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I wish I could take credit for this post, but I can’t. It’s from the blog, Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism. I highly recommend following it! It’s very informative & everything is backed up by Scripture.
That being said, please read this post. If you are debating confronting the narcissist in your life, then you especially need to read it!
Everyone knows about aggressive forms of abuse, such as hitting others. There is another form that is much lesser known called microaggression. Microaggression is a term that originally referred to subtle actions done or words said to convey hostility, anger or some type of negativity towards others in particular those of other races or sexual orientations. I believe that narcissists use microaggressions as well, & not always towards people of other ethnicities or orientations.
Covert narcissists in particular prefer subtle ways to abuse their victims rather than relying on the “in your face” style of overt narcissists, so it’s no wonder they enjoy microaggressive behaviors. These behaviors are hard to detect, so those employing such behaviors easily can fly under the radar. As an example, if someone says, “You’re fat!” it’s obvious that is an insult. However, if someone says, “Do you really want that second cookie?” it can appear as an innocent question. After all, the person asking the question didn’t say “you’re fat” so it isn’t necessarily an insult. It could be an implied one, however, depending on the person who asked the question & his or her relationship with the one expected to answer the question. In this situation, an outsider may think the person who feels insulted is overreacting or reading into an innocent question. While that can be true of course, when narcissists are involved, that is rarely the case.
Such ambiguous statements aren’t the only form microaggressions can take. A narcissist can “accidentally” forget things such as to invite their victim to a party that many other mutual acquaintances are invited to or forget their victim’s birthday as a way to let their victim know they aren’t important enough for the narcissist to remember.
They also ignore their victim or even give them the silent treatment to tell their victim that they aren’t worth the narcissist’s time or attention.
They may insult their victim for doing the exact same thing they brag about someone else accomplishing. This is to let the victim know they’ll never be good enough in the narcissist’s eyes.
They also like to give backhanded complements, which are an insult wrapped in a complement. An example could be, “You look so much better since you lost weight!” or, “Wow, I can’t believe you actually passed that test! Congratulations!”
Invalidation can be another form of microaggression, such as when you tell a narcissist about a problem, & they act as if you said nothing or change the subject as their way to communicate to you that your problem means nothing to them.
Offensive jokes are another way for narcissists to hurt their victim in a subtle way.
In these situations, if a victim says something to the narcissist about their behavior, the narcissist won’t apologize. Instead, they blame the victim for being upset because they are too sensitive, read into things too much, can’t take a joke or other similar statements designed to shame the victim into tolerating the abuse quietly.
They also deny meaning anything offensive. My ex husband was clearly disgusted by my weight, even when I was very thin, but not once did he ever call me “fat.” It was implied, & if I said anything to him about it, he denied calling me fat. He was right, he didn’t say that word, & I felt ashamed of myself for being oversensitive.
Microaggression is incredibly passive/aggressive, so it should be treated the same way you treat someone exhibiting any passive/aggressive behaviors.
Educate yourself on what behaviors the narcissist exhibits that demonstrate microaggression so you understand what is happening.
Pretend not to notice their behavior. Ignore their games as if you noticed nothing out of the ordinary in their behavior.
Refuse to be manipulated. Whatever the behavior is trying to accomplish, don’t do it! If it’s supposed to get you angry, then show no anger at all. Hurt? Don’t shed one tear. Naturally it’s best to deal with your emotions, but do so later once you’re away from the narcissist.
Never ask the narcissist why he or she said or did that. That only opens an ugly door for you to be insulted, shamed & otherwise treated badly by the narcissist.
If you’re struggling in this area in any way, never forget to ask God to give you wisdom. He will do so & gladly. Let Him help you!
Instilling a root of toxic shame in children is something narcissistic parents do amazingly well. And they really have to if they wish their child to be compliant & easily manipulated. A person who is ashamed of everything about themselves is very easy to control, because they assume someone else always knows better than they do. When that someone else is a person in a position of authority like a parent & the victim is a young child who naturally looks to that parent for everything, it can be very easy for that parent to plant the seeds of toxic shame in that child.
On first glance, it may be somewhat hard to recognize exactly how a parent accomplishes this goal. That is why we’re talking about it today, to help you recognize how your narcissistic parent created this root of toxic shame in you.
Narcissistic parents primarily instill toxic shame in their children by destroying their child’s self confidence. This is done by telling the child they can’t do anything right, by doing things for the child & claiming it’s because that child can’t do tasks right, telling embarrassing stories about them that may or may not be true, exaggerating any faults the child has or once had, or reminding the child of the many times that parent rescued the child from his or her bad decisions even though those times may not have even happened. Such actions can destroy a child’s self confidence & leave them to think they are so incapable that they need their parent to take care of them, even as adults.
When a narcissistic parent says, “I was just joking,” you can count on that being a way to instill shame in their child. No, they weren’t just joking. They were deliberately saying something cruel to their child as a way to build that toxic shame. When the child showed hurt feelings, the parent said they were “just joking” as a way to make that child feel ashamed of being upset at the parent. If the parent can convince the child that he or she was just joking & the child was wrong to be upset, the child will tolerate the cruel words said in this instance & in the future. Sometimes the child in this situation will defend themselves to their parent. Their parent uses their normal reaction to prove to the child how unstable the child is. Narcissistic parents can use either reaction to create toxic shame in their child.
Blame shifting is another effective way to instill toxic shame in children. I remember when my mother would say the most unimaginably cruel things to me, usually screaming them at me when we were alone, & blame me for making her say those things. I felt terrible for making her behave so awfully. That is typical. Blame shifting enables narcissists to abuse their child without accountability. The child learns to tolerate abuse because they are to blame. If they would just act right, the parent wouldn’t be abusive. What the child fails to realize is nothing they could do would make that happen, so when their parent is abusive repeatedly, they accept that it is their fault, which results in feeling toxic shame.
Narcissistic parents who play the victim instill toxic shame in their children. Covert narcissistic parents in particular love the victim act, but overts aren’t above using it either. Narcissistic parents will infuriate their children then use their children’s reaction to prove to the child just how mean & horrible that child is to their parent. This naturally makes the child in this situation feel ashamed of themselves for being so terrible to their parent for no good reason.
Talking above or below the child’s level instills toxic shame. Talking above a child makes the child feel stupid for not understanding what their parent is talking about. Never mind that parent may not be as intelligent as the child & is talking in circles with confidence in their words to confuse the child. Talking down to a child by treating a child or adult child as if they are still very young makes the child feel as if their parent is superior to them.
If you have experienced these things from your narcissistic parent, hope is not lost. You can heal! It will take time & effort, but you can do it. You need to identify your parent’s shaming voice & what it tells you, then counteract that voice with the truth. Write things down if it helps you. If you struggle with this, asking God to help you can do wonders to shut down the shaming voice & help you to see the truth!
Everyone knows some basic red flags in relationships that people can show, such as lying, cheating, stealing money or possessions. There are other ones though that don’t seem terrible at first but they actually are bad. Many of these relate to romantic relationships, but in some cases, even abusive friends can behave in similar ways.
When someone is jealous of time that you spend with friends or family, that is a red flag. It really isn’t normal for someone to be jealous of time spent with the other people in your life unless you are obviously out of balance. (Such as ignoring your spouse to spend time with your family on a regular basis.) This could be a sign of the jealous person wanting to isolate you, so they can abuse you without interference from other people.
Along those same lines is the person who does their best to discourage you from spending time with your friends & family. Naturally if someone is toxic, anyone who loves you will want you to stay away from that toxic person. If that is not the case though, someone who behaves this way is trying to isolate a person from people who love them.
