Tag Archives: abusive

Validation & Praise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Deserve Compassion & Kindness!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

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

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

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Christian” Narcissists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s Still Abuse If..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Respond To Criticism About Being Estranged From Abusive Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Toxic Love Languages Of Narcissists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Surviving An Abusive Childhood Manifests In Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Big Sale On My Print Books! 20% Off!

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

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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When Narcissists Criticize You It Is About Them Not You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many victims of narcissistic abuse face the same scenario.  Once they ended the relationship with the narcissist, they learned that the narcissist or one of their loyal evil minions have been following them on social media, trying to befriend people the victim knows or otherwise trying to find out information about what their victim has been doing since the relationship ended. 

I have been in this position repeatedly & currently have someone following me on Facebook that I know is only there to report to two narcissists what they find on my page.  Thanks to awful people like this, I can tell you from personal experience, it’s exasperating!  It makes you feel like there is no escape from the narcissist or their flying monkeys.  It also is maddening because you know if you close one door where they have to access you, they’ll find another.  They can create fake social media profiles all day long & follow you in those.  Or, they can befriend other friends of yours that you aren’t as close to.  Or, they can send friends of theirs you don’t know to befriend you. 

There is also the fact no victim of narcissistic abuse could be comfortable with a narcissist knowing anything about their life after the relationship.  No one who treats someone as terribly as a narcissist treats their victim has the right to know anything about those they have abused.  The sheer audacity of that behavior is infuriating, especially if you’re already a rather private person. 

To those who haven’t had this experience, it may not sound like a big deal.  It may even sound like the narcissist truly loves their victim, since they obviously want to know about them even long after the relationship has ended.  The fact though is those thoughts are absolutely wrong.  This IS a big deal & the narcissist does NOT love their victim.

When someone ends a relationship with a functional person, that functional person may want to know what the other person is up to after the relationship ends sometimes, but they aren’t obsessed.  They know it’s unhealthy & they aren’t entitled to that knowledge.  They may peek at their social media once in a while or ask a mutual friend how the other person is doing, but that is it.  Narcissists are not like this.  They think they are entitled to know whatever they like about their victims simply because they want to know.  Nothing else matters to them, like respect, privacy or boundaries.

Narcissists also don’t behave this way out of love.  They know nothing about what real love is like.  They are hoping to learn that their former victim is as miserable as they are, & failing in their life.  Nothing would make them happier than to learn that their victim has suffered all kinds of heartaches & trials since the relationship ended.  And, if they see evidence their victim is happy, it infuriates them.  It fuels their hatred of their victim.  Again, this is nothing like a functional person after a relationship!  A functional person wants the person they were in a relationship with once to be happy, even if it isn’t with them.  They won’t rejoice if they learn that person has suffered, only if they learn that person is happy.

If you are in this position of dealing with a narcissist or their flying monkeys lurking on the outskirts of your life, my heart truly goes out to you.  Protect your privacy however necessary, & don’t feel badly about doing it.  You have every right to do that!  They aren’t entitled to know anything about you or your life.  A person who abuses you has lost all rights to know anything about you, good or bad.  It is totally reasonable for you to protect your privacy however you need to because of that.

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

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

I need your thoughts on this idea.

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

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

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

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

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Baiting Tactics And Ways To Cope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

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

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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When People Are Overly Defensive

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the original topic..

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

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

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

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When People Refuse To Acknowledge Your Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Reality Behind Triggers

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

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

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

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

Some common feelings behind triggers are feeling…

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

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

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

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Recognizing & Dealing With Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists are as the name implies.  Covert.  In other words, these people can abuse others in such a stealthy, sneaky way that the abuse can go unnoticed.  Innocent probably best describes the impression they give.  The victim of a covert narcissist often feels badly after dealing with them, but doesn’t even know why.  They think the covert narcissist is innocent, because whatever they do, they appear innocent.  If the covert narcissist is confronted, they claim they didn’t realize what they said or did would hurt anyone.  They also cry victim & make people feel sorry for them.  Their behavior makes them appear naïve & always innocent.  Yet the truth is, they are cruel & incredibly toxic.

