Tag Archives: abusive
When you first start to open up about the abusive behavior the narcissist in your life has inflicted on you, it can be very hard. You were told to keep everything a secret. My mother used to tell me, “Don’t air our dirty laundry!” as a way to keep me quiet. It didn’t work though. At that time I was only 17, living through sheer hell due to her abuse & didn’t know what to do. I told others in the hopes of finding someone who could give me advice on how to cope or make my mother treat me better. Obviously that didn’t work. I did learn about what happens when a victim starts to open up about narcissistic abuse though.
When you begin to divulge what the narcissist has done to you, the narcissist will be horrified. After all, you’re not supposed to tell anyone anything! The abuse is supposed to remain a secret between the two of you, no one else. Naturally, the narcissist is going to be angry with you, because that is what they think. They don’t think about the fact that you are a human being with feelings & needs & even the right to discuss your own life with whoever you wish.
The narcissist also is going to be very angry at you for making him or her look bad when you talk about the abuse. Narcissists clearly don’t think like normal people, so they won’t consider their actions are what make them look bad. Instead, they’ll lump all the blame on you for making them look bad.
Narcissists feel betrayed when victims tell others about their abhorrent behavior. They all seem to think victims will tolerate their abuse indefinitely, never protesting it, & are shocked & horrified when that isn’t the case. This so called betrayal can trigger their rage.
It also can trigger a myriad of unhealthy coping skills. One of which is reinventing the past. Many narcissists convince themselves that they are awesome people, & never would abuse anyone. After my mother’s death, I learned she knew what I write about in spite of my efforts to prevent that from happening. I also learned she must have convinced herself that I was lying & she didn’t do anything I said she did.
When the narcissist becomes enraged & acts in this way, it can be scary. Some scream. Some harass or stalk. All engage in a smear campaign & are often successful at turning those you love against you or at least damaging some of your relationships. This is a terribly painful place to be, I know. It may even make you think you’re wrong for opening up. Life seemed easier when no one knew what the narcissist did to you. I can tell you something though.. although it may seem easier, it isn’t.
In some ways, not discussing the abuse is easier because the narcissist is appeased. When they’re appeased, they aren’t ruining your relationships or at least your reputation. No one is telling you what a terrible person you are. But, you are unhappy. You’re trying to do everything perfectly so as not to upset the narcissist, which means you’re under intense stress & utterly miserable. Everyone is happy except you, & the people who are happy clearly have no concern for your mental health.
Tell your story. John 8:32 says the truth will set you free. Let it! The more you discuss the abuse, the more you’ll heal. If the narcissist doesn’t approve, that isn’t your problem. Besides, think about this: if what he or she did was truly ok, if it was all your fault & their abusive actions were totally justified, why are they so determined to keep it a secret?
“You can’t get mad. He just doesn’t know any better.” I think all of us who have been victimized by a narcissist have heard this statement at some point. It’s said by those who either have absolutely no understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those flying monkeys who enthusiastically enable narcissists to abuse.
This statement can be very unsettling. You can feel so angry by the abuse but then you stop in your tracks. Maybe the person who said this is right, & the narcissist truly doesn’t know any better. You feel badly for being angry with someone for doing something they don’t know is wrong.
Long before I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I was in this situation. I had problems with my now deceased mother in-law from about the moment we met. Obviously I didn’t know what to do since I knew nothing of narcissism. I decided to talk to my husband in the hopes he would have ideas on how to help me get along with his mother. When I first told my husband about the problems I had with his mother, he said that she didn’t know any better. He truly believed it, & I thought maybe he was right. His mother gave the impression of being very naïve, after all. I also knew her mother in-law never liked her. Maybe the problem was that she had no other experience beyond the negativity between her & her mother in-law, & being naïve, she didn’t know how to act better towards me. Logically, it made sense, & I felt terrible for being so upset with my mother in-law for quite some time & silently tolerated her abuse. Yet, “she doesn’t know any better” didn’t sit right with me.
Eventually I realized why the ignorance plea felt wrong. I realized she wasn’t ignorant, she was malicious. I thought I’d share those realizations with you today so if someone tells you that the narcissist in your life doesn’t know any better, you won’t suffer needlessly as I did.