Constantly calling &/or texting can be another red flag. We all have people we’re especially close to. They are the ones we call & text often possibly even a couple of times a day. Even so, these people know when we are going to be busy & don’t call or text at that time. Abusive people will call & text constantly even during those times. They have no problem interrupting your time spent with that friend you haven’t seen in years or while you’re busy studying for a test. They do this in order to keep tabs on what you are doing to be sure you aren’t doing something they disapprove of & also to annoy the person you’re with enough that they will end the time spent together early so you will return to them.
Money can be another red flag. If someone constantly asks to borrow money from you that they never pay back, even with what sounds like good excuses, that is someone irresponsible with money who will take advantage of you. Or, if you’re married to someone who controls all the money & won’t discuss what they do with it, that is another huge red flag. That is a controlling person who probably also has something to hide.
Similarly, the husband who wants you to stay home so he can “take care of you” isn’t necessarily as loving as he may sound. Many abusive husbands start their financial abuse of their wives by gently suggesting they quit their job & let him take care of her. Over time, he renders her unable to find or keep a job if she opts to return to the work force. He can refuse to repair her car or give her money for the train to go to work, or if she does get a job, he may frequently call her or demand she leave early so her boss fires her.
Wanting you to look as they want to is another red flag. People who love you may have opinions on your clothes, hair & makeup but they won’t tell you how they think you should look. A controlling person may come across nicely by saying they think you look good when you look a certain way, but eventually that gives way to demanding you look the way they want you to.
There are some red flags where sex is concerned, too. Violently raping someone isn’t the only way a person can abuse sexually. Trying to coerce someone who doesn’t want to have sex by using guilt, shaming someone for not wanting to do certain activities or trying to get someone drunk or high in order to have sex with them or get them to do something they are against are also abusive behaviors.
If someone you know behaves in any of these ways, know that this is just the tip of the abusive iceberg. It is going to get so much worse! Please protect yourself & abandon this relationship as soon as possible!
The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions. It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.
Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people. There are many various reasons they can feel this way. Possibly the main reason is because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent so they hate them. Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought. It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence.
Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated. Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them. Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people. This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them. It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long. This makes them very unnerving for narcissists.
For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming. They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance. In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!”, “Wives should submit to their husbands!” & “Love covers a multitude of sins!” are some examples of Scriptures being used to shame victims into tolerating abuse. When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better. People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…”,“That’s just how she is.”, “You need to understand her better.” & “But he was abused by his parents!!”
Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist. A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused. They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things.
If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things. You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person. They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments. You also can ask God to tell you the truth about this situation, & ask if they were right in what they said.
It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense? If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick that can help. Pretend a friend has told you of this same situation happening to them. Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation.
Please remember to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are. Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse. Don’t accept their shame! The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry it!
Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world with flawed people. Many of those flawed people are very dysfunctional & they refuse to change. There is no escaping them, so we all need to find ways to cope with them.
One way I have found to deal with such people is by accepting these people where they are. Please don’t think I am saying people have the right to treat you any way they want & you should accept it. That isn’t what I mean at all. I mean recognizing that some people are comfortable operating in their own dysfunction & that is their right. You have every right to protect yourself from such people, of course. You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries. You also have the right to distance from such people to protect yourself.
Here is an example from my life of what I’m talking about.
For quite some time, my mother went through a phase of often telling me how good a mother she was. She regaled me with stories of how she took such good care of me. The stories were strange to say the least. While there was some truth in many of them, she twisted some facts around to make herself look good. Other times, she denied any wrong doing towards me at all.
When she first began to do this, I felt like she was invalidating the pain she caused me yet again. First, by doing the things she did that caused the pain, then later by acting as if such things never happened or spinning the stories around to make herself look good. And, to add insult to injury, she clearly wanted me to validate her delusions.
Naturally, I was incredibly hurt & angry when this happened. I literally could feel my blood pressure rise when she would start telling her tales, or if not then, when she wanted me to agree to her stories. In time, I realized something though. This was how she coped.
I realized that my mother felt badly for doing abusive things to me. Not like a normal person would though. She didn’t feel badly for causing pain. Instead, her actions were so embarrassing to her that she simply couldn’t bear the thought of anyone knowing what she had done. That is why she started to reinvent the past. She worked very hard to convince herself, others & even me that she didn’t do the horrible things she did or the events didn’t happen that way I remembered. She spun facts around in some way to make her look good. The fact it hurt me didn’t seem to cross her mind. Often when she said or did things to hurt me, she looked pleased with herself, but that didn’t happen with her stories. I think she was simply so focused on helping herself feel better, how it affected me simply didn’t occur to her.
When these things happened, I prayed & God showed me what I told you just now. This was how my mother coped. Many people do this exact same thing, narcissist or not. It is incredibly dysfunctional for sure, but it also is a person’s right to live as functionally or dysfunctionally as they want to do. Naturally I wanted better for her than this for my sake as well as hers, but there was nothing I could do to make my mother operate in a healthier way. This was her choice & even her right to behave this way.
When I realized that, it helped me to accept my mother’s behavior for what it was. Dysfunctional but also her right. I kept that in mind when she started sharing her stories, & I was no longer so negatively affected by them.
I also realized that just because she wants to drag me into this behavior doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it. While it’s true people have the right to behave badly, that doesn’t mean you have to participate in it. I never validated my mother’s stories like she wanted me to. Instead, I changed the subject or ended the phone call. You too have the right to protect yourself from the awful behavior of other people.
Accepting people where they are while not encouraging their dysfunctional behavior can make coping with them so much easier!
I’ve noticed that people respond very passionately to genuine people, either positively or negatively.
I realized something else about this phenomenon. The healthier a person is, the more positively they will respond to genuine people. The more dysfunctional, the more negatively they will respond to genuine people. This makes sense when you think about it….
Healthy people are genuine. If they’re having a bad day, they won’t deny it. They will say, “Today hasn’t been a good one” rather than pretend all is right in their world. Not to say they’re negative, of course, they’re just being real & admitting the truth. They also have no trouble admitting they make mistakes or have flaws. They don’t judge others for their mistakes or flaws either.
Dysfunctional people are very different. They value the appearance of good over what is real. I learned this when my father was dying, & various relatives attacked me for not going to say goodbye to him. Their daily influx of abuse was intense to say the least. One day, I asked God why they acted this way. He showed me that they were operating out of their own dysfunction. One of the reasons behind their behavior was they didn’t want to face bad or traumatic things. They clearly never dealt with their own traumatic experiences. They instead created this illusion that all was right in their world & everyone in our family was good. Me not being there for my father at the end of his life threatened this delusion by showing that things were so bad, I opted not to say good bye to my father at the end of his life. Rather than face the fact that maybe this delusion isn’t a good thing, they tried to force me to go along with their delusion so it could be reinforced. If I had gone, they would have had proof everything was good, & could continue in their dysfunction as they had before.
My situation with these dysfunctional people wasn’t terribly unique. Many of my readers have said they experienced something similar with their family. Sometimes it was when a narcissistic relative was dying, but not always. It also happened when some severed ties with a narcissist. They were attacked by their own family, those who should have been there to support & love them.
To sum it up, it seems to me dysfunctional people often treat genuine people like the scapegoat. They act like genuine people are the ones with problems, who are lying & nothing but troublemakers.
The more you heal from narcissistic abuse, the more genuine you will become. It just seems to be a natural event. Unfortunately, this can mean the dysfunctional people around you will be cruel to you for it.
My hope is that you will see the situation for what it is & not change your ways! Being genuine is a wonderful thing! It’s so refreshing in a fake world! Don’t try to change to please these people who are too dysfunctional to appreciate the real you. Instead, you just do what is right. Be genuine & if others don’t like that, remember that is not your problem. They are functioning in their own dysfunction. Their negativity or even abuse isn’t personal. It’s simply a reflection of their dysfunction rather than a reflection of you. They’re allowed to be dysfunctional if that is what they want to do. It’s certainly not a good choice but it is their right. And, you also have rights. You’re allowed to be functional & protect yourself from their toxicity.