Consider the first narcissist, Satan.  When in the garden of Eden with Adam & Eve as described in Genesis 3, the way he approached Eve reeks of covert narcissism.  Rather than scream & rage, he simply asked questions that sound innocent, but created doubt in Eve’s mind.  He also sounded as though he wanted what was best for her.  Genesis 3:1-5 in the Amplified Bible says, “Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle, skilled in deceit) than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent (Satan) said to the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees of the garden, 3 except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘You shall not eat from it nor touch it, otherwise you will die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die! 5 For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.””

This is how covert narcissists work.  On the surface, they sound like they may be naïve, but they’re good people with good intentions.  They may have started their lives that way, but they no longer are.  They learned somewhere along the way that this type of behavior got them what they wanted, so they have continued using them, even employing new, similar behaviors. 

It is possible to protect yourself from covert narcissists.  First you must acknowledge that their behavior is evil.  Since their behavior is similar to the serpent’s behavior in the Garden of Eden, that alone should be a sign to you that it’s evil. 

You also keep your distance from them.  The Bible says in Proverbs 22:3 & 27:12 that a prudent (in other words, wise or shrewd) person recognizes evil & hides from it while the naïve continue in that way & are punished for it.  There isn’t a lot of repetition in the Bible, so when something is repeated, to me that says it is worth paying extra attention to.   

It is also vital to pray.  Ask God for discernment so you recognize these people quickly, to show you the truth about their behavior, ways to deal with it when it is impossible to avoid & to ruin their efforts to hurt & abuse you.  His guidance & assistance is invaluable & you absolutely use it!

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Another Helpful Tool For Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

Whether you are currently suffering at the hands of a narcissist or have suffered narcissistic abuse in the past, chances are you have questioned yourself.  Whether they are questions like, “Was the narcissist right about me?” or, “How could I have not seen what this person was really like before we got married?!” I will guarantee you have had many questions.  Pretty sure that is just a part of the experience of narcissistic abuse.  After all, narcissists want their victims to question themselves & never the narcissist. 

You can deal with those questions though & in such a way that it helps you to heal.  If you’ve followed my work for long, you know I always recommend starting with prayer.  I’m suggesting an effective addition to prayer, not a replacement for it.  I’m talking about using simple logic.

Whatever your question is, I strongly recommend asking God to help you to see the truth about the situation before you do anything else. Then, consider your question not from any emotional standpoint, but instead one of stone, cold, logic.  For example, let’s say you asked yourself how you could’ve missed the signs pointing to narcissism before you married your narcissistic spouse.  Consider the relationship as if you were watching someone else in this situation rather than yourself.  Are there any tell tale red flags of narcissism?  And, what was known about narcissism at that time?  If nothing, it is perfectly normal not to recognize the red flags.  It is also normal to be swept off your feet by a narcissist.  They are in their best behavior when in the beginning of a relationship.  They can be so skilled at seduction that even one who knows a great deal about narcissism can cast caution to the wind.

This type of thinking is also very useful when it comes to the narcissist’s criticisms.  Don’t think about how it makes you feel.  Instead, ignore any emotions attached to this for a few minutes.  Then, ask yourself what evidence there is that what this person says is true, & look at the situation objectively.  Is there evidence that you are as terrible as the narcissist says you are?

How about when the narcissist tries to convince you that your friends & family want nothing to do with you?  Is there evidence that this is true or is the only so-called evidence what the narcissist has told you?

By taking some time to pray, calm down, consider your situation without emotions to skew your thinking & look at it objectively, you can see the truth in the situation.  The truth is incredibly freeing & healing, which is why that is the goal.