If someone is truly ignorant of their actions, they won’t hide their behavior. Why would they? If they aren’t aware that what they’re doing is wrong, there’s no need to hide it. Someone who is knowingly doing something wrong is going to hide their actions. My husband never once saw his mother say or do anything inappropriate to me. Not once in the eight years she was in my life before I walked away. We saw her often, too, but she never slipped up. If she truly didn’t know that she was treating me badly, why would she have hidden her behavior towards me? She would have treated me the same no matter who was around.
A malicious person doesn’t listen. A person who is told that their actions are hurting someone yet repeats the actions over & over is malicious. By continuing to hurt someone, they are proving by their actions that they either don’t care that their actions cause someone else pain or that they enjoy deliberately causing pain. However, if you confront someone who is truly unaware of the pain their actions cause, they will change their behavior, apologize & even try to make it up to the person they hurt if at all possible. They also won’t repeat the hurtful behavior again.
An ignorant person doesn’t change their actions just because another person enters the room, but a malicious person does. A malicious person will change their behavior if someone whose opinion they value comes along so that person continues to think well of them. Ignorant people won’t think that way because they don’t think their behavior is something that can be construed as bad or wrong.
When in a situation where you are told the person mistreating you simply doesn’t know any better, please consider these three scenarios. They should help you to realize quickly if the person in question truly is ignorant of the pain their actions cause or if they are deliberately mistreating you.
Those of you young men & women who are still living at home with your abusive parent (or parents), this post is for you today.
You are in a rough place, as you well know. I’ve been there too, & I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Until you can move out, no doubt you could use some advice to help you cope.
I hope those of you reading this share my faith. Knowing God has been the most important part of my life, including helping me to survive the abuse. When I was living with my parents, however, I didn’t believe in God because of the abuse. No doubt many of you feel the same way & your parents also have misused religion as an excuse to abuse you. Please know that God is nothing like what abusive parents say He is! He is loving & kind, & will gladly help you through this! If you’d like to learn more, click this link: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/salvation-through-jesus-christ/
Learn everything you possibly can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The more you understand it, the more it will help you to figure out ways to cope with your parent’s behavior. It also will help you to remember that you are NOT the problem, your narcissistic parent is. While that may seem obvious when you first learn about NPD, narcissists can be very manipulative. Even to the point of making others believe they are the real problem in the relationship. That happened to me with both my parents & my ex husband. I honestly believed I was the problem in spite of them clearly being the abusers. Not only did I feel awful but they used that as another way to control me. Since I thought I was so awful, I trusted them to tell me how to be better. Learn from my mistake! Abusers are always the problem!
When dealing with your parent, try to show as little emotion as possible. The reason being narcissists use people’s emotions against them. Are you happy? The narcissist will try to make you sad. Are you sad or angry? The narcissist will try to make you sadder or angrier, then tell you that you’re crazy because of how you feel. Always remain unemotional around your parent.
Save up money as best you can. Be frugal with your money & save as much as you can, because you are going to need quite a bit to get a car & to move out. Also, stash your money somewhere where your parent can’t get to it. Many narcissistic parents steal from their children, so you need to be careful about where you hide your money.
Move out to somewhere safe as soon as possible. A roommate helps financially, so that may be an option. You’ll need someone who has a steady job & is responsible, as well as someone you get along well with. Some folks rent out rooms in their home, too. Or, maybe a friend or relative would let you move in with them. Consider your options & make plans as best you can. Don’t share your plans with anyone that might tell your parent about them, however.
If at all possible, buy what you can to prepare for moving out. If you plan to live with a relative or rent a room, you probably won’t need much. A bedroom set, toiletries, towels.. things like this. If you have a friend or relative that knows your situation, they might be willing to hold these items for you until you need them so your parent doesn’t find out about your plans.
I know all of this must seem overwhelming, but really you got this! You have survived so much up to this point which shows you are strong! You can do it!!
I’ve noticed so many people are quick to judge victims of abuse for tolerating abuse. The nature of the relationship doesn’t seem to matter, the same things are said to victims. These judgmental people say things like, “Well *I* certainly wouldn’t have put up with being treated like that!”, “Just go no contact!” or, “Why didn’t you leave sooner?”
