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New Ways To Cope With Anxiety Taught Me A Way To Deal With Narcissists

I was talking with a good friend of mine recently.  She, too, has problems with anxiety, although hers isn’t associated with C-PTSD.  It still sounds pretty bad, unfortunately.  While we were discussing our experiences, I told her that since I got since in February, my anxiety levels have been a lot better.  She asked what I have done to change things.  Honestly I couldn’t think of what to say at that time.  I had to get alone, pray & really look at things later on.

I got a new revelation on how quickly life can change or even end when I got sick.  When I got sick that February day with carbon monoxide poisoning, I didn’t realize just how serious it was, nor did anyone at the hospital tell me.  I read about it on the Mayo Clinic’s site & Wikipedia after I got home & was shocked at just how close I came to death or the possibility of permanent brain damage.  I made myself face how I felt about this situation instead of ignoring my feelings (as I learned early in life to do), & although it’s been painful to go through, it’s been good.  Coming  that close to death really gave me a new revelation on just how fast life can change, or even end.  That revelation has helped me tremendously to have a better perspective.  I don’t sweat the small stuff so easily now.  I don’t want to waste whatever time I have upset if I can help it.  We only have a relatively short time on this earth, & I have wasted enough years upset, angry, hurt & anxious- I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have as much as possible!

Wanting to enjoy my life as much as I can also made me enforce my boundaries better.  I’m learning to respect how I feel & say no sometimes.  I began asking myself some tough questions:  What is good or right about making myself miserable just to make someone else happy?  If someone wants that, they certainly are selfish & don’t have my best interests at heart.  And, what makes that person so much more important than me anyway?  Why is their happiness so much more important than mine?

Before I got sick, I was too stressed & anxious.  So much so, my hair is damaged & broken.  This was another sign that things had to change.  If my hair was showing such awful signs of stress, what could be happening on the inside to my heart or other organs?  I made the decision that I deserved better than this- it’s time to fight the anxiety & stress.  Making that decision was important.  The decision enabled me to slow down or even stop when anxiety kicks in & talk to myself.  I ask myself is this going to hurt me, is there something I can do to make this situation better, what am I so worried about?  Questions like that make me think about the situation logically, which cuts back on  or even eliminates anxiety.

I have begun to focus more on relaxing.  When I take my daily shower, I enjoy the feel of the warm water instead of just rushing through it.  I exfoliate my skin often & use a good quality lotion I like after my shower so my skin feels great.  I shampoo & condition gently with good products to take care of my fragile, recovering hair.  Often too, I turn on some good music, & light a scented candle while in the shower.  This turns a boring daily ritual into something I enjoy & that relaxes me.  I also turn on music when I do household chores, as the music makes me feel good.  When I get into bed, I take a moment to relish how comfortable & cozy it is.  I have a collection of pictures on my tablet that make me feel good- pictures of serene scenery, Victorian era images or even inspiring quotes that validate me.  Little things like this add to squelching anxiety.

Often, people talk to me about their problems.  (I think many adult children of narcissists are often the friend everyone talks to about their problems).  I’ve recently begun to remind myself that I’m not God- it’s not my place to fix other people’s lives.  Just because my parents raised me to fix their problems doesn’t mean that fixing people is my responsibility!  My job is to offer compassion, advice if asked, help them in some way if I feel God is leading me to & direct them to God.  This has enabled me to feel less anxiety because I can detach emotionally some now in these situations.

Most importantly, I also remind myself constantly that God is in control & is my provider. No matter what we do, God still is in charge.  He wants what is best for me & wants to bless me.  He has brought me this far for a reason, & has not once forsaken me.  Reminding myself of such things has brought me closer to God & our relationship has drastically improved.  Not that I have complaints about how it was before, but even so,  I feel so much closer to Him now & my faith has grown.

Granted, this doesn’t conquer all anxiety every time it happens.  I still battle agoraphobia every time I leave my home or wake up with panic attacks sometimes.  However, things have improved greatly.  And a bonus has happened- by slowing myself down to deal with anxiety, it’s become such a habit, I’ve also started doing it automatically when dealing with my narcissistic parents.  Instead of immediately getting angry or hurt over what they do, I am now able to remind myself that whatever they’re doing isn’t about me- it’s about their dysfunctional behavior.  For example, if they try to make me feel guilty for not calling more often, I remember that they don’t want me to call more because they care about me, but because they want that narcissistic supply.  The result is I don’t feel guilty- I realize they are trying to get supply from me & I have the right to protect myself from  it.  Talk about a bonus!  I can cope better with anxiety & my parents too?!  It feels good not to feel guilty, hurt  or angry every time I hang up the phone from talking to my parents!

I believe what I have learned can help you as well.  I urge you to pray about what I’ve written & put it into practice if God leads you to do so!

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Suicidal Tendencies After Narcissistic Abuse

Many people are quick to judge anyone who either is suicidal, has attempted it or has followed through on committing suicide.  It’s such a shame people can be so heartless!

Many people who have survived narcissistic abuse live with depression, & as a result are suicidal.  In fact, many also have developed C-PTSD or PTSD as a result of the abuse, & depression & suicidal ideation are symptoms of both dreadful disorders. The judgmental attitudes of others make this awful situation even more painful.  People readily accuse suicidal people of being selfish, weak, wanting to take the easy way out or seeking attention.  Others say it’s a sin that God won’t forgive, so if they do it, they’ll go to Hell.

This is horrible & it shouldn’t be, but sadly not a lot of people have much compassion or are able to see things from another’s perspective.  Feeling suicidal isn’t exactly the walk in the park many people think it is.  It’s a dismal, depressing place where you believe the only means of escape is death.  It doesn’t sound like a bad choice- your pain will be over, you’ll have no more misery of this life & it’s not like anyone would care if you’re gone anyway.  (At least that is how you feel.  That doesn’t mean it’s the truth however!)

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, the last thing that person needs is to be lectured or judged.  The person instead needs a great deal of compassion, empathy & love.  They need to know that their presence makes a difference, & they would be greatly missed if they died.  They also need to know that you are willing to help them through this dark patch.  Make sure this person knows that you love her, are willing to pray with & for her, listen to her without judgment & are willing to do whatever you can do to help.

If you are the one who is suicidal, please know that you are here on this Earth at this time for a reason.  If you don’t know what that purpose is, ask God to show you.  Also follow your passion- that is where your calling(s) lie.  Although it probably doesn’t feel like it at this time, there are people who love you & would be devastated if you were no longer around.  You make a difference to many people.  Please remember that losing you would hurt them terribly, & you don’t want to do that.

There is a way out.  God.  Pour your heart out to Him- He loves you & wants to help you.  Let Him pour His love out on you & comfort you.  Spend time alone in His presence sharing your most intimate feelings- He will help you come out of that dark place!  Remember Psalm 23:4 “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” (AMP)  God is with you, even in this dark place, taking care of you!  I know this may sound trite to you, but please believe me- it is very true.  I’ve been suicidal many, many times in my life, so I have plenty of experience on this subject.  God has been the only thing that has helped me during the darkest of times.  If He helped me, He will help you too.  All you need to do is ask..

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Toxic Shame Resulting From Narcissistic Abuse- There Is A Way Out!

As of yesterday, it’s been one month since I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & a concussion.  It’s been quite an interesting month, too.

My recovery is a slow one, but at least it is giving me a much needed break from life.  It’s also given me more time to think & pray.  

Shortly after returning home from the hospital, God showed me that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which stems from emotional neglect & criticisms in childhood.  (it’s why I felt I didn’t deserve any help from the ER staff, even though that is their job, & my husband shouldn’t help me recover- I should do it all on my own.  That’s pretty bad, especially considering the severity of my illnesses!)  I believe this is a very common problem for adult children of narcissistic parents, so I thought I would share a bit about this past month’s journey with you.

When God first revealed this to me, I was happy & sad.  Happy because I finally understood what was wrong, why I felt I deserved nothing.  Also sad because, well, let’s face it- this is pretty depressing realizing I was made to feel so poorly about myself.  I also had no idea how to cope with this problem, & had to ask God to show me.  He gave me some really good  ideas, which I shared in the post I originally wrote on this topic.  Please read that post at this link.  I’ve been trying to do the things I mentioned in that post. I also have been doing other things, such as paying more attention to my dreams, which have been revealing a great deal to me about how much I need to take care of myself.  (Almost nightly, I’m having dreams that show me that, so obviously God thinks it’s important!)

I also told God I want to change this problem- I want to be rid of this toxic shame once & for all, & I want to learn to take care of myself too instead of only everyone else.  Was that a powerful prayer!  He has been helping me tremendously!!

About a week after I got sick, I got an email from a jewelry company.  They had a lovely ring on sale that reminded me of one my paternal grandmother had when I was a kid.  This wasn’t a real diamond like hers, but it was still beautiful.  I felt that instead of thinking it’s pretty & ignoring it, I should ask hubby if we could get it.  That took a lot of guts for me- I hate asking him for anything, let alone something frivolous.  He said sure, go ahead & get  it.  When I got on the website to order it, I saw they had an identical ring with a much larger stone that I liked even more.  I ordered it, even though it cost a bit more.  For once, probably the first time in my life, I realized I deserved something special & felt no guilt about it.   Getting myself that prize was a big step towards shedding the “I don’t deserve…” mindset of toxic shame.  Now the company has failed to fulfill my order, but I’m not giving up- I will just get that ring from another company .  🙂

Also, I’ve had trouble with my recovery.  I need to relax, avoid any strenuous physical activity & stress until I am healthy again.  This means hubby gets to do the bulk of housework.  It’s been hard just laying around while he works, then comes home & does laundry & cleans.  Every time the guilt comes up, God reminds me to relax.  I need to recover- I’ve been poisoned by carbon monoxide & have a nasty head injury.  Anyone in that situation would need to relax & recover so stop beating myself up!  Besides, hubby has never really had to take care of anyone before, so this is good for him, having to prioritize another person’s needs.

Although I haven’t told my parents about my illnesses, I’ve spoken with them a few times during my recovery.  Instead of the usual feelings of guilt, hurt or anger when they play their head games, God has reminded that they have problems.  For example, my father recently said I should call if I need anything or just want to talk.  I felt guilty for not calling more often, like a bad daughter, but only for  a second.  Almost immediately, I realized he only wants more contact with me to receive his narcissistic supply, not to spend time with me.  The guilt was alleviated immediately.  I realized I’m not a bad daughter, but instead am someone who doesn’t wish to be used.  Life is too short to be someone’s narcissistic supply!

Something else interesting just happened that made me realize what progress I’m making. I just had a good, long cry.  You see, when some of my pets have died, God has comforted me by telling me shortly after their death that a certain song reminds my recently departed of me- the song then becomes our song.  Aerosmith’s 1988 hit “Angel” just came on. That’s my lovely snowshoe Siamese cat Jasmine’s & my song.  When I heard the song, I started to cry.  I miss Jasmine so badly, & maybe because I’m very sensitive due to my illnesses, the magnitude of missing her hit me very hard.  As the tears finally came to a stop, I realized something- I felt no shame for them!  As much as I love my animals, because my grief at losing them has been so severely invalidated repeatedly, I’ve often felt shame for crying because of them & did my best to ignore my pain.  Especially years later, when I “should be over it”, according to many people. Today was different.  It was the first time I can say I honestly felt no shame, & was able to cry without holding back.  It was actually a very good feeling.  Jasmine was a very brave, amazing & special cat. She survived 4 strokes before she passed away in 2011 & fought hard to come back from each one.  She deserved the love & respect of being grieved properly, yanno?