Most people have little patience for the obviously foolish people, such as those people who repeatedly make poor decisions & are shocked when those poor decisions don’t turn out well for them. The older we get & the emotionally healthier we get, it seems that tolerance gets lower & lower. It certainly has for me. It doesn’t take much for me to become very irritated at the obviously foolish. One particular feature of foolishness especially irritates me though: people who are only interested in sharing their opinions while not wanting to listen to those of other people.
The Bible even addresses this behavior specifically. Proverbs 18:2 in the Amplified Bible says, “A [closed-minded] fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his personal opinions [unwittingly displaying his self-indulgence and his stupidity].”
This behavior is so common in society isn’t it? It’s all over social media but also people behave this way in person. If you have any doubts, mention your thoughts on politics. I don’t care what your thoughts are, there will be people who tell you that not only are you wrong, but you’re foolish for thinking as you do. If you site evidence that supports your thoughts, then your evidence will be criticized as well as where you obtained said evidence.
One very bad thing about this behavior is it can be excessively triggering for those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse. Whether you grew up with a narcissistic parent or two, were once married to a narcissist or have had narcissistic friends, you know first hand just how critical narcissists are. They love to pick apart every single little thing about their victims because it makes them so easy to control & manipulate. This is clearly very traumatic for victims. So traumatic that even years after the last episode of abuse, when someone is critical, even when that person isn’t a narcissist, it can trigger intense rage, anxiety & even flashbacks.
Unfortunately, people like this are impossible to avoid, so you need to learn how to cope with them because at some point, you will be forced to interact with them.
The first step I have found to take is to accept that this is going to happen & ask God not only to help you accept that, but handle it when it does. If you think you can avoid people like this, you are sadly mistaken. That is impossible because these people truly are everywhere! The smartest thing you can do is accept that you won’t have a choice but to encounter people like this sometimes.
This can be hard to do in the situation due to the triggering of old emotions, but if at all possible, remind yourself of what is happening. The reason this is so upsetting is simply because this person reminds you of the abusive narcissist you have experienced. Nothing more. Although this situation makes you feel awful, the truth is that this person can’t hurt you or control you because you know what is happening. You are safe!
While some people who are very firm in their beliefs periodically are open minded about listening to other input, not all are. A person who isn’t that open minded is someone that God refers to as a fool. There is no reasoning with a fool. Instead, go your separate way from this person as soon as possible. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:7, “Leave the presence of a [shortsighted] fool, For you will not find knowledge or hear godly wisdom from his lips.” There is no point in wasting your precious time on someone like this.
I recently caught a show on the Oxygen network about the Cleveland strangler, Anthony Sowell. I believe the show was called, “Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Strangler.” If you don’t know him, he was a serial rapist & murderer in whose Cleveland, Ohio home the bodies of 11 women were found.
I found the show fascinating. Not only because of my interest in true crime but mostly because of the surviving victims. At the end of the episode, four victims who miraculously survived Sowell’s attacks were interviewed. They were very strong & inspiring ladies! I regret that I didn’t make a note of their names. I was too busy jotting down notes from what each lady had to say to think of names at the time, but if you get to watch this show, you can find out their names.
Anyway, what these ladies had to say was so inspiring & I think also very valuable for victims of all kinds of abuse, which is why I wanted to share their wisdom.
One lady shared that she wants to start an organization called Cracked Not Broken whose sole purpose is to tell people there is always hope. She said too that there needs to be more support for victims. She’s right. There isn’t much good support. She & the other three ladies on this show supported each other though, & that is so wonderful! I think victims of crimes & any type of trauma & abuse need to support each other because they can do so better than anyone else. They understand the pain, the difficulties in healing, & more. What healing could take place if more people supported each other rather than compared their traumas or minimize the traumas of other people!
Another lady stressed the importance of never minimizing your experiences. Many victims of abuse minimize their trauma. Since she said this, I assume victims of crimes do it as well. It’s not a healthy thing to do! To heal, you need to accept what was done to you for what it was, not some watered down version of it. Then you can get angry about it & really start to heal.
She also said the only way to heal is to “get that stuff off you”. That is so true! Holding things in doesn’t help anyone & is detrimental to mental health. This particular lady suggested reaching out for help. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, there is always journaling. That is incredibly helpful in “getting that stuff off you.” Better yet is prayer. God truly will help you to heal from anything!
Another lady said victims need to know they didn’t deserve what was done to them & not to blame themselves. This happens to so many people who were victimized in any capacity. The woman who was raped blames herself for wearing a short skirt, the person whose car was stolen blames himself for forgetting to lock the doors, the victim of a narcissistic parent blames herself for making her parents abuse her. This is so wrong & it needs to stop. No one can force another person to abuse them & no one deserves to be abused. Period!
Another lady said just because the person who hurt you didn’t see your value, that doesn’t mean you don’t have value. You are valuable! You deserve to love yourself. And, as you heal, take each day a step at a time. Don’t rush the healing process.
Lastly, this same lady said one thing that helped her to heal was to keep her head up & never give up. Clearly she knew she had no reason to be ashamed of what happened to her, so she wasn’t going to carry that shame! So very wise!
I hope you were as inspired by these brave, beautiful ladies as I was! xoxo
Those abused by narcissists, in particular raised by narcissistic parents, tend to be people pleasers to an extreme. Under the abusive influence, you learn that you are to have no needs & never to burden anyone with your so called “trivial” wants, needs & feelings. You also learn that love is conditional & if you want love, you must do everything right. It’s the perfect recipe for becoming a people pleaser.
Finally comes a time when you realize you are exhausted & depressed. This people pleasing thing is extremely hard work & incredibly unrewarding. Instead of people loving you & appreciating all that you do for them, they expect more & more from you. They also expect you to do for them no matter what is happening with you. You could be sad or busy or sick, & they still expect you to do whatever pleases them with no regard to you. The unfairness of it all makes you mad.
You also realize that no matter how hard you try, pleasing people is impossible to do all of the time. Being a mere human being, you will fail sometimes. You will miss the mark. Those who expect you to please them have little patience for your failures, & can be very cruel. This adds to your anger & depression.
You also realize you can’t spend all of your life trying to make other people comfortable & happy. It’s not your job! Besides, many of the people you worry about making comfortable & happy don’t care about making you comfortable in return, so the relationship is very one-sided. This unfair burden is maddening.
You also reach a time of being fed up with other people’s expectations. You will become very angry that people expect so much of you while giving you little or even nothing in return. You finally realize that it’s detrimental to your mental & emotional health to make pleasing others a priority while ignoring yourself.
One day you are going to be furious that you lost your identity while trying to please other people. You will realize that you have no idea who the real you is & that too will make you angry. That realization is scary & painful. It leaves you feeling completely lost.
You also will become fed up with constantly having to defend yourself. When you can’t do something that is expected of you by the ungrateful, using types, they get angry & say & do the cruelest things as a way of punishing you for not doing what they think you’re supposed to do. That gets old!
The life of a people pleaser is not an easy one. It also isn’t the one that God wants anyone to live! The purpose of this post today is to help inspire you to break free of that extremely dysfunctional role!
Stop worrying about pleasing everyone! It’s impossible anyway. Instead, worry about pleasing God, yourself, & those safe & wonderful people closest to you!
Learn who you are, & embrace that person. Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully & wonderfully made. In other words, God doesn’t make trash. He made you into the special, wonderful person that you are.
You deserve the same happiness you’re trying to give other people. Don’t be afraid to help yourself to some happiness for a change!
