I recently read an article about something called gunnysacking. Turns out, that is the term for having a disproportionate reaction to someone due to having held in anger for too long.
I’ve experienced this many times, & I believe it’s a common abuse tactic of narcissists. They push your buttons & somehow let you know that you aren’t allowed to confront them on their bad behavior. Eventually they say something that is far from the worst thing they’ve ever said yet you lose your temper. They enjoy this because it proves to them how irrational, crazy, etc. you are. It also leaves you wondering if the narcissist may just be right about you being irrational or crazy.
The best example I can give of gunnysacking in my life happened in 2016. At the time, I wanted to go no contact with my parents, but the timing felt wrong somehow. I maintained the relationship only because I trust my instincts. When my mother in-law died that April, a few days later, I saw my parents’ number on my caller ID. They just saw her obituary in the local paper & were angry I hadn’t told them she died. They were worried what my in-laws would think of them for not being at the funeral. My parents knew I hadn’t spoken to any of my in-laws in 14 years at this time. They also only spoke to them maybe 3 times in the 22 years my husband & I had been together. I felt betrayed that my parents showed such loyalty to people who they knew mistreated me. They couldn’t understand why I felt that way., & I was furious. That was the last time I spoke to my mother, & one of the last times I spoke to my father.
This was hardly the first time my parents showed they cared more for someone else than me. It also wasn’t the worst thing they had done. Years of stifling my anger just reached a boiling point in that conversation. The anger just gushed out even though it wasn’t proportionate to the situation.
I believe there is another variation on gunnysacking, too. When you have a relationship with a narcissist, yet rather than blow up at the narcissist, you blow up to your spouse, friend, sibling, etc. This is a bonus for a narcissist because it proves that they have control over you & also causes you problems in another relationship.
Unfortunately I have done this too. I would speak to my parents, then after the visit, when I’d see my husband, I’d snap at him over nothing. I was angry with my parents, & unable to hold it in any longer by the time I saw him. (Yes, I apologized when this happened since it wasn’t fair to him.)
Gunnysacking may feel good at the moment since you’re finally getting those emotions out, but it isn’t healthy. When you are overwhelmed with emotions, you can’t think clearly. Negative emotions that overwhelm can trigger survival instincts to kick in & that means rational thought is put aside. Stress levels are raised & that is certainly unhealthy for your body. Not to mention, attacking someone disproportionately can damage your relationship. No one wants to be treated badly but in particular when they haven’t done anything wrong. Also, in a relationship with a narcissist, as I mentioned earlier, they’ll use gunnysacking to prove how awful you are to yourself & others. They love to say things like, “She just started yelling at me out of the blue.” “I don’t know what set him off. We were talking then suddenly he was screaming.”
To avoid gunnysacking, it’s best to deal with your anger as it comes up. Since confronting narcissists rarely helps, find other ways to process your anger. Write in a journal, talk to a friend, draw or even pray. God can handle your anger & help you get through it.
And lastly, never forget, there is nothing wrong with feeling anger, especially when you’re abused by a narcissist. Everyone does sometimes, & even Jesus got angry. It’s perfectly normal. It’s when others are hurt by your anger that it becomes a problem.
Many survivors of childhood narcissistic abuse grow up showing virtually no anger. Even when they have valid reasons for being angry, they don’t show anger, in particular anger at their abusers.
Rather than get in touch with their anger, they often stuff it deep down inside & make excuses for their abusers. “If only I hadn’t done…” “It’s not his fault, he had a bad childhood.” “She was right, & I’m oversensitive. I always have been.”
Sometimes, abused children grow up depressed. They aren’t necessarily depressed though. They may be incredibly angry about the traumas they endured. Repressed anger can manifest as depression.
Anger really is a scary thing when you’ve never been allowed to express it, & even more when you were shamed for feeling anger by your parent. The only anger that was allowed in the home where I grew up was my mother’s. If I showed even a bit of frustration let alone anger, she shamed me for having “that Bailey temper.” It took me until well into my 30’s before I could express any anger at all, & into my 40’s before I got comfortable with it.
Anger really isn’t a bad thing at all, Dear Reader. I know so many people say it is, Christians in particular, but it truly isn’t. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions are from God. Would He give a bad gift?! Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (NIV)
What is bad about anger is when you do bad things with it. You shouldn’t let your anger motivate you to get revenge, for example. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (NIV)
What is good about anger is it can let you know when you’re being mistreated. If someone treats you well, you won’t feel anger, but let that person steal from you for example, & you WILL feel anger!
Anger also can motivate you to make positive changes. No one ever started a diet who was happy with the state of their body. They started it because they were fed up with not wearing a smaller size, getting winded walking up the steps or because they were having health problems.
So how can you learn to feel & express your anger in a healthy way?
You need to accept that you have the right to be angry sometimes. Every single living being has the right to feel anger about some things, & that includes you. Hiding it as a child was no doubt a very useful survival skill, but you’re not that child anymore. You are an adult who has every right to feel it & express it in healthy ways. Remind yourself of that & do so often.
You also need to gain a good understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It helps in so many ways, but one way that helps you is because you understand projection. A narcissist who shames you for being angry or having a bad temper is simply projecting their bad temper or anger issues onto you. Their cruel comments are absolutely no reflection on you.
You need to recognize that you have the right to be angry at your abuser(s). During the abuse, you obviously couldn’t show your anger. Now that the abuse is done, get angry! Let out all that old anger you stuffed inside you for so long! It’s hurting you physically & emotionally to hold it in so let it out. It’s long overdue! It’ll help to free you of shame, guilt & feeling worthless to do so.
**I’m not saying that by getting angry at your abusive parents you need to confront them. That is entirely your decision. All I am saying is you need to feel & express that anger.**
Everyone has ways to deal with anger that work for them, & you need to do the same. You can journal, get a punching bag, punch pillows, yell when home alone… there are all kinds of different ways you can cope.
Don’t think that if you decide to forgive your abusive parents, the anger will vanish. I made that mistake early in my healing, & thought there was something really wrong with me for still feeling angry with my parents after deciding to forgive them. I didn’t realize that deciding to forgive them wouldn’t make all the anger I felt magically disappear. I believe forgiving & getting rid of anger are two separate things. At least they have been for me. I make the decision to forgive those who have done me wrong immediately, but even so, it takes time to work through & release the anger.
One topic that I haven’t seen a great deal of information on is anger after narcissistic abuse. It’s a pity too because most victims face a great deal of it, & rightly so!
Not long ago, as I was praying, God spoke to my heart & said that I have a lot of anger inside. He was not accusatory, simply stating a fact. He also said it’s time to face it.
I was less than thrilled with this. Like all other victims I have spoken with, anger was just one more facet of myself I ignored rather than face my mother’s ridicule or shaming for my terrible temper. It’s only in the last couple of years I’ve begun to recognize & face when I get angry, & it’s not fun! I’m still not used to it. Even so, God’s been helping me.
He showed me why this happens in victims, why so many of us stuff our anger. It isn’t only due to the ridicule & shaming from the narcissists. It’s also because in many cases, we had two narcissistic parents, & when the overt was abusive, the covert turned the situation around to him or her, & how painful it is for that parent. As children, we comfort that parent rather than face our anger regarding what was done to us.
There is also the fact that most narcissistic parents don’t give their children time to recover from one abusive incident before inflicting another. There simply isn’t time to process the anger! The victim is too busy trying to survive, so emotions get pushed aside so survival instincts can work. This becomes a habit, even into adulthood, & victims ignore their emotions without even realizing it.
Often, people don’t want to hear our stories. “It’s in the past” “Let it go” “Stop wallowing” “You need to forgive & forget!” & other callous phrases show victims it isn’t safe to talk about their experiences & emotions, so they continue ignoring their emotions.
We can’t forget the flying monkeys, either. Prior to learning about narcissism or in the very early stages of learning about it, it’s easy to buy into their nonsensical logic. “That’s your mother!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They won’t be around forever yanno!” Such gibberish can make a person feel guilty for their feelings, & resume the dysfunctional lifestyle that is so familiar.
While these situations are understandable, that doesn’t mean they need to be permanent! Dear Reader, maybe it’s your time to face your anger too!
I know facing anger is scary, especially when you haven’t done it before, but it is also necessary for your mental & physical health! Holding it in can cause all sorts of physical & mental problems such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, pains without a physical cause, depression & more. You deserve better than that, don’t you agree?
Once you decide to start facing it, pray. Let God help you through this difficult process. I found He guides me to what I need to face & only allows things in small doses. The anger isn’t overwhelming that way. I also talk to Him a lot about what I feel, which helps so much in getting it out of me.
Journaling about it is also very helpful! Seeing your story in writing can be shocking at first, but it also reminds you that yes, this happened, yes it was awful & no it was not something you deserved.
Talk to safe, non judgmental friends. They can be a gift from God! They’ll understand, support & validate you, all of which are so very important!
As you work through your anger, you may feel like suddenly you’re angry about all kinds of things that never bothered you before. I firmly believe this is normal. I believe facing the unfairness of the awful things done to you seems to make you more aware than you once were of just how many awful or even simply wrong things have been done to you. I don’t mean things like someone stealing your parking space. I mean things like how you are usually the one to compromise with your spouse. Maybe you’ve just always done it, but suddenly you’re seeing that isn’t right & your spouse could do some compromising too for a change. Just work through that anger like the rest, & have a talk with your spouse when you are able to do so calmly.
You can get through this ugly process, Dear Reader, & you will be so much better for doing so! You’ll feel freer & more peace & joy than ever. xoxo
Recently I wrote this post about the time my mother tried to kill me, & the tough time I’m having regarding this incident. I wondered something. Why now? Why this year? Every other November 28 since 1990 when it happened hasn’t been this hard. Difficult sometimes, sure but not like this. So what is going on?!
A thought crossed my mind that answered that question.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband & I went to dinner at this little local bar/restaurant we like. As we ate, someone started playing the juke box. The song “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” by the Kentucky Headhunters came on. It immediately made me think of a story I told in this post last year. The abridged version is this…
The day of my father’s funeral, I asked my Amazon Echo Dot to play music by Wham! since I wanted something light & fun, but instead it mysteriously played Waylon Jennings’ song, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. I just knew in my heart that God & my father wanted me to know that song is kinda how my father felt – trapped & unable to protect me from my mother. I thought about my father’s notes I’d found documenting some of the abuse my mother inflicted on me & terrible things she said about me as I listened to the song. I read them that day & it was pretty overwhelming to say the least.
Anyway… when the song played at the restaurant, immediately I felt transported back to that experience. It triggered a ton of intrusive memories of abuse & naturally a big C-PTSD flare up.
Later, I prayed about it all & asked God what was that about?! He clearly spoke to my heart & said, “This was a gift from your father. He knows you have a lot of anger inside, & rightfully so. He wants you to face it & heal. He knows you’re strong enough to do that. I agree.”
Since then, I’ve been getting very angry about things as they come to mind, & my mother’s attack on me is no exception. I never realized before that I hadn’t been overly angry about it. Why? Because I felt I had to be more concerned with how others were affected.