I’m sharing these things with you today in the hopes of encouraging you.  If you too suffer with toxic shame, God can help you to heal as He is helping me.  He is breaking the hold of toxic shame in my life & will do the same thing for you!  Living with toxic shame is no way to live!  You deserve so much better than that, as do I.  God wants us to be happy & healthy- two things no one living with toxic shame can be.

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Narcissists & Pawning Off Pain

I read something recently about how narcissists dump their inner pain & torment on others in order to attempt to relieve some of the pain they feel inside.  This makes a great deal of sense when you think about it.  For example, my narcissistic mother has very low self-esteem, & she has done her best to make sure I also have low self-esteem.  She obviously feels a great deal of shame, so she has put that on me as well.  My narcissistic mother in-law never felt good enough for her mother in-law, & from day one, she made sure I knew I was never good enough to be a part of her family.

There are so many (often very subtle) ways a person can try to put their pain on another.  Did your narcissistic mother accuse you of being fat although your weight was normal & hers above average?  Did your narcissistic spouse accuse you of cheating, shaming you greatly, when in fact you were faithful & he was the one sleeping around?

This trying to transfer their pain to another seems to be a pretty normal thing for narcissists to do, but that doesn’t make it right.  Rather than excusing their actions, I wanted to discuss this with you today so that you know when this type of thing happens, it’s not your fault!  Like many narcissistic behaviors, it isn’t even personal even though it feels like a personal attack- it’s simply the narcissist hurting & wanting to make herself feel better.  You getting hurt in the process isn’t important to her, of course, so long as she feels better.

If you can keep the perspective that some abusive behaviors aren’t personal, but about the narcissist, it makes coping a bit easier.  It still hurts of course, & is painful to accept it happened, but it does help some at least.  Any help is better than none, right?  Really grasping that what was done to you was the narcissist’s fault & not yours will help you to avoid the always painful thinking that what happened was your fault, that you made her do that terrible thing, or if you would have only done or not don  *fill in the blank* then she wouldn’t have hurt you.

I urge you today to keep this post in mind when your narcissistic mother says something hurtful to you.  Remember, she is trying to make you feel bad so she doesn’t have to feel bad.  That is why she’s accusing you of whatever awful thing it is she’s accusing you of!  You’re fine, she isn’t.

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Trauma Changes You

No one can go through something life altering & not change in some ways.  Whether the experience is losing someone you love, a divorce, abuse or something that threatened your life, that experience will change you somehow.

While sometimes the changes aren’t positive ones, like developing PTSD or C-PTSD (which are unavoidable, unfortunately!!),  sometimes the changes can be good.  That can take a deliberate choice to make the changes good, but it’s worth it.  Some examples are:

  • Losing a loved one, which causes you to realize how suddenly life can end.  You can either become terrified or you can decide to enjoy life more.  Also, you can decide that it’s time to start showing those you love just how much you love & appreciate them more often.
  • Going through a divorce can make you give up on love, or you can think of it as a stepping stone to find the person God meant you to be with.
  • Abuse can make you bitter & afraid, or you can learn from it.  You can learn how to identify abusive people, how to be compassionate with & help other victims of abuse & learn ways to heal. Also, surviving abuse gives you a different perspective than others who haven’t been abused.  You can appreciate the fact that you’re strong & don’t get flustered easily over the little things.

What have you been through that has changed you?  Are you trying to learn from your experiences?  If not, I encourage you to do so.  If you’re at a loss as to what good could come from your pain, ask God to show you.  Romans 8:28 says,  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV)  Although it may not feel like it, there is some  good that can be gleaned in your painful situation, & God will show it to you, gladly.

I mentioned a while back how I went through a potentially life-ending experience with carbon monoxide poisoning.  Aside from the fact I survived, I wasn’t sure if any good could come of it, but it did.  God showed me through that event that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which was causing me a great deal of pain & suffering.  He also showed me what I needed to do to cooperate with Him to set me free of that, & I’m making progress!  I also grew up with narcissistic parents, & also have narcissistic in-laws.  In the last few years, I have learned a great deal about narcissism, which has enabled me to help others in similar situations.  Although I’m not grateful for the painful experiences, I am grateful that God has been able to make something good from them.  That is my wish for you too, Dear Reader- that you too can see something good that has come from your awful experiences & appreciate those good things.

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Abandonment Relating To Children Of Narcissistic Parents.

Abandonment comes in many forms.  It can come about for the newborn baby left in a dumpster, a child whose parents suddenly die in a car wreck, divorce, or death of a loved one.  There is a form of abandonment that many people seldom discuss- when close friends & relatives leave you.

This type of abandonment is common after divorce, especially if you are the one who initiated it.  I lost all but one friend after mine.  No one saw him as the manipulative narcissist he was, so they rallied to his side, abandoning me.  Abandonment also happens after surviving the death of someone you love.  After her daughter died, a good friend of mine said it seemed like once the funeral was done, people thought she should be over losing her daughter, as if the funeral being over meant her grief should be over. Abandonment also can happen after experiencing a traumatic event, as some people think you should “be over it by now.”

It’s also very common for children of narcissistic parents to be abandoned repeatedly in their lives.

First, we’re abandoned in the sense of not having a real mother (&/or father).  Just because a narcissist has conceived & birthed a child doesn’t make that person a parent by any means.  We also may be abandoned by the other parent, usually a covert narcissist, who throws us under the bus to the overtly narcissistic parent to cover their own butts during an argument, & who fails to protect us.  We’re also abandoned by anyone who sees the abuse yet fails to do anything to help us: teachers, counselors, relatives, friends or their parents.  As we grow up, we tend to attract narcissists & other abusive people into our lives, who will drop us in an instant once we’ve outlived our usefulness to them.  They also are often skilled at turning others against us too, so we not only lose that person, but friends as well at the same time.  Then eventually we learn about narcissism & the damage it causes, & we begin to talk about it.  That is when our closest friends & relatives often claim we just want attention, need to get over it, So & So had it much worse, your narcissist wasn’t so bad or seemed like a good person to them, & more before abandoning us for being too negative, living in the past, etc.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I’m guessing it sounds all too familiar.

Constant abandonment like this cuts a person to the core.  It also can lead to many problems- low self-esteem, depression, anger, self-destructive habits such as addictions, & even losing your self-identity.

So how do you deal with this pain?  You grieve your losses much like you grieve when someone you love dies.

Some people say there are five stages in grief, others say seven.  I tend to believe more in seven..

  1. Denial.  What happened is too shocking to accept.  You can’t believe it happened.
  2. Guilt.  You feel guilty.  “Maybe if I had done *fill in the blank*, this wouldn’t have happened.
  3. Anger &/or bargaining with God.  This is the time when you ask “Why did this happen to me?  I don’t deserve this!” or, “God, if you bring him back, I’ll never do *fill in the blank* again.”
  4. Depression.  The magnitude of what happened becomes real to you at this stage, & it hurts.  Badly.  This is often the longest lasting stage.
  5. Starting to move on.  The depression starts to lift some & you begin to adjust in small ways to life after what happened.
  6. Moving on.  You really begin healing at this stage.  You read & learn about how to adjust & heal.
  7. Acceptance.  You have accepted what happened.  You start to look forward to things once again.  You may never again be the person you once were, but you are moving forward.

***sometimes when grieving, you may bounce back & forth between steps a few times.  This is normal***

While going through the stages of grief is never a fun process, it is a necessary one when it comes to big losses, & being abandoned, especially repeatedly, is a big loss.

While experiencing each stage, it is important to talk things out.  I encourage you to pray a lot.  Tell God everything you feel, & listen for any wisdom He wants to share with you.  Also, if you’re like me & it helps you to see things in writing, then journal.  Sometimes seeing things in black & white brings a clarity that simply talking about them doesn’t.

Always be patient, non-judgmental & gentle with yourself while experiencing the grief process.  You need such things in your life during this time, & especially from yourself.

Exercise wisdom in who you share your experiences with.  Many people don’t understand grief in any form, & others don’t wish to hear such “negativity”. Don’t discuss your journey with people like that- instead only share with people who are non-judgmental, compassionate & who love you unconditionally.

I know this is not an easy time for you, but you can get through this, & you will be a stronger person too.  Also, you’re not alone!  Many people have experienced this same pain you have, including me.  If you would like to meet others, feel free to check out my facebook group & my forum, links to both are on my website at:  www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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Emotional Neglect & Critical Words

Lately, I’ve been reading some about emotional neglect & criticism, & their detrimental effects, especially on children.  They can cause anxiety & toxic shame, both of which are absolutely horrible to live with.

I’ve been seeing lately how much anxiety & shame I carry, & as I mentioned in this post, now I understand why I have them.  When a parent doesn’t care about their child’s feelings, acts as if the child is a bother &/or is overly critical, seeds get sown in the child.  The child becomes fearful.  She learns early that people will hurt her with their words or actions (or both), & no one will protect her, not even her parents.  She also internalizes the fact no one cares enough to protect her, & becomes deeply ashamed of who she is. After all, if her own parents don’t love her enough to care about & for her, she must be deeply flawed, unlovable, a terrible person.  Or so she believes.

These dysfunctional beliefs carry into adulthood.  It means she settles for dysfunctional or abusive relationships (friendships or romantic relationships), lives with extreme anxiety especially when dealing with other people, has a hard time asking for assistance, & doesn’t believe she is worthy.  Worthy of what?  Pretty much anything!  Anything from setting healthy boundaries to taking care of her health to getting new clothes because her old ones are worn out & more.

It is a miserable way to live, & no one should have to live like this!  If you recognize yourself in this post, then please read my other post I mentioned above.  In it, I offer some ways I think can help you overcome toxic shame.  As it diminishes, the anxiety should follow.  It has for me.

I’m praying for you, Dear Reader.  May God bless you, & help you to overcome the pain of toxic shame & anxiety!  xoxo

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My New Books

I thought I would let you know what’s happening on the book front with me..

I now have two books I’m working on as I can.  Unfortunately I’m still recovering from the carbon monoxide poisoning & the concussion that came with  it, so writing is a challenge for me at the moment. (as if writing with C-PTSD isn’t enough of a challenge sometimes..lol)  But, I’m trying to do a little as often as I can.

My one book is a fictional story I started over a year ago.  I had it about halfway done when the external hard drive it was on crashed, taking my book with it.  (Tears were shed, let me tell ya!)  I decided to start working on  it again, trying to recreate what was lost.  It was inspired by the movie “Gaslight”- the movie from which the term gaslighting was coined.  It takes place here in Maryland in the late 1800’s.  It’s about a young widow who, after her mourning period, is caught up in a whirlwind romance with a man who in truth is only after her money.  In order to have full access to it, he decides to drive his pretty young wife insane.  He enlists the help of the young maid he’s having an affair with by telling her that his wife is really his sister, & he’s trying to help her show symptoms of her “illness” since she usually hides them from the doctor.  She reluctantly agrees.  As they are in the process of driving this woman insane, the wife & maid end up learning the truth, & decide to turn the tables on him, driving him insane instead.