There are many myths about narcissistic abuse. This post’s purpose is to debunk some of the more common ones.
“You let him/her get away with treating you that way. That’s why he/she does what they do.” Narcissists aren’t normal people who respect boundaries. They don’t care that their actions cause pain & problems for others. They only care about what they want. No matter what consequences you give a narcissist, chances of them respecting your boundaries are slim to none.
“Narcissists only abuse the weak & stupid.” Anyone can be abused by a narcissist, no matter their intelligence, personality, religious beliefs, social standing or gender. Narcissists are incredibly good actors & can convince anyone of whatever they want them to believe. Even people who know a great deal about Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be fooled temporarily. Someone who doesn’t know about it can be fooled much easier & for a much longer time before they realize something is very wrong.
“You must have done something to attract this type of person.” This is nothing but victim blaming & shaming, & is incredibly cruel! Do you know the kind of person narcissists are attracted to? People with kind, loving & gentle spirits who have a great deal of empathy. It is wrong to make people like this feel badly for being this way, especially when these are all wonderful qualities!
“You just need to learn how to stop making him angry or stay out of his way.” No one is responsible for another person’s abusive behavior beyond the abuser. Nothing anyone can do can prevent any abuser from abusing, period. Narcissists are also incredibly toxic people who enjoy torturing their victims. One way they do this is to keep their victims in a constant state of high alert by changing what angers them & what they want. No matter how much a person may want to avoid angering the narcissist in their life or stay out of his way, it’s impossible.
“You need to fix this relationship!” One of my aunts told me this regarding the relationship I had with my parents. She is far from the only person to think in such a dysfunctional & foolish manner. The problem is no one person can fix a relationship. While one person can destroy a relationship, it takes two people to fix one. Not to mention, in the mind of narcissists, their relationships are fine. They don’t need fixing, at least so long as the victim does whatever the narcissist wants & tolerates the abuse.
“If it’s so bad, just walk away/go no contact.” Anyone who says this most likely lacks empathy. Ending relationships is always hard. Ending a relationship with a narcissist is even harder, especially if that person is someone you love a great deal such as a spouse or parent. Chances are the person who says this also has no concept of trauma bonding. Trauma bonding is common among narcissists & their victims. This is when the narcissist interjects some kindnesses in with their abuse. They also destroy their victims’ self esteem, making them think they can’t survive without the narcissist. There is also the fact that many narcissists financially ruin their victims so they are dependent on their narcissist. Narcissists also isolate their victims from friends & families, so they have no one they can trust to help them. Leaving narcissists isn’t as simple as “just walking away” for these reasons & many more.
“You’ve been away from the narcissist for a while so you should be over it by now.” Narcissistic abuse often creates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in victims. This disorder as well as the tremendous amount of psychological warfare waged against victims by narcissists mean there is no “getting over it”. It takes a lot of time to come to any sort of terms to what happened & if you have PTSD, to learn to manage your symptoms.
These are only a few of the myths about narcissistic abuse, but even so, I hope my debunking helps you.
When you’re healing from abuse, many people act like you should get to the point that nothing about what your abuser did bothers you in the slightest. They say that’s a sign of healing. I say that is completely wrong.
To start with, how can any human being not be bothered in the slighted by any life altering event, whether the event is good or bad? Anything that drastically affects a person is going to affect them forever to some degree. In my experience I have found the best I can hope for regarding such life altering & traumatic things is to get to the point where remembering them feels much like remembering a bad dream. It feels somewhat upsetting but not devastating. One example is this: Some of you who have read my work for a while may remember when I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015. That was a terrifying event that has left me with life altering physical & mental struggles. Yet, it also brought me some really good changes in my personality as a result of the brain damage & even drew me closer to God. As grateful as I am for those positive changes, that doesn’t negate the fact that thinking about how close to death I came that day still shakes me up to some degree even all these years later. I believe most people are similar to me in this feeling like they’re remembering a bad dream is as good as it gets for healing from the most extreme traumas & situations.
To be totally unaffected by abuse also makes abuse not so bad. It minimizes it & even normalizes it. After all, when someone does something normal, you don’t think twice about it or feel any sort of emotions connected to that normal thing. Do you feel any emotion when your friend says they bought a loaf of bread while at the grocery store? No, because that is normal. If a person feels that way same way about abuse, then abuse becomes just as acceptable as buying a loaf of bread.
There should always be anger about abuse! It’s called righteous indignation & is mentioned in the Bible.
Righteous indignation means to be angry about injustice, malice & even abuse. It is anger felt about something that offends your morals. Consider the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple in Matthew 21:12-13. He was angry that the temple was no longer a house of prayer but a den of robbers thanks to the behavior of these people. That anger was hardly sinful! It was correct! It motivated Jesus to get their attention & make changes. And, he did so without hurting anyone!
When feeling angry, consider your anger. Most likely, you aren’t only angry at your abuser for hurting you, but at the wrongness & unfairness of the abuse. There is nothing wrong with that anger at all! You can use that anger to motivate you to make positive changes in your life, such as end the relationship with the abuser. You can use it to raise awareness of what you have endured. This righteous indignation is a very good thing provided you use it constructively rather than destructively.
If you have been in this situation & feel badly for still feeling some degree of anger about the abuse you have endured, please consider what I have said. It is good to release the anger at the perpetrator as you are able to do so. Carrying around anger & unforgiveness is unhealthy in the long term. However, maintaining that righteous indignation about the painful & abusive acts committed on you is perfectly normal & yes, even Godly. Don’t let other people convince you otherwise!
When most people hear the word love, they think of how they feel around someone they love dearly. Whether that person is a love interest, parent, child, other relative or friend, the person thinking of them will feel warm, affectionate, caring feelings. But, love isn’t always about those nice feelings.
Sometimes, love feels nothing like the nice feelings I described earlier. Sometimes love is not enabling behavior the other person enjoys but is unhealthy. Sometimes love is not allowing the other person to use you. Sometimes love involves arguments. Sometimes, love even involves ending relationships. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize these things, & think love is only about the good feelings, giving in, & even tolerating abuse.
The last few months of my father’s life, I learned that is exactly what my family thought. They clearly thought I hated him & my mother because I hadn’t spoken to them for several months at that time. They obviously believed that I was living my life with no thought of them whatsoever.
What my family didn’t know & never would believe anyway is no contact with my parents was incredibly hard on me. Reaching the decision to end those relationships was gut wrenching. I took a lot of time to consider it, & said a lot of prayers. I prayed daily for wisdom for probably a couple of years before going no contact with them, & after, I prayed daily for God to take care of them & to save them.
In John 15:17 in the Amplified translation, the Bible states, “This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.” There is no mention in there about the warm, fuzzy feelings, because sometimes, there simply aren’t any. Consider what I just told you about my situation with my parents. There wasn’t a single warm fuzzy feeling for them for many years, & many less at the end of their lives. But, that didn’t mean I didn’t love them. The difference is I loved them God’s way, by doing what it says in John 15:17, seeking the best for them. It was incredibly hard severing ties with them, but I knew in my heart it was necessary for my mental health & for them. And, as it turns out, my father finally turned to God at the very end of his life because I wouldn’t go see him. I’m not sure if my mother’s motivations were the same or not, but she also turned to God at the very end of her life. When you love people as God wants, it’s not always easy but it is for the best.
If you have been told that you aren’t loving abusive people right because you have started to set boundaries or even gone no contact, or even if not but you feel like you’re being unloving for such things, this post is for you today. You need to know that there is nothing good or Godly about letting people use & abuse you. In fact, it goes against God’s wishes!