This post is for those people who are quick to judge, & need a lesson on the reality of what it’s like to be abused.
Unless a person has been subjected to the effects of daily, intense gaslighting, they truly don’t know what they would do in that situation, & have no right to judge a situation they can’t understand.
Abusers use gaslighting to convince their victims that they can’t make it in life without their abuser. Abusers convince their victims that they are so stupid & incapable that they need the abuser to help them navigate through life. Not even the most highly intelligent people are immune to this.
They also convince their victims that no one cares about them other than the abuser. People only talk to them because they are trying to be nice, not because they really care, abusers say. They also create doubts in victims’ minds about their loved ones by saying things like, “She isn’t really a good friend to you.” “He doesn’t care about you yanno.” When an abuser says such things with conviction, & a victim hears such things often enough, they believe them no matter how much evidence to the contrary they may see.
Abusers also are very good at convincing their victims that if they would try just a little harder, the abuser would threat the victim better. Watch a young child with an abusive parent, & you will see this clearly. The meaner the parent is, the harder the child works to please that parent. Adults aren’t immune to this behavior though. During my first marriage, I did this with my ex husband. The problem with this behavior is whatever the victim does is never good enough. Abusers are notorious for changing what they say they want, raising that bar a bit higher once the victim does what they originally said they wanted, or denying ever wanting that thing their victim just did. A person unaware of this manipulative & abusive behavior will keep trying to please their abuser, which leads to utter frustration in the victim & satisfaction in the abuser for having such control over the victim.
There’s also the fact that most people don’t want to end relationships with those closest to them, & abusers are usually those closest to the victim. Deciding to end a romantic relationship is a big deal, especially when abuse is involved because the victim is going to feel like a failure or stupid for falling for someone abusive. If the abusive relationship is a parent/child relationship, that is incredibly hard to end too. Who can feel completely comfortable telling their parents they never want to see them again?!
Lastly, many abusers prevent their victims from leaving. They often take the victim’s money & ruin that person’s credit, making it impossible for the victim to leave. They make the victim completely financially dependent on them. They threaten to take the couple’s kids away so the victim never will see them again. Some have been known to lock their victims in their home, making them a prisoner. And, still others threaten to kill either the victim, their pets, their children, their friends or family if the victim leaves.
After considering all of this.. can you honestly still wonder why victims tolerated the abuse as long as they did?
Probably no one wants to create the appearance of a big happy family more than the most dysfunctional families. Holidays give them the opportunity to pretend that is what they have by inviting everyone to some big hoopla & pretending everyone gets along. These families ignore the fact that someone in this family has abused someone else, & they invite both people to their get together.
This big happy family charade forces many people to make an awful choice – be face to face with their abuser or spend holidays alone. Neither is a good solution for the victim. I know, because this was my life for many years.
My in-laws always had huge get togethers on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day… you name it. I ideally wanted to spend holidays with my husband rather than his family who clearly hated me, maybe at best spending some time with them on another day near the holiday. This wasn’t acceptable, however. Holidays were to be celebrated on the exact day, no exceptions & no excuses for not being there. Until my husband’s parents died, you probably could count on one hand how many holidays we spent together because I quit going. Sadly, spending holidays alone was a better option to me than spending it with the people who treated me like dirt, even though it ultimately resulted in me detesting holidays.
I believe many other people are in this same boat or at least a similar one. You want to spend the holidays with someone but they want invite your abuser to the same gathering, or they refuse to stop attending the gathering that your abuser attends.
You need to know today that your feelings are valid. In essence, this person is choosing your abuser over you, & you have every right to be angry & hurt about that. Accept that your anger & hurt are valid emotions! Cope with them however works for you.
Maybe this person feels it’d be rude not to invite the abusive person or for them not to attend the same gathering. In dysfunctional families, in particular narcissistic ones, it’s all about appearances. No one wants to shun someone even if they are abusive.
Most people also don’t want to face the fact that someone they care about is an abusive monster. For them, it’s easier not to acknowledge your claims of abuse. Out of sight, out of mind, basically.
