Tag Archives: abuse

Validation & Praise

Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience.  The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage.  One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people.  If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway.  You just might learn something about yourself.

External validation is great.  It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong.  However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme.  It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.

Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation.  The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.

Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation.  As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value.  They don’t need to convince others they are great.  Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.

Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation.  Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional.  Not at all!  I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.

External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone.  If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy.  It also can be a sign of a personality disorder.  Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.

Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life.  It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness.  Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point. 

If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem!  I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do.  I hope what I did helps you too!

The first step for me was to turn to God.  I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am.  I also studied what the Bible says about believers.  There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children!  It’s very eye opening!

I watched my behavior, too.  If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself.  I asked myself why I felt this was necessary.  I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person.  If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important.  They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?!  I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation.  They offer it freely.

Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward.  I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts.  If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself.  If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that.  My validation became good enough for me.  That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!

I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways.  People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes.  Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!

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You Deserve Compassion & Kindness!

Once someone has been abused, often they quietly & obliviously develop the misguided belief that they are unworthy of compassion & kindness. 

Most likely this comes from their abusers constantly telling them that they are a burden, they’re stupid, do nothing but cause problems & other things that instill a deep root of toxic shame in victims.  That toxic shame tells people that their feelings, needs, wants, pains & every other thing about them aren’t valid. 

Add into this the phrase “victim mentality” & the shame society often inflicts on anyone who says they were a victim.  Clueless & often heartless people say victims should’ve just walked away, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, they should stop living in the past & being so negative.  It makes people feel that they deserved the abuse, & are weak for being abused or even having PTSD or C-PTSD as a result of the abuse, which only adds to the toxic shame.

Even worse than the toxic shame is the fact that being on the receiving end of such treatment makes people doubt the validity of their pain over their experiences.  They may think they weren’t abused so badly since their parent didn’t beat them, or their abusive husband “only” forced her to have sex a few times.  Other people have it so much worse, so their experiences couldn’t be all that bad, right?  WRONG!  They were bad!  In fact, they were worse than bad.  They were atrocious!  Being abused is horrible, no matter how frequently one is abused or whether it was verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual or financial. 

After being on the receiving end of such treatment, is it common for people to think they’re awful people, whining about trivial matters, so they don’t deserve any compassion or kindness.  Today, I want to tell anyone who feels this way that they are ABSOLUTELY WRONG!  I don’t care what your abusers said you were or that other people maybe had it “worse” than you.  Your pain is valid.  Your experiences were terrible.  You did NOT deserve any of it.  And, you deserve compassion and kindness! 

Whether you are comfortable admitting this or not, the truth is you have been through some pretty horrific things.  Those things weren’t your fault.  You did nothing whatsoever to deserve them.  You aren’t a bad person because others said you were & treated you terribly.  Their behavior speaks much more about them than it does you.  And, it doesn’t mean you are undeserving of compassion & kindness.  You are as worthy of compassion & kindness just as much as any other person.  In fact, you are just as worthy as any other person in every possible way, period.

If you haven’t begun to focus on your healing, maybe today is the day to start.  It will benefit you so much to do so!  Admitting the abuse was wrong & painful is an excellent place to start.  Also recognizing that the way your abuser treated you truly had nothing to do with you but with your abusers is powerful for healing.  Get angry about the unfairness & cruelty of what was done to you!  That will help you to see that you didn’t deserve it, & you deserve to be treated so much better.  Pray, write in a journal, seek a counselor that specializes in trauma or whatever helps you to heal.  The more you heal, the more you’ll recognize that you are valuable.  The more you recognize your own value, the less poor treatment from other people you will tolerate.  You also will recognize what you deserve, & that includes to be loved, respected & treated compassionately & kindly. 

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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Why Narcissists Feel They Must Know All About Their Victims After The Relationship Is Over

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A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them.  Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness.  Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well.  Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness. 

Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced.  One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things.  This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent.  This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.

Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families.  They often want their children to stay close to them forever.  One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions.  They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things.  This doesn’t stop in adulthood.  When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law.  They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child.  These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family.  They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse.  Their lies are often completely outrageous.  As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this.  Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up. 

When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage.  One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying.  The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies.  Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth.  Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.

If you are the one in this situation, question everything.  Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you.  Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart.  Often family can be the cruelest to their own.  When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind.  Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening?  Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say.  If it helps, write things down.  Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate.  Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective.  Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.  

If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense.  This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all.  If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did.  When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments.  Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible.  If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.

You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.

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Finding Healing From Narcissistic Abuse With Other Survivors

My Facebook group is full of some really wonderful people.  Godly, kind, caring, & very intelligent.  I’ve made some great friends through this group.  One of which & I were talking not long ago about where we have found the most help in understanding narcissists.  She told me that I can quote her, so this is what she said.  She has been to 14 counselors including psychologists, a psychiatrist, pastors, church counselors & an EDMR specialist but none of them gave her the kind of help that I have.  Me, with no formal education in the mental health field, no LCSW or PHD or anything behind my name!

I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because what my friend said next made a very good point.  She said I have helped her more than those counselors because I’ve been through so much with narcissists.  I have no formal training, but I have plenty of experience, & sometimes that is just what you need to help you in certain situations.  Narcissistic abuse recovery is one of those situations. 

While I mean no disrespect to mental health professionals, they usually don’t know much about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any of the Cluster B disorders.  I have two counselor friends who told me something very interesting.  They don’t know each other, so naturally they never have spoken.  They are about 15-20 years apart in age & studied at different colleges in different parts of the country.  Yet, both said the exact same thing, that they had only one afternoon’s study about all of the Cluster B personality disorders.  That’s it for FOUR very complex personality disorders!  If both of the counselors I have spoken to have the exact same experience in this area of their education, I would guess it’s common if not the norm. 

Don’t take this as seeing a professional to heal from narcissistic abuse is a waste of time.  It isn’t, so long as you choose the right counselor.  You can’t pick just any counselor to help you with abuse recovery.  You will need to find a counselor that specializes in abuse recovery or trauma focused therapy. 

If you can’t find a counselor with these specialties or can’t or would prefer not to see a counselor, the good thing is healing is still possible!  The friend who inspired me to discuss this topic has made leaps & bounds in her healing journey because she found knowledge & help from others who also have been through a lot at the hands of narcissists.  Their knowledge & experiences have helped her tremendously, & their understanding & compassion validated her, which has enabled her to help other victims as she was helped.  She likened it to a relationship between a recovering alcoholic & an active alcoholic.  No one can understand the struggles of the active one like someone who has been in the same situation.  Would you expect a person who has never drank so much as one beer to understand the struggles of someone who can’t go a day without drinking a fifth of whiskey?  Absolutely not!  So why would narcissistic abuse recovery be any different?