Remember, if you truly love someone, you may not feel all the warm, fuzzy feelings for them. Sometimes love is best done from a distance, & praying quietly behind the scenes. And sometimes those prayers include saying things like, “Father God, I’m sorry my heart isn’t in this. I’m only praying for her because I know You want me to!” If that is all you can manage to do, there is nothing wrong with that! God truly honors those prayers, the ones you’re only praying because you know He wants you to pray. He applauds your effort & obedience while also dealing with that other person in ways you may not know about.
Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic. For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest.
I really don’t believe that is true. You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.
Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows. Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you. While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.
Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting. Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint. You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber. Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight. Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint? No! It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is. You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone. If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.
Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.
Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it. How is being desensitized to trauma good? It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you. If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it. That is not even close to mentally healthy!
Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either. If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them. They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”. They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by. They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it. Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders. It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.
Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal! In fact, let the emotions motivate you! Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced. Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong. If you feel bold, write a blog or a book. See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail. Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter. Far from it. They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart.
Several years ago, I posted something on my personal Facebook page that turned into a disaster.
The date was May 31, which is the day that my Granddad passed away in 2003. Each year in May, I get depressed because it’s been so difficult losing such a wonderful man. Some years I discuss it, some I don’t. One year, I mentioned it on Facebook & shared a few pictures of him. This simple act caused one of my relatives to be very angry with me. She left a nasty comment on my post for sharing this because she felt I was disrespecting my grandmother by not mentioning her, & only mentioning Granddad.
Think about this for a moment. It was the anniversary of my granddad’s passing. Doesn’t logic dictate that he was the center of my focus on that particular post rather than my grandmother? I adore her, but May 31 was more about Granddad in my mind & that seemed only logical under the circumstances to me. Besides, I mentioned her on her birthday, the date of her passing & my grandparents’ anniversary, so it’s not like she was ignored!
As if this relative’s reaction to my post wasn’t inane enough, it got worse.
The following May 31, I said nothing since I didn’t want to be attacked again. I didn’t think much about this until another one of my relatives (who happens to be a very malicious covert narcissist) mentioned it being the anniversary of my Granddad’s passing. This relative even shared the exact same pictures I had!! She also said similar things in her post as I had in mine the prior year! Her wording was almost word for word the same as mine. And yes, I compared our posts because I was reasonably sure she had copied mine! It was very shocking to me how she so obviously copied me, but what was even more shocking is the relative who the year prior chewed me out for being so “disrespectful” praised this person for doing the exact same thing as I had! She told this person how incredibly kind & thoughtful it was of her to remember Granddad & how much she loved her.
Frankly, the whole scene made me nauseous.
This type of scenario is very common in narcissistic families. The one who is honest about narcissistic abuse is shunned in so many ways by their own family for not conforming, for not being like the rest of the family & for being open about the family’s secrets. However, the narcissists in the family are treated so much differently! They are showered with love, support & encouragement.
If this is happening in your family, you aren’t imagining it. You aren’t over reacting. You aren’t being over sensitive for being angry about the insanity & unfairness of it. You are a person with a normal reaction to this dysfunctional situation. Unfortunately, for dysfunctional families with a narcissist (or more), their behavior is also pretty normal. Many people don’t have the courage to face the fact that someone in their family is an abusive monster or stand up for what is right. Instead, they side with the abuser. Standing up for what is right means actively doing things, like offering support to the victim & calling an abuser out on their actions. It is easier for cowardly people to side with the abuser. Besides, chances are good they will gain something from their allegiance to the narcissist. It could be favor with the narcissist or gifts or anything really.
All of this means that there is nothing wrong with you! It also is nothing personal, even though it feels that way. The problem lies with not only the abusive narcissist, but his or her flying monkeys as well. You are fine, they are not! Please try to remember that, & keep on telling your story!
Finding a good therapist isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Every person has their own unique personality, beliefs, ways of thinking & more, so finding a therapist who is compatible with you can be a challenge. When you are seeing one to help you to deal with the effects of narcissistic abuse however, the challenge can be much more difficult.
For one thing, there are many therapists out there who are narcissists. Narcissists are drawn to the helping type professions such as teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement & even the mental health field. I’m not saying all teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement officers & mental health professionals are narcissists of course. Many very good people are in those fields too. When it comes to finding a therapist that can help you cope with issues stemming from narcissistic abuse though, it’s especially important to be certain your therapist isn’t a narcissist. No one needs to be subjected to a narcissistic therapist! It only makes things much worse!
There is also the fact that most in the mental health field received little to no training on the cluster B personality disorders like narcissism. Unless a therapist has personal experience with a narcissist, chances are they won’t know ways to help you to heal. They may not even recognize the type of person who abused you. And, if they don’t understand the person who abused you, there is the chance that they may not believe you let alone be able to help you heal. Honestly, much of what narcissists do is pretty unbelievable. I think back to the things I was subjected to at the hands of narcissists, & can barely believe it. I was there! It shouldn’t be hard to believe it, yet it is. If your therapist doesn’t believe you, that is a sign you need to find a different one.
If you are considering therapy after narcissistic abuse, I hope I haven’t dissuaded you. That certainly isn’t my intention at all. I just want to let you know that finding one who can help you may not be easy. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though!
Many therapists have areas they specialize in such as drug rehabilitation, sexual problems, marriage counseling & more. Find one who specializes in trauma & abuse. Often their specialty is listed on their website or on your insurance carrier’s list of providers who accept your insurance.
If you know other people in your area who have been to counseling, ask them about their counselor. What did they like or dislike about that counselor? Even if they saw that counselor for a different issue than what you want to see one for, you never know. That counselor may not specialize in helping others recover from narcissistic abuse, but may be highly empathic & able to think outside the box enough to help you.
Remember that the first counselor you see may not be one that you stay with. Or the second counselor. Or even the third. Things may start out just fine then something happens that makes you think this counselor may not be the one for you. Don’t worry about that! It happens sometimes. Not everyone is compatible with every counselor. Don’t give up easily, but don’t stay with a counselor for longer than you feel comfortable either. The goal is to help yourself, so do what you need to in order to help yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure if it takes you seeing a few counselors before you find one that you really like.
Don’t be biased, either, when seeking a counselor. If you’re a woman, you may be more comfortable talking to women about personal issues as a general rule, but that may not be the case with a counselor. You may end up finding a male counselor more effective for you. Or, vice versa- a man may prefer a female counselor. Remember, men & women think very differently as a general rule, & sometimes those differences can be very helpful.
I wish you the best in your quest to find a good counselor!
This post is for those of you who have made the bold, painful step of going no contact with your narcissistic parents.
All of us who have gone no contact with our narcissistic parents know that in such situations, the relationship had become utterly intolerable & that pushed us to the desperation of no contact. The constant control, vindictive criticisms & abuse became too much from the overtly narcissistic parent. The constant shaming, manipulation, childish behavior & abuses so subtle most people didn’t see them from the covertly narcissistic parent also were too much. Who can live with this indefinitely?! No one with any normal human emotions could!
Upon ending the relationship, the shock of the flying monkeys & their despicable abuse was next. The constant comments of, “But that’s your mother or father!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They’re getting up in years. How do you think you’ll feel when they die?” & other venom comes from their mouths. When guilt & shame don’t work, they attack your character. They call you ungrateful, spoiled, a brat, evil & more. If you’re a Christian, your faith will be attacked, too. As they like to claim, by severing ties with your abusive parents, you obviously have no idea what it means to honor your parents. You must be a hypocrite!
Trauma doesn’t end with no contact. Thanks to flying monkeys, it often continues for quite some time until they find a new target.
The time immediately after no contact is a very difficult time. The guilt, the doubts & the abuse from flying monkeys are all incredibly hard to deal with! Also many times, C-PTSD goes into overdrive after no contact. No longer needing to function in survival mode seems to make the brain think that since you’re safe now, it’s time to deal with all those old issues you put on the back burner for so long. All of these things can make you wonder if you did the right thing by going no contact. Sometimes it seems easier to remain in the relationship just to keep the peace, but it truly isn’t easier.