There also is the possibility that you’re the safe one to make angry & the other person isn’t. Abusive people often get their way because others know that making them angry means they are going to suffer badly. Some people don’t have the inner strength to stand up to people like this. It’s easier for them to give the abuser their way. Sure, you’ll be angry, but your anger isn’t as painful for them as the abuser’s anger. Your anger may be unpleasant but at least it’s not the sheer torture of the abuser’s anger.
By saying these things, I’m not making excuses for those who choose abusers over victims in this manner. I’m just offering some explanations as to why people behave this way. Maybe it will help you not to be as hurt & angry when you see that it’s nothing to do with you. A person who does this is the one with some issues!
As for you, if you opt to avoid these gatherings, try to enjoy your day somehow. Take it as a day off for doing whatever you like. Indulge in a favorite hobby, watch movies, or even clean out the closet. Or, spend it with close friends. Do whatever will help you to enjoy your day in a healthy way, & leave the dysfunction to those who are comfortable with it. xoxo
Growing up with abusive parents, most kids think that once they turn 18 &/or move out, all their problems will be over. Many victims marry very young trying to rush this process along, & who can blame them?
The problem is though, this mindset is wrong. The abuse merely changes, it doesn’t stop.
In my experience, I left home at 19 after my first nervous breakdown. Although I didn’t know exactly what had happened to me at that time, I knew in my heart that I had to leave or lose my sanity. I moved back in 6 months later for only four days. On the last day, my mother & I got into an argument which escalated quickly into a physical fight, & she slammed me into a wall. I believe she wanted to kill me that night. I also believed that since I determined never to live in that house again, the abuse was a thing of the past. My mother never laid another hand on me again after that night, November 28, 1990. That didn’t mean she never abused me again, however.
After that horrible night, my mother continued to verbally abuse me. Everything about me was subject to her harsh judgement & criticisms, just as it had been when I was living with her. When I had to quit work a few months later due to my back pain from her assault, my mother made it clear she was convinced I was faking the pain because I was too lazy to work. She never said those words exactly, but she would slap me in the back where my pain was, hand me heavy items or tell me I needed to help her move something heavy.
As my parents got older & frailer, my mother expected me to help them. When I did help, my parents were cruel, especially my mother. She gave me a diet soda one day when I was there. The cruelty was the artificial sweetener in it was known to cause a laxative effect in some people. She waited until I emptied the bottle to tell me this & how it negatively affected my father. For the remainder of the visit, she & my father continually asked me how my stomach felt or did I need to use the bathroom.
My mother had irritable bowel syndrome. After having an issue, she called to tell me I had to wash her clothes the next day because “I owed it to her since she took care of me as a baby.” The next day I took rubber gloves along in case I had to touch any laundry since I’m not good with body functions. My mother watched me take off those gloves, then told me to hold out my hands. With a smile, she put her nasty clothes in my bare hands & said “I forgot, these need to go in the washer too.”
The point of these stories is this: narcissistic parents don’t stop abusing their children when they become adults. They merely change the ways in which they abuse them.
As narcissists age, they can’t be the physically intimidating presence to their child anymore. And, their child has grown up, so even if they were able to magically stay the same, their child probably wouldn’t be intimidated like they once were. Also, threats of punishment from a parent don’t work on an adult as they would on a child. Due to losing so many of their once successful ways of abusing their child, narcissists have to come up with new ways to abuse.
Some of those new ways may involve financial abuse, guilt trips to make their child think they owe the parent, misusing their medications to make themselves ill, or even threatening suicide.
If such things are happening to you, you’re not alone! You also have nothing to feel ashamed of! The shame lies with your parent, not you! Do what you need to in order to protect yourself. You do NOT deserve to be abused!!
Since my mother’s death in April, I have received some written communication from my “family” (using that term VERY loosely). Others have called my mother’s home. I can only assume that is some lame attempt to contact me. I have long since blocked their phone numbers so they can’t reach me, & why else would anyone call that number knowing its owner is dead?
Rather than speaking to these people, I figured since many are nosy enough to read my work, I’ll send a message via my blog. I may even add this as a page to my website since I know they also frequent it, not sure yet.
Anyway… onto what I have to say.