My father complained about my mother locking him out of the house when he left the night she attacked me. His keys were in his pocket! He could’ve let himself back in at any time!!! But that was what was wrong with the situation, not my mother trying to kill me. Years later, my father complained to me about having to fix the wall my mother threw me into. He expected me to apologize. That did NOT happen & I told him it never would. Not my fault she broke the wall with my back.
When it happened, my ex husband was upset about it, but not because I’d been hurt. It was more because it upset him that she did this, rather than her actions causing me harm, if that makes sense.
Both my father & my ex wanted me to comfort them. As a result, I did (I was only 19 & knew nothing of NPD obviously), & ignored my own anger. That anger is now at the surface after 28 years & it’s time to face it.
I’m seeing more & more how valuable anger can be. Yes, we should forgive, not be full of anger or try to get revenge on people, but at the same time, anger has its place! It is an excellent motivator for change. It is also a big part of the healing process, & should NEVER be ignored! The only way to heal from anger that I know of is to get angry. Feel it. Yell, cry, write hateful letters you never send, or whatever works for you, but feel that anger & get it out of you. Then you can release it fully.
Forgiving too easily or early is an issue, like it was with me. Once I became a Christian in 1996, I heard a lot about forgiveness. I thought I forgave my mother for her attack, but what I really did was just ignore the anger that I felt. I think many victims of narcissistic abuse do the same thing.
I believe one of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to heal from narcissistic abuse is to decide early on that you will forgive your abuser, then face your anger head on. It’s miserable to do, I know, & scary when you’ve never really felt anger before, but you have to do it. Remember that anger is from God like all of our emotions, so that alone proves it is valuable. Feeling it helps you to cope with injustices done to you & motivates you to make appropriate changes. It also helps your self esteem when you get angry about what was done to you because it’s like it shows you that you are valuable! You deserve to be treated right!
One thing that every adult victim of narcissistic parents I have spoken with has struggled with is forgiving their parents.
So many people, particularly Christians, think that these victims need to forgive & forget. They often quote Ephesians 4:26 which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” When victims struggle with forgiving & forgetting, they are shamed & even shunned by the very people who should support them, creating even more pain, guilt & shame in the victim.
I want to give you a new perspective on forgiveness that I think can help you today.
If you look at the definition of forgive, nowhere does it say you don’t feel anger. According to Merriam-Webster.com, to forgive means:
1 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : PARDON; forgive one’s enemies
2a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; forgive an insult
b : to grant relief from payment of; forgive a debt
It’s possible to forgive someone while still feeling anger for them. What I mean is when you forgive someone, you decide that they don’t owe you an apology or repentance. You won’t try to collect that “debt” from them. You have released that person from paying you the debt that they owe you. This is what I try to do any time someone mistreats me- give up expectations of an apology immediately. That way, I have forgiven that person, as God wants me to do. Yet, even forgiving quickly doesn’t mean I may not still feel some anger for that person for a while. See what I mean? You can forgive while still feeling anger.
I also firmly believe that releasing the anger you feel can be a process. If the waitress makes a mistake on your order or a clerk is rude, those minor incidents are easy to forgive. Big issues though, it takes time to work through the anger. Processing anger from years of abuse takes a lot of time & work, especially if you learned early in life to ignore your anger which is the case with most children of narcissistic parents.
There is also the fact many people think to forgive your abusive parents is a one time thing. You just forgive everything in one fell swoop & *poof* you’re not angry & you never will be angry again with them. As anyone who has tried to forgive their narcissistic parents knows, that isn’t how it works. You have to work through many different traumas individually, not lump them all together as one big trauma.
I honestly can say I have forgiven my narcissistic parents. However, there are still some times I feel anger at them.
When a repressed memory comes back to mind, I feel anger at my parents about the incident. When I have flashbacks, nightmares, the anxiety & depression get bad, I also feel anger. It’s their fault I have C-PTSD, after all. Plus, when I told my father about having it, he ignored me then changed the subject. Sometimes I also feel anger when others talk about what a great relationship they have with their parents. I wanted that with mine, but wasn’t able to have it, because their narcissism was more important to them than me.
Do you think this means I haven’t forgiven my parents? If so, I’d have to respectfully disagree. I have released my parents from any responsibility to apologize or make amends with me, which is the definition of forgiving.
Yes, there are times I still feel anger at them, as I admitted, & I think it’s very normal. I also work through the anger & release it quickly. That is the best I can do, & I know God honors that I am trying. That’s all He asks of us, to try our best.
If someone tells you you’re wrong for not forgiving your narcissistic parents, Dear Reader, please remember what I said in this post. If you don’t expect your parents to apologize or repay you for the trauma they inflicted on you, you already have forgiven them. The more you heal, the less anger you’ll feel towards them. It just takes some time.
When most people think of narcissists, they think of someone loud & obnoxious, who is obviously abusive. That isn’t always the case however. Some tactics narcissists use to abuse their victims are very subtle. So much so that when they happen, a victim may not give them a moment’s thought. That doesn’t make these tactics any less abusive.
Trying to “fix” your appearance. This can be done in very subtle ways, such as suggesting what foods you can eat to help you lose weight or what clothes would look better on you than what you normally wear. It’s a way to shame your looks disguised as offering helpful suggestions. It’s also a good way to make someone look like what the narcissist wants that person to look like.
Isolation. Whether the narcissist in your life is a parent or spouse, it’s a safe bet that person wants to isolate you. They may say things like, “She isn’t really your friend. If she was, she would/wouldn’t ….” “I heard he said …. about you. It was a terrible thing to say, especially since he’s your brother!” “They don’t like me. It really hurts me you’d be friends with people who obviously hate me.” The fewer people in your life, the easier you are to control. You won’t be able to talk about your situation with anyone, so no one can tell you what he or she is doing is wrong.
Disrespecting your boundaries. It starts out small.. a little compromise you don’t object to. Then it’s another, slightly bigger compromise, then another & another. Before you know it, you aren’t allowed to have any boundaries. The old saying, “give him an inch, he’ll take a mile” is the absolute truth with narcissists.
Making you doubt yourself. “Are you sure you said that?” “No, I don’t think you really want that. I think you’d prefer….” Subtle phrases like this are nothing but gaslighting. They make a person doubt their perceptions, feelings, & opinions. It’s a very subtle way of tearing a person down mentally & emotionally.
Using anger to control you. In romantic relationships, they hide their anger until they are comfortable that you’re in it for the long haul, then they start using their anger suddenly. Overt narcissists often will scream & rage, sometimes for hours. Covert narcissists give quiet displays of their rage- they give the silent treatment, give disapproving looks, tell other people how cruel you are to them & play the victim. Some narcissists will punch walls or take their anger out on inanimate objects as a way to intimidate you. My ex husband did this & told me how lucky I was he took his anger out on our microwave instead of me.
If someone is doing these things to you or someone you know, it’s abuse, plain & simple! You have every right to protect yourself from this type of behavior, no matter who is doing it. Take back your power! Set & enforce your boundaries. Leave if the person becomes angry, especially if you’re afraid for your safety. Rekindle old friendships the narcissist forced you to abandon. Start a journal if you don’t currently have one, & keep track of the things the narcissist says- seeing things in writing may give you more clarity. Most of all pray. Ask God what you should do in this situation. He will guide you & give you creative ways to handle it or the strength to go no contact.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn many things early in life that most people don’t, such as you aren’t allowed to have feelings. Often if you are happy, a narcissistic parent will ask you what you have to be so happy about, shaming you into hiding your joy. If you are sad, you’re told you don’t have anything to be sad about because other people have it way worse than you. If you’re angry, you’re told you have a bad temper & are crazy.
Because of such things, you learn early on to ignore your emotions. Stuff them down deep inside & pretend they aren’t there. Eventually though, after years of doing this, enough is enough. You can’t physically or mentally handle this stress any longer, & you have to start learning to express yourself. It feels so strange at first. Sometimes, I still feel like I’m waiting for some sort of backlash for sharing my emotions, because I’m doing something I learned as a child was absolutely wrong. It has improved over time, but is still there to a degree.
I think though that anger is the hardest emotion to handle when you learn to share your emotions. Aside from the messages of shame for feeling anger that you must get rid of, anger seems to have a mind of its own.
When first getting in touch with your anger, it may feel as if there is an infinite pit of it inside you, which is pretty scary. You must realize that if you’ve been stuffing it inside you for your entire life, there is going to be a lot of anger in there to deal with. There is an end to it all, but it’s going to take a while to deal with it all.
Also, when you’re not allowed to express anger, it comes up later, even years later. I get angry with my parents for things that happened 30 years ago sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m living too much in the past. It can be so frustrating! Unfortunately it’s also very normal. You can’t simply expel all of the anger you feel inside at once. You mentally couldn’t handle that. Instead, it comes out in manageable doses. This means you’ll probably have to deal with an incident at a time. Since narcissistic parents dole out such a great deal of abuse to their children over the course of their lives, there are obviously going to be many, many incidents to deal with, even going back to your very early life. It’s an unfortunate & frustrating fact of being raised by narcissistic parents.
Sometimes the anger comes up later because you were so busy trying to survive the abuse that you didn’t have time to cope with it at the time. I had a terrible relationship with my husband’s mother. Then, my husband defended her to me which caused many problems in our marriage. I had to fight with him as well as her, & didn’t really have time to process what was happening, because I was trying to survive both of them with my sanity in tact. It wasn’t until I cut her out of my life that I could finally deal with the things she had done to me as well as the anger at my husband for taking her side no matter what she did.
You need to realize that all of these feelings are normal.
You also need to realize that you have a right to your anger. Being abused isn’t fair. No one deserves it! You have every right to feel anger about that.
You have every right to learn to deal with your anger in a healthy way. It’s well overdue.
There is nothing wrong with anger in & of itself, so please don’t buy into the lies you heard about that. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with that anger that can be bad. Trying to get revenge on someone out of anger is bad, but feeling anger is not. Anger is a good thing since it lets you know something is wrong.
I know anger is a very scary thing when you never learned how to handle it in healthy ways. However, you can learn healthy ways to deal with it. Prayer is the absolute best place to start, I believe. Ask God to show you what to do, how to handle it. He certainly will answer that prayer!
I realized something this morning. When I know I’m going to have some sort of interaction with at least one of my parents, the same thing happens almost every time. I have either a nightmare about my childhood or a repressed memory come back to the forefront of my mind.
For the longest time, I assumed this was simply because I was thinking & worrying about what was coming. I believe this is wrong though. I believe God allows these things to happen as a way of enabling me to deal with my parents.
As I mentioned before, I want to go no contact with my parents, but God isn’t allowing me to tell them this. Instead, He wants them to be the ones to pull away. He has told me that by me getting healthier & tolerating less of their abuse, this will happen naturally. So far, it really has. Keeping that in mind..
My father plans to visit me on Friday (I’m writing this post on Thursday to publish Friday), & last night I had a horrible nightmare that reminded me of exactly how miserable I was growing up. I was utterly depressed, even suicidal, yet had to pretend to be happy to appease my mother. She would get mad at me if I looked depressed, so I had to hide it rather than have her yell at me & shame me. Remembering this has made me angry. Angry that my mother would shame me for my feelings, angry that my father never even noticed anything was wrong with me, angry that there was absolutely no concern that I was suicidal.