Once you are no contact, you’re finally free. Free from the barrage of abuse from your narcissistic parent. Free from your parent trying to make you into whatever they want you to be. Free to do what you want without your parent trying to tell you how wrong you are & shaming you for your so called bad decisions. Free to be the wonderful person God made you to be. You’re finally free!!
From day one, narcissistic parents try to make their children into whatever sick fantasy they have. They don’t care one iota about the child’s talents, interests or anything like that. They are narcissists, after all, so all that matters to them is what they want. Growing up like this, finally experiencing freedom can be scary. The assaults of the flying monkeys & often the harassment from the narcissistic parents can add to the fear. You know something though? Going through the fear is totally worth it. On the other side of that fear are peace, joy & bravery like you have never known!
And, you don’t have to walk through that fear alone. God will be right by your side! Remember, Psalm 23 says that He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. I have experienced that first hand, & I can tell you that as painful as those times were, especially after going no contact with my parents, it was all worth it. I ended up closer to God than ever, & He enabled me to do the unimaginable. He will do the same for you if you allow Him to. Dear Reader, as hard as no contact with narcissistic parents can be, don’t give up. Don’t go back. Don’t listen to the absurd ramblings of those who don’t know your situation like you do. Lean on God. Let Him support & guide you through this process. xoxo
In families with narcissistic parents, the person who marries into this family is in for quite the adventure. I learned this from my own experience, but apparently a lot of stories are very similar to mine. Parents decide immediately whether or not they like the person their son brings home. That decision is often based on simply ridiculous, trivial things such as what kind of work does she do or where she grew up. It can be even more ridiculous such as something about her appearance being a problem. If she is too pretty, if she is over or under weight or maybe she is tall when their family is short. It also could be simply a matter of differences in personality. Rather than be polite for the sake of their son, they hate this new woman in his life. They also demand she respect them while not returning respect to her. And, their definition of respect is that she be seen & not heard, only doing what benefits the family. Her needs & wants mean nothing to this family.
In these situations, the family functions as one unit in an “it’s us against her!” manner. As I have said before, they remind me of the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. They all function as one, focused only on what the Collective dictates. In this case, the Collective is usually a narcissistic mother pulling everyone’s strings to make them act according to her whim. One whim the “Collective” usually has is to tell the son & have others in the family tell him as well what a terrible person this new woman is. She isn’t good enough, she stole him from their family, she keeps him from them & similar lies are the most common, but some also will say more drastic things she is unfaithful, steals, uses drugs & more.
It never seems to cross their collective mind that this man could get fed up & walk away. And really, why would it? No doubt he has tolerated all manners of maltreatment & even abuse at the hands of his family. They place demands on him like giving them money or otherwise bailing them out of their problems with no thought to how this could affect him, & he does as he is told. Why wouldn’t he? This is what he has done his entire life. Often siblings in these situations call this one mean spirited nicknames his entire life, even as an adult, as an attempt to let him know that he is still a child in their eyes.
Families like this are entitled beyond belief. They honestly think they are entitled to treat this poor man any way they like. By default, they believe they are also entitled to treat his significant other just as badly. They have groomed this man to take any abuse they dish out without complaint, & expect the same behavior from his wife. If she complains, all hell can break loose.
At this point, families like this don’t consider anything that led up to the complaints. They only see the problem at hand, which is someone is setting boundaries on their abuse. The horrors!!
Sadly, the son in this situation doesn’t often realize how disrespectful & insulting his family is to him.
His family has no respect or love for him if they won’t at least try to be civil to the woman he loves. If they did, they would manage basic civility, unless of course that woman was abusive to him.
Clearly his family also thinks he’s stupid. After all, they expect him not to think for himself, but instead to blindly listen to them regarding his life. As if he doesn’t know what is best for him or isn’t smart enough to choose a good woman to marry! How insulting is that?!
It’s a truly sad situation! If you are in this situation, my heart goes out to you! I pray you & your spouse can work together to set healthy boundaries with this Borg-like family. Being clearly a team is the best thing you can do as a couple in this situation.
After ending a romantic relationship with a narcissist, they are often quick to get back into dating. They seem to think this makes them look like they weren’t the one with the problem in the relationship. Or, maybe it is an attempt to make the one who left them believe they were the problem in the relationship. After all, in their opinion, if the narcissist was really the problem, how could he or she find someone else so quickly?
What most people don’t know is behind the scenes, the narcissist is acting out of a narcissistic injury. Narcissists seem to think their victims will tolerate their abuse indefinitely without complaint. It’s just assumed that the dysfunctional status quo will continue to be the dysfunctional status quo forever. When a victim finally says enough is enough, & ends the relationship, they are genuinely stunned. I have yet to know of one narcissist who wasn’t stunned when their victim ended the relationship with them, no matter the nature of the relationship.
When a relationship is ended against their will, narcissists seem to think something along the lines of this: “This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen! What is wrong with this person? I’ve been nothing but good to them! After all, I put up with them for so long! I just don’t understand why this person would leave me! It makes no sense! I financially supported them &/or put up with their trivial needs &/or listened to their whining (in other words, confrontations about the abusive behavior. Never mind the narcissist didn’t change it).”
Ending a relationship with a narcissist creates a huge blow to their ego! While any normal person receives a narcissistic injury to some degree when another ends a relationship with them, it is a great deal more devastating to a narcissist.
Also, when this narcissistic injury happens, narcissists don’t respond to it as a normal person would in this situation. A functional person would take time to mourn the loss of the relationship & figure out how to be a better significant other in their next relationship, if they want one. Narcissists instead plot their revenge against the person who broke up with them.
Maybe the narcissist had another relationship on the side, so it looks to those who don’t know about this person that they found someone very quickly. Only the ones closest to the narcissist know the truth in this situation. No narcissist wants to be seen as a cheater, since many people look down on such behavior. However, that won’t stop a narcissist from having a “back up” boyfriend or girlfriend. Even if they don’t expect anyone to break up with them, having another (or several) romantic partner makes them feel more desirable & builds up their ego. Either way, having someone else on the side is a win/win for narcissists.
In this situation, if the narcissist doesn’t have someone else on the side, they may want to get into another serious relationship quickly. They seem to think that if someone falls in love with them, it proves they are good people. They fail to realize that it’s all too easy to fall for the good person act narcissists put on, but in time, there will be times they slip up in their act & let their true colors show.
Other narcissists prefer not to get into a serious relationship, but date a lot of people. Maybe in their mind it proves that they are desirable because they can attract many people. Attracting one person may not be a big deal to them, but attracting many makes a good case in their minds for them being very desirable.
It can be easy for victims who see this to think maybe they really were the problem all along. Maybe they’re not worthy of love. After all, the narcissist has moved on quickly. It must be them.
Nothing could be further from the truth!! If you are or have been in this situation, please know that whatever the narcissist has tried to make you think is wrong. Sure, you’re imperfect. All humans are! But that doesn’t mean you are unlovable or bad or whatever the narcissist said you were. If that person is moving on quickly, that isn’t a good sign! It’s a sign that the person most likely is a narcissist trying to make you look & feel badly. That is no reflection on you! It is, however, a reflection on them.
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Toxic shame is a serious problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse. This type of shame goes far beyond thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have done that”. Toxic shame thinking things like, “I’m a terrible person because I did that.” In other words, toxic shame judges the person rather than the act.
