Tag Archives: abusive
I recently read an article about Father’s Day. In it, the author gave valid reasons why we should honor our fathers. It was a very good article, but one thing about it bothered me- the author didn’t mention how exactly to honor our fathers. I thought I would discuss it here. Actually, I’ll refer to honoring parents, not only fathers.
When you have good & loving parents, you don’t have to have strict boundaries. Your parents respect them naturally, so boundaries aren’t a concern. However, with narcissistic parents, you have to have & enforce very strict boundaries. This is very honorable, because these boundaries encourage your parent to behave in a healthier manner.
When Mother’s Day or Father’s Day comes around, if you have good parents, you can be a blessing to them, enjoy yourself & have zero fear of repercussions. You can spend time with them, give them nice cards & gifts. Narcissistic parents? No. Doing those things for your narcissistic parents basically tells them their abuse is OK. You’ll show them love no matter how awfully they treat you. This is why it’s important to give more minimal gifts & rather neutral cards- you are recognizing them as your parents but at the same time, you’re not praising them for their great parenting skills. You never want to reward bad behavior!
Even going no contact can be very honorable when it comes to abusive parents. While many people think that no contact is dishonorable, it really isn’t. By severing ties, you are removing the opportunity for an abusive person to abuse you & commit sinful acts. You are also encouraging that person to change their behavior for the better, because you won’t have them in your life if they are abusive. You’re also removing the temptation from yourself of going off on the abuser.
Dear Reader, there is never, EVER anything honorable about tolerating abuse, & that includes tolerating it from parents. If you still have doubts, read this…
Psalm 101:5 (AMP)
“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will silence;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud (arrogant) heart I will not tolerate.”
This verse tells me that God has no patience for narcissism. Since as His children we are called to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4), then we should have no patience for narcissism either, no matter who that narcissist is! If people disapprove of your refusal to tolerate your narcissistic parent’s abuse, well, that is their problem. Your job is to live a life that pleases God, not man…
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (KJV)
For many people, the holiday season is a glorious time of year. The time to enjoy friends, family & celebrations. For others like me who have survived demanding, controlling, entitled or even narcissistic parents &/or in-laws however, the mere thought of the holidays brings about a feeling of dread.
My first & current mothers in-law both always demanded my husband’s & my presence every Thanksgiving & Christmas, no matter what. Divorcing my ex & cutting my current in-laws out of my life in 2002 naturally ended their demands for me at least but the damage was done. The enjoyment I once felt for the holidays was gone. Years of spending holidays with people who obviously hated me or alone while my husband spent the day with his family destroyed all pleasure I’d once had in holidays.
I know that my story isn’t all that unusual. So many others have been through very similar situations that I thought sharing some thoughts I’ve had on this topic might help you, Dear Reader.
When you develop this holiday bitterness, people aren’t always understanding. Most people seem to want everyone to look forward to holidays with enthusiasm & joy, & if you don’t, they can be shaming. Many others I know & I have been scolded for not trying to enjoy holidays, told they need to just focus on the joy of the day, everyone loves holidays, etc etc. What these people fail to realize is this holiday bitterness didn’t happen over night. We have tried to enjoy the holidays repeatedly, but demanding people ruined it by commanding us to do what they want us to do & treating us badly when we didn’t do it (well, often worse than usual since bad treatment is the norm with narcissists). It came about when in-laws demand we ignore our own family in favor of them, & treated us badly & acted like something is wrong with us for not wanting to spend a holiday with them. They also shame us for wanting to spend a holiday with our immediate family- our spouse & kids- rather than with them. These people think shaming us & ordering us around is OK. Really, how does that make any sense?
I’m not saying holiday bitterness is a good thing. Frankly, it stinks! I miss looking forward to the holidays & hate how I dread what was once a time of year I looked forward to. What I am saying though is that there is no shame if you feel differently about holidays than the average person does.
Sometimes, too many bad seeds have been sown to overcome. Something unpleasant is the only possible harvest when that happens. Of course it’s a good idea to try to counteract the bad feelings, but if nothing works, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re a bad person. If you can’t conquer holiday bitterness, it just means that some really bad things have been done that caused you to feel this way.
Dear Reader, I’m sorry you feel this nasty holiday bitterness. I hope you can conquer it by starting your own traditions, avoiding negative people around the holidays, suggesting holiday gatherings with extended family on a different day near the actual holiday while you spend the holiday with your immediate family, etc. If you can’t however, then at the very least, please don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s simply a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, & it happens more often than you might think.
Many of us raised by narcissistic parents have similar experiences. One experience so many of us share is being told we need to fix things. We need to find out what works & repair the damaged relationship with our narcissistic parent.
Maybe because so many people have such a warped view of the parent/child relationship they think the children should be the ones to fix it when there is a problem. Or, maybe it’s simply because people realize that we are the reasonable, sane ones & the narcissist isn’t, they think we should fix it. Either way, the expectation is absolutely absurd.
The simple fact is that one person can’t fix a relationship. It takes two people to make a relationship work, not one, especially when one person in the relationship is a narcissist.
Narcissists are unlike normal people in many ways. One of which is they do not have the capacity to care what others think or feel. All they want is what matters, period. Healthy relationships require both people to actively work on it & consider what the other person’s needs are. That will NOT happen in a relationship with a narcissist no matter how much you might want it to.
The only way to have any success in a relationship with a narcissist is to completely forget yourself & focus on them completely. Ignore any wants, needs, thoughts or feelings you have & keep the narcissist as your top priority 100% of the time. Even this success will be fleeting, however, because narcissists constantly change the rules. What makes them happy today may not make them happy next week, then three weeks later, that thing makes them happy again. I have tried this personally in my younger & more dysfunctional days, & can tell you that every word I write is true. No matter how much you give or how you change to please the narcissist, it won’t work. Nothing is ever good enough. It is absolutely impossible to please a narcissist.
So, Dear Reader, the next time someone tells you that you need to fix the relationship with your narcissistic parent, please remember what I have said. Chalk their foolish words up to a lack of wisdom. They clearly have no idea what they are saying, & how impossible the task is. Or, if they are a flying monkey for the narcissist, & they do know how she is, they are abusers themselves. Abuse isn’t always about actively abusing someone- it can be more passive, such as encouraging a person to stay in an abusive relationship.
Children need to believe that their parents love them. Normally, this is a very good thing, since most parents do love their children. When the child’s parent is a narcissist, however, this is NOT a good thing!
Because of this need, abused children will make excuses for their parent abusing them. I did – I told myself my mother loved me which is why she was “overprotective” rather than admitting she controlled my every move.
Children also will come up with reasons why the abuse was their fault, not the parent’s, taking all the blame while the parent gets away with abusing the child. The child will think that she needs to get better grades in school, be better behaved, etc. to please the parent, so the parent doesn’t have to abuse her anymore. Children don’t realize that narcissists are impossible to please, & will abuse their child even if the child is 100% perfect.