Also, when I say you should ignore your emotions while considering your situation, please keep in mind I only recommend it temporarily.  Ignoring emotions isn’t a healthy thing to do for any length of time as a general rule.  They don’t go away but instead manifest in unhealthy ways.  Ignoring them for a very brief period of time to focus on truth & healing, & then dealing with the emotions once you learn what you need to know, is a healthy thing to do.

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My Podcasts

As I mentioned some time back, I decided to give up making videos & just go with podcasts. I have added them to a bunch of different podcast sites, so I thought I would share them here for those of you who are a fan of podcasts. I hope you decide to check them out sometime! If your favorite podcast site isn’t on this list, then please let me know. I’ll try to add it.

Amazon Music:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/636257ca-b20e-4c80-b0c4-76c6da81d4b6/cynthia-bailey-rug

Anchor By Spotify:

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cynthia-bailey-rug/id1632080095

Castbox:

Google Podcasts:

https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yNWViYmY5OC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

iheartradio:

Overcast:

https://overcast.fm/itunes1519449931/cynthia-bailey-rug

Player fm:

https://player.fm/series/cynthia-bailey-rug

Pocketcasts:

https://pca.st/3qvsb30s

Podbean:

https://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/32zdh-12d533/Cynthia-Bailey-Rug-Podcast

RadioPublic:

Soundcloud:

Spotify:

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/cynthia-baileyrug

Tune In:

https://tunein.com/podcasts/Religion–Spirituality-Podcas/Cynthia-Bailey-Rug-p1728318/

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Animals, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health, Narcissism, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.)

Admitting Your Relationship Is Abusive

People often struggle with admitting a relationship they are in is abusive.  They may say they don’t get along with someone, or that person is difficult, but the word “abusive” may be too hard for them to say. 

Although it may sound strange, I certainly understand it.  Admitting something makes it more real in the mind, & sometimes that thing is so painful, you don’t want it to be real.  When my granddad died, for a year after his death, I couldn’t say the words that he had died.  It hurt too much, & I didn’t want that to be real.  I wanted things as they had been, when we had such a loving & close relationship.  Losing what had been hurt tremendously, & felt like it was too painful to face.  Admitting a relationship you are in is abusive is very similar.  You want things to be like they once were, when things were good.  It hurts so much to admit that now, things aren’t like that anymore & in fact, they are really bad. 

I want you to know today that it’s ok to admit you are in an abusive relationship.  In fact, it is a good thing.  It is your first step to freedom from the abuse.

Being in an abusive relationship or even several abusive relationships doesn’t mean there is something terribly wrong with you.  Many other people have been in abusive relationships in their life.  It’s perfectly ok to admit that someone you love abuses you.  It is not a bad reflection on you!

Abusive people are known for making themselves irresistible to those they lure into romantic relationships.  They can appear charming, kind, & caring.  They can appear to share your beliefs, morals, likes & dislikes.  They claim their chosen victim is the one they’ve been waiting for their entire life, they have never met anyone as wonderful as their victim, & generally sweep their victim off their feet quickly, leaving them little or no time to recognize signs pointing to how toxic they truly are.  They are extremely skilled at just how to make themselves the most appealing to their victims & hiding their true selves.  By the time the abuser reveals his or her true self to the victim, the victim is head over heals in love with the abuser.  The victim doesn’t want to see that horrible true self or admit their abuser is truly abusive rather than the wonderful person he or she was at first.  Feeling that way is completely normal.  It still doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with or bad about admitting this relationship you are in is abusive, though.

Abusers also are extremely skilled at convincing their victims that they are the true problem in the relationship, not the abuser.  Abusers work very hard to get their victims to believe this so they can continue being abusive & their victims won’t protest.  Victims often believe that this is the case, that somehow they make the abuser hurt them.  That is never true however!  No one can force anyone to abuse them.  The choice to abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers, never on victims.  Since you have nothing to be ashamed of, this means it’s perfectly ok to admit your relationship is abusive.