If any of you who are attempting to contact me are looking for some sort of handout, that is NOT going to happen. I will NOT enable your bad behavior (like your greed & poor money management skills), nor will I be anyone’s doormat. Find someone else to use.
If you want something that belonged to either of my parents: you need to realize the nastier, more demanding or manipulative you are to me, the less likely the chances I will give you anything. It doesn’t matter if my mother once told you that you could have some specific item when she died. What matters now is what is written in her will, & specific items aren’t listed. Since she assigned me as her personal representative, this means everything is now mine to do with however I see fit. I am boxing up some items to send to people she was close to. I will send them when I get the time. There is no need to contact me or to rush me. Showing up at my home or my parents’ home will result in me calling the police to have you removed from the property.
If you’re trying to contact me so you can share your opinions on how I am handling this situation, because I didn’t have a funeral for my mother or even because I had no relationship with my parents since 2016, I really don’t care what you think. Your opinions mean nothing whatsoever to me, & I won’t listen to them. Trying to contact me to share them is a waste of your time & energy.
If you harass me, some of you should know, I have saved evidence of your previous harassment. For one relative, I have plenty of documentation of your harassment dating back as far as 2013. I have plenty of evidence from the past, & will save any & all new evidence. I will involve the police if you force my hand.
To that one “special” cousin who showed up uninvited & unwelcome to my mother’s private burial just to give me grief, cause your big scene & refuse to leave, you astound me. You truly have NO class. You clearly also have zero respect. Obviously no respect for me which you’ve already made abundantly clear, but also none for yourself or my mother. You claimed to be at the burial for my mother, yet you yelled at & treated me like dirt AT HER GRAVE. No respect! Count your blessings I have the common decency not to act like trash at a burial, because that is the only reason I behaved as well as I did towards you that day.
I also want to say to my family: leave me alone. I have nothing to say to anyone, nor do I want to hear anything from anyone. All I want is for my so-called family to leave me alone.
No doubt by now some smug, “holier than thou” people are reading this & judging me for being angry. No doubt you also think that makes me bitter, unforgiving, a fake or a “bad Christian” as my family has called me before. It doesn’t. Even Jesus got angry. Several times his anger is documented in the Bible. Maybe if you actually read a Bible instead of twisting the few Scriptures you know to fit your agenda, you’d know this. You really should try reading the Bible sometime. You might learn something.
So many people seem to think that because an abusive person was pleasant with them, it means that person wasn’t abusive. Nothing could be further from the truth! Abusers are very selective in the specific types of people they wish to abuse. This means not everyone fits into the abusive person’s agenda.
Abusers aim for people who have experienced abuse in their past. Most people, including victims, will assume the victim is the problem if they have had multiple abusive relationships, because he or she is the common denominator in these awful relationships. It makes sense to some degree to think that way. However, it doesn’t mean that is always the truth.
Abusers also aim for empathetic people with a kind heart because they are much more willing to excuse abuse. These people will understand that their abuser has suffered trauma in some way, so they tell themselves that their abuser is only acting out of dysfunction. This leads them to tolerate a great deal of abuse that they normally wouldn’t be willing to tolerate. I did this with my parents & my late mother in-law. I can tell you that it was a huge mistake which led to me being hurt a great deal.
Or, people with a kind heart may want to try to “fix” this “broken” person as a way to help them. Although the fact that they want to help people is quite admirable, this line of thinking can set a person up for abusive people to take advantage of & hurt them.
Insecure people are also a good target for abusive people, because abusers realize that insecure people are very pliable. It won’t take a great deal of work for a narcissist to change someone who is insecure into whatever it is a narcissist wants.
If you aren’t insecure though, chances are good that your self confidence was seen as a challenge to your abuser. While narcissists do like insecure victims, confident ones also are a good thing in their mind. Confident victims are a bit of a challenge. If they can destroy a confident person, then they see themselves as very powerful, which provides a great deal of narcissistic supply.
In order to avoid these awful situations, I have some suggestions.
First, as always I recommend prayer. Turn to God & He will help you. Talk to Him about whatever it is you feel & ask Him to help you. Ask Him to identify easily the red flags & to give you creative ideas to cope with this situation.