Some parents are actively abusive – they mentally, physically &/or sexually abuse their child – while others are more passive in their abuse, standing by quietly while the other parent obviously abuses the child. Passive abusers also do not care about the child’s pain, & often will turn the active abuser onto the child if that person is mad at the passive abuser, simply to distract them. If a child has one actively abusive parent & one passively abusive one, the need to believe that her parents love her will cloud her discernment greatly. Even if she comes to realize that the actively abusive parent is abusive, it will take much longer to realize the passively abusive one is equally abusive. The desperation to believe that at least one parent loves her will make the child think that the passive abusive parent loves her because at least that parent isn’t verbally, physically or sexually abusing her. The child also may make excuses for that parent, saying that parent just didn’t know what to do or had no power to stop the abuse. In fact, the child may feel pity for that parent, offering comfort after the child has been abused. This happened with my father. My mother would abuse me, & my father would tell me how he couldn’t do anything to stop it, & how hard it was for him knowing how mean she was to me. I would comfort him rather than him comforting & protecting me.
This need to believe parents love their children can cause many problems for adult children of narcissists, as you can see. So I urge you today, Dear Reader, to look at your situation. Are you harboring any beliefs that stem from that need? Are you making excuses for your parent(s) because you think it’s easier than admitting your narcissistic parent never loved you? If so, you’re only hurting yourself.
John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV) This Scripture is absolutely true! As difficult as facing the truth about your parents is, it is worth it. Clinging to the childish belief that your parent loves you only hurts you. It’s a domino effect of dysfunction, really. You make more & more excuses for your parent’s abuse because you want to believe she loves you. This only serves to keep you tolerating more & more abuse. Facing the truth is the only thing that will set you free.
Admitting that your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you & never has is painful. I understand this all too well. It causes you to grieve your loss of not having a loving parent. However, doing so will enable you to see things much more clearly & objectively, which helps you to find ways to become healthier. You’ll be able to think more about ways to set & enforce healthy boundaries instead of tolerating abuse so you don’t hurt your parent’s feelings. You may limit your contact with your parent or go full no contact with that parent because you realize that your parent only wants you in her life to provide her with narcissistic supply, & you deserve better than that.
I know admitting your parent doesn’t love you is painful, but I can promise you that it is well worth the pain. And, it’s much less painful than clinging to that false belief!
When a person is abused by a narcissist, they learn to accept the narcissist’s view of who they are. They accept that they are weak, stupid, ugly, etc etc. It is especially hard to get rid of such views when the abusive narcissist is a parent, but it can be hard no matter who the narcissist is that puts such dysfunctional, inaccurate views on a person.
Even years after the abuse has ended, many people still believe they are weak, ugly, stupid, etc. It takes a long time to start to see yourself in an accurate way after enduring narcissistic abuse. I would like to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to look at yourself differently.
For a moment, try to put aside all of the criticisms you heard from your narcissist. Look back over your life. Think about all of the things you have accomplished. The things you have done in spite of hearing what a terrible person you were. Look at how far you have come. If you’re having trouble, write things down. Writing things can be surprisingly validating.
In spite of the narcissist in your life trying to destroy you (either physically or emotionally or both), you are OK! You are functioning. You are surviving. You are helping & inspiring people, whether you know it or not. You are so much stronger than you realize! Sure, you may have some problems stemming from the narcissistic abuse, but that is completely normal. You are working on your healing & you are growing daily- that is impressive!
In spite of realizing these things I know it can be tempting to think of yourself as that dysfunctional victim you once were. I get it- I do it sometimes myself. But, try to remind yourself of who you are now, not of who you once were. You are not the terrible person the narcissist once said you were & you believed you were. You are strong & fierce. You have not become bitter or narcissistic yourself. You are working on becoming your own person. You also are an adult now, not a child, so if the narcissist in your life is your parent(s), remind yourself of that. You are no longer a child who felt she needed to obey her parents at all costs. You are an adult with your own mind & free will. If you’re a Christian, it is also your duty to put God first, not your parents. If they insist you put them above God, remind yourself how dysfunctional that is! You do not owe them anything beyond simple civility, basic respect.
When raised by narcissistic parents, we often feel obligated to prioritize not hurting the feelings of other people, primarily our parents. It is so important, in fact, that we will hurt ourselves rather than hurt them or anyone else.
While it’s certainly a good thing to be concerned with the feelings of others, being so concerned over others that you’re willing to hurt yourself too out of balance.
Dear Reader, if you want to move forward with healing after being abused, you have to think about your feelings more than other people’s, in particular, more than your abusers.
I’m not saying turn into a selfish jerk who cares nothing for anyone but themselves, of course. I am saying though, that you need to consider your own feelings. If you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic parents, you don’t have to go to that big holiday dinner if you don’t feel up to it. Just because your parents want you there doesn’t mean you must do what they want! Or, if you talk publicly about what your narcissistic ex did, there is nothing wrong with that. Sure, it may upset that person, but the story is yours as well- you have nothing to be ashamed of for sharing it, & it may help someone else. As the Anne Lamott quote goes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
There is another reason to avoid putting the feelings of others above your own. Doing so with abusive people means you are part of the problem. It allows them to continue abusing with no fear of consequences. Doing whatever it takes to avoid upsetting them does nothing to stop them from being abusers. While no one can stop another person from abusing, one can create circumstances by having good boundaries that (hopefully!) will make them uncomfortable enough to want to change. Just because narcissists rarely change doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set those boundaries.
Dear Reader, remember, your feelings are just as important, just as valid, as anyone’s. There is no good reason to think otherwise. The only reason you do think otherwise is because an incredibly dysfunctional, abusive person made you think that way. Today, make a decision to get rid of that awful, flawed belief. Remind yourself that you have value! Ask God to tell you what He thinks of you, then listen for the response. He knows you have great value! After all Jesus died for you- He wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t worth it.
Have you ever noticed that almost no one says you are right to have problems with abusive family members? That it is OK to defend yourself to them? Instead, you are encouraged to “just let it go.” Or, excuses are made like, “Well, she’s getting old now…” or “You know how he is.”
Why do so many people think it is wrong to speak your mind & defend yourself when someone says cruel things to you?
I think it is because people do NOT want to leave their comfort zone. They would prefer you stuff your emotions (because that is oh so healthy..not) than make them uncomfortable by standing up for yourself.
Those of us who have been abused have been through more than enough suffering. It isn’t fair to expect us to go through more just to make someone else comfortable by not upsetting them.
When people tell you to “just let it go” or “don’t rock the boat”, ignore them! If you feel you need to speak up when your parent is cruel to you, then by all means, you have that right! There is nothing good, loving or honorable in “not rocking the boat.” People need to be accountable for their actions, like it or not. They need to know when they have said or done something that is inappropriate. Whether or not they change their behavior is not your responsibility, but at least by speaking up you have made them aware of the inappropriateness of their actions.
I recently read something on Facebook. It said, “A mark of maturity is when someone hurts you, trying to understand the person rather than get them back.” I thought it was an interesting quote, but others commented differently. They said things like you shouldn’t waste time thinking about such things. People who hurt you are evil & you don’t need them in your life. The Bible says not to be in relationship with evil people, so when someone hurts you, you need to get them out of your life.
While the Bible does say we shouldn’t be in relationship with evildoers, not everyone who hurts you is evil. When my husband comes home from work after a bad day & snaps at me, does that make him evil? No! That makes him someone who is very frustrated & not thinking clearly at that moment. If I didn’t understand that, on the rare occasion it happens, I’d be filing for divorce rather than giving him some space & forgiving his mistake. Many times when someone hurts you, it is for a simple reason like that. They just aren’t thinking, that’s all. They aren’t necessarily trying to hurt you. It’s no reason to end a relationship! We all make mistakes & accidentally hurt those we love at some point.