My other book is going to be about recovering from narcissistic abuse.  I’ve read so much about it, but there are plenty of things I haven’t read- I had to experience them & learn about them firsthand instead.  For example, if you read about C-PTSD (very common with survivors or narcissistic abuse), it says many people experience nightmares.  It’s often implied that the nightmares are about re-experiencing the traumatic events.  I have learned that although that happens, it’s more rare, & nightmares are often things that are very upsetting yet symbolic of past trauma instead.

So anyway, these two are my current projects.  I’m not sure when they’ll be released.  Honestly, I don’t even feel comfortable setting a goal on that right now, not until I recover more.  I’ll be sure to share when they will be released as the day comes closer though.

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Anger

When you were raised by a narcissistic mother, & you finally learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the first reaction usually is relief.  Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person your mother said you were, that instead it was her projecting  her own issues onto you.  Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person she always told you that you were.  Then, other emotions kick in, such as grieving.  You grieve for your lost childhood, the fact that you were so terribly abused, & the fact that your own mother deliberately hurt you to forward her own agenda.

Eventually, you also get angry over those same things.

Recently, I’ve learned that anger changes as you heal.  For me, I’ve become angry at people who have hurt & abused me over the years.  Many so-called friends, my narcissistic in-laws, my narcissistic ex husband, an extremely controlling ex boyfriend & even my husband for some dysfunctional behaviors he used to exhibit in our relationship. I’ve also been angry with my parents, because if they hadn’t raised me the way they had, I wouldn’t have grown into a narcissist magnet & doormat.  And, if I wouldn’t have been that way, people wouldn’t have thought it was perfectly acceptable to abuse me.

After praying about it, I believe this to be a normal part of healing.  As you heal, naturally your self-esteem improves.  And, people with healthy self-esteem have no tolerance for being abused because they know their value.  They know they don’t deserve to be treated in such a way.  Plus as you heal, you begin to realize that some behaviors you once thought were normal were in fact abusive.  Realizing that will make you angry.

Also, being a  narcissist magnet & doormat, you’re often stuck in more than one abusive relationship at a time- I certainly was!  This means you are so busy trying to survive that you don’t have time to deal with your anger properly.  You’re just trying to get through each encounter with these people with your sanity in tact!

So how do you deal with this old anger?

Some people are fortunate.  They are able to ask God to help them let things go & forgive, & then it’s over for them.  Honestly I envy those people.  I’m not so fortunate- I have to feel things to fully process them, then I can let things go.  If you’re like me, read on- I’ll share some tips of what works for me below.

What helps me mostly is prayer.  I talk to God about it.  I also write it out in my journal if I don’t feel like talking about it.   Either way, I let it all out, & He knows what I feel.  He listens without judgement, no matter how ugly what I say is.

You can also talk to someone non-judgmental, such as a good friend, a close relative or a counselor.  As long as you get the feelings inside, out of you, that is the main thing.  Anger is a very strong emotion that demands to be heard.  If you ignore it, it will come out sooner or later- it never just vanishes.  Either you end up taking it out on  those closest to you who have nothing to do with why you’re angry, or you get depressed (depression is often repressed anger), or you can become physically ill.  Isn’t it much better to get your feelings out?

I also ask God to help me get rid of the anger.  I certainly don’t want to carry it around, & He wants us to forgive our enemies since it’s beneficial for us, so I know He helps me to release that anger.

Don’t forget, too, to ask God to comfort you.  This process isn’t a pleasant one- a little comfort can go a long way in helping you to get through it all.

And, don’t judge yourself for this.  Anger happens, & sometimes it’s delayed for whatever reason.  That is all that is happening- something normal.  Don’t criticize yourself for doing something perfectly normal & understandable under the circumstances!

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Abandonment & Invalidation For Adult Children Of Narcissists

One thing I have learned in the past few years is that people do NOT like unpleasant subject matters, & will go to great lengths to avoid them.  Many people with terrible health problems know this all too well- they lose friends & even family after receiving a diagnosis of a dreadful disease.  The people who once were closest to them suddenly have no time for them any longer.

This also happens with adult children of narcissistic parents.

It’s happened in my own life.  Once I started learning that my mother was abusive when I was seventeen, & talking to a few people about it, my circle of friends became smaller.  I talked less about it until many years later, once I started learning about narcissism.  Then, I began to talk more & also to write about it.  While my writing career suddenly began to take off, my personal relationships changed, especially when I also admitted to having C-PTSD.  Some of my relationships became closer, especially with those who also survived a narcissistic upbringing, but many did not.  Some people suddenly became very judgmental, telling me how I needed to just get over it, let it go, forgive & forget, stop living in the past, I use having C-PTSD for attention & even how I needed to be the one to fix things in my relationship with my parents.

This hurt & made me so angry!  It’s not fair & it’s not right! I began to feel like I did as a child- everything wrong with my parents’ & my relationship was all my fault, I should fix it & if I didn’t, I was a failure.  Not a nice way to feel at all!

If you too have experienced similar losses & invalidation in your relationships, you are not alone!  I understand your pain & frustration!

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to completely avoid such situations.  The fact is, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people don’t like unpleasant subject matters.  They prefer light, fluffy, happy things, as the unpleasant things make them uncomfortable.  Many people also cannot handle discussing unpleasant things about the parent/child relationship.  They may come from a good home, & can’t comprehend that a parent would abuse a child, or they came from a dysfunctional home, & you discussing your own painful experiences trigger feelings they aren’t ready to deal with yet.  Others may feel that you talk too much about your experiences.  (Please see my post on taking breaks– not to make others more comfortable, but for your own mental health!)  Whatever the reason, no one has the right to invalidate your pain!

To deal with the pain when this happens, please try to keep the last paragraph in mind.  Most people aren’t trying to hurt you by what they say or do- they simply have their own issues or are even convinced they’re trying to help you.  In any case, them treating you poorly isn’t about you doing something wrong, it’s about them.

Also, acknowledge your feelings.  Yes, you’re hurt &/or angry, & it’s OK.  Cry, talk to someone safe, journal or pray, but get your feelings out.  Feelings are a natural part of life- respect them, don’t ignore them.  Ignoring them never leads to anything good, only bad things like depression & health problems.

Be aware that part of the reason that what was said upsets you so much is it triggers old feelings that you experienced at the hand of your narcissistic mother.  Narcissists demand their abuse be kept secret, so when someone else wants to silence you years later, that guilt for “telling” may show up.  Or, invalidating your pain makes you feel as you did when your mother did it to you as a child- like you’re not allowed to have feelings because they’re only a nuisance to others.  I’m not saying that these triggers mean you’re overreacting to being invalidated, of course.  I’m simply saying that those triggers may make you less able to realize at first that you aren’t wrong for discussing this topic.

Be good to yourself afterwards.  Once you get a firm grasp on your feelings & triggers, do something nice for yourself.  A bubble bath, read a good book or some other little thing that makes you feel good.

And, ask God to help you let go of the hurt & anger you feel.  You deserve better than to carry around those negative feelings.  Besides, you have too much already to deal with considering you’re recovering from growing up with a narcissistic mother.  That needs your attention much more.

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Strength Isn’t Always What You Think

It seems like so many people believe being strong is about shaking things off, ignoring things as if they don’t bother you, not showing negative feelings & the like.  This can be extremely discouraging to hear when you have survived abuse, because you’ve always been told to be quiet, don’t tell people what happened to you, don’t be a baby- that wasn’t a big deal & similar things.  Once you realize you’ve been abused, you want to start to talk about it, & to express your feelings for the first time.  Yet, people make you feel as if you’re weak for being that way.  I believe those people are absolutely WRONG.

Sweeping things under the rug & ignoring your feelings aren’t strength.  In fact, I find them to be very weak.  It doesn’t take any courage at all to ignore something or to stuff your feelings inside, just a desire to do so.

Facing things, however, that takes strength & courage.  It isn’t easy to face painful things!  It hurts!  But, the good part is it dealing with things loosens their painful grip on you.  Ignoring those painful things, however, means you will feel pain for as long as you refuse to deal with them.  Better to suffer for a short time than indefinitely!

Feeling your feelings takes a great deal more strength than ignoring them.  I grew up ignoring my feelings.  I knew they had no value to those around me, so I figured they must have no value- why share them with anyone?  As a result, even to this day sometimes I have trouble expressing them out of fear of being mocked or invalidated.  Even writing things in this blog scares me quite often for those reasons.  It takes great courage to be willing to be vulnerable, especially in a society where people condemn any feelings other than happiness.  I’ve learned that I feel much more peaceful when I can share my feelings instead of hiding them, even if it’s only writing about them in my journal.  Feelings demand to be expressed, the good & the bad ones.  Holding them in makes you miserable, & can lead to all kinds of health problems- high blood pressure, kidney or heart disease, arthritis & more.

If you’ve survived abuse, please don’t let dysfunctional people tell you that being strong means stifling your negative feelings or pretending the abuse didn’t happen!  You have every right to feel how you feel & to acknowledge the abuse!  If you’re already doing these things, then please be proud of yourself!  You are brave & strong!  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!  Many people who try to silence others don’t have the courage to face their own emotions & painful pasts- don’t let them drag you down to where they are!  Instead, hope that by you being so brave, you will inspire them to find their own courage.

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Are You A Doormat?

Growing up with a narcissistic parent often means being a doormat when you grow up.  People seem to have no problem mistreating or abusing you, & are surprised if you don’t tolerate it.  It’s very strange, as it seems like they sense that you have been used & abused, & believe it is perfectly acceptable to treat you that way.

Some signs you are a doormat are:

  • Accepting blame for things that aren’t your fault.
  • Apologizing for things that aren’t your fault.
  • Accepting the unacceptable from others or even justifying their bad behavior.
  • Accepting responsibility for others’ moods.
  • Feeling invisible.
  • Avoiding confrontation.
  • Constant fear of hurting others’ feelings even when your have been wronged.
  • Ignoring your own feelings to accommodate others.

If this describes you, you are not alone!  In fact, I believe most adult children of narcissistic parents are this way.

How do you stop being a doormat?  First, learn all you can about boundaries.  You need to know what is & is not your responsibility, so you stop accepting too much responsibility. It is not only beneficial for you, but for others as well.  It truly doesn’t help others to be constantly rescued or coddled.  Certainly, occasionally, we all need those things, but they should not be a way of life.

Also, focus on your own emotional healing & mental health. The healthier you are, the less likely others are to use you.  They will know you aren’t easy to manipulate.  Plus you will recognize their attempts to mistreat you, & not permit it to happen by enforcing your healthy boundaries.

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Narcissistic Friendships

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, many of us raised by narcissistic parents are narcissist magnets, meaning we attract narcissists.  Lucky us, I know.. lol  I’ve had quite a few of them in my life, & have learned some things about narcissistic friendships.