If there is something about a person that makes you uncomfortable, even if all outward signs look good, trust that the uncomfortable feeling is there for a reason. Watch the person’s actions closely for either good or bad signs & it won’t take you long before you recognize whether this person is abusive or not.
Also, always remember your boundaries & do NOT compromise them! What are you comfortable with or uncomfortable with? What are you willing to do or not willing to do? You have every right to feel as you do & to enforce those boundaries however you feel is appropriate.
Keep learning, growing & getting healthier. The more you do that, the less abusive people will be attracted to you. Abusers of all types size people up quickly, & if they see right away that you’re emotionally & mentally healthy, they will be more inclined to leave you alone. As an added bonus, the healthier you are, the more other healthy, functional people will be attracted to you.
Lastly, never, ever forget that even if someone does abuse you, that doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Ultimately, the choice to abuse someone belongs squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, not the victim. There is nothing any victim can do to force someone to abuse them.
There is no way to avoid abusive people entirely simply because they are everywhere. However, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being abused.
Victim blaming is a common phenomenon in society today. The woman who was abused by her husband is to blame for not leaving him sooner. The victim of rape is blamed for being drunk or high. The victim of theft is blamed for not locking his door.
This awful phenomenon invalidates the pain of the victim. It can make a victim feel as if she wouldn’t have done what she did, then the traumatic event wouldn’t have happened. How could she possibly have the right to be upset? It’s an absolutely awful thing to do to someone, making them feel this way! No one deserves traumatic, terrible things to happen to them. What victims do deserve is kindness, understanding & support.
Whether the person blaming the victim is the cause for the victim’s pain or not, blaming her also enables that person to distance himself from the victim & her pain. If the victim is the cause of her own suffering, then he need not feel sorry for her or try to help her. If the victim caused her own suffering, then the abuser need not feel bad for doing whatever it was he did to her.
Narcissists love victim blaming. It serves them very well. I lost track of how many times my mother told me I was the reason she “had” to abuse me. She even called it “tough love” instead of what it really was, abuse. She claimed if I didn’t do whatever it was I had done (or she thought I had done in most cases), she wouldn’t have been forced to scream at me, destroy my things, etc. etc.
If you have been on the receiving end of victim blaming, please do not allow that trash to get inside you! You did NOT deserve what was done to you! You are not to blame, the abuser is! You have every right to be angry, hurt, & yes, even traumatized! Don’t believe those fools who tell you that you deserved it. Anyone who blames an innocent victim has serious emotional problems.
Most everyone is aware of the fight or flight response. This describes how a person reacts to extremely stressful situations, such as being attacked.
Fight means you aggressively fight back, because you believe you can defeat the danger. When it happens, you feel intense anger, may cry or punch people or things, you may grind your teeth & chances are excellent your stomach will be in knots.
Flight means you run from the danger, because you believe you can’t defeat it. When it happens, you feel fidgety & anxious. You can’t stay still. You want to run for the hills immediately.
There are two other responses beyond fight or flight that are seldom mentioned. Freezing & fawning are the other two responses.
Freezing means when you’re unable to act in these awful situations. You can’t think clearly. Think of a deer in headlights. That deer sees the danger heading straight for him, but is frozen in place. This happens when you believe you can’t escape or defeat the attacker. Freezing literally makes you cold when it happens. Your body feels heavy & hard to move, sometimes it can feel numb as well.
Lastly, there is fawning. This happens when in an acutely stressful situation, you do your best to comply with their attacker as an attempt to save yourself. Like freezing, it happens when you believe you can’t escape or defeat your attacker. Fawning is a typical response of those who have been in abusive relationships. People who fawn realized that fighting, flight & freezing didn’t work, which is why they resorted to fawning. They found that concerning themselves with the well being of their abuser was their best chance at diffusing the situation.
While fight, flight, freeze & fawn are very different responses, they all share the same goal: to diffuse or preferably end the situation & protect yourself. A problem is often people get stuck in only one or maybe two responses when each one can be helpful in different circumstances. This is especially common in those with PTSD or C-PTSD. The responses become habitual. The best way I know to overcome this is to recognize what you do in such situations. Considering how you acted, without any judgment of course, can help you to discern which acute stress responses you have used. When faced with danger after doing this, you’re more likely to respond after a bit of thought rather than react as in acting without thought.