What about those who deliberately hurt & abuse you? I think it is beneficial to understand them as well. Not to excuse their actions, but because it helps you.
I have learned to understand my narcissistic parents pretty well, & it has helped me a great deal. Understanding why they act the way they do helps me to keep a good perspective, to realize as personal as their hurtful actions feel, they aren’t personal- they are a result of their dysfunctional thinking. Yes, they are deliberately trying to hurt me but it’s not because I’m a bad person, deserve it or have “asked for it” in some way. It’s because they are incredibly dysfunctional.
Understanding them also helps me to remember that they are the ones with the problems. Growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn that you are the problem. Whatever goes wrong, it’s your fault, not your parents’ fault. Once you understand narcissism & your narcissistic parents in particular, you realize it is NOT your fault! It’s not you, it’s them!
If it is impossible for you to go no contact the narcissists in your life, then understanding them will help you to figure out creative ways to deal with them. Granted, when dealing with narcissists, dealing with them in a healthy way is impossible. However, you can figure out ways to deal with them that are healthy for you. Understanding them & leaning on God for help in this area will help you tremendously!
Remember, understanding abusers does NOT excuse away their actions or make abuse acceptable. Nothing does that. It does, however, benefit you a great deal.
Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” (NKJV)
I’ve often been asked, “Aren’t you afraid your parents or other relatives will learn what you write about?” In all honesty? To a degree, yes I am. Logically I know none of them could hurt me, but, there is still that little girl inside me who hasn’t healed entirely who is scared. Thankfully that little girl isn’t ruling my emotions. If she did, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post or the books I’ve written. I wouldn’t feel fulfilled because I wouldn’t be fulfilling my calling.
It can be very easy to be afraid of people, especially when raised by narcissistic parents. They are very good at instilling fear in their victims. Many adult children of narcissists live with serious anxiety issues. I would guess that is why so few discuss their experiences openly. It’s very sad, especially since there is such a dire need for open & frank discussion of narcissistic abuse to help raise awareness.
If you feel called to publicly discuss your experiences with a narcissist, it can be intimidating, worrying about “getting in trouble” with your parents or extended family. What will they do if they find out? Will your friends & maybe even relatives think you are “too negative,” “living in the past”, etc. & abandon you? What about the legal aspect- could the narcissist sue you for slander? Such things can cause a great deal of fear & anxiety, & understandably so. But please, don’t be discouraged by such things!
To start with, you can’t “get in trouble” with your parents or family anymore. You’re an adult! You don’t have to get another’s permission to do what you feel God wants you to do. You have the right to do what you want, to live your life according to what works for you. You also have the right to tell your story. It’s YOUR story, so it’s up to you to share it however you see fit.
If anyone brings up “Honor thy mother & father,” remind yourself that honoring doesn’t mean tolerating abuse. Research what it truly means to honor your parents. I wrote a free ebook regarding honoring abusive parents. It’s available on amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/Honor-Difficult-Parent-Cynthia-Bailey-Rug-ebook/dp/B00PR0BEV2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478979606&sr=1-1&keywords=cynthia+bailey-rug
And, what if people in your life criticize or even abandon you for speaking out? I won’t lie- it will hurt at first. But, in a way, it’s also a good thing when they abandon you. It’s much better to have people in your life who genuinely care about you & your mental health. People who don’t judge but offer love, encouragement & support are a true gem. Life is so much more pleasant with friends like that as opposed to the critics.
Regarding slander, that is simple- research the laws in your state, as I think they vary from state to state. Also, use fake names & protect the narcissist’s identity when discussing your story. Never mention the narcissist’s real name in your writing. You’re protecting yourself by doing that.
In spite of the fact discussing your experiences with narcissistic abuse can be scary, it also can be incredibly rewarding. When someone thanks you for helping them to understand that they aren’t crazy like their narcissist said, or your words helped to give them the courage to leave a narcissistic significant other, it doesn’t get any more rewarding. Knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life is a wonderful feeling. It also helps you, because suddenly all the awful things you have experienced have a purpose. Your pain counts for something! Feeling as if all those horrible, traumatic experiences had no purpose is one of the most depressing feelings in the world. Discussing your experiences dispels that feeling completely.
Discussing your experiences openly also help you to heal. There is something very healing in seeing your story in writing. Also healing is when you tell a story & someone says something like, “That is terrible! I’m sorry that happened to you!” That is very validating!
The good definitely outweighs the bad when it comes to sharing your story. If you are considering speaking out, then I would encourage you to pray about it. Be certain God wants you to do it, then ask Him to help you to do so. He will give you courage, wisdom & anything else you need to accomplish this calling. Then get ready for an adventure!
Many people have a very skewed view of what it truly means to honor someone, especially their parents. They’ll throw around “honor thy mother & father” while conveniently forgetting the Scriptures directed at parents (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). They falsely believe that honoring parents means you have to sacrifice yourself or your principles. You must do what they want, no matter what it costs you, or else you aren’t honoring your parents.
Honor isn’t always what people think it is. http://www.merriam-webster.com defines honor as follows: “a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>” I interpret this to mean basic things like treating a person with basic respect. Using manners, being considerate of them, disagreeing respectfully rather than cussing them out, & the like. Nowhere in this definition does it sound to me like honoring someone means you must cater to their every whim.
Spoiling someone by giving them everything they want or doing everything for them isn’t honorable. It teaches the person nothing at all. It doesn’t help them to learn & grow, which is NOT good for a person. In fact, many people believe some narcissistic adults were once spoiled children. They became entitled, selfish adults by having all of their whims catered to.
Allowing someone to control you isn’t honorable either. All that does is teach a person how to be manipulative, entitled & bossy. There is no honor in that!
Tolerating abuse is certainly not honorable. It encourages awful behavior while hurting you. How could that possibly be an honorable thing?
People need to have boundaries & consequences for their actions. Such things are honorable, especially when done in a respectful way. There are ways to state things in a respectful manner, such as stating in a calm but firm tone, “I’m not going to discuss this with you. If you keep talking about it, I’ll hang up this phone. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? No? OK, good bye.” *hangs up phone* That is just one example of being respectful while setting boundaries & giving consequences.
In 2002, I stopped speaking to my mother for several years. Coming to that decision wasn’t easy at all for me. I knew I needed to do it to heal, but I believed it wasn’t honorable. I struggled with this decision & prayed a lot. One day, I told God how conflicted I felt. He spoke to my heart so clearly & said, “Where is the honor in the fact your very presence stirs up strife with your mother?” It made sense to me. Being with my mother meant she acted up. She verbally abused me. She insulted every tiny thing about me & those I cared about. She bossed me around like I was the hired help & not her daughter. There was NO honor in that. Going no contact at that time was the most honorable thing I could do. It enabled me to have time to myself to heal, & it put an end to much of her horrible behavior since she doesn’t treat anyone else like she does me. It also showed her that I was done tolerating her abuse. If she chose to abuse me she would have consequences for doing so, like me leaving her life. In situations like this, even going no contact with an abusive parent can be the most honorable thing you can do.
If you struggle with honoring your abusive parent, I would encourage you to pray, Dear Reader. Ask God to show you the truth on this matter. He will, as He has done for me. You will rest much easier when you know the real truth about what it means to honor your parent.
I never really thought of myself as a very negative person, but I was told I was my entire life. My mother, a self proclaimed optimist in spite of her ability to find the negative in any situation, has said this more times than I can count. My husband even made similar comments over the years about how negative I am.