You have to accept the fact that narcissists don’t want to change.  Things work for them, so why should they?  So what if others get hurt along the way- that doesn’t affect the narcissist so it isn’t important to the narcissist.  Personally, I think the chances of a narcissistic friend changing for the better are even slimmer than that of a narcissistic family member.  A family member you have a chance with (albeit a very slim chance), because the relationship is closer.  A friendship?  They can always find another friend..

The narcissist is your friend for a reason, & that reason is self-serving.  You have something that person wants from you.  Most likely it’s some form of narcissistic supply.  They want you to keep them propped up by telling them how awesome, talented, beautiful, exceptional, etc they are, or they want you to listen to them ramble on incessantly, or maybe they want you to be available anytime to do favors for them.  In any case, the friendship is not mutual- you can’t count on this person to be there for you no matter how devastating the problem you have.  Don’t expect anything from the narcissistic friend.  Ever.

If you want to end this friendship, be boring.   I learned a few years back with my narcissistic mother in-law that if I only gave her short answers, she got mad with me, but also couldn’t do anything about it. For example, she always wanted details about my family- details which she used to hurt me with at a later time.  So, I stopped providing details. If she asked, “How is your grandfather?”  I said, “Fine.”  Nothing interesting about that answer!  It eliminated much of her verbal abuse because she had no ammunition.  I do the same with my narcissistic mother. And, with a “friend” I once had?  She didn’t use information I gave her against me- she simply wanted me to listen to her ramble on without bothering her with petty details about my life.  It was ALLLLL about her.  She called me at least once a day to talk, not caring what I was going through or what I had to do. I started answering her calls at random, only if I felt I could deal with her.  Then, I would change the subject to something other than what she wanted to talk about, preferably something about me.  She began calling less & less as she realized I wasn’t providing her supply as she wanted me to do. I still listened to her, but not nearly as much, & contributed some information of my own to the conversation. It didn’t provide the supply she wanted & she obviously became bored with my conversation quickly when it wasn’t about her.  As a result, she called less & less.  Narcissists thrive on drama, stimulation & narcissistic supply- deprive them of those things & they will lose interest in you.  Quickly!  Many will end a friendship when you become “boring” enough.

If you want to end the friendship, & opt to tell them so, be prepared for fallout.  Normal people, you can tell  that things aren’t working out & they will accept that & move on, albeit grudgingly.  Not so with a narcissist.  You have to be aware that telling them to stay away from you could end up badly for you.  The friend I mentioned in the previous paragraph?  Although she got bored with me, she didn’t end the friendship completely.  I ended up telling her I wanted it to end, & she harassed me for well over a year, off & on.  In fact, I’m still not positive it’s over although all has been quiet for a few months.  Her pattern has been once things are quiet for a while, suddenly she starts up again out of the blue.

Narcissists can handle love or hate, but not apathy.  If you show a narcissist you don’t care about her, that what she does doesn’t phase you, it is possible things may get ugly.  If you go on with your life just fine without the narcissist, they don’t like that.  They may stalk you on social media, email you, call or text you, in the hopes of gaining a reaction from you.

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Discrediting The Victim- A Common Phenomenon

No matter what type of abuse or trauma you have suffered, often discrediting you, the victim, happens.  Often by outsiders who say ridiculous statements such as…

“Well if you wouldn’t have worn that short skirt, you wouldn’t have been raped!”

“If you had just been a little nicer to him, your husband wouldn’t have hit you!”

“Your mother did the best she could-  you need to understand that she had been abused.  She just didn’t know how to raise you, so you have to forgive & forget.”

Even more frequently, the person who perpetrated the abuse works hard to discredit you.  Narcissistic parents are especially good at doing this.  They tell others they are concerned about you, because you have been acting strangely, you have a vivid imagination, you’ve been making up stories, they did the best they could do by you, but you were always a difficult child & more.

Publicly stating that the victim is not a victim, but instead the problem helps to convince others of that fallacy.  The narcissistic abuser has great conviction when lying- people who aren’t extremely close to her rarely doubt her stories, especially if said under the guise of concern for her child.

This works well for the narcissistic mother, as she is able to convince people quite easily that her child  is the problem, thus turning people against her child & supporting her.  People then will look down on or fail to believe the child if she openly discusses the abuse or tries to stand up to or set boundaries with her narcissistic mother.  I experienced this myself in my teen years. My mother’s friends had once liked me, but as the abuse escalated & I tried to protect myself, suddenly those friends no longer liked me.  They barely even spoke to me or made eye contact with me.

Discrediting the victim also serves to make the victim question herself rather than the abuse she has come to believe is normal.  There were times in my teen years I felt as if I was going crazy.  My mother told me I was crazy anyway, even threatening to have me committed many times. That along with acting like & saying I was the problem caused me to doubt my sanity more times than I can count.

Also, another benefit for the abuser of discrediting the victim is that all eyes are on the victim, not the abuser.  The abuser can do anything she likes, because no one will notice.  They are too focused on how bad, wrong, crazy, etc. the victim is.

If you fall victim to this, please know you are NOT alone!  This is a typical tactic of narcissistic abusers.  It does NOT mean that you are to blame.  Instead, it is just one more sign that this person is the problem, & that this person  is evil.  After all, only an evil person would blame an innocent victim instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions.

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Take A Break, And Do It Often!

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time writing.  Even these brief blog entries are an issue most days.  It kinda stinks, because I love writing so much.  Having C-PTSD contributes to my difficulties with focus sometimes, but it isn’t always why I have trouble focusing.

I’ve been feeling very burned out lately, & I realized why.  Focusing on one’s healing & mental & emotional health is a very good thing.  It enables you to work through issues, to forgive, to heal.  However, it really is possible to focus too much on such things.  The mind needs breaks from hard work, just as the body does, & focusing on healing is certainly hard work!  The mind also needs a break from negative things as well.  (Please know that I’m not saying be positive about the truly negative things in life, as that isn’t healthy either.)  If you too have C-PTSD I believe these breaks become even more important to your mental health.

When you grew up with a narcissistic mother, it can be hard to be a balanced adult.  Early on, once you first realize that your mother is abusive, you’re angry.  Very angry.  All this time you thought what she did to you was your fault, & you finally learned she lied- it wasn’t you, it was her.  That is a tough pill to swallow!  Then you learn more & more about narcissism, & so many things finally make sense, things about you & about your mother.  It’s very easy to become consumed & focus constantly on your mother’s abuse, on NPD, on the problems you have as an adult that stem from that abuse & more.  However, this is not healthy to do at all!  Like I said, the mind needs breaks sometimes, & it needs balance.

How do you achieve balance?  You make a conscience effort to do these things.  I know it can be hard, especially with the obsessive thoughts that often happen with C-PTSD, but it can be done!  Force yourself to focus on something fun.  Watch a movie.  Play with your kids, furry or human.  Go for a walk in the woods.  Visit a local park. Go for a drive. Buy a coloring book & crayons.  There are many things you can do to bring a little joy into your life & those things needn’t be expensive or require a lot of planning. Be creative, & I’m sure you’ll come up with some fun things to do.

Spend time in God’s presence. Spending time in nature, admiring the beautiful creations He has made is not only good for drawing you closer to the Father, but it’s also very restorative to the soul.  Many people are affected by the weather such as in cases of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  If that describes you, I would suggest holding off on the nature time until the weather has a more positive effect on your mood. Fall is my favorite time to do this, so if you catch me wandering around during the summertime instead when the heat & bright sunlight depress me, something is very wrong with me!  lol

Another thing I have found  that helps me is to collect some things that you enjoyed as a child.  I’m a child of the 70’s-80’s, & I think we had some pretty cool toys!  I have Spirograph, Magic 8 Ball & Lite Brite apps on my tablet. I have an atari with quite a few games.  I have a few stuffed animals, my old Merlin handheld game, Rubix cube, Snake & Bowlatronic.  I just saw a hot pink Tonka jeep that I had (& loved!) as a child on ebay, & am considering ordering it.  I also ordered a set of the Crystalite animals- I collected them in first grade. I’ve also purchased a few board games over the years that my husband & I both remember from our childhoods & we enjoy playing. Although my childhood was less than stellar, some of my fun old toys do make me smile to this day.  Having them helps me to remember some positive memories for a change, & it feels good.

Also a nostalgic thing I enjoy is collecting old pictures.  There are a couple of facebook groups I belong to- one is for the area where I grew up & the other is for the area where my family is from in Virginia.  Both are history groups, & share many old pictures of both areas.  I save the more interesting pictures of places I enjoyed growing up. It’s so much fun looking back over the pictures of how those towns were when I was a kid.  It does make me a bit sad how much they’ve changed, but even so, it’s fun remembering how things used to be.

Music is another wonderful way to break away & feel good.  I still love the music I grew up with, & listen to it often.  Some songs take me back to a happy place.  Journey always reminds me of going to dinner with my wonderful paternal grandparents at a tiny local Italian place when I was a kid.  My grandmom gave me change for the jukebox- something my mother always refused to do.  “Who’s Cryin’ Now” was one of the Journey songs  played, so yes, their music takes me back to a fun evening.  Listening to good music that transports you back to a happy time can be very good for your mood & very relaxing.

Pamper yourself.  Also hard to do when you grew up with a narcissistic mother who undoubtedly told you how selfish you were for showing yourself any kindness, but remember- narcissists project their flaws onto other people so they can then get angry about those flaws.  Your mother was wrong- you aren’t selfish!  Doing nice, pampering gestures for yourself aren’t selfish either- they are healthy, & they show you that you care about yourself.  Nothing wrong with that!

I think distractions like these are also very helpful because they empower you.  If you think about what you’ve gone through constantly, it’s as if your mother still has power over you.  She’s still controlling you, by being in your thoughts so much.  If you purposely kick her out of your mind sometimes, you are taking back control of your life, & your thoughts.

Also, distracting yourself sometimes is good for your anxiety & depression levels. The more you focus on the abuse you endured, the more anxious & depressed it can make you.  Focus on healing- get angry, cry, do what you have to do- but take at least the same amount of time to relax & have some fun!  It’s good for you!

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Encouragement For Anyone Who Is Considering Going No Or Low Contact With Their Narcissistic Mother

So much writing you find on the topic of narcissistic mothers says that no contact is the only answer.  Just sever ties with her & your life will be so much better, they say.  While this certainly is true in many cases, there are also many cases where going no contact isn’t a desired solution, or even a possible solution.  Still others know that is their best option, yet don’t feel strong enough to take that step just yet.  Others prefer the limited contact option, as I have chosen, where they only speak to their mothers rarely, as they are able to do so.

Normally, it is those who are either unwilling or unable to go no contact I feel strongest about attempting to help with my writing. Today though, I feel I need to write to everyone who either has gone no/low contact, is considering going no/low contact or who is unable or unwilling at this time to go no/low contact.

There are so many people who have very definite feelings on the contact issue, & love to make those feelings known to you at any opportunity.  They will state their feelings as if they are not simply the person’s feelings, but the gospel truth.  You also may find these opinions on websites or in books.  These views will make you feel a plethora of things, such as doubting your decision, feeling stupid for making the decision you’ve made, feeling guilty & more.