Another issue can be for those who have experienced multiple traumas. We can perceive threats when there isn’t one. It helps to learn to slow down your thinking a bit so you can decide whether or not the threat is real. Taking a long, deep breath in then releasing it slowly only takes a couple of seconds, but it can slow your body & mind down enough to help you figure out the situation as well as the best way to respond.
Past trauma can affect your life in so many ways. Learning to manage your responses can be one way to help yourself handle stressful & even new traumatic situations in healthier ways.
During the course of healing from narcissistic abuse, you may want to confront your narcissistic parent. You may want to let her have it, to tell her she’s abusive & evil, to tell her although she tried, she didn’t destroy you & many other things. In your fantasy of doing this, she breaks & apologizes for all of the hurt she has caused you. She says she wants to change, & to make it up to you for all of the damage she has done.
Unfortunately this is a very unrealistic expectation.
Narcissists don’t admit to any wrong doing on their part. They often do one of three things- either blame the victim for making them do what they did, say it happened an entirely different way or deny it ever happened in the first place. As a result, often confronting the narcissist is more damaging to the victim than if they don’t confront.
Confrontation is certainly your choice. You have every right to call out an abuser on her abusive behavior. However, you need to have realistic expectations on how the situation may happen for it to be a healthy choice for you.
If you confront your narcissistic parent, will it help you to get it all out to her? Will it help you to call her out on what she has done even if she denies it or blames you? If so, then confrontation is a good option for you.
However, if you expect that your narcissistic mother will suddenly have a moment of lucidity, then accept full responsibility for her actions, genuinely repenting of what she has done, you are setting yourself up for serious disappointment. In fact, that disappointment may be devastating for you.
Probably around 10 years ago, my father went through a phase of complaining even more than usual about his & my mother’s marriage to me. I hate that! That is emotional incest & abusive! I don’t want or need to know about their marriage problems, yet both of my parents have dumped them on me my entire life. One day when I saw him alone, I finally decided enough was enough. I was tired of changing the subject to get him to stop complaining. I had to tell him that he was hurting me, & it needed to stop. So I did. I told him those words- “It hurts me when you complain to me about your marriage & about Mom. Please stop it. Find someone else to talk to.” He responded by saying, “Oh ok.. but just this one more thing…” He went on to complain about her for 45 more minutes until he left my home! (Yes, I timed it! I was curious how long it’d go on.) I ended up even more hurt than I was originally, because at this point, he knew he was hurting me yet did what hurt me anyway.
When considering confronting your narcissistic parent, please consider it long & hard. Pray about it too, & ask God to show you what you should do & if you should confront, how you should do it. I would hate to see you hurt, Dear Reader, so please do those things before you confront your narcissistic parent! xoxo
When a relationship ends, the average person is sad for some time. They may fondly remember special times with the other person or great conversations. They miss such things, but in time, they’re ok. They move on & get involved in other relationships. This is a healthy way to cope, because it allows a person to heal.
Nothing like this happens with narcissists.
Narcissists are incapable of truly loving. Because of this, a relationship that has ended doesn’t affect them in the same way as it affects your average person.. They don’t miss the person they love, but instead, they miss their favorite source of narcissistic supply. This is why they act differently than functional people when a relationship ends. Narcissistic supply is like a drug to them. When a relationship ends, they’re losing their “fix”, if you will. That isn’t an easy thing for any addict to handle.
To start with, narcissists don’t usually understand why someone ends a relationship with them. To understand, they would need at least some empathy, which most people know is something that all narcissists lack. They don’t understand why their ex would object to them cheating, why that former friend complained that they took advantage of their good nature, or why their adult child was hurt when they cut their child out of the will for simply telling the parent, “no.” Narcissists are incapable of grasping such concepts. In their minds, they’re entitled to whatever they want. Besides, the behavior didn’t hurt them, so it isn’t important to them. If it had hurt them, they’d change their behavior at the speed of sound. Since it didn’t though, they are left baffled why their partner, friend or child ended the relationship. What the other person wanted or felt wasn’t so much as a blip on their radar. All that matters to a narcissist is what they want, which usually boils down to their precious narcissistic supply. Since the wants of the narcissist & victim are vastly different & the victim’s are not even considered by the narcissist, usually the end of a relationship catches them by surprise. Their victims often warn them for months or even years in advance that they won’t tolerate the abuse forever, yet still, narcissists are shocked when someone ends a relationship with them.