As a result, I have tried to be more positive. I have been able to see more positive things than I used to in negative situations. This has been beneficial to a degree. It has helped me to be a bit happier than I used to be.
That being said though, God showed me something this morning about positive thinking that never crossed my mind before.
I was getting laundry out of the dryer & praying as I did. I had a dreadful night last night, barely getting any sleep & what sleep I had was full of nightmares. I’ve been in a nasty funk for a few days now which wasn’t helped by last night’s “sleep” & was telling God about that too. Complaining really. I wasn’t finding any positive in anything, & feeling guilty for that. I didn’t admit that to God but of course He knew anyway. And, He said something about that.
“Being too positive can invalidate your pain. It says you don’t have a right to be disappointed, hurt or angry because something good came from the situation. Being positive is good, but only in balance. It’s OK to say things just suck sometimes. This is one of those times. Feel the pain, & get it out. Then, & only then, the funk will lift.”
So many of us who have been abused have been told by other people we’re too negative if we discuss it. Some people think it’s a taboo topic not to be discussed. Sweep it under the rug, pretend that didn’t happen. Or, if something good came out of the awful situation (such as having kids with the abusive partner), then you shouldn’t be upset about it. Something good came from it, so you shouldn’t complain or have problems stemming from the abuse.
What these people fail to realize is by telling victims to “stop being so negative” or to “think positive”. they are being abusive. They are invalidating your pain, & invalidation is abuse. Invalidation says your pain doesn’t matter, & there is something wrong with you for feeling the way you do. Whether that is the intention or not by saying “think positive” & such statements, that is the result. The person who is told to think positive feels there is something wrong with them for feeling as they do.
Dear Readers, please remember this post when someone tells you to be positive. Being positive is a wonderful thing. It helps you to feel good. But, it also is unrealistic to think you can be positive 100% of the time. Sometimes things just suck! There is nothing wrong with admitting that. There is also nothing wrong with thinking about those things & feeling whatever emotions that the event triggered in you. Ignoring such things does no good. Those emotions will come to the surface at some point, & probably not in a good way. It is better to have a short period of being depressed or angry as you heal than years of emotions manifesting in unhealthy ways such as addictions, self harm or suicidal thoughts & actions.
Since writing my newest book, I have been feeling more of a pull to help those who don’t know why certain people in their lives treat them so badly.
I used to wonder why my mother treated me so poorly. I felt as if I was a bother & huge disappointment to her, & like I should stay invisible until she needed me for something. My ex husband said she treated me badly, but once we were married he treated me the same way. Both wanted to control me- how I looked, what work I did, who I spent time with, even what kind of car I owned.
I never thought of this as abusive. Not right, sure, but abuse left bruises. If they didn’t leave bruises or broken bones, it couldn’t be abuse, right? Wrong.
Abuse comes in many forms. Most everyone knows about physical abuse- when someone causes physical harm to another person. But, did you know physical abuse doesn’t have to cause injuries? It is also physical abuse to be threatening (such as punching walls), refusing to allow someone to leave, or driving recklessly.
There is also sexual abuse. Forcing intercourse while threatening with a weapon isn’t the only way a person can be raped or sexually abused. Saying things like, “If you loved me, you would do this for me” is sexual abuse. Disregard for a partner’s physical or emotional pain & forcing want you want on them through physical means or guilt is sexual abuse. These are very common examples of sexual abuse that most people do not consider abusive, yet they are. Behaviors like these leave victims very anxious or depressed, feeling ashamed, guilty & often thinking things like they are being silly since this request isn’t so bad, they should just do what their partner wants & ignore their own needs/feelings/wants or even that there is something deeply wrong with them for not wanting to go along with their partner’s request. Others who have not experienced this type of abuse don’t understand the damage it can do. Many people don’t think a husband can rape his wife, so when she tells people that he did, she is treated as if she is crazy. Sexual abuse is extremely damaging in so many ways.
If you have read much of my work, you know I discuss narcissistic abuse a great deal. That is because it is extremely common. Many psychologically abusive people are narcissists. (psychological abuse includes mental/verbal/emotional abuse). People who manipulate others, put their needs/wants/feelings/etc. above those of others, who are extremely critical either overtly or more subtly, tell others how to feel, or invalidate you are often narcissistic. You can read more about narcissistic abuse on my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Because these kinds of abuse leave no bruises, many victims are told get over it, that it’s no big deal or even doubt that what the victim claims is true. This leaves victims alone, depressed, & often feeling as if they’re going crazy. Abuse also can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are in one of these situations, please know you’re not alone! You also aren’t crazy! If you feel something is wrong, then it is wrong. Trust your instincts! Also, pray. God will show you the truth. He will show you what is wrong in the situation as well as what you need to do to escape it & to heal.
If you are looking for safe people to talk to, I have a Facebook group. The members are kind, caring, supportive & wise. You’re very welcome to join us if you like. 🙂
Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is not an easy thing. You go through the abuse & somehow survive, only to be victimized further by people who invalidate what you have gone through.
I have heard comments such as…
- “That doesn’t sound so bad…”(from my high school guidance counselor, referring to my mother screaming at me for hours in my teen years)
- “You just need to understand her better.”
- “Nobody’s perfect!”
- “You need to fix things with your parents. Get into counseling!”
- “You need to work things out with your parents. They won’t be around forever yanno!”
- (from a different counselor after meeting my mother) “I can’t see you anymore- you’re a terrible daughter!”
- “You need to find things you have in common with your parents!”
- “You’re too negative!”
- “I can’t believe they are that bad!”
- “Are you even sure that happened? That’s a pretty serious accusation.”
- Various excuses as to why my narcissistic parents or mother in-law treated me so poorly such as she isn’t intelligent (she isn’t educated- big difference), her mother in-law didn’t like her, etc.
- Laughing at my story of being abused.
After hearing such things, I felt victimized all over again.
Victim blaming is very common in today’s society, so it’s not surprising these cruel words & more are said to victims of narcissistic abuse daily.
Unfortunately I don’t believe there is any way to avoid them entirely. All you can do is use wisdom on who you share your story with. Even when you do this, sometimes people may hurt you by invalidating your pain.
The fact is though that you can validate yourself. You can heal from narcissistic abuse even if there is no one to support you but God.
To do this, you need to lean on God. Talk to Him about how you feel. He can handle it all & wants to be there for you! Let Him be!
As for you.. you need to trust that what happened was bad. Admit it to yourself. No more excuses, no more telling yourself you’re oversensitive or weak. Narcissistic abuse permeates every part of a person’s being. It can destroy one’s self-esteem, perception of reality or even sanity. It is nothing to take lightly! If you’re having trouble with this, write your story out. When I wrote my autobiography “Emerging from the Chrysalis” a few years ago, it was hard. Very hard. For the first time, I realized just how bad the abuse I have survived really was. Yet, as hard as it was to see things in black & white, it was very freeing too. It gave me a new perspective. I realized I’m a very strong person. I also realized God must love me a great deal to have gotten me through all of that. It also helped me to see my parents as they truly are, instead of making excuses for their behavior or thinking I was the one with the problems- I really wasn’t oversensitive, overreacting, reading too much into things, etc. They have some serious problems & one of those problems is NOT me!