If you are looking for help in your healing journey, & won’t see a counselor for whatever reason, you can heal!  I haven’t seen a counselor in many years either due to my lack of trust after seeing some less than caring ones.  Like my friend though, have learned a great deal from others who have experiences similar to mine as well as studying narcissism.  Consider looking for help elsewhere as she & I have.  Connecting with people who share similar experiences is invaluable!  Many online forums are available.  As I mentioned, I have a wonderful group on Facebook, but there are many others too on Facebook or other websites.  A quick internet search will point you to many of these forums. 

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“Christian” Narcissists

Over the last few years, I have heard the term “Christian narcissists” used repeatedly.  It is used to describe people who are either active in their church or professing to be Christians, yet they also exhibit narcissistic behavior.  Most commonly, these people are covert narcissists who revel in appearing martyr like in their life, giving to & doing for those who are “beneath” them somehow.  They even can be leaders in their church who are perceived as good people, yet are subtly controlling church members & possibly even abusing their own families.

The problem is there is no such thing as a Christian narcissist.  There are narcissists who pretend to be good & even Godly people, but they truly aren’t Christians.  Labeling these people as such turns people away from Christianity.

These narcissists may be a bit hard to spot at first.  They are busy doing for others, even sometimes at their own expense.  They may donate large sums of money or spend great amounts of time volunteering.  People speak highly of them for all that they do for others.  Yet, if you look just below the surface, you can see hints that show these people aren’t the saints they portray themselves to be.

First & foremost, true Christians openly trust in Jesus as the Messiah, their personal Savior, & their behavior reflects that.  “Christian narcissists” may claim to trust Him, but their behavior says otherwise.  They don’t readily admit that they have a need for a Savior.  They don’t talk much God & his goodness.  They turn the topic back to themselves.  They don’t have any interest in doing God’s will for their lives.

“Christian narcissists” see themselves as more special to God than other people.  They don’t credit answers to their prayers to God’s love or kindness, but instead imply or even say outright it’s because He loves them more than other people.  They make it sound like the only reason God answers their prayers & loves them is because they are such wonderful, special people. The Bible says that God doesn’t show favoritism in Romans 2:11, so clearly they’re wrong about that.

Another sign of a “Christian narcissist” is that this person doesn’t brag about God, only themselves.  If you listen to these people long enough, you will see that their so called humility is peppered with bragging.  They subtly mention how they have been such a blessing to someone else by taking them food or giving money during their times of need.  They even may brag about the accomplishments of someone else in a way that makes them appear to deserve credit.  But, they definitely don’t say things like, “You won’t believe what God has done for me!”  “I am so grateful that God did this thing for me!”  “I couldn’t have done that thing without God helping me or showing me what to do!”  The Bible says that we are to brag not of our wisdom or other things, but only about God. Jeremiah 9:23-24 in the New International Bible says, “This is what the Lord says:  “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:  that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.””

If you speak to someone who claims to be a Christian yet demonstrates narcissistic behaviors like this, it’s certain you are dealing with a narcissist, not a Christian. 

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It’s Still Abuse If..

Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused.  A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her.  A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men.  Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was. 

Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse.  I did it myself.  Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me.  I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.

I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life.  I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it!  Once you face it, you can start to heal.  The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.

It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical.  Abuse comes in many forms.  Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you.  Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.

It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized.  Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again.  For a while, they don’t.  Things are good.  Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns.  An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.

It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you.  Abusers claim to love their victim.  Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.

It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child.  The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior.  Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.

It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness.  There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong.  Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.

It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser.  No relationship is completely abusive.  If so, abusers would be much easier to identify.  Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent.  People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are.  Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative.  Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other.  I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members.  Family members can be the worst abusers of all.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive.  You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior.  Exercise that right!  Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship.  If you don’t know what to do, pray.  Ask God to help you.  Learn all you can about toxic relationships.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books.  Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation. 

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How To Respond To Criticism About Being Estranged From Abusive Parents

Estrangement from abusive parents when initiated by the adult child comes with a great deal of torment.  Many people have no problems adding shame to that adult child’s torment whether or not they know the adult child, the parent or anything about the situation.  They share a lot of really ludicrous comments very freely.  My goal today is to offer some responses adult children in these situations may use when exposed to these popular & heartless comments.

“You just need to get over the past & move on.”  It is perfectly reasonable to point out to the person who says that that you don’t just get over trauma & abuse.  You can do all of the right things to help yourself but chances of complete recovery from an abusive & traumatic childhood are virtually non existent in this lifetime. If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, your chances are even slimmer because the trauma physically broke your brain.  Trauma in your past won’t let you go.

“You only get one mother or father!”  Yep.  That’s how that works.  Everyone gets one mother & one father.  So what is the point?  They only got one of you, so why not tell this person to remind your parents of that & tell them to treat you like a human being?

“Nobody’s perfect.”  That is true.  But, there is a huge difference between mistakes made & being deliberately hurtful to your own child.  Knowing your own parent did things to traumatize & hurt you on purpose is devastating, especially when that parent refuses to change their behavior even knowing how much pain they cause.  Why tolerate being treated badly by anyone, let alone someone who thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain?

“He or she had a bad childhood.  He or she doesn’t know how to be a good parent.”  Someone who was abused as a child may not know exactly what a good parent should do, but they absolutely know what not to do.  When they do things that were done to them knowing exactly how it makes a child feel, that is proof they aren’t simply damaged.  They are cruel & wicked.  How does it make sense to tolerate that treatment?

“You need to figure out how to make this relationship work!”  No.  Just no.  When most adult children are at the point of severing ties with their parents, they have tried for a long time to make the relationship work.  Eventually they realized nothing they did could fix it, because to fix a damaged relationship, both parties must work together.  When only one person tries, the relationship is doomed.  Either the one trying will stop trying & tolerate any abuse from the other person, or that one will end the relationship.

“What if your parent died tomorrow?  You’d regret this!”  Possibly the ultimate in guilt trip, shaming & disapproval comments said by a person pretending to care & be helpful.  It isn’t helpful or caring, & is a cruel thing to say.  Anyone who thinks someone who has severed ties with their parents hasn’t realized this is a possibility is an idiot.  Also, children die before their parents sometimes.  Why isn’t it ok to remind abusive parents of this & tell them they should treat their children better?

