarly, the toxic person also isn’t open to constructive criticism. If they have done something wrong in the scenario they are discussing, they don’t want to hear about it. They get defensive or make up excuses as to why what they did was ok & the other person was all wrong. Healthy people are open to constructive criticism & will own up to any mistakes they have made.
If you are the listener & you try to show the speaker in this situation the perspective of someone else, a healthy person is willing to consider that. A toxic person isn’t. They don’t care about the other person’s perspective in the slightest, only about their own.
When the speaking person was clearly wronged, you can see the difference easily between a toxic person & a healthy one. The toxic person will not only be upset about what happened, but will play the victim. In other words, they will accept no responsibility for any wrong they have contributed to the situation, they will claim life is so hard & unfair for them, claim they had no other option but to be in this painful situation & more.
Toxic people in these situations also are notorious for dumping a barrage of issues at once on their listeners. They don’t seem to notice that the listener has become overwhelmed, either. They just keep on talking. Healthy people don’t do this. They vent about one issue, sometimes two, but that is all. They also notice if their listener is feeling overwhelmed.
If you have the misfortune of one of these toxic types treating you as their trash can, my heart goes out to you! Just remember, you have every right to set boundaries. You can leave the room or hang up the phone. You can refuse to take their calls if they call you often. And yes, you even have the right to end the relationship. Protect your mental health!
I recently caught a show on the Oxygen network about the Cleveland strangler, Anthony Sowell. I believe the show was called, “Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Strangler.” If you don’t know him, he was a serial rapist & murderer in whose Cleveland, Ohio home the bodies of 11 women were found.
I found the show fascinating. Not only because of my interest in true crime but mostly because of the surviving victims. At the end of the episode, four victims who miraculously survived Sowell’s attacks were interviewed. They were very strong & inspiring ladies! I regret that I didn’t make a note of their names. I was too busy jotting down notes from what each lady had to say to think of names at the time, but if you get to watch this show, you can find out their names.
Anyway, what these ladies had to say was so inspiring & I think also very valuable for victims of all kinds of abuse, which is why I wanted to share their wisdom.
One lady shared that she wants to start an organization called Cracked Not Broken whose sole purpose is to tell people there is always hope. She said too that there needs to be more support for victims. She’s right. There isn’t much good support. She & the other three ladies on this show supported each other though, & that is so wonderful! I think victims of crimes & any type of trauma & abuse need to support each other because they can do so better than anyone else. They understand the pain, the difficulties in healing, & more. What healing could take place if more people supported each other rather than compared their traumas or minimize the traumas of other people!
Another lady stressed the importance of never minimizing your experiences. Many victims of abuse minimize their trauma. Since she said this, I assume victims of crimes do it as well. It’s not a healthy thing to do! To heal, you need to accept what was done to you for what it was, not some watered down version of it. Then you can get angry about it & really start to heal.
She also said the only way to heal is to “get that stuff off you”. That is so true! Holding things in doesn’t help anyone & is detrimental to mental health. This particular lady suggested reaching out for help. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, there is always journaling. That is incredibly helpful in “getting that stuff off you.” Better yet is prayer. God truly will help you to heal from anything!
Another lady said victims need to know they didn’t deserve what was done to them & not to blame themselves. This happens to so many people who were victimized in any capacity. The woman who was raped blames herself for wearing a short skirt, the person whose car was stolen blames himself for forgetting to lock the doors, the victim of a narcissistic parent blames herself for making her parents abuse her. This is so wrong & it needs to stop. No one can force another person to abuse them & no one deserves to be abused. Period!
Another lady said just because the person who hurt you didn’t see your value, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value. You are valuable! You deserve to love yourself. And, as you heal, take each day a step at a time. Don’t rush the healing process.
Lastly, this same lady said one thing that helped her to heal was to keep her head up & never give up. Clearly she knew she had no reason to be ashamed of what happened to her, so she wasn’t going to carry that shame! So very wise!
I hope you were as inspired by these brave, beautiful ladies as I was! xoxo
There are plenty of people in life who will judge & criticize you harshly for no good reason & often with no valid reason for their negative opinions. If you’re naturally rather quiet, for example, chances are someone has thought you were a snob. They assumed you being quiet meant you thought you were better than them, when the truth is you simply aren’t the chatty type. When this happens, their words might sting a bit, but it’s easy to see their opinions are totally unfounded, even foolish, & not worth paying attention to.