The reason toxic shame is so common in those who have survived narcissistic abuse is because of the way narcissists abuse their victims. Overt & covert narcissists may be quite different in many ways, but both types will not hesitate to use shame as a weapon. They harshly judge & criticize their victims about everything. Nothing is off limits! The victim’s religious beliefs, morals, hobbies, likes, dislikes, taste in clothing, taste in cars, career choice, significant other, children, extended family, friends…. You name it. Anything can be used. They criticize the victim for caring about what they care about & not caring about the things they don’t care about incredibly harshly. They imply or even say outright that something is very wrong with their victim for feeling as they do. They must be stupid or even crazy. My mother gave me a very good example of this a few years before she died. I don’t like donuts, & apparently she was unaware of that. One day she mentioned liking them & asked which kind I liked. I said none. She said, “You don’t like donuts? What’s wrong with you? You can’t be my daughter!” At the time I was thinking, “I wish!” but I also realized what was happening. I didn’t feel the same way she did, & rather than simply accepting we felt differently about something, she tried to shame me for being different.
The underlying message that narcissists give when shaming their victim is this: “You must not make mistakes, have your own feelings, thoughts, needs or interests because that makes you unacceptable, unlovable, intolerable, stupid &/or crazy.”
Toxic shame is a very effective weapon for narcissists, especially when their victims are unaware of what exactly is happening. Over time, the shame takes a deep root in a person. At that point, it annihilates one’s self esteem because they believe they are seriously broken, flawed & unlovable. It also destroys a person’s identity because the shaming made this person think they shouldn’t feel or believe as they do. It can make them doubt that they really feel or believe that way. Or, more commonly, they may purposely try to change because it seems better than dealing with the narcissist’s cruel shaming.
This toxic shame also can create false beliefs in a person, such as the person isn’t entitled to have any needs, wants or feelings. When married to my ex husband, I repeatedly told myself I needed to ignore my needs, wants & feelings & focus on him. I truly felt that I wasn’t entitled to have such things, only he was.
An overdeveloped sense of responsibility can come from toxic shame as well. A person can come to believe that they are responsible for others, including their emotional state. This is especially true of the narcissist in their life. If someone they know is sad, they should cheer that person up. They should fix all of the problems in that person’s life. They come to believe that their own life isn’t as important as this other person’s is.
There are ways to heal from toxic shame. Prayer is always the best place to start, in my opinion. Ask God to speak his truth to you & to heal you.
Study about who you are as a child of God. There is plenty in the Bible that proves you are worthy & wonderful. I created a pretty long list of these Scriptures. It’s available on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com on the Positive Affirmation link at the top of the page.
If you do these things, you won’t be set free of the bonds of toxic shame overnight but it will happen. Don’t give up! You deserve to be set free!
Low contact is exactly as it sounds, when a person has low contact with another. It isn’t discussed a lot in the circles that discuss narcissistic abuse, which is really a shame.
If you are in the position of not being able to go full no contact, such as in the situation of having joint custody of children together, low contact is an excellent alternative. Or, if you want to go no contact but don’t feel strong enough to take that step just yet, low contact can help you get to that point. Low contact is different than no contact in that it doesn’t need to be done all at once. It can be done little by little, & each little step you take increases your confidence in your ability to set boundaries with the narcissist. Or, if the narcissist in your life is low on the spectrum, you may find that low contact makes the relationship much more tolerable & decide not to go full no contact. In any case, low contact really can be a very helpful tool!
Whatever your situation with the narcissist, if you are considering low contact, I’m sure it’s for a very valid reason. At their absolute best, narcissists are VERY difficult to deal with & at their worst, impossible to deal with, even dangerous to one’s physical & mental health. Be proud of yourself for taking care of yourself!
If you think low contact is a good option for you, you are probably wondering where to start. I’ll tell you how I did low contact with my parents, & you can decide if this would work for you or not. I started by not answering the phone every time my parents narcissist called. That boundary was clearly a shock to them, but although they were angry, they realized they couldn’t rage without appearing foolish. Rather than rage, they made some snide comments like, “You didn’t answer the phone yesterday.. I thought you were mad at me.” Naturally those comments hurt at first but I realized that was the intent behind them. My parents were simply upset that I was setting a perfectly reasonable boundary.
I also started setting limits on how long we were on the phone together for the first time. My parents always determined how long our calls lasted, so this was a little trickier. Saying, “I have to go” didn’t work so I needed to get creative. I also don’t like to lie, so that also made this really tricky. I sometimes rang my doorbell so my dogs would bark & say, “Doorbell rang. Dixie’s barking, you hear that? I need to go.” Other times I used another phone to trigger the call waiting on the phone I was using so they’d hear the beep & they’d let me go so I could respond to the beep.
My parents lived not far from me, & my father in particular wanted to visit often. He often invited himself to visit my home. Thankfully he would call a few days prior at least rather than just showing up. When he called saying he wanted to visit soon, I would say things like, “Tuesday isn’t good.. how about Thursday instead?” It didn’t take long for him to want to come by less often. Clearly, he didn’t like me taking some control back.
The more boundaries I set, the more confident I became in my ability to set boundaries & eventually go no contact. This is normal! Each small step you take creates not only more space between you & the narcissist, but also builds your confidence. You see you can do one thing, then gain the confidence to do something a little bolder, then a little bolder yet & so forth. Before you know it, you’re ready to implement no contact, if that is your goal.
And something else happened – the more boundaries I set & the more comfortable I was setting them, the less my parents wanted to do with me! They began avoiding me. Their phone calls & visits became much less frequent. Also, their calls & visits became much shorter in duration, too. This also is normal! Narcissists naturally have an aversion to boundaries & to healthy people. Low contact truly is a wonderful thing! It helps victims reclaim some of their power & confidence while repelling narcissists. I want to encourage you to give it a try! I believe you will be very pleased by the results!
Many people have very definite opinions on no contact but especially when it comes to parents. There are so many who claim no contact is the only option & there is no excuse not to sever ties with toxic parents. There are probably just as many who claim it’s not God’s will, no contact is dishonorable & there is absolutely no excuse to sever ties with your parents no matter what they have done to you.
If you are in the position of wondering if no contact is your best solution, no doubt you have read information on both sides of this argument. It can be truly overwhelming & confusing!
My purpose in this post is to help you decide whether or not no contact is necessary in your particular situation. Following are some questions you need to consider. When you answer them, the more honestly you answer, the more clarity you should have about whether or not you need to go no contact with your parent.
Is your parent willing to discuss your relationship? Narcissistic parents have no desire to discuss the relationship or work towards solutions. They don’t want to hear their victim’s complaints, & can shut down as soon as the conversation turns to their behavior. Functional people are open to discussion & are willing to listen, not only talk.
Does your parent deny any responsibility for problems in the relationship? Functional people admit when they are wrong. They apologize & try to make appropriate changes. Dysfunctional people, narcissists in particular, refuse to admit they have made mistakes. Instead, they refuse to admit any wrong doing, shift all blame to the victim or make lame excuses for their behavior.
When discussing the relationship, does your parent turn the situation around to where you are the abuser, them the victim? Covert narcissists in particular love to do this. No matter how valid your complaint about their behavior, they can spin the situation around to make you look abusive, while simultaneously making them look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways. Functional people do nothing like this.
Is your parent completely inflexible? For any relationship to work, both parties have to be rather flexible. One person can’t do all of the compromising & expect the relationship to be a healthy one. Yet, narcissists aren’t concerned with what is healthy. They’re only concerned with what they want, & what they want is a one sided relationship where their victim caters to their every whim. Functional people are willing to bend & compromise if it means the relationship will be better.
Is your parent very entitled? Functional parents accept that their children are grown with their own life, family & responsibilities. They don’t expect to be their adult child’s top priority. Entitled parents are much different. They think their adult children need to have them as top priority even over their spouse &/or children & are impossible. No matter how much their adult child does for them, it never will be enough nor will it please this parent. Even if their adult child does so much for them that their spouse divorces them, it still won’t be enough. It may please the parent, however, to have that spouse out of the picture so the adult child can focus on them even more.