I want to encourage you today to ignore the critics!  Going no or low contact with your narcissistic mother is a very big decision, one that you & you alone should make for yourself after a great deal of thought & prayer.  No one understands exactly how you feel, nor have they experienced the things that you have.  They also have no idea how you cope with the abuse your narcissistic mother dishes out, or exactly how much abuse she puts you through.  Very few people also truly understand how desperate a person is to consider severing ties with or greatly limiting contact with their own mother, or how much pain they have experienced to even consider such a thing.  No contact is far from a black & white issue!

I know it can be very painful when people force their unasked for views on you on this issue, but please please PLEASE- ignore their unsupportive views!  Once you have made your decision on how to handle the contact you have with your narcissistic mother, the absolute last thing you need is people telling you how wrong you are or how poorly you’re handling things. Ignore those people!  Their opinions are NOT facts, so you do not need to be bothered with them.

Instead, follow what you know in your heart is right for you.  I believe those “gut feelings” or intuition are God’s voice telling us what we need to know, so you can’t go wrong if you listen to them, especially listening to them over people who have no idea what they are talking about.

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More About Discovering Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

I never felt comfortable sharing this information until now.  Maybe it’s finally the right timing, God’s timing?  In any case, I hope this helps you.  xoxo

A few years ago, I finally decided to start to get to know the real me.  Not the dysfunctional person my narcissistic mother tried to make me into, not my narcissistic ex husband, not even friends. The real me, the person God created me to be.  When asking Him to help me do this one day, He told me to study the personality of the wolf- that is what I am really like.  I did this & found it fascinating.  Granted, not all wolves have the same personality, but they all seem to share some basic qualities in common.  Many of those traits were also shared by my husky/wolf, Danya, who passed away in ’09.  He was the one of our three dogs we’ve had that I got along best with, because we understood each other very well.  Now I understand why we got along so well.

I assume God used this information about wolves because I’m an avid animal lover, & I am ever glad He did.  It’s been very interesting for me & comforting too, finally knowing who I really am.  It’s also given me a new fascination with wolves.  They are truly amazing animals!  In fact, as I write this, I’m also watching a show on the Nat Geo channel called, “She Wolf” about a rare alpha female wolf (usually alphas are male).  She was absolutely incredible!  Strong, brave, determined, a natural leader, a wonderful mama to her pups, playful & gentle.  It amazes me God sees me as similar to such an amazing creature as She Wolf!

Have you ever asked God to show you who He made you to be?  If not, I strongly urge you to do so!  I don’t know if He’ll compare you to an animal or not like He did with me, but be prepared to be amazed whether He does or not.  I certainly was- I never would I have thought I would share such character traits with the majestic, strong wolf!

God created you to be someone special.  I know, that is hard to believe when you grew up with a narcissistic mother treating you as if you were merely a tool to be used as she wanted, but it’s true!  Today I challenge you to throw off what you think you should be, to get rid of the dysfunctional beliefs that were put on you so unfairly.  Instead, talk to God about becoming who He wants you to be, who He made you to be!  The person He made you to be will feel so much more natural & right.  Granted, the change won’t happen immediately, but as you learn to rely on God to help you, the new you will develop.

I’ve noticed something else too- as I’ve changed, my narcissistic mother isn’t happy about it, but at the same time, she is respecting my boundaries (albeit grudgingly) for the first time!  I think she realizes that I now have a strength I didn’t before, & also realizes that strength means I won’t put up with her games like I once did.  Your narcissistic mother may respond the same way.  I hope she does!

Oh, & just in case you’re wondering about the personality traits of a wolf, here is what I found.  Wolves are generally..

  • Friendly (friendly with other adults, amiable with pups).
  • Strongest personality trait is that they make strong emotional attachments to others.
  • Natural aversion to fighting. Will do much to avoid conflicts/fighting.
  • Kind
  • Agreeable
  • Non-violent personality.
  • Although gentle, they will fight when necessary.
  • Highly intelligent, able to learn & remember events.
  • High degree of adaptability.
  • Gentle
  • Confident
  • Natural leaders.
  • Wildly playful.

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Should You Discuss Narcissistic Abuse?

A Scripture popped into my mind today…

1 Peter 4:8 “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (NLT)

It made me wonder something.  Does this mean we shouldn’t talk about what the narcissists in our lives have done? Is it more loving to cover up their abusive actions?  I firmly believe no, it doesn’t.
I believe the above Scripture is for the simple little offenses we live with sometimes, such as your husband coming home from work in a bad mood & snapping at you for no obvious reason, or someone cutting you off in traffic.  I don’t believe this Scripture applies to the larger grievances in life, which includes narcissistic abuse.  Consider these Scriptures..

Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.

16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

17 If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.” (AMP)

These verses tell me that it is acceptable to discuss when someone has wronged or even abused you.  In fact, I think it is necessary to discuss narcissism in particular, because although more people are becoming aware of the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, very few people truly understand it.

If you discuss what you have experienced at the hands of a narcissist, whether it be a parent, spouse, relative or friend, you help to make other people aware of the signs of a narcissist, the dangers of being involved with one, or even how to set boundaries with one.  These are things everybody needs to know, especially since narcissism is so prevalent in society these days!

You can help to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse in many ways.  You can share your experiences & knowledge in a blog, post in social media, or join mental health forums.  Ask God if He would have you to do something, & how He would like you to go about it.  Your story can help to change someone’s life!

Don’t misunderstand me, though.  I’m not saying that is ALL that you need to discuss.  If your primary conversation consists of stories of the abuse you endured at the hands of a narcissistic abuser, people will be turned off.  They will tire of hearing the same complaints repeatedly, or your conversations being only about one topic.  Also, it’s unhealthy to focus on such heavy topics non stop.  Your brain needs to relax from hard work like your body does.  Give it a break sometimes, & focus on lighter matters.  Watch funny movies, read good books or participate in a hobby you enjoy.

 

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Share Your Story!

Recently I was talking with someone who made sure I know she believes my writing isn’t important, even knowing that I believe writing is one of my purposes in life.

*sigh*

This sort of thing happens a lot more often than I like.  My writing as well as what I write about are often trivialized.  I also know it happens to so many others who have been abused & share their story, which breaks my heart.  I’ve been dealing with invalidation for so long, that I’m used to it.  It makes me angry, but I know that what I said is valid, & people who invalidate others have issues.  Normal, healthy people respect other people enough not to trivialize their painful experiences, even if they don’t understand them or agree with them. Many others who experience this painful type of invalidation haven’t reached that place yet, & are discouraged or deeply hurt by such cruel words.  This makes me so angry, which is partly why I write about this topic so often.

I read something that explained beautifully why those of us who have been through abuse should continue to tell our story, & I wanted to share it with you today…

“There is nothing safe in sharing your story.  There is nothing safe about turning your own soul inside out with the details that come slowly or quickly, from shallow breaths or deep within, from the light or from the shadows.  There is nothing safe about sharing the images painted within your memories, the language that proves a life has been lived, the details scratched into paper from blood, from skin, from love, & fear.  Nothing protects what is spoken, read or heard.  There are no shields against bitter misunderstanding, jealousy or prejudice- yet we speak.  We sing.  We write in the hopes of changing the world.  We share the truth we have lived & the characters we have loved.  In moments of courage, we give it all away.”  – Mardra Sikora

Please remember this wonderful quote when someone tries to keep you quiet!  You have every right to share your story & to help others by doing so.  In fact, you should celebrate yourself by being brave enough to share your story & caring enough to do it in spite of your own fears!

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Taking Back Some Power

Recently, I wrote this post about being angry at all of the things I feel have been stolen from me due to having C-PTSD.  The anger that was simmering kicked back into overdrive briefly on Tuesday night.

I had to speak with my mother that evening.  I ended up pretty angry with her by the time I hung up.  Shortly after I got the wonderful call from my vet that I mentioned in this post.   In spite of the incredibly good news, I was angry.  Although my mother didn’t do it on purpose, I felt like, as usual, she’s interfering in my life & stealing my joy- making me angry at a time when I should’ve been completely happy.  I felt in my heart I needed to make a decision at that time..Either continue to be angry or to thank God for & enjoy the wonderful news I had just gotten.  I decided to focus on the good news for the night, & deal with my anger at my mother later on.  Oddly, this turned out to be a good thing for me in a way..

I feel like I took back some of my power!

I think by being able basically to put my mother aside for a while was helpful for me.  It showed me  that my mother & her narcissistic ways haven’t stolen everything for me, as it so often feels like.  She isn’t in control anymore, & I am more powerful than I feel.  Instead of being angry with her & failing to enjoy the miraculous news I’d just received, I was able to refocus my mind onto the good.  I had an entire evening of basking in joy, then dealt with the anger the following day.

Have you ever tried anything like this?

In all honesty, I can’t say I’m sure this type of thing is a good thing to do on a regular basis, but doing it once was a good experience for me.  It may be for you too.  I would encourage you to ask God about it, if you’re in a similar situation.  It may help you as well.  But, if God advises you against it, please listen to Him & don’t try it!

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A Grateful Attitude Can Help Reduce Symptoms Of C-PTSD

Yesterday was an eventful day.  One of my cats, Pretty Boy, needed his annual checkup, which was late.  A little background: Pretty Boy was diagnosed with diabetes since 2011, a condition called Somongyi where his body responds oddly to glucose in 2012, & then with a liver carcinoma in 2013.  That is when the vet said he may not be around much longer, & chances are his glucose wouldn’t be regulated ever again.  In spite of it all, he’s been doing GREAT!  Mostly his glucose has been regulated, & he’s obviously feeling good.  However, I was still nervous (as always) about his checkup.  Turned out the vet said he is doing extremely well, I’m happy to say.  Two vets saw him, one who specializes in diabetes, & she told me she thinks he’s starting to go into diabetic remission!!  It’s very unusual- cats often go into diabetic remission, but usually within about the first 3 months after their diagnosis.  The longer they have diabetes, the lower the chances of remission are.  Leave it to my little guy to be unique.. lol  It’s truly an answer to prayer!  I’m so excited!

This all got me to thinking last night how much I have to thank God for.

Lately, the C-PTSD has been especially bad, leaving me extremely depressed, tired, anxious, having a hard time concentrating & really unable & unwilling to be around people.  It’s been hard to think of anything to be thankful for, but this vet visit was the kick in the butt I needed to change my attitude.  OK, I’m still having some trouble feeling grateful, but I am doing better at it today.  I’m grateful my special little kitty is much healthier than anyone could’ve expected.  I’m grateful too that he’s such a sweet baby- he knows every emotion I have, & if I’m upset, he is right there, offering lots of love to try to make it all better.  I’m grateful for another one of my cats, Punkin, who also has PTSD & how we can help each other when symptoms flare up.  I’m grateful God has blessed me with the many wonderful cats I have & had in my life.   I’m grateful that even during the worst of times with C-PTSD, God still cares & helps me to get through it all.  I’m grateful I survived all of the traumas that caused the C-PTSD, & still have a pretty decent attitude about life most days.  I’m grateful I have people in my life who care about me.  I’m even grateful for the classic car I drive, because it was once my grandfather’s car (my favorite car he ever had) & God found a miraculous way to send it back into my life after not even seeing it in 26 years. (I wrote that story in ebook form- it’s a fascinating story even if you aren’t a classic car fan like me.  Here’s the link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/my-life-the-story-of-a-1969-plymouth/ebook/product-18462742.html )

As a result of thinking about these things & more that I am grateful to God for, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel the C-PTSD starting to improve some.  I’m not expecting grateful thoughts to make all of the symptoms magically disappear of course- that would be very naive- but, I have noticed a grateful attitude does help to reduce the severity of C-PTSD symptoms.  I think because it makes me feel closer to God as well as more appreciative of the good things He has blessed me with.  Thinking about such things also increases my faith in God.  Really focusing on the blessings He gives you can’t help but to increase your faith!