Then there are judgments & criticisms from narcissists.
While their criticisms are equally inane, they don’t come from a place of sheer ignorance & foolish assumptions. They project, in other words, they accuse others of doing the same things they do even knowing that other person never does such things. This is a way they try to deflect attention off of their abusive & horrible behavior. However, at the time it is happening, it can be extremely painful & hard to remember that.
Narcissists also criticize as a way to destroy their victims’ self esteem. To control & manipulate, they must first obliterate their chosen victim’s self esteem as a way to make their victim pliable. To do this, they get to know their victim & figure out what makes that person tick, what they love, what their fears are & more. Then, they say the most insulting, scathing criticisms they can come up with that are designed to cut that victim to the quick. Over time, that person’s self esteem is going to be severely damaged, if not totally annihilated. As this is happening, most victims don’t realize the motivation behind the words. In all fairness, it’s very hard to focus on such things when someone is speaking things to you that hurt so deeply.
Narcissists also are notorious for creating smear campaigns after their victim ends the relationship with them. In other words, they tell anyone who will listen terrible things about their victim. Those things are often at the very least exaggerated negative things but even more often, they’re bold lies created to paint the victim in the worst possible light. Sadly, many victims lose most if not all of their friends & family at this point, because those people believe the narcissist’s lies over the truth.
Proverbs 12:16 in the Good News Translation of the Bible says, “When a fool is annoyed, he quickly lets it be known. Smart people will ignore an insult.” These are such wise words!! They also can & should be applied to narcissists.
It always helps to keep in mind what the motives behind the narcissist’s criticisms are. They want to project their abusive ways onto you, control you or make you look so bad people you love will abandon you. This doesn’t mean what they say is true. Quite the opposite, really. Their negative words are all about them & what they can get out of hurting you. In all reality, they have absolutely nothing to do with you & absolutely everything to do with the narcissist. Nothing you can say will make this situation any less dysfunctional.
There’s also the fact that narcissists use any sign of emotion, good or bad, to cause further pain in victims. If you speak up to the narcissist to tell them that their words have hurt you, this will provide them with narcissistic supply. They will get a high of sorts from causing you pain. This means they will do it over & over.
Also, if you’re experiencing or have experienced a smear campaign, you know that saying the narcissist is lying about you only causes others to believe the narcissist even more. Why speaking the truth proves their case is beyond me, but it happens.
Keeping these factors in mind, doesn’t it seem the only smart thing to do is say nothing? Speaking up only causes a person in any of the above scenarios frustration. It’s in your best interest to ignore the insult. I’m not saying you can’t feel hurt or anger, because naturally you will feel it to some degree even when you know the narcissist’s selfish motives behind the words. Deal with your feelings however works best for you of course! However, ignore the insult as in don’t show the narcissist you are upset & don’t try to defend yourself. It simply isn’t worth it. And, as a bonus – when narcissists believe a particular insult doesn’t affect a victim, they abandon using it since it doesn’t get them what they want. So ignore the insults & go enjoy your life!
One way of controlling victims that narcissists use is touch.
Touch is a very intimate thing. It usually is allowed by only those closest to us. Most people are uncomfortable with someone touching them who they aren’t close to unless that touch is nothing more than a simple hand shake. After all, most touching behaviors that are common in close relationships are highly inappropriate when they come from strangers. How awkward would it be for a stranger to hold your hand? Hug you? Kiss you? Put their arm around you? It would be incredibly awkward.
Yet, in such situations, sometimes people will tolerate the awkward touching rather than speak up. Narcissists love to manipulate those people.
Touch is a way of increasing closeness & intimacy, in particular in romantic relationships. Consider a healthy dating relationship for example. That first time holding hands or that first kiss makes the couple feel close to each other. Naturally that is a very positive way to use touch. Narcissists will not hesitate to mimic it in order to gain control over their victim. In fact, touch is such an effective weapon, it is commonly used by pedophiles to test the boundaries of children they wish to abuse.