Once you are able to accept the truth about what you have gone through, healing will come. You will grieve, you will be angry, but these are necessary steps to freedom from narcissistic abuse. And, the more you validate yourself & heal, the less other people’s invalidation will bother you. I’m not saying it won’t hurt sometimes- it’s only human to be hurt when your pain is trivialized- but it won’t devastate you as it once did.
When dealing with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realistic expectations are extremely important for the sake of your mental health. They will help you not to be constantly disappointed or hurt. They also will help you to be prepared for whatever may come, because you understand that this is how the narcissist in your life acts.
For many adult children of narcissistic parents, adjusting their expectations to be realistic is very hard. It’s hard not to hope that this will be the time things are different, the one time that Mom actually cares about me or doesn’t insult my husband. It’s also hard to grasp that normal things- such as treating your child with basic respect- are things that no narcissistic parent wants to do.
If you feel that way about your narcissistic mother, you’re perfectly normal. However, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider taking care of your mental health, your peace & joy, & lowering your expectations of your narcissistic mother.
Realistic expectations of narcissists are very different than those of other people. Most people, you are safe in assuming that they will have some level of empathy, think of people other than themselves & not viciously criticize anything they wish to about you. Not so with narcissists. Let’s look at some features of a narcissist:
- They are constantly looking for narcissistic supply- anything that helps boost their self-esteem.
- They are incredibly entitled- they feel as if they deserve anything they want, even if it means hurting others (yes, even their own family) to get it.
- They have absolutely no empathy- never will a narcissist genuinely understand or care about your pain. Never.
- Narcissists are excellent manipulators- they read people very well to find out their vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for personal gain.
- Narcissists don’t care how much they hurt you, destroy your self-esteem or even destroy your sanity as long as they get what they want from you.
These few qualities alone mean you cannot deal with any narcissist as you would a normal person if you wish to survive this relationship with your mental health in tact. Keeping realistic expectations of the narcissist will help you tremendously.
So what are realistic expectations of a narcissist? Basically, have no expectations. Never expect to be able to run to your narcissistic mother with your problems without her criticizing or mocking you. Never expect her to be able to genuinely celebrate your victories either. She may try to take credit for what you have done, ignore it completely or trivialize it.
What you can expect from most narcissistic mothers-
- She will criticize everything about you without mercy. I don’t mean constructive criticism- I mean mocking, insulting, saying cruel things that can bring you to tears.
- Gaslighting. Lots & lots of gaslighting & mind games.
- Conversations will be all about her. If you try to mention something about yourself, she’ll find a way to bring the conversation back to her.
- No empathy. It doesn’t matter if you broke a nail or are getting a divorce- your narcissistic mother will treat any problem you have exactly the same way. She won’t care.
- Her trying to destroy any joy you have over something good that has happened to you.
- Demands or hints rather than requests. She thinks she deserves your complete obedience.
Of course, each narcissist is a bit different, so I’m sure you can add to this list.
The good thing though is that if you keep in mind that your narcissistic mother is going to do these things, it will help you tremendously. You won’t be caught off guard by her outrageous behavior. You also can plan ahead of time how you wish to handle her outrageous behavior. You won’t be so hurt because you know it’s coming.
And, if you know what to expect, when your narcissistic mother calls or comes by, you can decide whether or not you can handle her on that particular day before you pick up the phone or answer the door.
Lastly, having these realistic expectations of your narcissistic mother also will help you to remember what kind of person she is, which will help you to remember that she has problems. You aren’t the terrible person she claims you are!
Anger is a very normal part of life, yet also a difficult thing for many adult children of narcissistic parents. Growing up, we were not allowed to express emotions, good or bad, but it often seems as if anger is the one that receives the most ridicule if we express it. As I’ve said before, my mother always accused me of having that “Bailey temper” as she calls it. She said that her family doesn’t get mad like my father’s family does. Which seems to be true- from what I’ve seen, they just stuff that anger inside & pretend it’s not there. Yea, that’s healthy…. lol
If you too were raised by a narcissistic mother, I’m sure you heard some similar shaming comments if you showed any anger as well.
The fact is though that anger is going to happen. As you heal from narcissistic abuse, it is definitely going to come up. As your self-esteem improves, you finally realize you didn’t deserve the terrible things that were done to you, & it makes you angry. You realize too that it wasn’t your fault you were abused, which also makes you angry.
Holding anger inside at this point becomes very difficult & even impossible. That is actually a good thing because it is detrimental to your physical & emotional health. It can cause anxiety & depression. It can cause high blood pressure, kidney, heart & digestive problems. Even knowing such things, it can be hard for the adult child of a narcissistic parent to find healthy ways to release anger. At first, it can be downright terrifying. She may feel that if she lets a little anger out, she’ll end up losing control of it all & hurting herself & others. She also may feel that if she lets it out, she’ll never stop being angry.
Dear Reader, these are simply not the case at all! Anger is a powerful emotion that needs to be heard. It demands to be heard in fact. Even so, there are healthy ways to deal with it.
Some people recommend the chair method. This involves standing in front of a chair, pretending the person who hurt or abused you is in that chair, & telling them everything you feel inside about them & their actions.
Some people beat up pillows. It’s a good physical release, & you can’t hurt a pillow no matter how hard you beat it.
Others swear by writing letters they never send. I have done this with a great deal of success. I let it all out in the letters, then usually I burn them. I found something very therapeutic about watching the letters burn. It’s like my anger went up in the smoke. I also kept a couple of them, which helps to keep me remember why things are the way they are. Reading over my letter helps me if I feel weak & wanting to fix things with my mother. It helps remind me that I can’t do all the work- fixing a relationship takes 2 people.
Journaling is akin to writing the letters. No one is going to read what you write, so what better way to let it all out? Although I love the feel & look of a pretty paper journal, for privacy sake, I use an online, password protected one. I am certain no one would be able to read it, so when I need to get anger out, I let it all go in the journal.
Perhaps the most effective way I’ve found to deal with anger though is by talking to God about it. He is such a wonderful Father. He listens without judgment or criticism & offers you comfort. He also helps you to purge all of that anger from you, so you no longer stuff it deep inside.
The next time you feel anger, I encourage you to try one or more of the suggestions above. They really will help you tremendously. You’ll feel so much better once the anger is out from inside you.
I’ve experienced a very odd thing a few times in my life. I would guess I’m not the only one who has dealt with it so I thought I should write about it. Sometimes, after being treated very badly by someone, the love & compassion I once felt for that person died suddenly. This doesn’t mean I wish someone harm or harbor any anger towards them- it just means I feel nothing. It’s indifference, which I believe is the opposite of love.
As I write this, my mother in-law is in the hospital. I wish I could say I was concerned, but I feel nothing other than concern for how this situation will affect my husband. This sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But, the fact is that for the first eight years of our relationship, she was extremely verbally abusive to me & that took a toll on me. Then one night in 2002, she called to talk to my husband who wasn’t home from work yet. She screamed at me because he was still at work & for his allergies that were flaring up. That wasn’t even our worst conversation, but still, something in me shut down as she was screaming. I wasn’t even angry- I just felt nothing for her at that point. I haven’t spoken to her since & have no desire to do so, even though she isn’t doing well.
Something similar happened with someone else I was close to. She once told me out of the blue that I needed to get over my “childhood hurts”. It was the last of several similar hurtful comments she’d made over the years, & it killed the love I’d once felt for her. When she died about a year later, I felt virtually nothing.