I know sometimes when symptoms are raging, it feels like there is absolutely nothing to be thankful for.  I’ve felt that way many times myself.  However, if you can try to think of the good in your life, or ask God to show you the ways He’s blessed you, it may help to reduce your symptoms.  Even if it only helps a little bit, isn’t it worth it?

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Anger Happens Sometimes With C-PTSD & It’s OK!

Something is happening that I assume is a natural part of C-PTSD, but I haven’t read or heard anything about it: anger, & lots of it.  I’ve read that often people with PTSD or C-PTSD can have a short fuse, getting angry at silly little things, but that is all I read.  So, I had to start praying..

For the first time, I’m getting very angry when people are deliberately hurtful, mean or even abusive towards me.  I realize for the first time that I don’t deserve such poor treatment.  In a way, this is pretty darned cool!!  God showed me it means my self-esteem is at a good place instead of in the toilet where it’s been most of my life.  In another way, it’s rather scary since it’s new territory… I’m not used to feeling anger, because I learned early in life I wasn’t allowed to feel it.  If I expressed any anger, my mother said I had that “awful Bailey temper.”  I carried that dysfunctional habit of not expressing anger into adulthood.

In addition to that, I’m getting very angry at the things that I feel C-PTSD has stolen from me.  This morning, this anger was triggered because of my hair.  Yes, sounds crazy, I know.. I was brushing my hair this morning & realizing so much is broken off & my hair is extremely dry. It looks awful, which upsets me as I’ve always had healthy, nice hair.  Researching this online, long story short, I learned that anxiety & depression are most likely the cause for me.  *sigh*  Great.  Then a little while later,  I decided I was going to work on the new carburetor that is going on my car.  As I skimmed over the directions, they didn’t seem too difficult- I thought I could do what I needed to do.  Nope.  Trying to follow the directions, I was easily confused.  Although I did eventually remember that I’ve done this before (admittedly, 20+ years ago..), trying to actually do what the directions said to do absolutely baffled me.  I also couldn’t remember details of how I’d done this.  it was just the icing on the cake for me.  Made me so angry that I have to rely on my husband do to this simple task for me!  I miss my independence so much!  I then thought about so many other things that C-PTSD has stolen from me, like my coping skills.  i was once very strong, but now any little  thing can frazzle me.  Writing has become very hard for me, because my focus absolutely stinks.  Reading, which was always my favorite pass time, is now a burden because my brain gets easily overwhelmed when I look at the pages in a book.  I can’t tell you the last time I had a restful night’s sleep that wasn’t interrupted by nightmares or waking up with anxiety attacks, & yes, this happens even with sleeping pills.  I’m sick of the constant anxiety, depression, forgetfulness & mood swings too.  We won’t even discuss how many perfectly fine days have been ruined by flashbacks out of the blue..

I realize I sound like I’m wallowing in self-pity, which is what so many ignorant people think C-PTSD is, but yanno something?  I think it’s OK to have these moments of self-compassion sometimes, & even be angry about it.  It’s NOT fair to be abused, let alone so badly & so frequently as to develop C-PTSD.  It’s WRONG!  And, it’s so maddening when you’re suffering through every single day while your abuser goes on with his or her life without a care about what they did to you.  I know, God says vengeance is His, & I respect that by not trying to get revenge on anyone.  That being said.. sometimes it’d be nice to see that person suffer a little, yanno?!?  Not nice, not a good Christian attitude either, but I think it’s just normal to feel that way once in a while (& then ask God to forgive me later..).  It’s also maddening when you are trying your absolute best just to survive, & someone comes along telling you to stop looking so depressed, shake it off, let it go, just think happy thoughts.. seriously, don’t you want to slap those people hard sometimes??  lol  I actually chewed out my husband recently for telling me to do my best.  He’d said it many times, & I felt like doing my best was never good enough for him.  One day, i got angry & told him “the fact I’m out of bed today & I haven’t put a gun to my head should tell you I *am* doing my best!”  He was shocked, but it finally clicked for him that even if it doesn’t look like it, I really am trying!

Does this describe you too?  Do you have times like I’m having today where you are just hot mad at having C-PTSD?  If so, doesn’t logic dictate this as normal behavior sometimes?  C-PTSD is such a frustrating, depressing disorder!  God reminded me of that, & understands my anger & frustration, just as He does yours.  Please, don’t berate yourself for how you feel!  Feelings can’t be helped- they just happen.  It’s what you do with those feelings that matter.

How can you cope when these days happen?  To start with, get those feelings out!  Once I’m done writing this entry, I’m going to write in my journal or pray.  Getting all the anger out I can in a safe manner.  Writing is an awesome way to get out your anger & hurt if you don’t feel like praying.  Or, you could beat up a pillow- that helps too.  Talk to something as if it’s the person you’re angry with, maybe an empty chair in front of you.

Music can help too.  Right now, I’m listening to 1980’s hair bands & heavy metal- some of my favorite music ever.  What is your favorite genre of music?  Well, crank it up!!  Doesn’t matter if it’s heavy metal or classical- whatever makes you feel good!  In fact, go for a drive with your music blaring if you can- it’s fun & therapeutic!

Be gentle & understanding with yourself.  If you’re feeling angry, there is a reason for it!  Don’t tell yourself to just get over it, stop feeling that way or even that you need to forgive the person who hurt you. Accept the fact it’s really OK to be angry sometimes!  The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27  “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry- but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (MSG)  See?  Even God says it’s OK to get angry sometimes!  Just don’t do anything bad with that anger, such as get revenge.

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Who Am I After Trauma?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some really rough C-PTSD times lately.  The last few days, it’s been a lot better, thankfully.  Going through the rough times lately have gotten me to thinking.  I realized I’ve changed a lot since May, 2012 when the C-PTSD became full blown, but I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago when I realized I’ve been berating myself rather than accepting myself or trying to discover who I am post-trauma.

There are plenty of books & online counselors on  the topic of discovering your post trauma identity.  Obviously there is a need for such knowledge- trauma certainly changes you, like it or not.  I haven’t ready any of those books yet or spoken to a counselor, so I’m just starting to learn about & pray about this topic.  I hope & pray these things I’ve learned so far will help you as they are starting to help me..

I’m seeing that I need to learn to accept the fact I have C-PTSD, & its ugly symptoms without judgment.  I keep beating myself up about being so “weak” as to have C-PTSD.  You see, I’ve always been very strong.  In fact, when I had my first nervous breakdown at age 19, I went to work the next day.  I was catatonic for 5 hours that night, had no sleep at all, yet went into work the next morning as if nothing happened. I survived awful abuse, then went on to school, & no one had any idea what had just happened to me.  It seemed like nothing could affect me for long, until C-PTSD came along.  Now?  Let my kitchen sink clog up or me have any small change in my routine, & I’m in a state of panic.  It’s beyond frustrating!  I’m trying to remember some things.  First, C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness- it’s a sign of having survived some pretty terrible traumas.  Second, C-PTSD is a terrible, life-changing, even potentially life threatening disorder.  It’s not something one can control, so its symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads, including the lack of ability to cope well with about anything, crying at the drop of a hat, anxiety attacks, etc.  Third, I wouldn’t judge anyone else with C-PTSD.  In fact, I have friends with it, & have not once thought they were weak, stupid, useless, etc., so I need to extend that same kindness to myself. Fourth, I need to take better care of myself when the symptoms flare up. It’s ok to take a day off to relax after a particularly nasty flashback, for example.  And, I also need to be more aware of what makes my symptoms worse, what triggers I have, & be more understanding of myself regarding them.  They’re a normal part of this disorder, & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept the fact that trauma changes a person’s brain, especially repeated, ongoing trauma like I have experienced.  Like it or not, it’s a fact.  Basically, PTSD & C-PTSD are brain injuries.  Brain injuries can make drastic changes in a person!  I’ve become very forgetful, very emotional, moody & a lot of times I have trouble finding the right words I need.  All are symptoms of C-PTSD & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept changes that have happened to me since C-PTSD.  I don’t laugh as easily as I once did. I still have a sense of humor, but I’m a lot more serious than I used to be.  I’ve always been an avid bookworm, but now, reading a book overwhelms my brain very easily, which made me lose interest in reading.  Reading on my tablet is easier, but I still can feel overwhelmed sometimes.  I’ve lost most interest in my favorite hobbies- knitting & crocheting.  Writing has become very difficult on most days for me.  I don’t know it these things will ever come back.  Hopefully they will, or maybe even be replaced by other interesting things that I can enjoy just as much.

I also need to accept the fact I need to ask God for help with the simple things much more often than I used to.  Thankfully, God doesn’t mind helping, & in fact, wants to help.  However, I still feel weird about asking Him to help me remember to do something or help in accomplishing something simple because I’ve forgotten how to do it.  Thank God He is patient & understanding!  He has not once made me feel as if I need to do something on my own or not bother Him with my silly requests.

I’m certain there is much more to add to this list, but so far this is what God’s been showing me about handling my post-trauma identity.  I hope it helps you as well!  xoxo

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“You Just Need To Get Over It!” & Other Pearls Of So-Called Wisdom About Narcissistic Abuse

I read a very interesting quote, & it really hit home with me:

“There is a theme that runs through responses I receive from children of a narcissistic parent(s).  The child is subjected to unbearable levels of ongoing abuse- scalding criticisms, withering humiliations in front of other family members & alone, routine secret physical beatings & other horrendous acts of brutality including psychological & literal abandonment.  When the child lets family members know what is happening to  him, this person is not believed. When the victim of a narcissist tells the truth about his dreadful pathological parent, he is not treated with kindness or understanding.  The family is shocked; the victim is treated with disdain & often told he/she is the sick one or that this is all lies to get attention.”  Linda Martinez-Lewi, PHD

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been treated this way, not only by those close to me (well, not close to me anymore obviously!), but even by therapists.  When I told my high school guidance counselor about my mother spending so much time daily screaming at me, she said, “That doesn’t sound so bad..”  I’ve also been told to let it go, get over it, work things out with my mother- it’s my responsibility, I need therapy, I use C-PTSD to get attention & more.

If you too are the adult child of a narcissist, I’m sure you can relate.

Hearing such cruel, invalidating statements is extremely painful.  You feel abused all over again.  It can be devastating to you & to the relationship you share with that person.  One person I had loved dearly & was once close to said a few comments along the lines of I needed to just get over things.  Her last comment actually destroyed the love I felt for her.  I suddenly no longer cared for her.  Not that I wished her bad- I simply felt nothing at all for her.