When a narcissist first meets their victim, naturally they won’t begin using touch obviously. It probably will be subtle, such as the male narcissist putting his hand on their female victim’s waist as she enters an open door or the female narcissist touching her male victim’s arm as he speaks. Such touches seem innocent & many people won’t give them another thought. The manipulation begins to work though whether or not the victim realizes it. Those simple touches so early on increase a sense of intimacy & closeness.
When the narcissist sees such touches are accepted by the victim, they will push the boundaries a little further. When those touches are accepted, the narcissist will push the boundaries a bit further, & the cycle continues. As the cycle continues, they get more comfortable pushing all boundaries with their victims. Then before they know it, the victim is going along with whatever the narcissist wants.
In romantic relationships, this touching thing is also a way to show others who the victim belongs to. When dating, my ex husband constantly touched me. His arm was around me, he was holding my hand, he wanted me to sit on his lap.. something to show other people that I was his property. I found it very awkward sometimes but ignored it because, like most raised by narcissistic parents, I didn’t pay attention to my feelings. It wasn’t until years later when my grandfather mentioned this & how disturbing he found it I realized how weird it was. Not knowing about narcissism at that time, all I realized was my ex wanted to show others that I was his “property”, which was pretty unsettling.
If you meet someone new & they are too comfortable touching you, consider that to be a red flag. Not all people who are the “touchy feely” type are narcissists of course, but some are. Pay attention to the person’s behavior. If they consistently push boundaries with you, that is clearly a red flag. If you ask them to stop touching you & they don’t or accuse you of being over sensitive, that is another. The average person will respect your boundaries & alter their behavior, no matter how accustomed to & comfortable with physical touch they are.
Also, if you are involved with someone romantically who insists on touching you constantly, then it may be a red flag of narcissism. Consider this person’s behavior as objectively as you can. Ask yourself if they have shown other signs of narcissism. If they have, then act accordingly to protect yourself. That is your right!
Those abused by narcissists, in particular raised by narcissistic parents, tend to be people pleasers to an extreme. Under the abusive influence, you learn that you are to have no needs & never to burden anyone with your so called “trivial” wants, needs & feelings. You also learn that love is conditional & if you want love, you must do everything right. It’s the perfect recipe for becoming a people pleaser.
Finally comes a time when you realize you are exhausted & depressed. This people pleasing thing is extremely hard work & incredibly unrewarding. Instead of people loving you & appreciating all that you do for them, they expect more & more from you. They also expect you to do for them no matter what is happening with you. You could be sad or busy or sick, & they still expect you to do whatever pleases them with no regard to you. The unfairness of it all makes you mad.
You also realize that no matter how hard you try, pleasing people is impossible to do all of the time. Being a mere human being, you will fail sometimes. You will miss the mark. Those who expect you to please them have little patience for your failures, & can be very cruel. This adds to your anger & depression.
You also realize you can’t spend all of your life trying to make other people comfortable & happy. It’s not your job! Besides, many of the people you worry about making comfortable & happy don’t care about making you comfortable in return, so the relationship is very one-sided. This unfair burden is maddening.
You also reach a time of being fed up with other people’s expectations. You will become very angry that people expect so much of you while giving you little or even nothing in return. You finally realize that it’s detrimental to your mental & emotional health to make pleasing others a priority while ignoring yourself.
One day you are going to be furious that you lost your identity while trying to please other people. You will realize that you have no idea who the real you is & that too will make you angry. That realization is scary & painful. It leaves you feeling completely lost.
You also will become fed up with constantly having to defend yourself. When you can’t do something that is expected of you by the ungrateful, using types, they get angry & say & do the cruelest things as a way of punishing you for not doing what they think you’re supposed to do. That gets old!
The life of a people pleaser is not an easy one. It also isn’t the one that God wants anyone to live! The purpose of this post today is to help inspire you to break free of that extremely dysfunctional role!
Stop worrying about pleasing everyone! It’s impossible anyway. Instead, worry about pleasing God, yourself, & those safe & wonderful people closest to you!
Learn who you are, & embrace that person. Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully & wonderfully made. In other words, God doesn’t make trash. He made you into the special, wonderful person that you are.
You deserve the same happiness you’re trying to give other people. Don’t be afraid to help yourself to some happiness for a change!