“You’re not honoring your parents!”  One of my least favorite comments because it twists Scripture around into something completely ungodly!  To honor someone means to pay them respect due to their position & to want what is best for them.  There is nothing good or holy about tolerating abuse & allowing someone to continue to engage in sinful behavior.  Where is any honor in that?

I hope I have helped you to have some comments at the ready when people say these awful things to you.  I wish you the best when these situations arise!

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The Toxic Love Languages Of Narcissists

Many people are aware of the wonderful book by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages.”  It’s all about helping the reader identify what makes him or her feel the most loved, & also identify those acts in others. 

The love languages in the book are as follows: words of affirmation (encouragement, complements, etc), quality time (when someone prioritizes uninterrupted time with you), acts of service (when someone goes out of their way to do nice gestures for you), gifts (when receiving gifts makes you feel loved) & physical touch (holding hands, kissing, cuddling & sex). 

Did you know there are toxic versions of these love languages?  There are!  And narcissists use them every day.  Being aware of them can help you to avoid people who behave this way.

Words of invalidation & criticism is a toxic love language.  Narcissists use their words as a way to tear down their victims & make them easier to control.  Naturally they don’t begin a relationship behaving like this.  They lavish praise on their victims.  Over time however, little negative comments suddenly appear.  Over time, more are added & more.  Suddenly their victim can do nothing right & is criticized for being upset that the narcissist says & does such cruel things to them.

Quality time isn’t a real thing with a narcissist.  One way narcissists make their victims feel inferior is to be distracted during their time together.  They may scroll endlessly through their phone, flip through the channels, or act bored.  This behavior lets their victims know they aren’t worth the narcissist’s time.  If the victim says something, the narcissist gets angry.  They say they care & the victim should know this or they can listen to the victim & do something else at the same time.  They become indignant that the victim doesn’t appreciate the fact the narcissist is spending time with them, even though that time is hardly good quality time.

Acts of service is a toxic love language in the hands of narcissists.  Narcissists have motives for every single thing they do & say.  If they do something for their victim, it will come with strings attached to it.  They won’t hesitate to remind their victim of the great sacrifices they have made for their victim.  Or, they demand their victim do anything they want, claiming if the victim really cares for them, they will do this.  When the victim does this thing, they claim that isn’t what they really wanted or the victim didn’t do it right.

Gifts are also used in toxic ways by narcissists.  Gifts are often used by narcissists early in a relationship as a way to lure victims in, & to make them feel obligated to the narcissist.  Also, if a victim gives a narcissist a gift, that gift won’t be good enough.  The victim will be shamed for their terrible gift & not loving the narcissist enough to give them something they really want.

Physical touch is only used for manipulation.  Narcissists love to use sex as a weapon.  Often early in their relationships, they are very passionate with their victims.  Then suddenly, that stops, leaving the victim confused.  They deny any problem, often claiming the victim is imagining things.  The victim knows that something is indeed wrong, so he or she tries harder to please & woo the narcissist.  Narcissists love this because it gives them a feeling of power & control.  They often use this time to get their victims to perform sexual acts that degrade the victim.  Victims in this place are vulnerable & willing to do about anything, so often narcissists get their way.

Being aware of these toxic versions of the five love languages can be very helpful in recognizing narcissists, so please remember them.

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How Surviving An Abusive Childhood Manifests In Relationships

When you come from an abusive childhood, that can create a lot of dysfunction in your life, but in particular in your relationships.  Today, I want to discuss some of the ways that dysfunction plays out.  Recognizing the dysfunctional behaviors may be painful at first, but it will help you by showing where you need healing.  That is valuable knowledge!

Many abused children struggle with having relationships with any genuine intimacy.  Even with those they are closest to, they aren’t comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings. desires & dreams.   They may listen to the innermost thoughts, feelings, desires & dreams of those they love, but they still won’t share their own.  They also may change the subject or deny any negative feelings they have if questioned because they are terrified of being this vulnerable with anyone.  This behavior comes from having a parent or two who ignored, mocked or rejected their emotional feelings.  When the most important person in your life who is supposed to love you unconditionally ignores, mocks or rejects something about you, it’s only natural to be afraid other people will do the same.  It takes time, prayer & good, loving, safe people in your life to overcome this behavior.  It also helps to remember that any parent who would do this to their own child clearly was the problem, not the child!

Many abused children have an intense fear of abandonment.  When a child grows up with parents whose behavior was inconsistent & unpredictable, they become afraid they would be abandoned at any moment.  They also assume other people are the same way as their parent.  This fear manifests as a person being clingy with the people in their life, even to the level of being co-dependent.  It also can manifest as being controlling of others with whom they are in a relationship.  My mother was like this.  Her parents divorced when she was very young, & her mother was a narcissist who kept her from her father.  I believe that left her with a deep fear of abandonment that manifested as being very controlling of my father & I.  Conquering this fear of abandonment isn’t easy but it is possible.  The more a person heals & becomes more functional, the healthier their self esteem becomes naturally.  As a result, a part of that is a person becomes more willing to end toxic relationships even if that means they are lonely for a season.  They also begin to attract healthier people who won’t hurt or abandon them, which helps to heal that fear of abandonment.

When parents show their children that their love is conditional, based on the child’s behavior & accomplishments, those children become people pleasers.  Children in this situation assume that unconditional love doesn’t exist, & to be loved, they must earn love.  It’s as if it doesn’t occur to them that the other person in the relationship should earn love though – only they must be the one to earn love.  Unlearning people pleasing behavior is TOUGH!  I’ve been there.  I did find that the more I healed, the less prone to it I was.  I’ve also found that slowing down & asking yourself why you are saying “yes” when you want to say no, or volunteering to do something you want no parts of to be helpful. 

Most abused children have dysfunctional relationships with abusers.  Friends, coworkers & even romantic interests often use & abuse these children until they reach a point in their lives where they start to focus on their own healing.  Possibly the most difficult part of breaking this pattern of behavior is to stop beating yourself up for getting involved with such toxic people, in particular, if you married one of them.  Just remember, you did the best you could with what you knew at that time.  If you didn’t know to do better, how could you expect yourself to do better?  That would make as much sense as expecting a toddler to know how to replace a car’s engine! 

If you find yourself in these situations I have described, it’s ok!  There is hope for you!  Focus on your healing, & the healthier you get, the healthier your relationships naturally will get as well.  I have found God to be vital to my healing.  Psalm 23:4 says that God walks with us through “the valley of the shadow of death” & I firmly believe that to be true!  He will be there for you during the hard, painful times of healing as He was with me. You’re not alone.  Lean on Him & let Him help you to heal!