If you are in a bad relationship that you are hesitant to admit is abusive in spite of evidence of abuse, I want you to know it’s ok to admit it is abusive.  I know it will hurt by making that fact seem more real, but it will be worth it.  Once you accept that reality, you can decide what to do about the relationship from there & begin to heal.  The truth really does set us free in so many ways, & this is one of those ways.  Set yourself free & admit that your relationship is abusive. 

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Habits Of People With Anxiety

Living with anxiety is so incredibly difficult for many reasons.  Following are some of those reasons that most of us don’t usually think about.

Feeling relaxed makes anxiety worse.  When you are accustomed to living in a state of hyper-vigilance, feeling relaxed is very abnormal.  It can make you feel so abnormal that you immediately return to your anxious state.  If at all possible when this happens, remind yourself that there is no reason to be anxious at this time.  Take a few deep breaths & focus on how they make your body feel.  This calms the mind & body.  If you can, enjoy feeling relaxed as much as you possibly can.

External validation is of the utmost importance.  Everyone needs validation.  That’s simply how God made people.  Anxious people crave it like oxygen, because we don’t trust our decisions & have such an incredible amount of self doubt.  However people, being imperfect beings, will fail to give you all of the validation that you need.  Learning to validate yourself is so important!  Doing so requires a great deal of leaning on God & questioning yourself to decide if your beliefs are truly yours or those of some dysfunctional, abusive person. 

You are an expert at hiding your anxiety.  People with anxiety know how awkward & uncomfortable we can make other people feel.  Rather than do that, we learn to hide our anxiety to the best of our ability.  Some of us become so skilled at this, others have no idea we live with anxiety.  This isn’t always a bad thing, since some situations are made worse when someone recognizes another’s anxiety.  There are also times when it will behoove you to let someone safe know that you are struggling & ask them for help.

Along those same lines, we also hide our emotions.  Hiding emotions seems to be a natural side bar of hiding anxiety.  People may think we are naturally happy or even confident.  They see what we portray ourselves as, not the bundle of negative emotions that we truly are inside.  Similar to hiding anxiety, this can be beneficial in some situations but there also is nothing wrong with showing them to safe people & asking for help if needed.

Overthinking is normal to people with anxiety.  Overthinking can be beneficial.  When you’re packing for a trip, it helps to pack if you consider every possible scenario in that trip.  You’ll think of bringing things with you that you might not have considered otherwise.  But, overthinking in day to day life?  Not always so beneficial.  It only adds to anxiety that is already there.  When it happens, if at all possible, it’s best to take a little time to yourself.  Breathe slowly & deeply in & out a few times.  This slows down the mind & heart rate, which allows you to think more logically about the situation.  Often, it shows you that what you’re overthinking doesn’t require nearly so much thought.  Or it helps you to get a grasp on the fact that something is completely beyond your control, so there is no point in worrying about it.

Lastly, some folks with anxiety depend on certain inanimate objects to feel comforted & safe.  Remember as a child how you felt safest when you had that special teddy bear, blanket or baby doll?  That happen in adulthood now too, except now, it’s ear buds, cell phone, purse, wallet or something else.  I don’t know why this is exactly, because logically you know they won’t protect you.  Yet somehow, leaving home without this security item can lead to downright panic.  I barely even use my cell phone but if I leave home without it, I feel absolutely lost. 

If you exhibit any of these behaviors, know you’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  You simply are showing signs of having anxiety.  Work on them as you feel able to & pray for God’s help in healing.  They can improve in time!  I promise!

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What Complements Are Like For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I have yet to talk to one victim of narcissistic abuse who doesn’t struggle with receiving complements on some level.  I certainly am one of them.  You may be able to relate to my story.

Growing up, my overtly narcissistic mother was very critical of me.  She said it was for my own good but it really didn’t feel that way.  My self esteem was about non existent. 