This anger I feel will help to strengthen me around my father during his visit tomorrow. As hard as I try, sometimes I still tend to fall into bad, old habits around my parents. But, when I am angry with them, the chances of that are much slimmer. I have a better focus on just how dysfunctional & abusive they really are, which helps me not to fall into their traps or for their manipulations. Once the visit is done, I will deal with my anger about the situation & heal a bit more.
Remembering traumatic things isn’t easy, I know. But, God isn’t into waste. He doesn’t allow things like this to happen for no reason. There is always a purpose. I have learned to use such things not only to help me heal by coping with the trauma I remember, but also to help me when I must deal with my parents. It’s turned out to be a good thing, albeit not an easy one.
Does this happen to you too, Dear Reader? Does something happen to make you angry before you deal with the narcissist in your life? If so, you’re not alone! It actually can be a good thing, although it doesn’t feel that way at the time. It certainly has been for me, & if it can be for me, it can be for you as well. Use that anger to help strengthen you against her manipulations. Use it as a reminder of exactly how dysfunctional the narcissist is.
I just got myself a little ice cream. Rocky road, my favorite 🙂 Hubby brought it home probably close to a month ago by now. I’ve been the only one eating it & it’s maybe 1/4 gone. Realizing that I haven’t been over indulging triggered a flashback.
When I was growing up, my mother would get candy bars at the grocery store, & often when we came home, she’d give one to my father, one to me then take one for herself. Often, she forced me to take another one, then when I finally did, she’d call me a hog & give me a very creepy, maniacal smile. It was so scary looking! If I confronted her, she’d say “But it’s cute when I do it” & continue the scary smile. I also had to eat the stupid candy bar or she’d have treated me even worse, more shaming. I still flippin’ HATE Fifth Avenue candy bars because of her. Not sure if they even make them- I’m not a big candy bar fan. Gee, I wonder why??
It was kinda funny though.. for once, I realized how angry I am about what my mother did to me. I also realized it wasn’t a bad thing. I certainly have a right to be angry about this! Not only did this awful behavior of my mother’s trigger a flashback (I sincerely hate them!), it’s things like this which are directly responsible for me having eating disorders in my younger days. I wasn’t overweight growing up, but my mother consistently commented on my weight or my body. She also very harshly criticized whatever I ate or didn’t eat. Everything about me, my body, my looks & what I ate was wrong.
God’s been working with me on getting OK with my anger for quite a while. I’m never angry all that long, I forgive easily & I don’t get vengeful or cruel. I’m not consumed with anger. Also for quite a while now, I’ve envied those who say they don’t let things bother or anger them & felt guilty for not being so “good”, being a bad Christian or even worse, proving my mother right when she said I have a terrible temper. The Bailey temper, as she’s always called it. According to her, the Bailey temper is the worst plague in all humanity, past or present. So not being ashamed of my anger or feeling like it was misplaced or over the top was a breakthrough!
If you struggle with anger too, Dear Reader, please know you are not alone! Many of us raised by narcissistic parents go through this. Also, please know that feeling anger is human! God gave people emotions so we are aware of things. Joy means what you’re doing is a good thing- have fun with it! Sadness helps us grieve when we lose someone we love. Anger is a sign someone is mistreating us. Emotions are God-given & there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them, including anger! It’s what you do with emotions that can be a bad thing. Simply feeling anger isn’t bad at all. Hurting someone in the heat of anger, however, that is bad.
So the next time you feel angry, feel it! Don’t ignore your anger! Ignoring or burying your anger only leads to problems. Feel your anger. Tell God what you’re feeling. Journal about it. Talk to a safe friend or relative. Beat up some pillows if that helps. Write angry letters you never send. Find a safe way to get your anger out, & rest easy that your anger is not only normal, but God ordained. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling angry for being mistreated!
Also once you get the anger out, know you’re going to be tired. Emotional work can be very draining. Take care of yourself. Rest & relax. Lay around & watch movies if that helps. Do things that comfort you & make you feel nurtured. It’s good self-care to take it easy after any emotional work.
Anger is an emotion that strikes fear into many people. In Christian circles, many think anger isn’t of God. It’s from the devil & to be avoided at all costs. If you’re angry, you’re a sinner/wrong/a bad person. People who were abused fear anger, assuming the angry person is going to hurt them like their abuser did.
The truth is though that anger is simply one of the many emotions God gave us, & if God gave it, it can’t be bad. What you do with the anger can be good or bad though.
I have learned that sometimes, it is good to hold onto some anger. If I think back on the terrible, abusive things my narcissistic mother has done to me, although I have forgiven her for doing them, the unfairness of them still makes me angry. This is not a bad thing at all! If I can remember to focus on that anger, it helps me to stay strong with my mother when she does something else hurtful. The anger empowers me- it helps me to have the inner strength to call her out on her actions when I need to, rather than letting her get away with abusing me.
There is also a big difference in being angry at the injustice of a situation & angry at a person. God commands us to forgive one another repeatedly in the Bible, I believe because it benefits us so much to forgive others. (A few examples are: Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:31-32, Matthew 18: 21-22 & Matthew 6:14-15.) Not forgiving others can lead very easily to bitterness or tainting your judgment of other people. (example: if your husband cheated on you, you think all men are cheaters) Being angry with a righteous anger at the unfairness of a situation though, does not have the same results. Yes, an unjust situation makes you angry but it doesn’t make you bitter, & it gives you strength to stand up for what is right.
If you feel anger, I urge you to really delve into why you are angry. If you are angry at the person who hurt or abused you, then by all means, please try to let it go. I wrote about the topic of forgiveness on my website. You can click this link if you’d like to read it.
If you’re angry about the unfairness of a situation though, I would urge you to hold onto that righteous anger. It will help you if you ever are faced with a similar situation.
As I’ve mentioned before, like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned young never to show anger. Instead, I stuffed it down inside & never dealt with it.
This year, I finally begun to stop stuffing anger & dealing with it in a healthy way. It feels foreign, & like I’m disobeying my mother, but good at the same time.
I’ve realized something recently, & I think it may help others who are also finally learning how to manage anger in a healthy way.
I’m getting angry often over things that happened a long time ago. Things have started just popping into my mind at random..bad memories of times when I was abused, invalidated or mistreated in some way. Not necessarily repressed memories- things I remembered, but never really thought much about. I finally asked God about it. This was getting on my nerves, & I wanted an answer. He reminded me that I have had a lot of years of not allowing myself to feel the anger I had a right to feel. Now that I’m getting a better grip on anger, I am finally able to process certain unpleasant events in a healthy way. That is why these things are coming up so many years later.
Dear Reader, if you too are learning how to deal with anger in a healthy way for the first time, don’t be surprised if this happens to you, too! It just may! I doubt I’m the only person who this has happened to. It seems like this is a logical course of events, yanno? Especially since God wants what is best for His children, & what is best is to deal with painful things so they are no longer so painful.
When these events pop into my mind, I talk to God about it as soon as possible. For whatever reason, they usually come to mind as I’m about to get into the shower, which is good- I have some private time to talk to Him uninterrupted.
Once alone with God, I just let it out. Cry, tell Him how unfair it was, tell Him how much it hurt, whatever needs to get out of me. He listens & that helps me a lot. I also sometimes write it out in my journal at a later time. When you feel anger, you need to purge yourself of it so it gets out of you. It’s poison if left inside, & can cause many physical & mental health problems. Getting it out is so much better.
When I’m done getting the anger out, I just sit quietly in God’s presence for a while. It’s amazing how doing that can soothe your soul & mend your broken heart. He doesn’t even need to say anything to you- there is just something peaceful & restorative about sitting quietly & focusing on God, His greatness & His love.
Once these things are done, I often find I’m a bit tired for a while & feel sort of raw emotionally. Emotional healing is very tiring, very hard work. If you feel that way, it’s normal. Just try to take it as easy as you can for a little while until you feel better. Be gentle with yourself. You’ve been through something painful, & need to recover.
I hope this helps you, Dear Reader. I know it’s no fun remembering something traumatic or painful, but it really can be helpful in your healing journey. When things come back to your remembrance, you might as well just deal with them & get it over with rather than continue to ignore it. Ignoring it does not benefit you in the least. Dealing with it, especially with God’s help, however rids you of the damage it was doing to you.
When you have been abused, you eventually get angry. It’s only natural. Many people think that this means you are harboring anger. It can be very discouraging & painful for you, because so many people will tell you you need to let it go, it was so long ago so why are you still holding onto this & other painful, invalidating things. Christians often will quote verses on forgiveness & make you feel guilty for being angry. I actually was told once by a Christian lady, “God says forgive so I do it. I don’t know what your problem is.” *sigh* I can’t even express how ashamed of myself I felt when she said that.
I always find it interesting that these judgmental people never have good advice on how to forgive, but they sure are quick to tell us we need to do it!
The truth of the matter is anger is not easy to deal with. Some people are very blessed & are able to let it go easily, but they are pretty rare. The rest of us have to feel it, & get really angry before we can let it go. Often several times.
Anger can also be somewhat deceptive. You can think you are done, you’ve forgiven someone, when suddenly something triggers anger at that person all over again. I experienced that a few months ago regarding my ex husband. I thought I’d forgiven him long ago, then after my mother bringing him up in conversation, it triggered a flashback which made me very angry at some things he had done to me. It was frustrating because I was sure I’d completely forgiven him.
Anger is a complex emotion that demands to be heard & dealt with in some way. So long as you are trying to deal with it however works best for you though, this doesn’t mean you are harboring anger, resentful, bitter, etc.
Harboring anger, however, is different.
Harboring anger involves not trying to let the anger go. People who have no desire to forgive are harboring anger.
It also includes a disdain & intense hatred for the person who abused you,
Harboring anger also means you don’t care why the person hurt you- you only care that you were hurt. A mature person tries to understand why someone acted the way they did rather than only knowing their actions. They know if they can understand, even a little, it may help them to forgive the other person & not take on the blame for that person’s actions.
People who harbor anger are very bitter. For example, if someone has a spouse who cheated, she assumes all men are cheaters or he assumes all women are cheaters.
These people also hold grudges for years. They can still be just as angry today as they were the day they were hurt 37 years ago.
These people also talk badly about whoever hurt them at every opportunity. Those who aren’t holding onto anger are different- if they discuss that person, they do so in a matter of fact way, without name calling or insulting.
Today I encourage you, Dear Reader, to examine your actions. Are you harboring anger or are you angry but trying to forgive your abuser? If the latter, then please, stop listening to those who are trying to convince you that you are a bad person for feeling the way you do! Ignore the ignorance of other people, & do what you need to do to heal & forgive!
In case you don’t know, intrusive thoughts are thoughts that shove their way into your mind & are often impossible to get rid of. They are very common with PTSD & C-PTSD. In my experience, a brain injury combined with C-PTSD made them even worse. Yay me..
A few minutes ago, I had yet another experience with intrusive thoughts. My newest cat, Minnie Rose, is named after my great grandmom, who I absolutely adore. She passed when I was 11, but I still have many fond memories of her, some of which replayed in my mind when Minnie Rose walked into the room with me. Suddenly, I remembered that my parents never asked if I was ok or offered comfort when she died. My granddad held me & let me cry at her viewing, & that was the only comfort or love I was shown regarding her passing. I began to get angry that my parents didn’t care that I was grieving or even talk to me about her death. I decided to get on facebook & distract myself for a little while as I really didn’t feel like dealing with this anger right now. Even a short break so I could finish my housework in peace would have been nice. That was a bad idea. The “today’s memories” feature popped up & in there was a link to this old blog post. Remembering how cruel my mother was to me last year at this time was very painful.