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

So many times over the years, I’ve gotten comments on my blog or by email from people who recognize they had an abusive parent.  They discuss how cruel that parent was, often explaining terrible tales of brutality that no child should have to face.  At some point, they mention their other parent.  From their description, you would think that parent borders on sainthood.  They say things like, “Mom knew Dad was a monster, but she gave me pointers on how to stay out of his way & not make him angry.”  “Dad was such a good guy.  He wouldn’t see the bad in anyone, even Mom.  He dealt with things by telling me that’s just how Mom is, she can’t help it, & encouraged me to forgive & forget what she did to me.”

Stories like this just break my heart.  These people truly believe what they say, & don’t realize that a passive parent is just as bad as an abusive parent.  Long ago, I was one of these people.

My mother was an overt narcissist.  Her abuse was undeniable.  It was loud, obvious & cruel, especially when I was in my late teen years.  I cried on my father’s shoulder about it many times.  The majority of those times, he turned the situation around to how painful it was for him & how helpless he was to stop the abuse.  Those times ended with me trying to comfort him.  Other times, he simply didn’t care.  I remember one time he gave me a pat on the knee & walked off.  He didn’t say anything but his attitude was one of “Wow.. glad I’m not you!”

For years, I thought this behavior was ok.  Normal even.  He was a great guy, & simply a victim of my mother like me, which is why he couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) help me.  In fact, I felt it was my duty to care for & protect him.  Yes, I am serious.  I honestly believed that it was my duty, as his child, to take care of & protect my father while not expecting him to care for & protect me.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Sadly, many other adult children with abusive parents grew up believing the same things I did, which explains the many comments I’ve heard from adults who believe the same faulty way I once did.

The problem is this thinking is incredibly dysfunctional.  It’s not facing the truth, & the truth really will set us free!

Believing that one parent is good while the other abusive in these situations creates distrust & confusion about love & loyalty in children.  They think love & loyalty involve sacrificing not only your identity & beliefs, but even your children if need be.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you must not love that person.  This sets the stage for very dysfunctional & even abusive relationships in that child’s life. 

It also makes a child question themselves.  It’s normal for that child to grow up excessively angry at the overtly abusive parent because they simply don’t have the courage to be angry with the passively abusive parent.  One day when they realize this, they wonder what is wrong with them for not being able to accept both parents were abusive.

This type of thinking also happens a lot with people who can accept that their fathers were abusive, but not their mothers.  Admitting a father is abusive is easier than a mother.  Many mothers in such situations play up the appearance of being helpless victims who need their children to protect & coddle them.  Their children get so caught up in taking care of them, they seem to forget that it isn’t their job.  It’s their mother’s job to protect & care for them instead.

The first step to healthier thinking is to recognize both the good & bad aspects of both of your parents.  Writing these things out may be especially beneficial since written words have the ability to bring clarity that the spoken word often lacks.  Seeing your parents realistically is a healthy thing to do, & sets the stage for your healing.  This isn’t “wallowing in the past” or “blaming parents for everything.”  It is a legitimate & healthy step to take towards healing.

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

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Big Sale On My Print Books! 20% Off!

My publisher is offering a sale- 20% off all of my print books! Simply use code SNEAKPEEK20 at checkout. This code is valid until November 4, 2022.

My print books can be found at the following link:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Being In A Relationship With Someone Who Is Extremely Independent

Being extremely independent is looked upon as a good thing by most people.  There are times when it can be a very good thing, like when it comes from a position of faith that God will help you to do anything you need to do rather than putting faith in people.  Sadly, it also can be a problematic trauma response.  I know this since this is why I tend to be overly independent in many ways.

When someone grows up with an abusive parent or two, they learn very early in life that people can’t be trusted.  After all, if someone who was supposed to love, care for & protect you is untrustworthy, how can anyone be trusted?  That logic absolutely makes sense.  Yet at the same time, it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

A problem with this quality of extreme independence is that it can cause a person to find safety within his or her self & withdraw from other people, even the safe ones.  It pushes people away, whether or not that is the intention. 

Growing up accustomed to being let down by those who are supposed to love us most causes us to realize we don’t need anyone.  We’ll always say that we don’t need help.  We can do this thing without any help.  Even if we truly need help, admitting that fact is very unlikely to happen, which naturally is a problem in so many ways.  Refusing help when it is needed causes a person to make mistakes or even fail at whatever project they are doing.  It also pushes people away, which can damage or even destroy their relationships.

This extreme independence leads to thinking about romantic relationships like, “I don’t need you.  I want you.”  That naturally can be a good thing in some ways, but when you’re married to someone, you need to need your spouse.  God created people to need each other, but in particular their spouse.  That is why when people marry, they should share many qualities, but also be better in some areas than their spouse, & their spouse should be better in other areas than they are.  This kind of couple makes an amazing team with many talents.  They are so much better together than they were independently. 

Another problem of being in a romantic relationship with someone extremely independent is that if you give this person a reason to leave, they will, & the reason doesn’t always have to be a good one.  It can be something simple such as you forgot that you were supposed to go to dinner together one evening.  It isn’t necessarily that the person was looking for an easy way out of the relationship.  It’s more because they are afraid of being let down & hurt yet again.

A person who wants to be in a relationship of any sort, in particular romantic, with someone like this must make their actions align with their words.  After a lifetime of being disappointed by people, if actions don’t continually line up with words, an extremely independent person will leave rather than risk being disappointed frequently yet again.

Being in a relationship with a very independent person can be incredibly challenging, & truly isn’t for everyone.  However, the person who is willing to be understanding, patient & sincere stands a great chance of breaking through the barrier of extreme independence & finding a very loving & loyal partner. Winning the trust of someone extremely independent isn’t easy, & it won’t be taken for granted!

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When Narcissists Criticize You It Is About Them Not You

One of the cruelest things narcissists do to their victims is either saying or implying the most heartless, cruel things to their victims until their victims believe what the narcissist says about them is true.

What victims who are either currently being subjected to this or have recently escaped it don’t realize that the narcissist is lying.  They don’t believe a single word of what they say about their victims.  In fact, chances are that they find those things they criticize about their victims to be very good or enviable qualities.  If you think about what a narcissist has told you, you’ll probably see that this is what happened with you.

Did the narcissist tell you that you’re stupid?  Clearly you aren’t & others have admired your intelligence.  The narcissist had to beat you down by making you think you aren’t intelligent so that way you won’t realize what he or she is doing to you.