No one seems to talk about this sort of thing. It seems acceptable to say you’ve fallen out of love with your partner, but not to admit that the love you once felt for someone died because of their hurtful, abusive behavior. However, I think it must be normal.
Everyone has what I think of as a love account for each person in their life. It’s like a checking account, except it doesn’t hold money, it holds love. Gentle, sweet, thoughtful actions put love into the account, while harsh, thoughtless ones take love out of it. If someone is good to you, that account stays on the positive side, building up a good balance. Yet, if someone is cruel to you, withdraws are made. If too many withdraws are made, your love account balance can go into the negative. At this point, hopefully that person will flood you with loving gestures in an attempt to repair the relationship & bring the balance back up. If he or she doesn’t though, this is when your love can die for that person.
If you have experienced this too, Dear Reader, please know you aren’t alone. I’ve been there! Don’t beat yourself up for it. You can ask God to help you to restore the love you once felt if you like, but don’t be surprised if He doesn’t. He hasn’t with me. I have learned to trust Him. Maybe this happened because it was time to end the relationship. Or, maybe if the relationship continued as it had, things would have gotten worse. I don’t know, but I do know to trust God in this area. He truly knows best.
I have been asked quite a few times how long it takes to recover fully from narcissistic abuse. I believe it to be a lifelong battle, unfortunately. However, I don’t want to discourage you with that, because there is good news. Although it can be a lifelong battle, it does get easier!
You will stumble sometimes, but even so, you are constantly getting stronger as you heal. The more wisdom you gain about NPD & the effects of its abuse, the more strength it gives you. You finally realize it wasn’t your fault, & that you’re suffering the normal effects of abnormal treatment.
The dark times of depression come less frequently & don’t last as long when they come.
There are times you feel stuck, as if you are always going to be depressed, anxious, or feel like you’re going crazy. But, the longer you have been healing, the less frequently those times happen. They, like depression, won’t last as long on the rare occasions when they happen.
Your self-esteem soars. Sure, sometimes you may backslide into feeling like the worthless piece of garbage your narcissistic mother always said you were, but at least that isn’t how you constantly feel anymore. They’re merely fleeting moments. When you realize this dysfunctional thinking is happening, you remind yourself that isn’t true. Healthy self-esteem also stops the dysfunctional people-pleasing at your own expense ways many children of narcissistic parents possess.
You try to practice good self-care rituals- prayer, relaxing activities, participating in fun hobbies. Granted, sometimes you let your schedule get too busy, but the healthier you become, the quicker you are to realize this mistake & make the appropriate changes.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to change how you think about your recovery. While it may be a lifelong battle with no definite end, try to focus instead on the good that comes during your healing. Focus on each baby step, every bit of progress you make. Your narcissistic mother tried to destroy you, but she didn’t! You are like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Little by little, you are getting healthier & happier. Maybe right now you aren’t where you want to be, & feel like you have a long way to go. How about instead focusing on how far you have come? You are no longer that wounded, dysfunctional little child, but instead are a grown woman who is getting stronger & healthier each day!
Recently I was talking with one of my readers about holidays. She mentioned Mother’s Day in particular, & said how much she hates the day. Obviously, she has a narcissistic mother. Anyway, she said she has been working on changing her attitude & focusing on enjoying the day with her children, because she doesn’t like feeling this way about the holiday. It hasn’t gone well. Even after several pleasant Mother’s Days, she still isn’t a fan of the day, & felt guilty about her “failure.”
From my experience, I have seen this as a pretty common scenario for adult daughters of narcissistic mothers. Not just with Mother’s Day, but birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving or other special days.
I’m no different. After countless awful birthdays, Christmases, & Thanksgivings, I couldn’t care less about those days. I have tried to enjoy my birthday at least, celebrating with friends each year for the last few years. It has been fun, until this year when I was sick & unable to celebrate. Also, my husband wasn’t able to leave work early like he was supposed to be able to do. We were going to spend the day together. Instead, I wasted my day waiting on him to come home instead of enjoying myself. My old feelings of wanting to ignore my birthday came back with a vengeance as a result, & I realized it may be permanent this time.
While aiming to have a positive attitude about days that have been bad for you is certainly a good thing, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, the best you can do is learn not to hate the day. I don’t mean to sound negative, just realistic.
I’ve heard that it takes ten praises to eliminate the negative effects of one criticism. Honestly, I think it takes more. I also think that bad holidays are much like that- it takes a lot of really pleasant holidays to change your negative feelings. I also think that one negative one thrown in with the good ones can hinder changing how you feel. It can set you back.
The reason I am telling you this, Dear Reader, is so that you won’t feel guilty like the lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post if your attitude isn’t better. Unfortunately this happens sometimes due to bad experiences, & beating yourself up about how you feel won’t help you improve your attitude! If anything, it only makes it worse.
So, Dear Reader, if you are dreading holidays or your birthday, I truly wish you the best with learning to enjoy those special days! I pray you will be able to do so! However, if you are unable to, please don’t beat yourself up over it! Unfortunately it happens sometimes. Just know you are not alone in how you feel. xoxo
When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you learn quickly that narcissists are murderers. Maybe not in the typical sense of the word as in they don’t try to shoot you, stab you or run you over with their cars but they are murderers nonetheless. They try to kill the person you are & recreate you into the person they want you to be- blindly obedient, enabling, having no needs, wants or feelings of your own. Basically, a robot here only to do their twisted will.
Once you escape the abuse, a part of your healing should be discovering the person God has created you to be. After all, He made you the way He did for a specific reason which is infinitely more valuable & important than the narcissist’s reasons for trying to turn you into a robot.
God made you to have a special place in this world, blessing others & enjoying being who you are. The narcissist’s only reason for trying to destroy that & remold you into what she wants is selfish- to enable her dysfunctional & abusive behavior. Isn’t it worth shedding the narcissist’s image of you & embracing the person God made you to be?
Rediscovering yourself, or discovering yourself for the first time, is not easy when you are accustomed to being the narcissist’s robot, but it is worth the effort. It also is fun, learning about yourself. Just start paying more attention to your feelings on things- do you like that or not? Are you drawn to things you never were allowed to pay attention to before? Then why not explore those things now? What do you have to lose?
Last February when I got very sick, it really caused me to re-evaluate my life. In my thirties, I tried to discover myself. I made some progress, but I abandoned the effort many times though, slipping back into old, dysfunctional habits. While recovering though, I realized I didn’t want to die knowing I had wasted my life being the person the narcissists in my life had tried to make me into. I didn’t like that person at all. So, I started exploring things that sounded appealing to me. I bought some clay & tried making various items. I tried felting. I also got back into drawing- something I loved to do as a child, but got away from. I feel much more peaceful & more confident doing things just for myself for the first time. I have become more self-confident, even when dealing with my narcissistic parents- I speak up to them more often now when I didn’t used to do so at all. (Using wisdom of course, as many times speaking back to narcissists only causes more problems since they can’t handle criticism or confrontation). I have also begun to take better care of myself & be more understanding & forgiving with myself.