So how do you deal with these painful situations?  Avoiding them would be best, but unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.  Sometimes you can, because if you know a person well, you know  that this person isn’t safe to discuss certain topics with.  As a result, you avoid discussing those topics with that person.  Then there are other times when you mention your narcissistic mother to someone who you expect to be supportive, yet they surprise you by invalidating your pain.  Those times are the most painful, because you didn’t expect that response- you expected support & empathy.

When you are told to “get over it”, “you’re only making these things up to get attention,” etc., the first thing to do is to end this conversation before it goes further (hurting you more) however you deem appropriate.  You can simply change the subject, walk away or hang up the phone.  However you set  this boundary, you’ll run the risk of angering the other person, so you need to be prepared for that unfair anger. (The person I mentioned whose comments destroyed my love for her?  When we’d discussed the topic via email the last time, I told her I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but I wasn’t asking for her opinion on my life.  After that, she didn’t speak to me for several months.)  Hopefully the other person you’re having the problem with will simply respect your boundary instead, as many people do.

Once the conversation is done, as soon as you can, get alone with God.  Tell  Him how it made you feel, & let Him comfort you.  Get your feelings out so they don’t end up pushed down inside of you, festering.  That only hurts you!  If you don’t feel comfortable telling God how you feel, journal about them.  Or, write the person a letter that you never send, telling her off if that helps you feel better.

If you’re suddenly doubting yourself (am I really making too much out of things?  That type of thought) because of what was said to you, ask God to tell you if you are.  He will reassure you that you aren’t, which helps tremendously to give you a healthy perspective on what was said.

You also need to evaluate your relationship with this person.  is she someone you’re close to?  Do you have a good relationship other than her lack of understanding about your abusive mother?  Then it is probably worth saving- just accept that your narcissistic mother isn’t a topic you two can discuss.  Or, does this person criticize or invalidate you in other ways?  (I don’t mean the healthy, constructive criticism we all need sometimes)  Then this relationship may need to end. You’ve been treated badly enough in your life thanks to your narcissistic mother- why continue to tolerate being treated badly?

As I mentioned in this post, I recently realized that when the C-PTSD flares up, it seems like every single nasty, invalidating comment I’ve ever heard comes to mind.  Those times are so painful!  I tried to wait on it to pass when it happens, but that doesn’t always work so well.  Sometimes it seems like the comments play over & over, like an old cassette tape stuck on repeat.  So, what I do during those times is think of a specific comment said to me, for example, “that doesn’t sound so bad.”  Then I think about the event that led the person to make the comment, & remember, it really WAS bad!  It was horrible!  Having someone tell you that you’re a horrible person hurts, but add in the fact that was my mother, & she was screaming it in my face?  Yea, it was pretty bad.. if someone thinks it wasn’t, that person obviously has the problem!

I believe that some people simple aren’t able to grasp the hell that is living with narcissistic abuse.  Maybe they come from loving families, & never had to face any type of abuse.  As a result, they just can’t  wrap their minds around the fact not all families are as good as theirs.  Or, maybe they too came from a narcissistic parent, yet haven’t had the strength to face that, & continue living in the dysfunction instead.  Or, in all honesty, narcissistic abuse sounds so far fetched!  Sometimes the things narcissists do sound completely made up, they just are that “out there.”  If I wouldn’t have seen the things my mother did to me, I’m not sure I would believe anyone was capable of such acts either!  Maybe some people can’t believe another human being is capable of doing such things, especially to her own child.  Whatever the reason, that does not give them the right to invalidate your pain!  Narcissistic abuse is a horrible thing to endure.  Its damage can be lifelong & extremely painful.  Don’t let anyone convince you that it was “no big deal” or that there’s something wrong with you for how you feel after surviving such torture!

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Why Not Tolerating Abuse Is A Godly, Loving Behavior

One thing it seems like all adult children of narcissists share is the large amount of people who  think that we should continue to tolerate anything & everything our narcissistic parents dish out, because of such logic as, “That’s the only mother you’ll ever have!”, “She’s doing her best!”  or, “She won’t be around forever yanno!”  So many people think tolerating abuse is loving, Godly, martyr-like behavior.  How people can think this is utterly beyond me.

Consider Mark 12:32-33, & notice the last part of verse 33…

Mark 12:32-33   “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  (NIV)

What exactly does it mean to love?  Here is how love is defined in the Bible..

1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  (NIV)

I see nothing in there that states how tolerating abuse is a good thing for anyone.  Basically, I see 1 Corinthians 13 this way- love wants what is best, & tolerating abuse is hardly best for anyone.  The victim certainly doesn’t get what’s best- instead they end up hurt & angry at best, or possibly even doubting their sanity at worst.  Depending on the type of abuse the narcissist dishes out, they may also end up in financial straights or with physical injuries.  The abuser doesn’t end up with what’s best when abuse is tolerated either, because being allowed to get away with bad behavior certainly isn’t loving!  Getting away with bad behavior only encourages that bad behavior to continue, & probably even to escalate.  Narcissists in particular, when not confronted with boundaries or consequences for their behavior, will continue to push the limits to see just how far they can go.

People who try to tell you that you need to let your narcissistic parent abuse  you truly have no inkling of God’s definition of love.  Sadly, many of them are very convicted in their beliefs, so trying to explain this to many of them will be a waste of your time.  However, if this is someone you know well, you will know if this person will be open or not to hearing you explain what God’s definition of love really is.  If they are, then hopefully your relationship will survive this bump in the road unscathed.

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A Long Week In A Life With C-PTSD

It’s been almost three years since almost all of the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifested in my life, but I’m still learning about them & how to manage them.  It’s a daily battle.

This past week has been a rough one.  I’m not sure why, but the C-PTSD has been flaring up really badly.  Nothing happened to trigger it, although I did have a flashback a few days into this flare.  I haven’t discussed what’s happening much with anyone, not even my husband.  For one thing, when it flares up, I need to get a grasp on what is happening.  My thinking changes so much, & sometimes it takes a lot for me to recognize it’s the disorder, not me thinking that. For example, I’ve been ashamed of this flare up.  I’ve been feeling weak & angry at myself for being so weak.  Normally, I accept C-PTSD as the reaction to some very bad things that I’ve been through, but flare ups change that in me.

This morning, I was in an especially foul mood, & my husband & I talked about it.  I finally opened up to some of what has been going on with me this week  He suggested that since I’ve promised to keep my blog real, that I write about it, & hopefully someone who reads this will benefit from it.

Reading about the symptoms of C-PTSD on clinical sounding websites & living them are two very different things.  Reading about them, they sound bad enough, but living them?  Yikes.  And, you rarely see detailed descriptions of the more odd symptoms.  I thought I’d share some of the symptoms you don’t read much (if anything) about that I’ve experienced this week, so if you too experience them, you’ll know you aren’t crazy!

Lately, I’ve had more nightmares than usual.  Not even nightmares about traumatic events I’ve been through- nightmares about stupid things, such as an empty school bus parked beside my car catching fire.  I knew I couldn’t move my car for some reason, & was afraid it was going to burn with the bus.  Make any sense to you?  Yea, me neither.. lol  One night, I woke up every 15-30 minutes all night long, mostly from nightmares, most of which I didn’t even remember, but I woke up panicky.  The few I did remember though had absolutely nothing to do with the traumas I’ve experienced.  When I first read about C-PTSD, I assumed when it said nightmares happen, it was nightmares about the traumas.  Not necessarily.. I have them too sometimes, but usually not.  The nightmares are usually odd but disturbing.

My thinking has been extremely negative.  I try to be positive yet realistic, but this week, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been beating myself up about anything & everything possible.  I’m weak, stupid, cowardly, useless, ugly, nothing but a burden to my husband.. you get the idea.  Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I used to do that all the time, but over the last probably 10-15 years or so, had gotten much better about not doing that.  When the C-PTSD flares up, though, that old habit comes back with a vengeance.

I feel like I’ve remembered every single time someone has told me something invalidating about having C-PTSD & it hurts.  I’ve thought of so many times when people have told me to “get over it,” “stop using C-PTSD to get pity/attention,” “stop living in the past”, “stop being so negative- you need to be more positive.”  or even simply showed they don’t care when the symptoms are bothering me.   Why these stupid comments pop into my mind, I have no idea..

My thinking has been very sluggish.  I haven’t caught on to hubby’s jokes, which is very abnormal for me since we share the same warped sense of humor.  Following a simple TV show or movie has been rather difficult too.  And, I encountered a narcissist, yet failed to recognize the signs I normally wouldn’t have missed.  Once they were pointed out to me is when I caught on.  UGH!

I’ve been getting very angry very easily.  It seems like anything & everything pushes my buttons.  While trying to put fresh sheets on my bed this morning, I got mad at one of my cats for getting in my way.  WHY?!  She does this every single time I change sheets.  It’s nothing new.  But for some reason this morning, this made me so angry.  I didn’t scold her, since this is a normal part of her routine, but I really wanted to for a minute there.

I’ve been extremely depressed.  I’ve always battled depression, & for years, I was fortunate enough to find ways to keep it under control.  I even wrote a book about that, called, “Baptism Of Joy.”  My first book!  Then when the C-PTSD kicked in in May, 2012, that changed.  While I’m not depressed all of the time, I once again spend quite a bit of time depressed, & this time, the usual things that once helped me to feel better don’t work nearly so often.

I’ve also been extremely anxious & unable to pinpoint why exactly.  Above & beyond the normal anxiety & hyper-vigilance that come with C-PTSD, I mean.  I’ve woken up having panic attacks several times lately.  Not a nice way to wake up!

I’ve wondered if I’m going crazy.  Definitely not a nice way to feel, especially since I spent so much time feeling this way when I was growing up  with my mother who often told me “you need help” (implying I was in need of psychological help, yet she wouldn’t take me to a therapist) & with an ex-husband who was very good at gaslighting.

I’m dissociating a lot more than normal.  I feel so spacey most of the time.  This also means I have very little focus.  Writing in this blog has been a very big challenge this week!  Honestly, when I’ve written my entries, I’ve been very unsure about how they sounded, then published them, just praying they made sense.

To try to manage these symptoms,I’ve been spending time listening to music I love, which means many songs I grew up with in the 70’s-80’s, some country & some classic & hard rock.  I’ve also been spending time with God, not even necessarily praying- just sitting in His presence.  It’s very restorative & grounding.

C-PTSD is an absolutely evil, devastating disorder.  If you live with it too, I understand what you’re going through!  You may or may not have the odd symptoms I’ve been experiencing this week (I pray you don’t!), but if you do, please know you’re not alone, nor are you crazy!  In spite of how it feels, you are a normal person who had a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of trauma!  That is what C-PTSD is- a normal response to an abnormal amount of trauma.  It isn’t a sign of weakness, low intelligence, flaws in one’s character, or poor thinking such as living in the past or being negative.

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Depression Isn’t A Sign Of Weakness!

Yesterday was a very hard day for me. I had an especially nasty flashback.  Not long after, my mother called.  I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but I did anyway.  Why is beyond me..this ended up with me feeling awful for the rest of the day, & waking up about every 15-30 minutes all night long.  Sometimes from nightmares, sometimes from anxiety attacks, other times from hot or cold flashes.