So now, I’m sitting here pretty pissed off. Fun times… Not.
This type of thing has happened enough times that I’m used to it. I also have learned how to handle it in a way that works for me, & I want to share it in the hopes they will work for you as well.
I have yet to find a way to stop intrusive thoughts. They seem to have a mind of their own. Also, I’ve noticed when I try, often something else happens that pretty much forces me to deal with what is on my mind. This has shown me that intrusive thoughts have a purpose. They serve as a reminder to say, “Now is the time to deal with this! Get alone, get quiet & get with God so you can do it.” This is actually a good thing, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time. (Apparently for me they also can serve as fodder for blog entries..lol)
When I can get alone, quiet & with God, I tell Him how I feel. I let it out, all the anger & ugliness. In return, He comforts me. Sometimes (well, often..) I don’t feel like saying things out loud, so instead of talking to Him, I write in my journal as if I am talking to Him. Either way, God does the same thing- helps me to get rid of the anger &/or hurt & comforts & often heals me from that painful incident. It’s really that simple. Healing isn’t always complicated. Sometimes you just need to get your feelings out, be validated & receive some comfort in return.
Sometimes, I also ask God to tell me the truth about what happened. Was it right? Did I deserve it? His answers are always amazing! When God tells you that you didn’t deserve to be abused, you can’t help but believe it! I’ve often sensed His anger at the injustice of the experience I went through, which also, believe it or not, is very healing. It validates the fact that you were done wrong, very wrong.
Another thing I have noticed is that doing this may help you to release some anger, but acquire a new anger. A righteous anger. I know this can be difficult for victims of narcissistic abuse, because we were never allowed to be angry. Often we carry that dysfunction well into adulthood. And, as a Christian, many folks misunderstand anger. They often believe you should forgive & forget, anger is from the devil, & shamed if you feel any anger no matter the situation. We often feel wrong & ashamed if we feel any anger, so we try to ignore it. I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with righteous anger! Remember Jesus in the temple, overturning tables & freeing sellers’ livestock for sale? That was righteous anger. People were doing something offensive to God, & that enraged Him, as it should have! Abuse is also offensive to God- why shouldn’t anyone be enraged by that?!
Righteous anger has its place. It lets you know that something is very wrong & change needs to happen. It also motivates you to make that change by stirring up your emotions. I have only recently learned to embrace righteous anger. It has helped me when I have to deal with my parents & their abusive, dysfunctional behavior. Realizing that they expect me to behave as they want after how horribly they have treated me makes me angry with that righteous anger. That anger gives me the strength to be firm in my boundaries & not tolerate things I would have tolerated without that anger.
In conclusion, I know intrusive thoughts are painful, upsetting & disturbing, but please be encouraged, Dear Reader. They do have a purpose! Dealing with them as quickly as possible will help you to heal & grow stronger.
Also, when you are done dealing with your intrusive thoughts, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Emotional work is so exhausting. Be gentle with yourself. Pamper yourself. You’ve earned it!
And now, I’m off to write in my journal then take a relaxing, long shower & goof off for the rest of my day…
My parents came by for a visit on Thursday. I didn’t expect it to be a good one. My mother is always angry with me, & my father was upset I postponed from last week. For days, I prayed & worried.
Wednesday, I suddenly got very angry at the fact that my parents have done so much to me, yet believe they are entitled to come into my home anytime & treat my furbabies & I so nastily in our own home. Mind you, I’m not particularly good with anger. Growing up, my mother accused me of having “that Bailey temper”, shaming me, if I was angry or even simply just frustrated. I learned early to ignore anger. It’s only been recently I’ve been trying to deal with anger in a healthy way. Even so, it still feels awkward to be angry, so Wednesday was a somewhat difficult day.
I realized something though. I was gaining confidence. It really started to sink in that I have a right to be angry about the things they have done & continue to do to me. That anger gave me the confidence to realize I do NOT have to put up with being abused. If me having boundaries hurts their feelings, that isn’t my problem.
Shortly before they arrived, I remembered something that also helped me. Years ago, I stopped speaking to my mother 6 years. During that time, I had planned to visit my Granddad one Saturday. The night before, he called & said my parents had just called to say they were coming by on that same day. He said “If you want to do this another time, I’ll understand.” I thought about doing that, but said no- I want to see him & if he wants to see me too, then I’ll be there in the morning. He did so we agreed I’d come by the following morning. That day of the visit, my mother was shocked to see me there. (Years before, she had tried to ruin my relationship with my grandparents. I had stopped speaking to them for several years, & at the time of the visit, only had began visiting him again a few months prior) She did her best to frazzle me with some of her actions, but instead I let her know they wouldn’t work, much to the delight of Granddad who was quite proud of me that day. I was proud of myself for handling things so well, too!
Remembering that successful event & being angry both helped me to stay strong when my parents came by & successfully, for the first time, limit the time of their visit! For the first time, I told them when the visit was over, not them staying in my home until they felt like leaving!
My point (finally..lol) is these tricks can help you when it comes to dealing with your narcissistic mother as well. I know many Christians think anger is from the devil or you’re a terrible person to feel anger, but I completely disagree! Anger is a normal emotion & it is from God. Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing & should be practiced regularly. However, anger has its place too. A righteous anger at injustice is a wonderful motivator for change. What is the difference? Being angry at the unfairness of being abused & being angry because you know you have done nothing to deserve abuse, those are examples of righteous anger. Me being angry because my parents have abused me & think they still have to right to do so is also righteous anger. God stirred that anger up in me for a reason on Wednesday- to help me be strong & able to set boundaries with my narcissistic parents the next day.
And, God also reminded me of a very successful interaction I’d had with my parents, which was extremely helpful as well. Remembering how well that previous episode had gone helped me to see that yes, I could be strong. Yes, I could handle things well. Yes, I could even be composed when angry. I could do it!
Dear Reader, what God did for me, He can do for you as well. I prayed & asked friends to pray for me to have strength for this visit, & God certainly did not disappoint. I would like to encourage you too, to think on similar things in your life. Gain courage from your successes, & hold onto that righteous anger! If you are having trouble, ask God to help you. He truly will!
Forgiveness is an odd thing. When I first became a Christian in 1996, I heard a great deal about forgiveness. God wants us to forgive so we must do it. It’s easy. Just ask Him to take it away & all will be right in your world. Upon asking someone once to pray for me to help forgive, she said “I don’t know what your problem is. God says to forgive & I just do it.” That made me feel like God was disappointed in me & I was an awful person because I couldn’t “just do it.”
Nineteen years later, I realize what rubbish all of that was.
While I most certainly agree God wants us to forgive since it says so in the Bible (Matthew 6:14, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:31-2, etc), no one ever explained any other motivations to forgive. Pleasing God certainly is a good one, naturally, but is that the only reason He wants us to forgive? Some holy whim?
It took me years of being in relationship with Him & learning from Him to realize that forgiveness not only pleases God, but is good for the person doing the forgiving. Carrying around anger & bitterness creates a plethora of health problems such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease & more. It also can lead to a negative attitude (example- a wife’s husband cheats so she assumes all men are untrustworthy jerks) & depression. The sooner you’re truly able to forgive, the better it is for your physical & mental health.
I had to learn too that forgiveness has nothing to do with the offender & everything to do with the one doing the forgiving. It is very possible to completely forgive someone who is unrepentant. To forgive someone requires you to want to do so. It requires no actions on the other person’s part. Certainly a repentant heart would make it much easier, but it’s not a necessity.
I also thought forgiveness meant to forget as well. Forgive & forget as they say. I disagree completely. Sure, on small things such as your husband snapping at you after a bad day at work when normally he doesn’t do that, forgiving & forgetting is fine. However, doing so with someone who is abusive? Not smart. That only sets you up for further abuse because you aren’t protecting yourself & also because you gave that person a free pass to abuse you by coming back for more.
No one ever told me that forgiveness takes time. Ephesians 4:26 was quoted to me over & over in those early days of my walk with God.. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath,” (KJV) I believed that I had to forgive my abusive mother & ex husband NOW or else I was not pleasing God. It took many more years for me to learn that some things can be forgiven quickly & easily while others, such as suffering years of abuse, takes more time. I believe that so long as you at least decide quickly that you will forgive, that is the most important thing. It’s the first step towards forgiveness.
I didn’t know that to fully forgive, I needed to get angry, to feel that anger & get it out of me. No one ever mentioned that tidbit! I had to learn it from God. Thankfully God helps me to do this. He’s taught me different ways to get the anger out. Journaling, writing it all out, works very well for me as does telling Him exactly how I feel & why.
Lastly, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t always mean you forgive everything someone has done to you- sometimes it means you may have to forgive them for some things individually. For example, I thought I’d forgiven my ex husband for everything & was done with him. Not necessarily so.. when someone wrecked her motorcycle in front of my house last June, it triggered a memory, something about my ex I’d totally forgotten. I had my motorcycle learner’s permit when we were married. After I had a small accident in 1994, which wasn’t my fault, he didn’t want me to go through with getting my license. I was angry how manipulative he was about it, but had forgotten that until this lady wrecked her bike. So although I was sure I’d forgiven him for everything, here I was, having to forgive him for yet one more thing…twenty one years later!
If you’re struggling with forgiveness & anger, Dear Reader, I pray this post helps you. There isn’t a lot of really good, balanced teaching on the topic available, but if you ask God, He will teach you whatever you need to help you. That is how I learned what I wrote here- God showed me all of these things. 🙂
Anger is a very normal part of life, yet also a difficult thing for many adult children of narcissistic parents. Growing up, we were not allowed to express emotions, good or bad, but it often seems as if anger is the one that receives the most ridicule if we express it. As I’ve said before, my mother always accused me of having that “Bailey temper” as she calls it. She said that her family doesn’t get mad like my father’s family does. Which seems to be true- from what I’ve seen, they just stuff that anger inside & pretend it’s not there. Yea, that’s healthy…. lol
If you too were raised by a narcissistic mother, I’m sure you heard some similar shaming comments if you showed any anger as well.
The fact is though that anger is going to happen. As you heal from narcissistic abuse, it is definitely going to come up. As your self-esteem improves, you finally realize you didn’t deserve the terrible things that were done to you, & it makes you angry. You realize too that it wasn’t your fault you were abused, which also makes you angry.
Holding anger inside at this point becomes very difficult & even impossible. That is actually a good thing because it is detrimental to your physical & emotional health. It can cause anxiety & depression. It can cause high blood pressure, kidney, heart & digestive problems. Even knowing such things, it can be hard for the adult child of a narcissistic parent to find healthy ways to release anger. At first, it can be downright terrifying. She may feel that if she lets a little anger out, she’ll end up losing control of it all & hurting herself & others. She also may feel that if she lets it out, she’ll never stop being angry.