Unfortunately, I also have been slipping back into the old, dysfunctional habits! It’s so frustrating! Like all emotional healing, it’s not a straight uphill path, but a windy one with a few big potholes. One thing helped me a lot, & that was a video I saw on facebook. It’s of Trace Adkins in the movie “Moms Night Out” talking to a lady about her feelings of not being good enough. Watching this brief video was eye opening to me, & I will be watching it over & over again to help keep me on track. I hope it blesses & helps you as it did me, Dear Reader. xoxo
The phrase, “They did the best they could” used to make me feel so guilty. I felt shame for being hurt or angry about the abuse I went through at the hands of my parents & ex husband. After all, my mother had a terrible childhood, abused by her narcissistic, evil mother & no contact with her father- how could she know how to be a good mother? My father was in a near fatal car wreck at 15, & has had problems stemming from the brain damage since, so that must be why he never felt able to intervene with my mother abusing me. As for the ex? Not like his parents modeled a healthy marriage- no wonder he didn’t know how to be a husband.
I’m sure if you’ve been the victim of abuse, you have heard the same tired phrase, & had the same kind of thoughts that I had. I think it’s only natural to think things like that under the circumstances. Today though I want to challenge that phrase regarding how it relates to your situation.
If someone is really doing the best they can, naturally they are going to make mistakes just like anyone does. They will apologize & try to make the wrongs right somehow if possible. They won’t repeat that mistake over & over again, make excuses or blame you for making them do what they did.
Someone who is truly doing their best won’t hide their actions or demand someone not to tell anyone what they are doing.
They also won’t be one way behind closed doors & totally different when in public situations.
They won’t criticize your every word, thought or deed.
People who truly are doing their best don’t try to gaslight others, making people doubt their own sanity.
They will try to build you up, encouraging you to be your own person who exercises whatever talents you have, rather than deliberately tear you down, discouraging you to be the person God made you to be.
They will care about others, not only themselves, & especially their children & spouse.
Now, think about the narcissist in your life. Does this sound like her? If not, then you need to keep in mind that she really didn’t do the best she could! Even if she had been abused or through hard times, that does NOT give an excuse to abuse! If being abused made the victim become an abuser, you would be abusive. If you think she does not know what she’s doing, then think about this- does she hide the abuse from other people, only raging at you in private? That is a sign she knows what she is doing is wrong.
Rather than feel guilty because your narcissistic mother “did the best she could”, instead, I encourage you to have a more realistic view of her situation. In mine for example, with my mother- yes she was abused terribly as a child. Her mother continued abusing her as an adult. She’s been miserable married to my father for 46 years. I do feel sorry for her for those reasons. However, those reasons were NOT my fault or a reason to take her frustrations, anger & hurt out on me, to expect to be able to live the life she actually wanted through me. As her daughter, it was never my job to make her happy, although she expected that. She also knew then & still knows how she treats me is wrong. I know this because she always worked hard to hide her actions from everyone, including my father.
Looking at my situation logically like this has helped me to no longer feel guilty when someone says that she did the best she could. It will help you as well. There is no good reason for you to feel bad when some insensitive, naive person says that obnoxious phrase to you! Don’t accept their delusion as your reality!
Growing up, I think my situation was very typical of many children who have narcissistic parents in some ways. Mainly in one way- secrecy was of the utmost importance. My mother never clearly said don’t tell anyone what she was doing to me, but somehow, I always knew telling would be a big mistake.
When I turned 17 & wanted to start dating, her abuse magnified. She was losing control of me & was less than thrilled with that fact. That is when she began to scream at me on a daily basis, making sure I spent my school & work lunch breaks with her, & she even had someone at my school report to her daily what I did during the day when she wasn’t around. It was a bad, bad time for me. I tried to talk a little about it to friends & even a school guidance counselor. No one was any help, so I sought out a therapist who turned out to be even less help. I found out I was completely on my own.
My mother often said during that time that I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry.” I failed to realize at the time that it was *her* dirty laundry, not mine. I did realize though that telling the truth about the abuse she put me through was a bad thing. When she learned I’d talked to anyone about what she did, she would rage worse than usual. More screaming at me would follow, telling me what a terrible person I was, she was only doing what she did to help me, since I was so unreasonable she had to practice tough love on me, & more garbage.
As a result, I learned to keep quiet, not discussing what she did to me. I lived in fear that she would learn if I’d said anything about her. Plus, I also felt I was to blame. I believed her lies about what a terrible person I was. I must have been terrible to make her treat me so badly- what other reason could there be for what she did, I thought. Telling also felt disloyal- I felt like I was betraying my mother if I told what she did.
Eventually, I had to talk about it. I lived through hell with her, even as an adult, & couldn’t keep it bottled up inside anymore. My emotional health was a mess. I had to talk about it & start to heal. It was hard to do. For years I continued to feel guilty for “airing our dirty laundry.” It finally clicked though a couple of years ago… I felt God wanted me to write & publish my autobiography. That task was very daunting- once you write a book & it’s published, it’s out there for the world to see. Having a website is one thing- my parents don’t even own a computer, plus I could take it down if I was so inclined, so that wasn’t too intimidating. But a book?! That was terrifying!
To write the book, I finally had to get rid of those dysfunctional thoughts about sharing what happened to me, & God helped me tremendously in doing so. He showed me the real truth about discussing narcissistic abuse.
He showed me that talking about it isn’t being disloyal or dishonorable- it’s simply telling the facts. I have yet to embellish anything. I tell things as they happened. I never try to paint my parents in a bad light, although I’m sure the stories I tell do just that since they’ve done some bad things. I try to keep the way I phrase things as respectful as possible.
He also showed me that although I wasn’t a perfect child, I was good & I did nothing to deserve what happened to me. I never got into trouble or did drugs. I cut a few classes in high school (which my parents never knew about), but still maintained honor roll grades. My worst sin was sneaking behind my mother’s back to date the man who is now my ex husband. Granted not a good thing, but not the worst thing I could’ve done either. I only saw him at school & work so we didn’t see each other much.
God showed me too that there is nothing my parents can do to punish me anymore. My mother can’t show up at my job again & scream at me for the whole population of the place to see (that was humiliating!) or force me to listen to her tell me what a horrible person I am for having my own thoughts, feelings & needs. If she tries to scream at me now, I’ll either leave, hang up on her or kick her out of my home.
Accepting these truths will help you tremendously in your healing as well as your ability to talk about what happened!
And, I found a quote that helped me tremendously in writing my autobiography. Anne Lammont said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” It’s very true! What happened to you at the hand of your abusive narcissistic mother is YOUR story. You have every right to share it with anyone you like.
I believe discussing narcissistic abuse to be a calling from God. You have to respect His calling more than fear your parents’ retribution. You aren’t betraying them by talking about it. You aren’t being a “bad daughter” either, so long as you share things in a respectful manner. If you believe God wants you to share your story, then share it! Not everyone is going to like it, but that isn’t your problem! Sharing your story will help raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the damage it causes. It will encourage others who have been in similar situations. It lets people know they aren’t alone to read stories similar to theirs. It also helps reassure people that they aren’t crazy, bad, wrong, etc. It wasn’t their fault, & your story can help people to learn that.
Share your story, Dear Reader, however you believe God wants you to share it! xoxo
Recently I realized an effective way to put an end to narcissistic games: ask logical questions. I realize that sounds silly, but I’m telling you, it works!
When the narcissist in your life starts their games, whether it is gaslighting or simply being hateful, immediately start asking logical questions, & watch the narcissist become confused & stop what they are doing.
Some good questions you can ask are:
- “How is that supposed to help?”
- “What exactly do you mean?”
- “I don’t understand..explain that?”
- “What are you trying to say?”
Once you ask your question, wait for an answer. The narcissist won’t know what to do! They may ignore your question totally, but you can be sure of two things: 1- she heard what you said, & 2- she will stop what she was doing.