Have you tried your best to fix this relationship yet it either didn’t change or got worse? One person can’t fix a relationship, but by altering their behavior, some change should come naturally to the relationship. If the relationship stayed the same or got worse, that is not a good sign. Narcissists don’t like their victims to change unless that change means the victim is more subservient. If your parent is like the dysfunctional ones I discussed, chances are excellent that no contact is your best solution. I don’t like to say anyone definitely should go no contact, because each person & each situation is unique. However, the dysfunctional behaviors I’ve discussed are big signs that there is no working things out with anyone who behaves that way. From here, I highly recommend lots of prayer & consideration of your unique situation. And, if you realize no contact is necessary for you, then you can have peace of mind knowing you did all you could & gave it a lot of serious consideration before implementing no contact.
I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some mini books for a while now. Each book being much shorter than the average, & focusing only on one topic at a time. I thought it could be a good idea since narcissism is a pretty overwhelming topic. These books help readers by not inundating them with too much information per book which makes them easier to read & absorb the subject matter. Plus, being shorter books, people can get exactly the information they want at a cheaper price than buying a larger book.
Mini books also are much easier for me to write. It’s almost six years to the day after I survived carbon monoxide poisoning & my brain is still not in a really happy place. I can write obviously, but it’s a much greater struggle now than it once was. I think it’s time to make my life easier in general, including with writing.
I just published the first three, & they’re available at this link on my website: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/books-for-sale/mini-books/
Currently, all are available in only ebook format, but I am considering making them available in print as well. It’s so hard to know what to do like this anymore! People have very definite feelings of print vs ebook format, & those who prefer one over the other change like the wind!
Anyway I hope you like the new ebooks. More will be coming in the future. As I mentioned recently, I’ll be getting rid of my free ebooks by the end of this month. I plan to add more information to them & charge a little for them. Not much, since they’ll still be rather short little ebooks.
Thank you to everyone for being supportive & wonderful! May God bless you! 💖💖
January 12, 2018, I had an odd experience. It was my father’s birthday, the first birthday after his death. I was thinking about that when I felt strongly that he wanted God to send me a message.. “Encourage the weak, like me.” I immediately knew in my heart what that meant.
At that point, it was just over 2 months since my father died, & in that short time, God showed me a great deal about him, including why he didn’t protect me from my mother. One of those things was that he felt trapped in their marriage, unable to escape. I believe that was what he meant by “the weak”, other people who also feel trapped in their situation.
Every January around his birthday, I try to encourage those who are still in relationships with narcissists as a result of that message.
If you’re still in a relationship with the narcissist in your life, I don’t think you’re weak at all. I think my father used that word because he felt weak for not protecting me & wanted me to know others in similar situations also felt weak. I get that, but I still don’t think you’re weak. If you were, I doubt highly that you would have any interest in reading this post or anything else about narcissism.
Maybe you’re forced to stay because of financial reasons. Narcissists abuse in every way, including financially. Many narcissistic parents & partners steal money from their victim, ruin their credit, get them fired from their jobs or even forbid them to work.
Many victims feel a sense of obligation to the narcissist. My ex husband made me feel as if I owed it to him to be with him, even when I was miserable with him. He hardly the only one who has done that to a victim.
Many stay because they mistakenly feel as Christians, it’s dishonoring their parents to go no contact or it’s a sin to divorce an abusive partner. Sadly, many victims are encouraged to think this way either by narcissists & their flying monkeys or by those who don’t understand the Bible very well.
Another possibility is that you can leave, but feel so beaten down, you don’t think you can leave. You don’t trust in yourself to make it on your own without the narcissist telling you what to do, how to think, how to feel, what to wear, & on & on. You don’t think you have any marketable skills to earn a living that could support you & maybe also children.
Staying in a relationship with a narcissist takes a great deal of inner strength. Fighting to keep your sanity in a completely insane situation day after day isn’t easy! It takes a TON of courage & strength.
In spite of what many people say, no contact isn’t an easy solution that fixes all of your problems. If that is your goal, know being prepared for it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build up the courage to do it, & courage to face the aftermath. The narcissist most likely will create a smear campaign against you & send the flying monkeys. Mentally preparing for all of that takes time, learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & boundaries, a great deal of prayer & leaning on God to show you what do to, when to do it & how to do it.
No, Dear Reader.. you aren’t weak. You are strong. The fact that you are looking for solutions to your situation shows you have strength. Know that you will survive this with your sanity & dignity in tact. Until you know what you need to do, always practice the Gray Rock method, keep & enforce healthy boundaries & focus on your healing. You can get through this!!
Not long ago, something crossed my mind. I thought it may help some of you who follow my work.
During my first marriage, I was so dysfunctional I wasn’t sure exactly why it wasn’t a good marriage, but I still knew something was wrong. My ex said it was fine, but I didn’t buy it. I took my vows very seriously so I spent a lot of time reading marriage books & trying to figure out what I could do to fix these problems that I couldn’t identify. It was always my job to fix things in relationships, as is often the case of those who have narcissistic parents. Plus, it seemed logical at the time that if I was the only one who had a problem, I should be the one to deal with the problem.
After my reading & contemplating things, I came up with a solution that I was certain would fix everything. If I could just ignore any of my own identity, needs, wants, opinions & feelings in favor of his, I just knew that would fix everything.
Obviously, this didn’t work. Although I was successful at doing this for a while, even that wasn’t enough. By the time we got a divorce, I felt like an utter failure & carried the guilt & shame of that for quite some time.
I mentioned this to my best friend recently who admitted she had a very similar experience when married to her ex husband.
If you are married to a narcissist, I would love to help prevent you from going through this pain. Please, listen to the voice of experience when I tell you that although it seems like simply giving in to a narcissist in every way is an “easy” way to keep the peace, it’s not.
Losing yourself in this way is a lifetime job, not something you do once & it’s done. When a narcissist sees you are willing to do this, he or she will expect you to do it over & over, every single day of your relationship. It makes you miserable & erodes you into a shell of your former self. As the saying goes, it’s like a death from a thousand cuts.
Narcissists also are like endless voids when it comes to things that provide them with their narcissistic supply. Nothing is going to fill that void. You simply can’t give a narcissist enough supply. Even when you give everything to a narcissist, it isn’t enough. I was basically a robot that my ex could control, & it still wasn’t enough to please him. He still wanted more even though I had nothing left to give, & was angry when I wouldn’t give it. This is typical!
Also, behaving in this manner enables the narcissist to be the abusive monster that he or she is. There are no consequences when someone tolerates abuse, so abusers naturally see no need to stop. In fact, they often step up the abuse because they know they can do anything they like without fear of repercussions. In the end, this will destroy you. It may not physically destroy you, although the stress of living this way certainly has the potential to create an overabundance of health problems, but at the very least it will emotionally destroy you. By the time my ex & I separated, I lost so much of my identity. I had no idea who I was, what I really liked, wanted, felt, or needed. I was well aware though that I carried a great deal of guilt & shame for being entirely at fault for our failed marriage. If I had any doubt, his friends & family were glad to remind me that everything was my fault.
Dear Reader, if you are in this unenviable situation of being married to someone who wants everything from you while giving nothing in return, please don’t give that person everything! It doesn’t help the marriage & only creates problems! Learn from my mistakes & don’t give in. Instead, take good care of yourself. Question everything your spouse says about you & demands of you. Surround yourself with healthy, functional, caring & supportive people. If your spouse has isolated you from friends & family (as abusers do), there are online support forums full of amazing people who can help you. And most of all, stay close to God. Lean on Him, & let Him help you in this painful situation. I wish you all the best!