The same goes with your looks.  If a narcissist tells you that you’re too fat or thin, that’s a sign you have a great figure.  If they criticize your looks in general, they clearly have noticed other people either noticing how attractive you are or flirting with you.  Narcissists can’t handle their significant other thinking they are attractive.  That person might actually gain some self esteem & realize that they really can do much better than the narcissist if that were to happen.

If a narcissist criticizes some talent you have, that isn’t because you are doing something poorly or possess a talent that has no worth & value.  They may envy your talent, & since they can’t do it, they want to stop you from doing it too.

When a narcissist hates someone you love, that also isn’t because that person is a bad person.  Quite the opposite.  The narcissist recognizes that he or she loves you & is a good person.  My narcissistic ex husband hated my best friend & did his best to ruin our friendship.  I firmly believe it’s because he knew she saw the kind of person he really was, & was afraid she would talk me into leaving him.  This scenario happens all the time with narcissists.

This cruelty goes for any criticism the narcissist says.  They have various reasons for doing this beyond what I mentioned already.

Mostly when narcissists are critical, narcissists are trying to gain control over their victim.  If a person is beaten down enough by someone, they will relinquish control to that person because they feel they are incapable of doing much of anything.  Narcissists are extremely skilled at gaining control over people in this way.

Also, when a narcissist’s victim outshines them in any capacity, it threatens the narcissist’s ego.  They can’t handle such threats so they try to tear that victim down as a way to eliminate the threat.  I experienced this so much with my mother.  Anytime I received a complement in her presence, she would punish me for it.  Often, she would be angry with me, & become especially cruel with her criticisms.  Other times, she would tell me that the person who said that was stupid or had poor judgment.  Either way, the message was clear- I didn’t deserve the complement.  I needed to be put back in my place, which was definitely beneath her.

If you have been or are currently being subjected to the cruel, scathing criticisms of a narcissist, I hope you will remember what I have said.  Please don’t take what they say to heart, because what they say isn’t true!  It’s a lie said for the sole purpose of benefitting them somehow.

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I’d Love Your Thoughts On A New Idea I Have

I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some digital ebook type courses, maybe printables. Nothing overly expensive of course. I always try to minimize costs of everything I write & these would be no exception to that. (Kinda weird to do, by the way.. I want costs to be cheap but not so cheap people see them & think “This can’t be any good.. it’s too cheap!” lol)

I need your thoughts on this idea.

First of all, is this something you would be interested in? I know written type courses aren’t as popular as audio or video, so I wonder if this would be appealing.

Second, if you like the idea, got any ideas on topic matter? I have a few but still would love to hear your thoughts to see if I’m on the right page (so to speak) with my readers.

If you’d like to answer my questions, feel free to comment or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

Thank you for your help, everyone!! I love & appreciate you! 😘❤️

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

Many people who were raised by narcissistic parents find themselves in other relationships with narcissists.  They work with them, they become friends with them & worst of all, they become romantically involved with them.  I am no exception.  I grew up with an overtly narcissistic mother & covertly narcissistic father.  There are a lot of narcissists in my family on both sides.  I married a covert narcissist that I divorced six years later.  I have lost count of how many covertly narcissistic friends I have had over my lifetime.

For a long time I wondered why this happened to me.  I thought maybe somehow I put out some sort of “vibe” that told people it was ok to abuse me.  Or, maybe narcissists just have some sort of sense for people that make good victims.  I think I have some ideas though & I hope they can help answer this question for you.

For those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents, we were born with a job.  That job was to take care of our narcissistic parents.  For some, it meant doing household chores well before an appropriate age such as cooking dinner or caring for younger siblings.  For others, it meant being a parent’s therapist of sort, listening to all of their woes, & comforting them when they were upset.  For still others, it meant protecting a covertly narcissistic parent from the rages & even physical assaults of the overtly narcissistic parent.  Whatever the scenario, the fact is being born with the job of caring for a narcissistic parent means you are used to caring for dysfunctional people.  This makes you gravitate to continuing that role in other relationships. 

This role often means getting into relationships with other narcissists.  If there is a narcissist in your vicinity, you will be drawn to that person like bees to honey.  You may feel sorry for this person because he or she has few or even no friends.  After some time passes, you see why that person had no friends!  Who wants to be friends with a narcissist?! 

Or this role could mean that you get involved with another child of narcissistic parents that isn’t facing that pain.  Maybe you fall in love with someone who seems great.  You’re comfortable together, & get along great.  They might even tell you they have this awesome family & can’t wait for you to meet them.  Then you meet his or her family & see the truth.  That awesome family is anything but.  There are narcissists everywhere!  If you say anything about the toxicity of this family, you are told you’re wrong, oversensitive, & more.  They are defended fiercely & you are left wondering how to help this person you love see the truth. 

If you have been in such situations, I know it can be frustrating.  Once you realize that you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you probably are going to beat yourself up a lot & question what is wrong with you.  That is normal!  It also is a waste of time & energy.  Instead, try to focus on healing from the abuse.  Healing naturally helps you to develop healthier boundaries, so when you meet someone without friends, you won’t try to befriend them immediately.  The more you heal too, the more healthy people will seem attractive to you & the more you’ll want to avoid the toxic ones.  As a bonus, the healthier you become, the more toxic people will leave you alone.  Toxic people want someone dysfunctional because that is someone they can use & manipulate.  Healthy people don’t tolerate such things.

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Highly Functional Versus Highly Dysfunctional

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You Are Not Responsible For How People Feel About You

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Baiting Tactics And Ways To Cope

Some people thrive on getting attention, whether it is positive or negative.  Love them or hate them, either is great as far as they are concerned, just don’t ignore them!  In fact, that need for attention is one of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

One way they get this attention is by something called baiting.  Baiting is anything said or done to provoke a strong emotional reaction.  Behaving this way gives a baiting person a feeling of strength, because they possess such control over another person as to provoke them into very strong reactions.

Baiting is most commonly used by either covert narcissists or elderly narcissists.  It is effective, easy for them to do, subtle & offers plausible deniability to the baiting person.  They often claim they had no idea what they said would upset their victim or the victim took it wrong.  It also can be a useful way for the baiting person to make their victim look bad to other people.  These people quietly will say something cruel to upset their victim when others are around, so when the victim gets noticeably upset, others see the victim as irrational or yelling at the baiting person while that baiting person remains quiet & calm.  To those who don’t know what was said, the victim looks like the problem, ill tempered or even crazy while the baiting person appears to be the rational one.

There are many ways baiting is accomplished, & some of those tactics are as follows:

The baiting person may accuse their victim of something that is completely out of character & offensive to them, such as illegal behavior, cheating on their spouse or abusing their pets or children.  The shock value combined with the offensive nature of the insults easily can trigger someone into reacting badly & the baiting person may at this point accuse their victim of being mentally unbalanced. 