I have done this recently, & have found it to be not only effective, but funny as well. It’s funny watching someone who is usually so confident in their talents in manipulation & cruelty suddenly become flustered. They are so shocked when someone doesn’t just blindly let them get away with what usually works, especially when it’s the person who usually does let them get away with things.
Doing this also helps you to take back some power, while taking away some from the narcissist. When she realizes her games or cruelty aren’t working, that takes power from her. The bonus is at the same time, it gives you power & confidence.
The next time you’re dealing with a narcissist, I would encourage you to try asking questions. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Have you ever heard the term projection regarding to how it relates to narcissists? Projection means that whatever they are doing, they project onto another person, accusing them of doing. For example, narcissists are know liars. Often they accuse others of lying to them while defending how honest & trustworthy they are.
Narcissistic mothers are no exception. They love to project, especially onto their children. The child of a narcissist isn’t viewed as the child of a normal, healthy person is. Most people view their children as separate human beings, with their own wants, emotions, personality & more. Narcissists, however, view their children as tools to be used in any way they see fit, not allowed to have their own wants, emotions or personality. Their children are not allowed to have boundaries. A narcissistic mother has no problem reading her child’s diary or snooping through her personal belongings. Nothing is off limits to the narcissistic mother, so why would projecting her flaws be?
I think another part of projection is also when a narcissist criticizes something about you that she wishes she had or could do. My mother is quick to criticize long hair on women, no matter how beautiful it is, yet has always complained that she can wear her thin, fine hair in only one, short style. She also has ruthlessly criticized my furkids, I think because they don’t like her & are very devoted to me.
Projection doesn’t stop just because a child of a narcissistic mother reaches adulthood. I haven’t heard of one narcissistic mother yet who has given up projection just because she is older or her child has grown up. My mother still gets on me about my weight, as she has my entire life, even though she is a lot heavier than I’ve ever been.
So how do you deal with this frustrating thing called projection?
The best way I’ve found is to remember what projection really is- a dysfunctional coping tool for a narcissist to use to deal with her own shortcomings. Remembering this helps to take some of the sting out of her cruel words, because you know it isn’t a personal attack- it is simply her own dysfunction. It still will hurt or anger you though, as it should, because it is unfair of her to use you in such a way.
Once I learned about projection & realized it was about her dysfunction rather than me, I’ve felt pity several times for my mother when I have caught her doing her projecting. She does it so often, she must truly feel awful about herself. It’s sad when you think of it. However, feeling pity doesn’t mean that I should try to make her feel better about herself. With a narcissist, attempting that puts you in the position of being responsible for her self-esteem, iffy as it may be, & she will use you up in order to gain the coveted narcissistic supply that improves her self-esteem. Please remember that if you too feel any pity.
I have read in some places recently that it isn’t necessary to understand what is behind an abusive person’s actions. All that matters is he or she abused you. This hasn’t really sat right with me.
I’m certainly not saying you have to excuse your abuser’s horrible actions away, because there is no excuse to abuse. I’m also not saying you need to really, truly understand exactly what made the person act as they did (especially in cases of being abused by a narcissist- who can really truly understand why they do what they do?!). However, if you understand a little about the abusive person in your life, it can benefit you greatly, because you can truly grasp that the abuse was not your fault.
So many victims of abuse tend to blame themselves. How many children of narcissistic parents grew up hearing that it was their fault their parents acted the way they did, & still believed that nonsense well into adulthood? I certainly did. My narcissistic mother blamed me for making her act as she did. If I wouldn’t have been so bad, she wouldn’t have had to use “tough love” (what she called her abuse) on me. I believed I was a bad person for most of my life as a result, & if I could have been better as a child, my mother wouldn’t have abused me.
Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder has helped me more than I can say. I finally have an answer to why my mother treated me as she did, & the answer isn’t that I was a bad kid! The answer is that she learned early in life that acting in this incredibly dysfunctional way got her whatever she wanted- attention, control, or the freedom to do anything she wanted. That has absolutely nothing to do with me! She wouldn’t have been kinder or loving to me if I had been a better daughter! No matter how I acted, my mother would have treated me exactly the same way- abusively.
I have known about NPD for I think four years now, & in that time, I have learned a great deal. Even so, I still read any information I can find on it. Why? For one thing, NPD seems to be a bottomless pit. Just when I think there can’t be anything left to learn, something else shows up. For another thing, reading about it often is a very good reminder that what happened to me isn’t my fault. In spite of the wealth of knowledge I have on this topic, I still battle wondering what I could have done differently, or did I do something to make my mother abuse me. Granted, those times are very few & far between now, but every now & then, they still happen & have to be dealt with.
Many people I have spoken to who have been through narcissistic abuse read constantly about NPD & surviving narcissistic abuse. Like me, they have been told they are too focused on NPD or being too negative. I disagree- reading about NPD is extremely beneficial to its victims! That being said though, as I have written about many times, it is equally vital to take breaks where you refuse to think about NPD or the abuse you endured. The negativity & evilness of NPD can depress you greatly, so breaks are of the utmost importance.
Sometimes I feel like all I am is a narcissistic abuse survivor. Writing about this topic is not for the faint of heart, & certainly not what I expected to be doing as an author. But, I feel this is what God wants, so I’m obeying gladly.
Even so, there are still some times that I feel like that’s all I am.
When I got carbon monoxide poisoning last February, I came pretty close to death. It caused me to do a great deal of soul searching. Among other things, I thought about this & realized I pretty much had become just someone who survived narcissistic abuse. Frankly, it was depressing. Surviving a narcissist with your sanity in tact is certainly something to be proud of, but even so.. what about other things? I’d lost some things I once enjoyed- for some reason, knitting & crocheting became uninteresting to me instead of hobbies I once loved. Thanks to the C-PTSD, reading has become hard for me as my brain feels overwhelmed if I look at the pages in a book too long. I felt empty.
I often write about the value of taking breaks from your healing & learning about narcissism. You simply can’t focus on such deep, heavy topics constantly & maintain any joy. I think it is equally valuable to take time to get to know yourself though. Truly get to know the person God has made you to be.
I have focused on this quite a bit since February. It’s turning into a very good thing. Getting to know me has helped me to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve begun to take better care of myself with less guilt. It has helped tremendously in reducing my anxiety levels as well. I realized this recently at the doctor’s office. A nurse suggested Weight Watchers for me. Weight has been an issue for me my whole life. My mother has always criticized my weight, even when I was thin. So much so, I had eating disorders starting at age 10. Now, I’m about 20 lbs overweight, & some people in the medical field act like I’m more like 700 lbs. overweight. This nurse was one of them. That situation used to trigger a lot of anxiety & shame in me but this time I felt fine. I told her no & ended that conversation.
The best part of getting to know myself is my relationship with God has become much more comfortable & open. There always was some shame in me asking for things I needed. So much so, I’ve always prayed more for others than myself. That is balancing out more all the time.
I have learned that I am not only someone who has been through narcissistic abuse, but also am a child of God, a wife, a mother to some super amazing furkids & a person who is gaining some diverse interests. I have been forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone & explore things, which has led to learning some new interests.
Dear Reader, please do as I have done, & start to get to know yourself too. You are a wonderful person, & you should appreciate that about yourself. You are so much more than you were told you were. Find out who you really are. Get to know the new you & embrace that person!