This morning I woke up very depressed & very exhausted.  Unfortunately, when I’m this tired, I think bad thoughts.  I ended up feeling so weak.  I was angry at myself for not being stronger, & for having C-PTSD.  Thankfully, my bad thoughts didn’t get too bad before I got online & read this article….

https://traumadissociation.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/ptsd-can-it-come-from-strength-rather-than-a-sign-of-weakness/

It gives a very interesting perspective.  A perspective I’d never heard of before, suggesting that depressive illness (& those of us with PTSD or C-PTSD know depression all too well) is a sign of strength rather than weakness.  Reading the article made perfect sense to me.  It says that people who are strong, responsible, diligent, etc. tend to deal with depression more than those who are weak, irresponsible or lazy.  The reason being, the responsible types get more stressed- they keep pushing & pushing themselves while their irresponsible counterparts give up.  The article explains it much like a blown fuse.  Responsible types push & push themselves, basically like pushing 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse.

Interesting perspective, no?

Please read the above article- I believe it will encourage you as it has me.

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The Civil Connection With Narcissistic Mothers

One of my readers made an interesting point. She read my post about The Silent Treatment that I wrote a couple of days ago, & mentioned how she gives her mother what she calls the silent treatment.  Hers is a bit different than her narcissistic mother’s silent treatment- she doesn’t try to punish her narcissistic mother with it (as narcissists do).  Instead she only speaks to her mother on her terms (when she is able to talk with her), & is very careful with the limited information she shares.  This is also what Dr. Karyl McBride, author of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” calls the civil connection.

I’ve done this with my mother & mother in-law.  Both are narcissists, my mother being the overt type, mother in-law the covert.  Both have responded very differently to it.  My mother used to get very frustrated, but it didn’t take her long to get to the point where she gives up quickly on me.  I’m more stubborn than her, & she knows that, so I assume she realizes there’s no point in trying to get something “juicy” from me once I’ve made up my mind not to give anything up.  My mother in-law, however, was a different story.  She would become visibly flustered, & try any tactic she could to force me to talk.  It became just plain funny to me after a while!  Watching her get angrier & angrier, yet unable to say or do anything about it for fear of looking bad, became very entertaining to me.

Have you tried this with your narcissistic mother?  If not, you have to try it!!  If nothing else, it’ll amuse you!

I like to give one word (or close to it) answers.  For example…

Mother: “How are you?”

Me: “Fine.”

Mother: “What have you been up to lately?”

Me: “Not much.” (she already thinks I’m lazy, so she’ll believe I haven’t done much)

See how that works?  It’s really easy.

Chances are, your narcissistic mother will start to push for more information from you when you give her such curt responses.  She will hint around, trying to get you to talk, as she won’t ask outright for fear of looking unreasonable, bad, or whatever.  Refuse to respond!  Ignore the hints.  I’m telling you, it will fluster her, & if you’re lucky, she’ll give up trying to get news from you.

Once, I had a doctor’s appointment on a day when my mother in-law thought I should do something for her (which is amazing in itself- she’s hated me from the day we met, so why would she think I would be willing to help her in any way?!).  I told her I couldn’t do it- I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon.  I should have said “prior obligation” instead of admitting what I was doing, but it slipped out.  It turned out to be hilarious for me though!  She said things like,  “Well, if you’re seeing the doctor, it must be serious.  I understand why you can’t do this for me…” (I simply said “Thanks” in response), “If you can’t reschedule it, that isn’t a good sign.  I’m so worried about you!” (yea, right!  She didn’t care- she just wanted information, so I simply told her I was fine.), “Why are you seeing the doctor?” (the only direct question she asked, & I ignored her question, as I was listening to my husband & his father talk- I pretended I didn’t hear her over them), or “I guess you can’t do this for me since you HAVE to see the doctor on that day & no other…I don’t understand why it has to be THAT day..” (to which I responded with, “Nope, I can’t do it.”)  By the time my husband & I left her home shortly after, I was surprised her head didn’t explode!  I barely made it to the car before I started laughing!

If you haven’t tried this type of interaction with your narcissistic mother, please consider doing so!  Not only will it entertain you, it will give her less opportunities to hurt you.  You will speak to her only as you are able to do so, & by limiting your conversation as well as your exposure to her, you will give her less to criticize about you.  It really will make your interactions with her much easier for you!  Also, it’s not disrespectful, so if you are concerned about not honoring your mother, as many Christian daughters of narcissistic mothers are, please don’t worry!

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The Silent Treatment

I visited a very good friend of mine yesterday.  Like me, her mother was a narcissist.  A much more malignant narcissist than mine.  While we were talking, she mentioned that her mother never gave her the silent treatment.  In fact, instead she would fake illness brought on by the stress my friend caused by either disagreeing with her or disobeying her.

I told her what she was missing out on!  The silent treatment can be a wonderful thing!  It gives you a break from your narcissistic mother’s drama, cruelty, mind games & more.  At first, it may not feel good, but after a while, it really feels like a gift from God.  Yes, that sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth!

Many daughters of narcissistic mothers have faced the silent treatment at some point.  As young children, it can be devastating!  It certainly was for me. I couldn’t understand why my mother wouldn’t speak to me.  I would try anything to gain her attention.  I even asked what was wrong, & was met with among the most ridiculous responses ever: “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.”  At first this made me try harder, but I quickly realized that was why she said it, & stopped trying so hard.

As I grew older, I learned some more things about the silent treatment, & I’d like to share them with you to (hopefully!) help you.

  • The silent treatment is about control.  It is supposed to force you to ask, “What’s wrong?” so your narcissistic mother can tell you exactly what is wrong with you to upset her so much, she had to withdraw from you.
  • The silent treatment is also to make you feel inadequate, flawed, wrong, crazy.  The more messed up you believe you are, the less likely it is you’ll stand up to your narcissistic mother.  You will be easier for her to control.
  • The silent treatment really has nothing to do with what you did.  Whatever you did was just an excuse to give you the silent treatment.  Didn’t do anything?  That’s fine too- narcissists aren’t above lying to get what they want.
  • Normal, healthy people do NOT use the silent treatment!!  Normal people get angry, & may even want a little space from you if you said or did something hurtful, but that space doesn’t last long.  It’s only a little time to cool off, & not to punish you.
  • The silent treatment shows the person giving it is very immature, selfish, childish..  If your narcissistic mother can’t approach you like an adult to work things out, using the silent treatment instead, she’s behaving like a spoiled rotten little child.

So how does one deal with being on the receiving end of the silent treatment??

  • Keep the above list in mind.  This will help you to remember that this silent treatment speaks more about your narcissistic mother’s problems than something being wrong with you.  Like I said, normal, healthy people don’t use the silent treatment!  They speak to the person who hurt them & work things out like mature adults.
  • Never, ever ask, “What’s wrong?”  If you do, you most likely will open up her narcissistic rage arsenal of weapons.  “What’s wrong?” seems to translate to “Now I can really abuse her!!” in the mind of a narcissist.  If your narcissistic mother won’t try to work this out, then that is her problem.  How are you supposed to repair whatever you did wrong if you don’t even know what you did wrong?
  • Remember, refusing to play your narcissistic mother’s games is honorable!  Honoring your mother as the Bible commands doesn’t mean play into her manipulation.  To truly honor someone means you want the best for them, & the best is for your mother to be a healthy person.  Granted, to become mentally healthy, she has to want to become healthy- you can’t make her want that, nor can you make her healthy.  However, you can gently push her in that direction by refusing to engage in her games.
  • Think of this time without your narcissistic mother as a break.  In all honesty, probably you aren’t getting the silent treatment because you did something bad.  Probably, you dared to have your own opinion, didn’t praise your mother enough, didn’t jump through some ridiculous hoops that she wanted you to jump through.  Why beat yourself up over something so stupid?  Instead, just think of this silent treatment as a reprieve.  Enjoy the peace & quiet for however long it lasts!  Besides, most likely your mother will contact you soon anyway, as soon as she needs something from you.
  • Take care of yourself.  Refuse to think about “What did I do wrong?” or feel guilty.  Instead, do nice things for yourself. Get a mani/pedi.  Get yourself a new book you’ve been wanting.  Spend a day relaxing with herbal tea & good movies.

It probably will take you some time to stop feeling guilty & to start enjoying the silent treatment.  And then, you may feel somewhat guilty for enjoying it.  I know I did at first.  But, that doesn’t last long once you realize how peaceful your life has become!

I have realized that the last few times my mother has given me the silent treatment, it took me a while to realize it was happening!  Weeks would go by, when suddenly I realized she hadn’t called me.  Quite an improvement over fretting about how to get her to start speaking to me again & feeling guilty for being such a terrible daughter, don’t you think?

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Do You Accept False Blame & Guilt?

Last night was a rough one.. I had a flashback while reading an article online.  The flashback was about something that happened with the ex boyfriend of mine who I mentioned in this post.  It was strange, because I wasn’t even thinking of him, nor had I thought of him in a few days.  I also never had a flashback about him before, nor had I remembered the incident until last night- I must have forgotten about it shortly after it happened (repressed memory).  The whole thing was just so odd!  I had some thoughts about it though, that I thought I should share.  I’m hoping this will make sense- I still feel weird this morning as I’m still recovering from the flashback, & can’t think very straight.  Please bear with me…

As I’d mentioned in the post I’d linked to above, I’d felt guilty since I broke up with that man in 1990.  Guilty for hurting him, guilty for letting myself get involved with someone I wasn’t interested in in the first place, guilty for dashing his hopes for marriage & a family.  That is all I ever thought of regarding him.  It wasn’t until his death last January that when I thought about our relationship, I realized how dysfunctional & abusive it was.

I’ve done similar things with friendships I’ve ended- felt guilty for hurting the other person, only to realize years later that the other person was using me & really a terrible friend,& I had to end that relationship.

I would bet that this is pretty common with daughters of narcissistic mothers.  I know that I grew up feeling so overly responsible for my mother that I carried that overdeveloped sense of responsibility into other relationships.  I still fight with that to this day sometimes.  As a result, people who use & abuse have sought me out, & if I ended the relationship, I ended up feeling guilty for not doing enough, or letting them down somehow.  I take on blame that isn’t necessarily mine.  The result is a lot of wasted time beating myself up & feeling guilty for things I shouldn’t feel guilty about.

Does any of this sound familiar to you??  I’m guessing it does.

If you’re in this position of berating yourself for failed relationships, I would like to encourage you today.  Think objectively about those relationships, & if you have a hard time with being objective, pretend a good friend is telling you about it rather than you having experienced it.  What would you tell her?  Would you blame her completely for the relationship failing?  Would you tell her that she was stupid for becoming involved with the person  in the first place or for allowing that person to use or abuse her?  Then what makes telling yourself these things OK?

I’m not saying you’re never at fault or never make mistakes in relationships.  We all do those things.  It’s part of being human.  However, I’m talking about not accepting 100% of the blame 100% of the time.  Accept blame when it’s yours & make amends where you can, but also keep the other person’s blame on them.  It isn’t yours to take.  if you are unsure about what blame is & is not yours, I encourage you to ask God.  Pray about it, & God will show you what you need to know in a loving, gentle way.

Don’t beat yourself up!  Feeling guilty & berating yourself for things that aren’t your fault only continue the abuse your narcissistic mother did to you.  You deserve so much better than that!!  xoxo

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