Dear Reader, these are simply not the case at all! Anger is a powerful emotion that needs to be heard. It demands to be heard in fact. Even so, there are healthy ways to deal with it.
Some people recommend the chair method. This involves standing in front of a chair, pretending the person who hurt or abused you is in that chair, & telling them everything you feel inside about them & their actions.
Some people beat up pillows. It’s a good physical release, & you can’t hurt a pillow no matter how hard you beat it.
Others swear by writing letters they never send. I have done this with a great deal of success. I let it all out in the letters, then usually I burn them. I found something very therapeutic about watching the letters burn. It’s like my anger went up in the smoke. I also kept a couple of them, which helps to keep me remember why things are the way they are. Reading over my letter helps me if I feel weak & wanting to fix things with my mother. It helps remind me that I can’t do all the work- fixing a relationship takes 2 people.
Journaling is akin to writing the letters. No one is going to read what you write, so what better way to let it all out? Although I love the feel & look of a pretty paper journal, for privacy sake, I use an online, password protected one. I am certain no one would be able to read it, so when I need to get anger out, I let it all go in the journal.
Perhaps the most effective way I’ve found to deal with anger though is by talking to God about it. He is such a wonderful Father. He listens without judgment or criticism & offers you comfort. He also helps you to purge all of that anger from you, so you no longer stuff it deep inside.
The next time you feel anger, I encourage you to try one or more of the suggestions above. They really will help you tremendously. You’ll feel so much better once the anger is out from inside you.
So many people say you’re just wallowing in your past if you talk about being abused. I am sure some people are wallowing- it is a very hard thing to move past, being abused, especially if your abuser was a narcissist.
However, I do not believe that this describes the majority of people who have survived abuse. Judging from not only myself but many people I have met, we have a much different reason for discussing the abuse we have been through.
Talking about painful experiences brings them into the open, where they can be analyzed & even become learning experiences. Talking about them brings healing.
When I was growing up, I was never allowed to discuss or question the abuse I was going through. I was supposed to tolerate it quietly & change into whatever my mother wanted me to be at that moment. Now though, as a woman in mid life, that does not work for me. I have been through too much. Talking about it breaks the hold over me being abused once had.
Looking into the past helps you to set yourself free from the abuse that has been done to you. It allows you to question things that you could not question at the time they were happening. It allows you to confront the lies you were told, & discover the truth. It also allows you to grieve for the horrible things done to you over which you had no control. (Grieving is necessary if you want to move on.)
Looking back at the good things helps you as well. Remembering good times helps to brighten your day. Lately, I often think of the fun times I spent as a child with my great-grandmother. They always make me smile, as she was a lovely woman. Remembering good times also can help you to understand why you are the way you are. You get to know yourself when you pay attention to those things that make you happy or sad, or the things you like or don’t like.
Once you deal with things in your past, you have less desire to look backward towards the bad things. The bad memories also won’t interrupt your thoughts as often. Good memories will occur more often than the bad. Making peace with your past helps you tremendously in the present.
This scenario may sound somewhat familiar to you..
Growing up, my mother often accused me of having “that Bailey temper”. I could be slightly frustrated or very angry for a valid reason, & it didn’t matter. She would criticize my terrible “Bailey temper” in a very shaming tone of voice. (interestingly, she now uses this phrase with my father). The result was I began to stuff my anger inside. I refused to show anger on the outside, no matter how valid a reason I had for feeling that way. It was easier, or so I thought, to stuff my angry feelings deep down inside than to hear her berating, critical, shaming words.
As a result, I almost never showed it to anyone, no matter how valid my reasons for the anger were. It’s only in recent years I’ve stopped squelching my anger & been learning to vent it in healthy ways. By doing this, I’ve also learned that I really don’t have a bad temper at all. It takes a lot to make me angry & when I am angry, I never scream, rage or destroy things.
So why did my mother accuse me of having such a terrible temper as a child?
I believe she did the exact same thing that many narcissistic parents do- she projected her own shortcomings onto me. Narcissists are angry people. They get angry when they aren’t treated as reverently as they feel they should be treated, praised as highly as they believe they deserve, or acknowledged to be the most special, amazing, talented, attractive people in the universe. They also are angry when they aren’t blindly obeyed, when people don’t believe their lies or people do healthy things such as set boundaries with them or even end their relationship with the narcissist.
Narcissists can’t handle any bad quality (real or perceived) in themselves, so they project that bad quality onto other people. Accusing someone else of that bad quality allows them to get mad about the flaw while not accepting any responsibility for having it. It’s a very common tactic of narcissists, especially with their own children or spouse.
In addition to projection, victims of narcissists can be angry people, too. How can you not be angry at the unfairness of the relationship with a narcissist? They are selfish to the max, they couldn’t care less about you other than what you can do for them & they criticize every single little thing about you. These things are hard to handle in any relationship, but when it is your own mother doing it, that seems to make it even worse. Mothers are supposed to be loving, caring, gentle, protective & all around wonderful, yet here is your mother abusing you at every turn. If that doesn’t make a person angry, I don’t know what would!
To add insult to injury, you aren’t allowed to express your anger to the narcissist, because she can’t handle any criticism, nor will she accept responsibility for what she has done. Instead, she will turn it around, blaming you for having a vivid imagination since that even never happened, or if you wouldn’t have done *fill in the blank,* then she wouldn’t have had to “discipline” you so harshly. So, now you have someone who not only is abused, but told they are the cause for the abuse. Again, if that doesn’t make a person angry, what will?!
Anger is a nasty side effect of narcissistic abuse. It can be scary, because after so many years of stifling anger, once it starts to come out, we can be afraid of losing control. It can feel like now that it’s out, it’s going to be out permanently- you’ll be angry forever. Thank God though that is not the case!
Anger is a natural emotion just like all of the others people experience. I know it can be hard at first, but try not to fear it. Anger can be dealt with in a healthy way, & you need to learn how to do that.
Keeping a journal or talking to safe people about your feelings are very good ways to help manage your anger. Telling God all about it is an even better way to deal with it. And, say, “I feel angry because..” as it helps to validate your feelings to yourself. Your feelings have been invalidated long enough- they deserve validation & recognition, especially by you!
I have written letters that I never sent when I was really angry. I let it all out in those letters too- bad language, name calling, whatever I felt. Sometimes I saved them, but usually I just burned them. I found something healing in watching them go up in smoke.
Always remember that your feelings are valid. There is a reason you are feeling angry! People don’t just get angry for no obvious reason.
Forgive when you feel able to do so. Don’t let other people criticize your faith in God or your Christian walk by accusing you of being cruel & unforgiving. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing- it releases the power the other person has over you. But, rushing it never works out well. You have to forgive when you are ready, with help from God, to completely forgive.
If you are considering discussing your feelings with your narcissistic mother, before you do it, pray. Lots! Narcissists don’t hear the other person’s valid points when confronted- instead they get defensive & shift blame. That being said, for some people, telling their narcissistic mother how they feel can be a good thing. They feel better just getting their feelings out to her. I’m different- it makes me feel worse to have my mother invalidate me & fail to take any responsibility for her actions yet again, so I almost never confront her. You need to be absolutely certain of how you are, & do what feels right to you.
And lastly, stop stifling your anger! I know, old habits die hard, so this isn’t an easy thing to do. However, it’s not healthy! Not physically or mentally healthy. Besides, emotions demand to be dealt with- stifling them only postpones that, it doesn’t stop it. It is much better to face things as they come up rather than once they’ve been sitting deep inside, growing & morphing into something bigger & harder to deal with.
I was talking with a good friend recently. She told me about something traumatic that happened to her a while back. She also said that many of her friends & relatives told her that she needed to get over it & trivialized her awful experience, rather than offer her compassion & support. Naturally, it upset her badly that people she expected to be compassionate were instead cold & unfeeling.
Unfortunately I understand her feelings all too well. Since I got sick at the end of February, I’ve experienced this same thing first hand more times than I can count, starting at the hospital. Apparently even a potentially deadly illness isn’t enough to warrant compassion from most people.
There is a terrible lack of love, empathy & compassion in the world today. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “1 But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. 3 [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. 4 [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. 5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” (AMP)
I firmly believe this is what is happening today, why people are so indifferent to the suffering of others. Look at how people behave. Money & things mean more than people & relationships. Animal & child abuse are commonplace, as is hypocrisy. And most importantly, God is rarely invited into, well, anything. Not many people have God as their top priority in life. Without God, it’s impossible to truly love people God’s way- full of compassion, caring, & great empathy.
Dear Reader, I’m certain you have been on the receiving end of this hurtful type of behavior. Your pain has no doubt been trivialized or even invalidated. (This is especially common for adult children of narcissistic parents, since our parents didn’t always leave bruises or broken bones like physically abusive ones did, & they act like good people around everyone but their own children.)
While there is certainly no way to control how people act & completely avoid their coldness, you can remember that a person who acts this way has a problem. That will help you not to internalize their words, thinking something is wrong with you for being upset over whatever trauma you experienced. You need to remember that, because you are not wrong, crazy, oversensitive, etc. for being upset when something bad happens to you.
And, also remember that people with problems naturally turn self-centered to varying degrees. Some people become so self-centered that they don’t have it in them to care about others who are also suffering. Remembering this too will help you not to internalize being treated so poorly.
I would like to also encourage you to consider how you react when someone tells you about a painful or traumatic experience. Do you offer compassion? Empathize with their pain? Or, are you so wrapped up in your own problems you refuse to see anything or anyone except what relates directly to you?
If you are the type to have a hard time empathizing when you too are suffering, it may be time to change that. Aside from the fact that behavior can be hurting others, being good to others also is good for you. It takes your mind off your problems, even if only temporarily. You also may learn that this person & you share a common problem, & now you have someone to talk about your problems with. You may be able to help each other!
Don’t know how to change this about yourself? Ask God for help. Ask Him to increase your empathy, to make you more aware of the feelings of others & to give you wisdom on how to help those He puts in your path & wisdom with your words. God will honor your prayer, & bless you for wanting to help others.
When you were raised by a narcissistic mother, & you finally learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the first reaction usually is relief. Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person your mother said you were, that instead it was her projecting her own issues onto you. Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person she always told you that you were. Then, other emotions kick in, such as grieving. You grieve for your lost childhood, the fact that you were so terribly abused, & the fact that your own mother deliberately hurt you to forward her own agenda.
Eventually, you also get angry over those same things.
Recently, I’ve learned that anger changes as you heal. For me, I’ve become angry at people who have hurt & abused me over the years. Many so-called friends, my narcissistic in-laws, my narcissistic ex husband, an extremely controlling ex boyfriend & even my husband for some dysfunctional behaviors he used to exhibit in our relationship. I’ve also been angry with my parents, because if they hadn’t raised me the way they had, I wouldn’t have grown into a narcissist magnet & doormat. And, if I wouldn’t have been that way, people wouldn’t have thought it was perfectly acceptable to abuse me.
After praying about it, I believe this to be a normal part of healing. As you heal, naturally your self-esteem improves. And, people with healthy self-esteem have no tolerance for being abused because they know their value. They know they don’t deserve to be treated in such a way. Plus as you heal, you begin to realize that some behaviors you once thought were normal were in fact abusive. Realizing that will make you angry.