The baiting person also may “accidentally” damage something important to their victim.  Maybe they drop a treasured & fragile family heirloom or park beside their victim’s classic car & when they open the door, hit the victim’s car with their door.  Anyone in this situation naturally would be absolutely furious, yet the baiting person appears innocent because what they did didn’t look intentional.

A baiting person also will love insulting something their victim loves.  I have the most experience with this one.  Both my mother & mother in-law loved to insult my cats & my cars, both of which always have been very important to me.  My mother usually said her cruel comments very quietly & calmly so when I got upset, I looked irrational to anyone around us.  My mother in-law preferred no witnesses, so if I told anyone what she said, no one believed me because they never saw her treat me that way.

Another tactic of a baiting person is to hint that they have something to tell you that will hurt your feelings, & say they don’t want to upset you by telling you that thing.  Basically they make their victim feel obligated to say, “It’s ok.  You can tell me.”  They then dump that pain on their victim, & then enjoy that person’s pain, comfortable that the victim brought it on themselves.  After all, they think, the baiting person warned the victim, so they aren’t to blame for his or her pain.

Baiting triggers a person’s adrenaline & fight or flight responses to kick in, which is why it can be so challenging.  You can handle it though!  Immediately, inhale deeply, then exhale to give your mind & body a moment to calm down.  In that moment, ask God for help, too.  My simple prayers of “HELP!” proved surprisingly helpful plenty of times.

Remember what is happening.  Someone is trying to upset you as a way to make them feel better about themselves.  Don’t give that person the satisfaction.  Do NOT react.  Stay calm.  The less you react, the less likely it is this person will use this tactic again with you.  Once away from this person though, vent however helps you to feel better.  Holding in such negative emotions for a long period of time is unhealthy.

If at all possible, leave this person or hang up the phone immediately.  Say you just remembered something you have to do & go.  This isn’t a lie – you just remembered that you have to protect yourself from such volatility!

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

No family is perfect, but some families are less perfect than others.  Many of those “less perfect” families are downright dysfunctional & even abusive.  Today I’m sharing signs of the dysfunctional & abusive family.

Parentification is a big indicator of a dysfunctional & abusive family situation.  This is when the parent & child roles are reversed, & the child is supposed to care for the parent.  Children in this position are supposed to do things no child should have to do, such as being their parent’s emotional caregiver including such inappropriate things as listening to their parent’s woes about their marital problems or sex life, nurse them back to health after a hangover or overdose, or even care for younger siblings as a parent should do.  Parentified children are often described as growing up so fast because their role has forced them to behave as adults rather than allowing them to be children.  They also lack healthy boundaries, tolerate one sided relationships & continue to keep their parents as their top priority over their spouse, children & even themselves.  When they are growing up, people on the outside often think these children & their parents are close, & praise this relationship.  This leads the child to feel confused & even ashamed that they are unhappy with this role.

Unmet needs are another sign of a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.  Children have a lot of needs that go beyond the basic food, clothing & shelter such as nurturing, teaching & caring for their emotional health.  Many abusive parents meet those basic needs, yet neglect those other important needs.  Children who grow up this way have trouble with being inappropriately clingy in relationships & overly dependent or they go the opposite way & become very cold & aloof.  Either way causes problems in their relationships.

Unrealistic expectations definitely point to a dysfunctional & abusive family.  Some parents hold their children to higher standards than adults.  Those children are never allowed to be in a bad mood or fail a test, yet their parents are allowed to yell or even hit the child just because they had a bad day at work or someone cut them off in traffic.  This puts incredible stress on the child who feels they must be perfect as a way to earn their parent’s love.

Parents who often fight in front of their child are creating a very dysfunctional & abusive situation.  I grew up this way, & can tell you from experience it is a horrible way to grow up!  I felt so insecure when my parents fought & also like I should do something to help them stop fighting.  This is so typical of how children in this situation feel.  It leads to these children feeling intense anxiety at any hint of conflict & also feeling overly responsible for the other people in their lives, as if they must take care of those people.

People who grow up in such environments grow into dysfunctional adults with a lot of relationship troubles.  They may become controlling people who will do anything or hurt anyone they deem necessary to avoid further pain.  More commonly though, they also may go the exact opposite way & become extremely submissive.  They become people pleasers who will do anything for anyone even at the expense of themselves. 

If any of this describes you, please remember some things.

You are only responsible for yourself.  You are not responsible for meeting the needs of other people.  Yes, you can help them, but doing so to the extent of harming yourself is dysfunctional. 

There is nothing wrong or bad about caring for yourself & having reasonable boundaries.  You need to take care of yourself just as much as & even more than you are willing to do for other people.

Family shouldn’t demand all of your time, energy, finances, etc.

Healthy relationships are a two way street.  Toxic relationships are not.  They take while giving nothing or almost nothing back.

Love should be unconditional, never conditional.  In other words, someone should love you based on who you are, not what you do for them.  Conditional love is one of the hallmarks of abusers.

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

My publisher is having yet another sale! 15% off all print books when you use code PUMPKIN15 at checkout.

My print books can be found at the following link:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Doing Another New Thing

Recently as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve decided to get into doing podcasts. I just decided to add them to Instagram. They are the same as my podcasts on YouTube- a picture of my logo with a podcast audio attached, just on a different platform. Lots of people like Instagram, so I figured it’s a good outlet for them.

Not sure what else, if anything I’ll do with Instagram. I may add the memes about NPD I’ve made & any future ones I make. I don’t know just yet. God will show me what to do though, of that I have no doubt.

If you’re on Instagram, & want to check them out, then follow the link below. I only have uploaded 1 so far, but hubby is on vacation so I simply haven’t had the time yet to do more. I will after he goes back to work.

https://www.instagram.com/cynthia_bailey_rug/

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People Who Believe Their Opinions Are The Only Right Ones

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When People Are Overly Defensive

Sometimes people can be very defensive.  The least little comment can be taken completely out of context, leaving the commenter baffled, wondering what just happened & how what they said could be taken so differently than how it was meant.  Defensiveness obviously is very damaging in relationships, yet it happens all the time.

Defensiveness comes in many forms.  It can appear as avoiding discussing a matter, denying what has been said, verbal attacks, lying or gaslighting.  To sum it up, defensive behaviors send the message that the person confronting is wrong, is the problem, or behaving in an inappropriate manner.