Just before I turned 17, I met my ex husband.  At first, he showered me with constant praise.  Eventually that stopped, & he became very critical.  Of course, he denied that because he didn’t say words like, “stupid” or “fat.”  He implied them by saying things like, “I’m surprised you don’t know that” or, “well, you certainly aren’t small…”  By the time that marriage ended, I had no self esteem.

For most of my life, if people complemented me, I would tell them why they were wrong.  Eventually I realized this made people uncomfortable, so I started to smile & say thank you.  I was still cringing inside, & thinking of how wrong they were, but at least they didn’t realize that.  I was more or less satisfied with this arrangement for a long time. 

Eventually though, I decided it was time to consider complements rather than blindly shoot them down.  I realized that people don’t usually say things with an ulterior motive or to hear themselves talk.  When they pay complements, they sincerely believe what they say.  I still struggle with trying to believe them, but knowing this helps.

Then I read about shame & suddenly things made sense!

When a person is subjected to narcissistic abuse, they develop a deep root of shame thanks to the gaslighting.  Being told how terrible, ugly, stupid, flawed, mentally unstable & more they are over & over does this.  So when someone complements this type of person, one of two things may happen..

Cognitive dissonance can happen.  That is the term for the very uncomfortable feeling of receiving new information that clashes with one’s core beliefs.  Being told you are something good after believing that you are nothing but bad creates a very painful cognitive dissonance.  The automatic reaction to cognitive dissonance is often to reject the new information immediately.  That isn’t always wise though.  That new information should be questioned!

Another possibility is the complement triggers shame, because the person feels they have somehow duped this poor person.  They feel shame because they believe they were being deceitful.

If you experience these feelings when someone gives you a complement, I would like to encourage you to challenge this.  I can’t promise you’ll become completely comfortable with complements, but at the very least, you will learn to feel better about them.

Remember what I said – most people don’t have any ulterior motive for paying someone a complement.  They’re simply being nice & sincere. 

Consider the complement.  I would bet the same thing someone praises you for is something the narcissist was quick to criticize about you.  Narcissists are quick to tear down anything good they see in their victims, so that alone should prove that it’s true. 

And never forget to pray.  God will be more than happy to help you to heal in every area!  Let Him do just that!

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When Abused Children Trust People Too Easily

When a child is abused by their parents, that child naturally grows up with plenty of issues.  They lack a healthy foundation as well as good teaching, so this is understandable.

One area in which abused children tend to struggle greatly is when it comes to trusting people.

Many abused children grow up distrustful of others, in particular adults.  Considering the only adults in their lives have caused them pain & suffering, it’s totally understandable.  It’s also a very common occurrence. 

What is less common is when abused children go the exact opposite but equally dysfunctional direction, & they trust people very easily.  The constant gaslighting, being told everything you believe, think & feel is wrong will do this to a person.  The burdens narcissistic parents put on their children of feeling like your purpose in life is to do for others & be responsible for their happiness adds to this problem.  I know, because this is how I grew up.

This abuse convinced me that any instincts I had were wrong.  If I felt someone wasn’t a good person or simply disliked a person, my mother would tell me I was wrong.  On the opposite side of the same coin, if I liked someone she didn’t, I was also wrong because she clearly knew better than me.  If I had a falling out with a friend, she told me, “to have a friend, you have to be one.”  Basically that translated to, “You’re always wrong!  You need to let people treat you however they like without complaint or protest.”  This taught me that my instincts were always wrong, that other people were always right, it was my job to blindly obey them, & tolerate any treatment, even abuse, without complaint.  So as a result, for years, I blindly trusted people. 

One former friend of mine said, upon first meeting, “We’re going to be best friends!”  I accepted that, & we were close for quite some time.  I did like her, but our personalities were very different.  She also was a rather needy friend.  Too needy for my introverted self, but I hung in there for years because I felt obligated to do so.