Also, being a narcissist magnet & doormat, you’re often stuck in more than one abusive relationship at a time- I certainly was! This means you are so busy trying to survive that you don’t have time to deal with your anger properly. You’re just trying to get through each encounter with these people with your sanity in tact!
So how do you deal with this old anger?
Some people are fortunate. They are able to ask God to help them let things go & forgive, & then it’s over for them. Honestly I envy those people. I’m not so fortunate- I have to feel things to fully process them, then I can let things go. If you’re like me, read on- I’ll share some tips of what works for me below.
What helps me mostly is prayer. I talk to God about it. I also write it out in my journal if I don’t feel like talking about it. Either way, I let it all out, & He knows what I feel. He listens without judgement, no matter how ugly what I say is.
You can also talk to someone non-judgmental, such as a good friend, a close relative or a counselor. As long as you get the feelings inside, out of you, that is the main thing. Anger is a very strong emotion that demands to be heard. If you ignore it, it will come out sooner or later- it never just vanishes. Either you end up taking it out on those closest to you who have nothing to do with why you’re angry, or you get depressed (depression is often repressed anger), or you can become physically ill. Isn’t it much better to get your feelings out?
I also ask God to help me get rid of the anger. I certainly don’t want to carry it around, & He wants us to forgive our enemies since it’s beneficial for us, so I know He helps me to release that anger.
Don’t forget, too, to ask God to comfort you. This process isn’t a pleasant one- a little comfort can go a long way in helping you to get through it all.
And, don’t judge yourself for this. Anger happens, & sometimes it’s delayed for whatever reason. That is all that is happening- something normal. Don’t criticize yourself for doing something perfectly normal & understandable under the circumstances!
No matter what type of abuse or trauma you have suffered, often discrediting you, the victim, happens. Often by outsiders who say ridiculous statements such as…
“Well if you wouldn’t have worn that short skirt, you wouldn’t have been raped!”
“If you had just been a little nicer to him, your husband wouldn’t have hit you!”
“Your mother did the best she could- you need to understand that she had been abused. She just didn’t know how to raise you, so you have to forgive & forget.”
Even more frequently, the person who perpetrated the abuse works hard to discredit you. Narcissistic parents are especially good at doing this. They tell others they are concerned about you, because you have been acting strangely, you have a vivid imagination, you’ve been making up stories, they did the best they could do by you, but you were always a difficult child & more.
Publicly stating that the victim is not a victim, but instead the problem helps to convince others of that fallacy. The narcissistic abuser has great conviction when lying- people who aren’t extremely close to her rarely doubt her stories, especially if said under the guise of concern for her child.
This works well for the narcissistic mother, as she is able to convince people quite easily that her child is the problem, thus turning people against her child & supporting her. People then will look down on or fail to believe the child if she openly discusses the abuse or tries to stand up to or set boundaries with her narcissistic mother. I experienced this myself in my teen years. My mother’s friends had once liked me, but as the abuse escalated & I tried to protect myself, suddenly those friends no longer liked me. They barely even spoke to me or made eye contact with me.
Discrediting the victim also serves to make the victim question herself rather than the abuse she has come to believe is normal. There were times in my teen years I felt as if I was going crazy. My mother told me I was crazy anyway, even threatening to have me committed many times. That along with acting like & saying I was the problem caused me to doubt my sanity more times than I can count.
Also, another benefit for the abuser of discrediting the victim is that all eyes are on the victim, not the abuser. The abuser can do anything she likes, because no one will notice. They are too focused on how bad, wrong, crazy, etc. the victim is.
If you fall victim to this, please know you are NOT alone! This is a typical tactic of narcissistic abusers. It does NOT mean that you are to blame. Instead, it is just one more sign that this person is the problem, & that this person is evil. After all, only an evil person would blame an innocent victim instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions.
Lately, I’ve been having a hard time writing. Even these brief blog entries are an issue most days. It kinda stinks, because I love writing so much. Having C-PTSD contributes to my difficulties with focus sometimes, but it isn’t always why I have trouble focusing.
I’ve been feeling very burned out lately, & I realized why. Focusing on one’s healing & mental & emotional health is a very good thing. It enables you to work through issues, to forgive, to heal. However, it really is possible to focus too much on such things. The mind needs breaks from hard work, just as the body does, & focusing on healing is certainly hard work! The mind also needs a break from negative things as well. (Please know that I’m not saying be positive about the truly negative things in life, as that isn’t healthy either.) If you too have C-PTSD I believe these breaks become even more important to your mental health.
When you grew up with a narcissistic mother, it can be hard to be a balanced adult. Early on, once you first realize that your mother is abusive, you’re angry. Very angry. All this time you thought what she did to you was your fault, & you finally learned she lied- it wasn’t you, it was her. That is a tough pill to swallow! Then you learn more & more about narcissism, & so many things finally make sense, things about you & about your mother. It’s very easy to become consumed & focus constantly on your mother’s abuse, on NPD, on the problems you have as an adult that stem from that abuse & more. However, this is not healthy to do at all! Like I said, the mind needs breaks sometimes, & it needs balance.
How do you achieve balance? You make a conscience effort to do these things. I know it can be hard, especially with the obsessive thoughts that often happen with C-PTSD, but it can be done! Force yourself to focus on something fun. Watch a movie. Play with your kids, furry or human. Go for a walk in the woods. Visit a local park. Go for a drive. Buy a coloring book & crayons. There are many things you can do to bring a little joy into your life & those things needn’t be expensive or require a lot of planning. Be creative, & I’m sure you’ll come up with some fun things to do.
Spend time in God’s presence. Spending time in nature, admiring the beautiful creations He has made is not only good for drawing you closer to the Father, but it’s also very restorative to the soul. Many people are affected by the weather such as in cases of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If that describes you, I would suggest holding off on the nature time until the weather has a more positive effect on your mood. Fall is my favorite time to do this, so if you catch me wandering around during the summertime instead when the heat & bright sunlight depress me, something is very wrong with me! lol
Another thing I have found that helps me is to collect some things that you enjoyed as a child. I’m a child of the 70’s-80’s, & I think we had some pretty cool toys! I have Spirograph, Magic 8 Ball & Lite Brite apps on my tablet. I have an atari with quite a few games. I have a few stuffed animals, my old Merlin handheld game, Rubix cube, Snake & Bowlatronic. I just saw a hot pink Tonka jeep that I had (& loved!) as a child on ebay, & am considering ordering it. I also ordered a set of the Crystalite animals- I collected them in first grade. I’ve also purchased a few board games over the years that my husband & I both remember from our childhoods & we enjoy playing. Although my childhood was less than stellar, some of my fun old toys do make me smile to this day. Having them helps me to remember some positive memories for a change, & it feels good.
Also a nostalgic thing I enjoy is collecting old pictures. There are a couple of facebook groups I belong to- one is for the area where I grew up & the other is for the area where my family is from in Virginia. Both are history groups, & share many old pictures of both areas. I save the more interesting pictures of places I enjoyed growing up. It’s so much fun looking back over the pictures of how those towns were when I was a kid. It does make me a bit sad how much they’ve changed, but even so, it’s fun remembering how things used to be.
Music is another wonderful way to break away & feel good. I still love the music I grew up with, & listen to it often. Some songs take me back to a happy place. Journey always reminds me of going to dinner with my wonderful paternal grandparents at a tiny local Italian place when I was a kid. My grandmom gave me change for the jukebox- something my mother always refused to do. “Who’s Cryin’ Now” was one of the Journey songs played, so yes, their music takes me back to a fun evening. Listening to good music that transports you back to a happy time can be very good for your mood & very relaxing.
Pamper yourself. Also hard to do when you grew up with a narcissistic mother who undoubtedly told you how selfish you were for showing yourself any kindness, but remember- narcissists project their flaws onto other people so they can then get angry about those flaws. Your mother was wrong- you aren’t selfish! Doing nice, pampering gestures for yourself aren’t selfish either- they are healthy, & they show you that you care about yourself. Nothing wrong with that!
I think distractions like these are also very helpful because they empower you. If you think about what you’ve gone through constantly, it’s as if your mother still has power over you. She’s still controlling you, by being in your thoughts so much. If you purposely kick her out of your mind sometimes, you are taking back control of your life, & your thoughts.
Also, distracting yourself sometimes is good for your anxiety & depression levels. The more you focus on the abuse you endured, the more anxious & depressed it can make you. Focus on healing- get angry, cry, do what you have to do- but take at least the same amount of time to relax & have some fun! It’s good for you!
Recently, I wrote this post about being angry at all of the things I feel have been stolen from me due to having C-PTSD. The anger that was simmering kicked back into overdrive briefly on Tuesday night.
I had to speak with my mother that evening. I ended up pretty angry with her by the time I hung up. Shortly after I got the wonderful call from my vet that I mentioned in this post. In spite of the incredibly good news, I was angry. Although my mother didn’t do it on purpose, I felt like, as usual, she’s interfering in my life & stealing my joy- making me angry at a time when I should’ve been completely happy. I felt in my heart I needed to make a decision at that time..Either continue to be angry or to thank God for & enjoy the wonderful news I had just gotten. I decided to focus on the good news for the night, & deal with my anger at my mother later on. Oddly, this turned out to be a good thing for me in a way..
I feel like I took back some of my power!
I think by being able basically to put my mother aside for a while was helpful for me. It showed me that my mother & her narcissistic ways haven’t stolen everything for me, as it so often feels like. She isn’t in control anymore, & I am more powerful than I feel. Instead of being angry with her & failing to enjoy the miraculous news I’d just received, I was able to refocus my mind onto the good. I had an entire evening of basking in joy, then dealt with the anger the following day.
Have you ever tried anything like this?
In all honesty, I can’t say I’m sure this type of thing is a good thing to do on a regular basis, but doing it once was a good experience for me. It may be for you too. I would encourage you to ask God about it, if you’re in a similar situation. It may help you as well. But, if God advises you against it, please listen to Him & don’t try it!
Yesterday was an eventful day. One of my cats, Pretty Boy, needed his annual checkup, which was late. A little background: Pretty Boy was diagnosed with diabetes since 2011, a condition called Somongyi where his body responds oddly to glucose in 2012, & then with a liver carcinoma in 2013. That is when the vet said he may not be around much longer, & chances are his glucose wouldn’t be regulated ever again. In spite of it all, he’s been doing GREAT! Mostly his glucose has been regulated, & he’s obviously feeling good. However, I was still nervous (as always) about his checkup. Turned out the vet said he is doing extremely well, I’m happy to say. Two vets saw him, one who specializes in diabetes, & she told me she thinks he’s starting to go into diabetic remission!! It’s very unusual- cats often go into diabetic remission, but usually within about the first 3 months after their diagnosis. The longer they have diabetes, the lower the chances of remission are. Leave it to my little guy to be unique.. lol It’s truly an answer to prayer! I’m so excited!
This all got me to thinking last night how much I have to thank God for.