This sort of behavior shows that defensive people have control issues & believe that anyone confronting them is a threat.  They are clearly uncomfortable with emotions, & that means they are uncomfortable not only with their own but those of other people.  This makes them very impulsive & fast with their reactions.  They don’t think things through in a balanced way & they tend to avoid too much emotional closeness with others.

When someone gets defensive, survival instincts can kick in, which is why they behave as they do.  The defensive person is acting this way in the hopes of avoiding accountability & to make the person that is confronting them back down to protect their ego.

Please don’t misunderstand me at this point.  I’m not saying that defending yourself is always wrong or a product of dysfunctional thinking.  Far from it.  It is reasonable to defend yourself sometimes.  What is NOT reasonable is to jump on someone who confronts you the moment they say something you don’t like.  A functional person weighs what is being said & if the other person is right, admits it then makes appropriate changes in their behavior.  Or if the other person is wrong, a functional person defends their behavior.  If the other person is using criticism as a means of control, a functional person may not defend themselves but instead limit or end the relationship.

Back to the original topic..

If you are in a situation with someone who is being overly defensive, if at all possible take a moment to inhale deeply then exhale slowly.  This action calms your mind &

body which allows you to respond rather than react.  It also gives you a moment to pray for guidance on how to handle the situation.  If you feel yourself still feeling unable to handle the situation in a calm manner, then try getting away from this situation for a few moments.  You can say something like, “I need a couple of minutes.  I’ll be right back”.

Also, don’t tell the defensive person that they are being defensive.  This only makes such a person more hot headed, most likely because they have heard this comment before.  Hearing it again triggers their anger at someone who sees through their behavior for what it is.  Remain calm & as emotionless as possible.  Remember the Gray Rock method that helps dealing with narcissists?  That also is appropriate in this situation, whether or not the defensive person is a narcissist.  If you are calm & unemotional, the defensive person may feel less threatened & calm down as well.  If the defensive person is a narcissist, they may become more agitated.  Their reaction will help you to determine the best way to deal with this person & also whether or not to continue this relationship.

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When People Refuse To Acknowledge Your Growth

One common thing that many victims of narcissistic abuse struggle with is how so many people treat them as if they are forever the same person they were during the height of their time as victims of the narcissist in their life.  It can be incredibly frustrating!!  I understand this as I went through it too.  I felt like during my entire adult life, my family & in particular my mother though I never grew up.  It was as if they thought I was perpetually 15 years old, no matter my real age. 

For years, I wondered why this is.  I think I have the answer to this dilemma.  Not just in my situation, but in general.

Obviously narcissists aren’t the only dysfunctional people in the world.  Their flying monkeys & scouts are at least as dysfunctional if not more so.  As a result, they don’t face reality the way healthy people do.  Instead, they try to keep reality as they want it to be.  A part of their so called reality is keeping certain people in a box. 

Doing this means that these people can convince themselves that they are truly the smart, sane, functional people who have their lives all together.  Clearly that must be the case, they think, because just look at how amazing they are compared to that person that they have decided is so weak, stupid, dysfunctional, mean, selfish, horrible, etc.  If they can convince themselves that their person of choice is terrible, by default, they also convince themselves that they are pretty spectacular by comparison.  By pushing another person down, they build themselves up at the same time.

Another reason dysfunctional people try to keep certain people down is so they have power over that person.  While not all dysfunctional people are narcissists, they do want things a certain way in their lives.  If they have control over someone, that can help them to maintain their status quo.  They can push this person around until that person does whatever they want so they can convince themselves that nothing has changed.  This comes in especially handy if their victim has been learning, growing & healing.  Clearly such things threaten the delusions of someone who wants to remain dysfunctional.  If a person like this can be subdued enough to reject their new growth, learning & healing, they will return to the old, dysfunctional patterns & that will help the dysfunctional person maintain their comfort level.  People who are comfortable in their dysfunction have zero desire to move past that place, & they have plenty of desire to return formerly dysfunctional people to their previous unhealthy lifestyle.

Another motivation for such toxic people being able to control others is the high that having that power over others provides.  Whether the person in question is a narcissist or not, chances are they will enjoy feeling that they are powerful enough to control another person

If you are in the position of dealing with someone who wants to keep you as the dysfunctional person you once were, know that you are NOT alone, & this is a typical problem for many victims of narcissistic abuse.

Naturally, the best thing you can do when faced with this situation is to pray.  Ask God to keep you from sliding back into old, toxic habits & to be aware of why people are treating you as they are so you don’t do that.  Praying for those dysfunctional people as well certainly is an excellent idea!  They clearly need prayer, whether or not they realize it.

Also remember, their behavior is absolutely no reflection on you.  It is a reflection on them.  They are comfortable in their dysfunction.  That is their right, of course.  However, you have rights, too & one of those rights is to protect yourself from toxic people.  Keep your distance from such people.  You may need to sever ties with them, & there is nothing wrong with doing that no matter who those people are!  Protect your mental health however is best for you!

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Red Flag: When Someone Says Your Opinions Are Wrong

When you first learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can seem like you see narcissists everywhere.  I think it’s easy to become hyper alert to any signs of narcissism after suffering so many traumas at the hands of a narcissist. 

While narcissism is quite prevalent in society, not everyone you suspect is a narcissist is really a narcissist.  Thank God for that, am I right?!

There is one red flag though that people need to be aware of.  It can be a sign of narcissism, but isn’t always.  Even so, it’s a sign of a tendency to be controlling.

Whenever you say something about an opinion & the other person disagrees, that is a red flag.  While everyone disagrees sometimes even in close relationships, that shouldn’t be the norm, especially telling you that your opinion is wrong.

An example is someone telling their friend, “I really love that new movie!  It’s the best movie I’ve seen in a long time!”  The other person has seen the movie as well, & responds with, “No, that movie is lame.  That other new movie is way better.”

See what happened?  The second person told the first person their opinion is wrong.  Opinions aren’t right or wrong, they just are.  Telling the first person their opinion is wrong can be a way to appear superior, as if they know better.  It also can be a control tactic by shaming a person into changing their opinion to the other person’s.  Either way, this seems to be a habit with some people, & it’s a habit that can make a person unsafe even if they aren’t a narcissist.

This habit also is often done to people that are viewed as “less than” they are.  Poorer, not as intelligent, not as active in a church, not as successful in their career are some examples of a person who may be viewed by others as “less than.”

The same people who behave this way often get along much better with someone they think is “better than” them, such as someone who is wealthier, smarter, more successful, etc.

While this behavior certainly isn’t the worst form of abuse a person can inflict on another, it still should be considered a red flag.  It’s a form of gaslighting. 