Narcissists also don’t like rejection. No one does, of course, but narcissists are infuriated by it. Rejection is a narcissistic injury. It makes them feel badly about themselves, so the person who rejected them must pay for making them feel that way. Rather than walk away from the failed relationship with some semblance of dignity, most narcissists opt for revenge. Overt narcissists often harass & stalk their victim, & get their flying monkeys in on the process as well. They also will unleash a very impressive smear campaign, lying about the victim being the cause for the failure of the relationship because of being selfish, crazy, controlling & even abusive. This often isolates the victim from friends & even family who believe the lies. Covert narcissists are much less likely to harass & stalk their victim, since they prefer to look like a good person, but some will or have their flying monkeys do their dirty work for them. They also don’t have any trouble creating a smear campaign, but it is much different than their overt counterparts. Rather than say outright their victim is crazy & abusive, they phrase their smear campaign in a way so as not to sound critical, but concerned instead. They may say something along the lines of, “I’m not surprised my ex left me. She got so mean when she took drugs. She just wasn’t herself. I hope she’ll be ok…” See how this smear is? It makes the person saying these things sound concerned & as if he isn’t trying to destroy the reputation of his ex girlfriend. People will believe this type of smear campaign very easily, even if they know the ex in question & know she never took drugs.
There is also the likelihood of the narcissist trying to “hoover” the victim back into the relationship. When this happens, the narcissist may do their best to make the victim believe they have changed. They may make promises that they have no intention of keeping such as they won’t do whatever the victim complained about anymore. Some other empty promises are if the victim would only take the narcissist back, he or she will be faithful, they’ll be less selfish, they’ll think more of their victim’s needs. The narcissist also may shower the victim with expensive gifts or love letters. They may send their flying monkeys to tell the victim how miserable they are without the victim, & how desperately they want to resume the relationship. This is a tough one, I know. When I first broke up with my now ex husband, it seemed like everyone we knew was telling me how sad he was, how miserable he was, how much he missed me & how I really should get back together with him. I felt so incredibly guilty at that time that I agreed not only to return to him but to marry him after only a short time apart.
Sometimes, narcissists fall into depression after a relationship ends, too. They have no coping skills & aren’t fully aware of their emotions, plus they just lost their narcissistic supply. It’s normal they wouldn’t handle any break up well when you consider these facts. This can be so hard for the person who ended the relationship. When people tell you how sad this person is or he says he doesn’t want to live without you, it can be incredibly hard to take. It can make you feel incredibly guilty & responsible, which is truly unfair.
If you experience these things after ending a relationship with a narcissist, I urge you to remember that the narcissist is acting this way not out of a genuine & healthy love for you, but because he or she is a narcissist. They are incredibly dysfunctional people. You stick to no contact, & remind yourself often exactly why you came to that decision. Write things down if it helps, since writing can be an incredibly useful tool. Also remember that person’s emotions aren’t your responsibility. Don’t forget to document everything in case you need to involve the law at some point. Even if you don’t, the documentation will help you a great deal to remember why you’re no contact. It’ll also help you to see the way this person tries to manipulate you. And, if the narcissist creates a smear campaign against you, never, ever react to it. Any reaction would give this person narcissistic supply, so you deprive this person of that supply. In time, he or she will get bored with your lack of reaction & give up the smearing. Lastly, if the narcissist sends the flying monkeys after you, remember that few are truly innocent people who are fooled by the narcissist. Most are also narcissists, I believe. Treat them accordingly. Remember to tell them nothing that you would object to the original narcissist knowing, in particular anything about the original narcissist. Chances are the flying monkey will share everything you say with that person, so give them no material to work with. Most importantly, pray & lean on God to help you get through this. He truly will help you!
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.