Lately, the C-PTSD has been especially bad, leaving me extremely depressed, tired, anxious, having a hard time concentrating & really unable & unwilling to be around people. It’s been hard to think of anything to be thankful for, but this vet visit was the kick in the butt I needed to change my attitude. OK, I’m still having some trouble feeling grateful, but I am doing better at it today. I’m grateful my special little kitty is much healthier than anyone could’ve expected. I’m grateful too that he’s such a sweet baby- he knows every emotion I have, & if I’m upset, he is right there, offering lots of love to try to make it all better. I’m grateful for another one of my cats, Punkin, who also has PTSD & how we can help each other when symptoms flare up. I’m grateful God has blessed me with the many wonderful cats I have & had in my life. I’m grateful that even during the worst of times with C-PTSD, God still cares & helps me to get through it all. I’m grateful I survived all of the traumas that caused the C-PTSD, & still have a pretty decent attitude about life most days. I’m grateful I have people in my life who care about me. I’m even grateful for the classic car I drive, because it was once my grandfather’s car (my favorite car he ever had) & God found a miraculous way to send it back into my life after not even seeing it in 26 years. (I wrote that story in ebook form- it’s a fascinating story even if you aren’t a classic car fan like me. Here’s the link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/my-life-the-story-of-a-1969-plymouth/ebook/product-18462742.html )
As a result of thinking about these things & more that I am grateful to God for, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel the C-PTSD starting to improve some. I’m not expecting grateful thoughts to make all of the symptoms magically disappear of course- that would be very naive- but, I have noticed a grateful attitude does help to reduce the severity of C-PTSD symptoms. I think because it makes me feel closer to God as well as more appreciative of the good things He has blessed me with. Thinking about such things also increases my faith in God. Really focusing on the blessings He gives you can’t help but to increase your faith!
I know sometimes when symptoms are raging, it feels like there is absolutely nothing to be thankful for. I’ve felt that way many times myself. However, if you can try to think of the good in your life, or ask God to show you the ways He’s blessed you, it may help to reduce your symptoms. Even if it only helps a little bit, isn’t it worth it?
Something is happening that I assume is a natural part of C-PTSD, but I haven’t read or heard anything about it: anger, & lots of it. I’ve read that often people with PTSD or C-PTSD can have a short fuse, getting angry at silly little things, but that is all I read. So, I had to start praying..
For the first time, I’m getting very angry when people are deliberately hurtful, mean or even abusive towards me. I realize for the first time that I don’t deserve such poor treatment. In a way, this is pretty darned cool!! God showed me it means my self-esteem is at a good place instead of in the toilet where it’s been most of my life. In another way, it’s rather scary since it’s new territory… I’m not used to feeling anger, because I learned early in life I wasn’t allowed to feel it. If I expressed any anger, my mother said I had that “awful Bailey temper.” I carried that dysfunctional habit of not expressing anger into adulthood.
In addition to that, I’m getting very angry at the things that I feel C-PTSD has stolen from me. This morning, this anger was triggered because of my hair. Yes, sounds crazy, I know.. I was brushing my hair this morning & realizing so much is broken off & my hair is extremely dry. It looks awful, which upsets me as I’ve always had healthy, nice hair. Researching this online, long story short, I learned that anxiety & depression are most likely the cause for me. *sigh* Great. Then a little while later, I decided I was going to work on the new carburetor that is going on my car. As I skimmed over the directions, they didn’t seem too difficult- I thought I could do what I needed to do. Nope. Trying to follow the directions, I was easily confused. Although I did eventually remember that I’ve done this before (admittedly, 20+ years ago..), trying to actually do what the directions said to do absolutely baffled me. I also couldn’t remember details of how I’d done this. it was just the icing on the cake for me. Made me so angry that I have to rely on my husband do to this simple task for me! I miss my independence so much! I then thought about so many other things that C-PTSD has stolen from me, like my coping skills. i was once very strong, but now any little thing can frazzle me. Writing has become very hard for me, because my focus absolutely stinks. Reading, which was always my favorite pass time, is now a burden because my brain gets easily overwhelmed when I look at the pages in a book. I can’t tell you the last time I had a restful night’s sleep that wasn’t interrupted by nightmares or waking up with anxiety attacks, & yes, this happens even with sleeping pills. I’m sick of the constant anxiety, depression, forgetfulness & mood swings too. We won’t even discuss how many perfectly fine days have been ruined by flashbacks out of the blue..
I realize I sound like I’m wallowing in self-pity, which is what so many ignorant people think C-PTSD is, but yanno something? I think it’s OK to have these moments of self-compassion sometimes, & even be angry about it. It’s NOT fair to be abused, let alone so badly & so frequently as to develop C-PTSD. It’s WRONG! And, it’s so maddening when you’re suffering through every single day while your abuser goes on with his or her life without a care about what they did to you. I know, God says vengeance is His, & I respect that by not trying to get revenge on anyone. That being said.. sometimes it’d be nice to see that person suffer a little, yanno?!? Not nice, not a good Christian attitude either, but I think it’s just normal to feel that way once in a while (& then ask God to forgive me later..). It’s also maddening when you are trying your absolute best just to survive, & someone comes along telling you to stop looking so depressed, shake it off, let it go, just think happy thoughts.. seriously, don’t you want to slap those people hard sometimes?? lol I actually chewed out my husband recently for telling me to do my best. He’d said it many times, & I felt like doing my best was never good enough for him. One day, i got angry & told him “the fact I’m out of bed today & I haven’t put a gun to my head should tell you I *am* doing my best!” He was shocked, but it finally clicked for him that even if it doesn’t look like it, I really am trying!
Does this describe you too? Do you have times like I’m having today where you are just hot mad at having C-PTSD? If so, doesn’t logic dictate this as normal behavior sometimes? C-PTSD is such a frustrating, depressing disorder! God reminded me of that, & understands my anger & frustration, just as He does yours. Please, don’t berate yourself for how you feel! Feelings can’t be helped- they just happen. It’s what you do with those feelings that matter.
How can you cope when these days happen? To start with, get those feelings out! Once I’m done writing this entry, I’m going to write in my journal or pray. Getting all the anger out I can in a safe manner. Writing is an awesome way to get out your anger & hurt if you don’t feel like praying. Or, you could beat up a pillow- that helps too. Talk to something as if it’s the person you’re angry with, maybe an empty chair in front of you.
Music can help too. Right now, I’m listening to 1980’s hair bands & heavy metal- some of my favorite music ever. What is your favorite genre of music? Well, crank it up!! Doesn’t matter if it’s heavy metal or classical- whatever makes you feel good! In fact, go for a drive with your music blaring if you can- it’s fun & therapeutic!
Be gentle & understanding with yourself. If you’re feeling angry, there is a reason for it! Don’t tell yourself to just get over it, stop feeling that way or even that you need to forgive the person who hurt you. Accept the fact it’s really OK to be angry sometimes! The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry- but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (MSG) See? Even God says it’s OK to get angry sometimes! Just don’t do anything bad with that anger, such as get revenge.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some really rough C-PTSD times lately. The last few days, it’s been a lot better, thankfully. Going through the rough times lately have gotten me to thinking. I realized I’ve changed a lot since May, 2012 when the C-PTSD became full blown, but I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago when I realized I’ve been berating myself rather than accepting myself or trying to discover who I am post-trauma.
There are plenty of books & online counselors on the topic of discovering your post trauma identity. Obviously there is a need for such knowledge- trauma certainly changes you, like it or not. I haven’t ready any of those books yet or spoken to a counselor, so I’m just starting to learn about & pray about this topic. I hope & pray these things I’ve learned so far will help you as they are starting to help me..
I’m seeing that I need to learn to accept the fact I have C-PTSD, & its ugly symptoms without judgment. I keep beating myself up about being so “weak” as to have C-PTSD. You see, I’ve always been very strong. In fact, when I had my first nervous breakdown at age 19, I went to work the next day. I was catatonic for 5 hours that night, had no sleep at all, yet went into work the next morning as if nothing happened. I survived awful abuse, then went on to school, & no one had any idea what had just happened to me. It seemed like nothing could affect me for long, until C-PTSD came along. Now? Let my kitchen sink clog up or me have any small change in my routine, & I’m in a state of panic. It’s beyond frustrating! I’m trying to remember some things. First, C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness- it’s a sign of having survived some pretty terrible traumas. Second, C-PTSD is a terrible, life-changing, even potentially life threatening disorder. It’s not something one can control, so its symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads, including the lack of ability to cope well with about anything, crying at the drop of a hat, anxiety attacks, etc. Third, I wouldn’t judge anyone else with C-PTSD. In fact, I have friends with it, & have not once thought they were weak, stupid, useless, etc., so I need to extend that same kindness to myself. Fourth, I need to take better care of myself when the symptoms flare up. It’s ok to take a day off to relax after a particularly nasty flashback, for example. And, I also need to be more aware of what makes my symptoms worse, what triggers I have, & be more understanding of myself regarding them. They’re a normal part of this disorder, & nothing to be ashamed of.
I need to accept the fact that trauma changes a person’s brain, especially repeated, ongoing trauma like I have experienced. Like it or not, it’s a fact. Basically, PTSD & C-PTSD are brain injuries. Brain injuries can make drastic changes in a person! I’ve become very forgetful, very emotional, moody & a lot of times I have trouble finding the right words I need. All are symptoms of C-PTSD & nothing to be ashamed of.
I need to accept changes that have happened to me since C-PTSD. I don’t laugh as easily as I once did. I still have a sense of humor, but I’m a lot more serious than I used to be. I’ve always been an avid bookworm, but now, reading a book overwhelms my brain very easily, which made me lose interest in reading. Reading on my tablet is easier, but I still can feel overwhelmed sometimes. I’ve lost most interest in my favorite hobbies- knitting & crocheting. Writing has become very difficult on most days for me. I don’t know it these things will ever come back. Hopefully they will, or maybe even be replaced by other interesting things that I can enjoy just as much.
I also need to accept the fact I need to ask God for help with the simple things much more often than I used to. Thankfully, God doesn’t mind helping, & in fact, wants to help. However, I still feel weird about asking Him to help me remember to do something or help in accomplishing something simple because I’ve forgotten how to do it. Thank God He is patient & understanding! He has not once made me feel as if I need to do something on my own or not bother Him with my silly requests.
I’m certain there is much more to add to this list, but so far this is what God’s been showing me about handling my post-trauma identity. I hope it helps you as well! xoxo
I read a very interesting quote, & it really hit home with me:
“There is a theme that runs through responses I receive from children of a narcissistic parent(s). The child is subjected to unbearable levels of ongoing abuse- scalding criticisms, withering humiliations in front of other family members & alone, routine secret physical beatings & other horrendous acts of brutality including psychological & literal abandonment. When the child lets family members know what is happening to him, this person is not believed. When the victim of a narcissist tells the truth about his dreadful pathological parent, he is not treated with kindness or understanding. The family is shocked; the victim is treated with disdain & often told he/she is the sick one or that this is all lies to get attention.” Linda Martinez-Lewi, PHD
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been treated this way, not only by those close to me (well, not close to me anymore obviously!), but even by therapists. When I told my high school guidance counselor about my mother spending so much time daily screaming at me, she said, “That doesn’t sound so bad..” I’ve also been told to let it go, get over it, work things out with my mother- it’s my responsibility, I need therapy, I use C-PTSD to get attention & more.
If you too are the adult child of a narcissist, I’m sure you can relate.