My ex husband behaved this way with me even early in our relationship.  It bothered me but at that time, I was young, in my late teens, & didn’t know anything about red flags back then.  I just remember feeling shame & like he was so much smarter than I, so I should learn from him.  Over time the behavior became much worse.  It got to the point I felt as if I was incredibly stupid, & he was incredibly smart.  I listened less & less to my own feelings & perceptions.  On the rare occasion I spoke up, he made me feel even worse about myself.  

Does this behavior sound familiar to you?  If so, you’re not alone!

First off, never forget to pray!  Ask God to help you to know the truth, ask Him if the other person is right or wrong & why & anything else you can think of.

Also never forget this type of behavior is abnormal.  Someone who behaves like this clearly has issues.  This may be a sign that you need to reconsider being a part of a relationship with someone who behaves this way.

When you have doubts about what they, it say shows you know the real truth, so remember what you know.  Don’t let the other person convince you of anything else.

If you struggle with what they say, document everything.  Writing things down brings a lot of clarity.  It can help you to stay focused on the truth & show you just how bad this person’s behavior really is, which can help you to decide whether or not to continue the relationship.

I wish you the best in your situation!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

The Reality Behind Triggers

Feeling triggered has become more or less a joke in society today.  If someone is at all offended, they are often accused of being triggered & mocked for it.  This has diluted the serious nature of valid triggers.

Triggers are common after trauma.  Something happens that reminds a person of past trauma which triggers their anxiety, anger, hurt or whatever emotions they felt during the traumatic event.  These triggers also can prompt flashbacks, emotional flashbacks, intrusive memories or at the very least extreme duress. 

To help prevent being triggered by this event or a similar one again in the future, it is best to recognize what caused the trigger in the first place.  Once you do that, you can heal, which means that trigger either won’t happen again or if it does, it won’t be nearly as debilitating.

While it can be easy to say something like you were triggered because someone said or did something distressing, the fact is there is more to it.  Triggers have their root in how a person’s actions made you feel, & that feeling was put there by the original trauma.

Some common feelings behind triggers are feeling…

  • Judged
  • Unworthy, not good enough or somehow “less than.”
  • Blamed
  • Disrespected
  • Unloved
  • Unimportant
  • Unheard
  • Invisible
  • Not valuable
  • Controlled or manipulated
  • Betrayed

All of these feelings are important & very painful.  It is vital not to trivialize them or brush them off!  They are serious, & should be treated accordingly.  You need to recognize that they are abusive & you feeling these things isn’t fair!  Get angry about what was done to you that made you feel this way.  In fact, hate what was done to you!  I know for many who have been abused, thinking this way seems wrong.  Abusers do their level best to make sure victims tolerate their abuse in silence, & part of their efforts involve making victims feel unreasonable & shamed for being upset in any way about what the abuser does to them, but you know something?  That is wrong!  You have every right to hate their behavior & be angry for what they have done to you!  And, when something they did still causes you pain well after the event happened, it seems to me being angry & hating that is only normal.  So get angry because when you do, it will help you!  Being angry helps it “click” in your mind that you didn’t deserve the abuse & that whatever the abuser told you, you were not to blame for their treatment.  They clearly were the one with the problem because they think it’s ok to treat someone with such malice & cruelty.

If you were told it’s not Christian to behave this way, I want to offer you one thing to consider.  There are several Scriptures in the Bible that say we are to hate evil.  Amos 5:15 starts out by saying “hate evil & love good.”  Romans 12:9 says we are to hate evil & cling to what is good.   These are only 2 examples, but there are many more.  Clearly, this proves that hating such cruel, evil behavior & being angry about it is NOT ungodly behavior! 

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How You Can Help Victims Of Abuse

During the 1970’s, a young woman from Texas moved to Pennsylvania to attend college.  While living there, she fell in love.  The man was several years older than her & did not share her & her family’s conservative beliefs.  He convinced her to move in with him, much to the dismay of her family who disapproved of living together before marriage.  Eventually, the boyfriend killed her, stuffed her body in a steamer trunk & put her in a closet in their apartment!  Since the family lived so far from this young woman, they had no idea what happened to her.  The boyfriend was no help obviously, saying she left him, he didn’t know anything.  Eventually, the truth of his deeds was discovered.  

Aside from the obvious horror of this story, something struck me especially interesting.  The victim’s sister said that they had no idea until after her death that the boyfriend abused the victim.  She never told her family anything about his abusive ways, & living so far apart, they never saw her covered in bruises & injured.  The sister said if someone had just said something, this young woman might still be alive.

That is such a valid point!  Speaking up can make all the difference in the world!  Having survived an abusive upbringing & an abusive first marriage, I can tell you, when someone said, “How that person treats you is wrong”, it helped me tremendously.  Finally, I saw that I didn’t deserve what was being done to me.

I’m not saying every single person has to write about abuse like me or even try to change the laws.  I am saying though that if there are signs someone you know is being abused, speak up!  Physical injuries are obvious signs of course, but there are other signs.  If you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse, you know those signs all too well.  Low or non-existent self esteem, constantly doubting one’s self, afraid to do anything the narcissist may disapprove of, doing nothing without the approval of the narcissist, depression, anxiety, being hyper-vigilant are some examples. If you see these signs in someone you know, talk to them when you can get them alone.  Ask if how their parent or partner treats them, if they are abusive.  Many victims will say no, yet be unable to explain why they act like they are being abused or excuse their abuser’s behavior.  They may say he is tired from working long hours, or she has been stressed lately so she’s been drinking a lot which explains her behavior, or some other lame excuse.  Many even blame themselves for making the abuser treat them so badly.  It’s so important to let a victim know that there is no excuse to abuse, & the abuser is in the wrong.  Tell them that they don’t deserve to be treated this way, too.  If you’ve been in a similar situation, tell your story.  Sometimes seeing things from a slightly different perspective can be very enlightening.

Whether the victim is trapped in an abusive marriage or the abuser is a parent, offer to help them escape.  Offer to let them stay with you anytime they need to get away.  If the victim is a child, check into what it takes to become an emancipated minor in your area & help them if they want to do that.  Offer to hide money & belongings for the victim until they are able to leave permanently.  Most importantly, pray for the victim.  Leaving an abusive relationship is so hard!  That person is going to need all of the prayers, support, love & help they can get!

If you see someone in need, maybe God put that person in your path so you can be the one to help them.  I know many people don’t want to get involved in these situations but if you don’t, it could cost someone their life, like the young lady I mentioned earlier in this post.

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