A few months before marrying my ex husband, I broke up with him.  People told me how miserable he was without me & that I should get back together with him.  He would call me at work & tell me the same thing.  I relented, & married him in spite of not being in love with him, & wanting to marry someone else.

Do my scenarios sound at all similar to situations in your life?  If they do, then I want you to rest assured, there is hope!

Prayer truly is the best place to start. Talk to God about whatever you feel, & ask Him to guide you.  Ask Him for healthy relationships & to spot red flags quickly so you don’t waste time with toxic people.

Start listening to your gut feelings.  If something feels off about someone, pay attention to that!  Observe this person & in time, you will understand what triggered this feeling. 

And, if something feels especially good about someone, the same thing goes.  Observe.  Their actions will tell you why that feeling was there. 

The more you learn to observe others & listen to your instincts, the healthier your relationships will be & the more wise you will be when it comes to trusting people.

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10% Off My Print Books

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books until August 5, 2022 when you use code MAKER10 at checkout.

My books can be found at the link below..

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

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

Getting Back Your Zest For Life After Narcissistic Abuse

Like so many other victims of narcissistic abuse, I spent most of my life trying to be less me to please other people.  I think of it like I was trying to shrink myself to please other people.  I became less opinionated.  I turned away from things that I liked that they didn’t approve of in favor of things they thought I should.  I tried changing my appearance too, dressing differently, coloring my hair & losing weight. 

Eventually I realized just how ridiculous this was.  Changing to please people who demand you change never works.  The one demanding the changes is never pleased, & the one doing the changing is miserable because they aren’t being true to themselves.  I could see no good reason to continue this behavior, so I stopped it.  I figured let people be mad at me for it.  They would be anyway!  This was a good decision of course, but it also was only half the battle for me.  I knew who I wasn’t, but I didn’t know who I was.

Over the years I did get to know myself, but still something was lacking.  I wasn’t sure what that something was.  It finally hit me.  I lost my passion, my zest for life.  I certainly can’t be the only person in this position, so I thought sharing what I have learned would be a good idea.

After enduring narcissistic abuse, it can be overwhelming to realize just how much damage has been done to you.  Healing is absolutely possible, but it takes a lot of work & time.  Often, I think it’s a life long process.  It can be easy to get caught up in healing work & not even notice you haven’t got that zest for life you once had.  Or maybe you never had it.  Either way, this should change.  You deserve to enjoy life!

As vital as healing is, it’s also a lot of work!  You need to take time frequent breaks.  They are good for your mental health.  Thinking too much about such intense topics can wear you down, & that is never good.  Take times where you flatly refuse to think about the abuse or focus on your healing.  Instead, do things you enjoy. 

Remember times in your life when you had that zest for life.  Think about them in as much detail as you can.  What were you doing?  What was so enjoyable about the situation?  How exactly did you feel?  Meditate on those times.  Remind yourself that this was you!  You were capable of being that person before, so you can be like that again. 

Consider things that ignite your zest for life & indulge in them often.  If it’s reading a certain genre of books, read all you can find.  If it’s a certain type of music, listen to it often & dance around your home.  If it’s supporting a certain cause, give your best to supporting it in every way you can.

Get creative.  I believe creative outlets to be absolutely vital to enjoying life.  Whatever you enjoy doing, make time to do it often.  I have learned if I don’t set aside time in the evenings to knit, crochet or cross stitch, it doesn’t take long before I become anxious & irritable.  Participating in these creative hobbies I love helps me to enjoy life more while helping my mental health.

The most helpful thing I have found though is the value of maintaining a close relationship to God.  Psalm 16:11 says that in His presence is fullness of joy, & this is so true!  Pray often & remember, God isn’t just God but your father as well.  You can talk to Him familiarly.  I know when your earthly father isn’t good it can be hard to relate to God in this way but it is possible.  Ask Him to help you & remember, He is nothing like your earthly father at all.  He is so much better!

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