Hearing such cruel, invalidating statements is extremely painful. You feel abused all over again. It can be devastating to you & to the relationship you share with that person. One person I had loved dearly & was once close to said a few comments along the lines of I needed to just get over things. Her last comment actually destroyed the love I felt for her. I suddenly no longer cared for her. Not that I wished her bad- I simply felt nothing at all for her.
So how do you deal with these painful situations? Avoiding them would be best, but unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. Sometimes you can, because if you know a person well, you know that this person isn’t safe to discuss certain topics with. As a result, you avoid discussing those topics with that person. Then there are other times when you mention your narcissistic mother to someone who you expect to be supportive, yet they surprise you by invalidating your pain. Those times are the most painful, because you didn’t expect that response- you expected support & empathy.
When you are told to “get over it”, “you’re only making these things up to get attention,” etc., the first thing to do is to end this conversation before it goes further (hurting you more) however you deem appropriate. You can simply change the subject, walk away or hang up the phone. However you set this boundary, you’ll run the risk of angering the other person, so you need to be prepared for that unfair anger. (The person I mentioned whose comments destroyed my love for her? When we’d discussed the topic via email the last time, I told her I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but I wasn’t asking for her opinion on my life. After that, she didn’t speak to me for several months.) Hopefully the other person you’re having the problem with will simply respect your boundary instead, as many people do.
Once the conversation is done, as soon as you can, get alone with God. Tell Him how it made you feel, & let Him comfort you. Get your feelings out so they don’t end up pushed down inside of you, festering. That only hurts you! If you don’t feel comfortable telling God how you feel, journal about them. Or, write the person a letter that you never send, telling her off if that helps you feel better.
If you’re suddenly doubting yourself (am I really making too much out of things? That type of thought) because of what was said to you, ask God to tell you if you are. He will reassure you that you aren’t, which helps tremendously to give you a healthy perspective on what was said.
You also need to evaluate your relationship with this person. is she someone you’re close to? Do you have a good relationship other than her lack of understanding about your abusive mother? Then it is probably worth saving- just accept that your narcissistic mother isn’t a topic you two can discuss. Or, does this person criticize or invalidate you in other ways? (I don’t mean the healthy, constructive criticism we all need sometimes) Then this relationship may need to end. You’ve been treated badly enough in your life thanks to your narcissistic mother- why continue to tolerate being treated badly?
As I mentioned in this post, I recently realized that when the C-PTSD flares up, it seems like every single nasty, invalidating comment I’ve ever heard comes to mind. Those times are so painful! I tried to wait on it to pass when it happens, but that doesn’t always work so well. Sometimes it seems like the comments play over & over, like an old cassette tape stuck on repeat. So, what I do during those times is think of a specific comment said to me, for example, “that doesn’t sound so bad.” Then I think about the event that led the person to make the comment, & remember, it really WAS bad! It was horrible! Having someone tell you that you’re a horrible person hurts, but add in the fact that was my mother, & she was screaming it in my face? Yea, it was pretty bad.. if someone thinks it wasn’t, that person obviously has the problem!
I believe that some people simple aren’t able to grasp the hell that is living with narcissistic abuse. Maybe they come from loving families, & never had to face any type of abuse. As a result, they just can’t wrap their minds around the fact not all families are as good as theirs. Or, maybe they too came from a narcissistic parent, yet haven’t had the strength to face that, & continue living in the dysfunction instead. Or, in all honesty, narcissistic abuse sounds so far fetched! Sometimes the things narcissists do sound completely made up, they just are that “out there.” If I wouldn’t have seen the things my mother did to me, I’m not sure I would believe anyone was capable of such acts either! Maybe some people can’t believe another human being is capable of doing such things, especially to her own child. Whatever the reason, that does not give them the right to invalidate your pain! Narcissistic abuse is a horrible thing to endure. Its damage can be lifelong & extremely painful. Don’t let anyone convince you that it was “no big deal” or that there’s something wrong with you for how you feel after surviving such torture!
It’s been almost three years since almost all of the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifested in my life, but I’m still learning about them & how to manage them. It’s a daily battle.
This past week has been a rough one. I’m not sure why, but the C-PTSD has been flaring up really badly. Nothing happened to trigger it, although I did have a flashback a few days into this flare. I haven’t discussed what’s happening much with anyone, not even my husband. For one thing, when it flares up, I need to get a grasp on what is happening. My thinking changes so much, & sometimes it takes a lot for me to recognize it’s the disorder, not me thinking that. For example, I’ve been ashamed of this flare up. I’ve been feeling weak & angry at myself for being so weak. Normally, I accept C-PTSD as the reaction to some very bad things that I’ve been through, but flare ups change that in me.
This morning, I was in an especially foul mood, & my husband & I talked about it. I finally opened up to some of what has been going on with me this week He suggested that since I’ve promised to keep my blog real, that I write about it, & hopefully someone who reads this will benefit from it.
Reading about the symptoms of C-PTSD on clinical sounding websites & living them are two very different things. Reading about them, they sound bad enough, but living them? Yikes. And, you rarely see detailed descriptions of the more odd symptoms. I thought I’d share some of the symptoms you don’t read much (if anything) about that I’ve experienced this week, so if you too experience them, you’ll know you aren’t crazy!
Lately, I’ve had more nightmares than usual. Not even nightmares about traumatic events I’ve been through- nightmares about stupid things, such as an empty school bus parked beside my car catching fire. I knew I couldn’t move my car for some reason, & was afraid it was going to burn with the bus. Make any sense to you? Yea, me neither.. lol One night, I woke up every 15-30 minutes all night long, mostly from nightmares, most of which I didn’t even remember, but I woke up panicky. The few I did remember though had absolutely nothing to do with the traumas I’ve experienced. When I first read about C-PTSD, I assumed when it said nightmares happen, it was nightmares about the traumas. Not necessarily.. I have them too sometimes, but usually not. The nightmares are usually odd but disturbing.
My thinking has been extremely negative. I try to be positive yet realistic, but this week, that hasn’t happened. I’ve been beating myself up about anything & everything possible. I’m weak, stupid, cowardly, useless, ugly, nothing but a burden to my husband.. you get the idea. Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I used to do that all the time, but over the last probably 10-15 years or so, had gotten much better about not doing that. When the C-PTSD flares up, though, that old habit comes back with a vengeance.
I feel like I’ve remembered every single time someone has told me something invalidating about having C-PTSD & it hurts. I’ve thought of so many times when people have told me to “get over it,” “stop using C-PTSD to get pity/attention,” “stop living in the past”, “stop being so negative- you need to be more positive.” or even simply showed they don’t care when the symptoms are bothering me. Why these stupid comments pop into my mind, I have no idea..
My thinking has been very sluggish. I haven’t caught on to hubby’s jokes, which is very abnormal for me since we share the same warped sense of humor. Following a simple TV show or movie has been rather difficult too. And, I encountered a narcissist, yet failed to recognize the signs I normally wouldn’t have missed. Once they were pointed out to me is when I caught on. UGH!
I’ve been getting very angry very easily. It seems like anything & everything pushes my buttons. While trying to put fresh sheets on my bed this morning, I got mad at one of my cats for getting in my way. WHY?! She does this every single time I change sheets. It’s nothing new. But for some reason this morning, this made me so angry. I didn’t scold her, since this is a normal part of her routine, but I really wanted to for a minute there.
I’ve been extremely depressed. I’ve always battled depression, & for years, I was fortunate enough to find ways to keep it under control. I even wrote a book about that, called, “Baptism Of Joy.” My first book! Then when the C-PTSD kicked in in May, 2012, that changed. While I’m not depressed all of the time, I once again spend quite a bit of time depressed, & this time, the usual things that once helped me to feel better don’t work nearly so often.
I’ve also been extremely anxious & unable to pinpoint why exactly. Above & beyond the normal anxiety & hyper-vigilance that come with C-PTSD, I mean. I’ve woken up having panic attacks several times lately. Not a nice way to wake up!
I’ve wondered if I’m going crazy. Definitely not a nice way to feel, especially since I spent so much time feeling this way when I was growing up with my mother who often told me “you need help” (implying I was in need of psychological help, yet she wouldn’t take me to a therapist) & with an ex-husband who was very good at gaslighting.
I’m dissociating a lot more than normal. I feel so spacey most of the time. This also means I have very little focus. Writing in this blog has been a very big challenge this week! Honestly, when I’ve written my entries, I’ve been very unsure about how they sounded, then published them, just praying they made sense.
To try to manage these symptoms,I’ve been spending time listening to music I love, which means many songs I grew up with in the 70’s-80’s, some country & some classic & hard rock. I’ve also been spending time with God, not even necessarily praying- just sitting in His presence. It’s very restorative & grounding.
C-PTSD is an absolutely evil, devastating disorder. If you live with it too, I understand what you’re going through! You may or may not have the odd symptoms I’ve been experiencing this week (I pray you don’t!), but if you do, please know you’re not alone, nor are you crazy! In spite of how it feels, you are a normal person who had a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of trauma! That is what C-PTSD is- a normal response to an abnormal amount of trauma. It isn’t a sign of weakness, low intelligence, flaws in one’s character, or poor thinking such as living in the past or being negative.
Since I’ve said I’ll keep this blog real & not sugarcoat things, I thought I should share this.
As I’ve said, lately I’ve been feeling like I need to write for those who either can’t or won’t go no contact with their narcissistic mothers. I’ve been trying to be encouraging to those of you in that situation, & I firmly believe in what I’ve been saying. But, this doesn’t mean bad times don’t happen sometimes.
Although things have been going quite well with my parents, Monday I was hurt by both of them. It was my father’s birthday, so I wanted to call to wish him a happy birthday. My mother answered the phone, & we talked for a while. She seems to be trying to be nicer to me, I think because she realizes I’m pulling away as I always do when she gets nasty. Even so, she still hurt me by talking with compassion & concern about a problem someone she knows has. Sadly, I’ve had the same problem for years now, & she doesn’t even care. In fact, she obviously didn’t remember I have this problem.
Then, I spoke with my father. He can be very pessimistic. In fact, if you saw the movie, “Kindergarten Cop”, you may remember the little boy who, when his teacher said he had a headache, replied with, “It could be a tumor.” That is who my father reminds me of sometimes- he can find a possible negative in most any situation. He reminded me of my first car that is sitting in my backyard, waiting on restoration, & getting rustier by the day. *sigh* He told me I should sell her, which isn’t happening. She’ll be restored somehow, & frankly, what business is this of his, anyway??
Unfortunately when you’re in a relationship with your narcissistic parents, times like this happen. While the things I’ve written about definitely will help you, they won’t make everything perfect. Bad times still will happen. Please don’t be discouraged by these times. They are going to happen. They can’t be avoided 100%, unfortunately.
And, if you think about it, you’ll realize you are handling those bad times better. I did. I was hurt, of course, but I wasn’t devastated by Monday’s call. The suggestions I’ve been making & putting into practice for myself- boundaries, looking for the positive, improving self-esteem & leaning on God most of all- have helped me a LOT. I have no doubt they’ll help you as well.
I know being in a relationship with a narcissist isn’t easy, especially when everyone tells you to just walk away. But, if this is where you feel you need to be at least for now, or you are unable to walk away, please be encouraged. God will enable you to do what you need to do to protect your mental health!