Tag Archives: care
Lately my hormones are all over the place. In my late 40’s, I know it’s normal, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. I griped some to my husband about it one day recently, which I almost never do. Usually I try to hide any physical or mental problems from him. He’s got enough to deal with plus although I’ve improved, I’m still not overly comfortable admitting when I feel under the weather.
Anyway, after listening to me gripe, he said, “Can I ask you something? Why do you hate your body so much?” I was surprised by the question & immediately thought of many things. My looks have always been the main thing my mother & ex husband insulted about me, so I’ve always felt ugly thanks to their cruel words & wished I looked differently. I have pain from arthritis, & now out of whack hormones. I’ve also gotten taller & just bigger from the birth control I’ve been on for years. Then there are the symptoms I developed after Carbon Monoxide poisoning in 2015. It seemed at the moment like I had plenty of things to hate about my body.
Then, later on that afternoon, I wasn’t even thinking about this conversation when suddenly it popped into my mind out of the blue & I realized something… I blame my body for the actions of other people, as well as hating it for doing normal things! How ridiculous is that?!
All of this has caused me a great deal of shame over my life. Thanks to the constant criticism of how I look, I’ve always been very ashamed of my looks & felt incredibly ugly & disgusting. I’ve been ashamed of getting arthritis when I was only 31 years old because it’s abnormal. Truth be told, it’s probably a direct result of living with narcissistic abuse since it often causes inflammatory disorders. The symptoms from the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning & crazy hormones? Both are very normal & nothing to be ashamed of.
After some prayer, I think all of my faulty thinking stems from being raised the way I was. My mother criticized everything about my looks my entire life, I assume because I look like my father’s mother & not her side of the family. No doubt that was a disappointment to her. In fact, she probably felt betrayed by that as most narcissists would. As a result, I grew up hating everything about my looks, & not believing anyone who said I was pretty. My ex husband later reinforced this in me by being so critical.
Then there was sickness. Anytime I was sick or injured as a child was nothing but an inconvenience to my mother. She obviously resented taking care of me. As an adult, she didn’t believe me when something was wrong unless it was very obvious (the flu, a broken toe that was black & blue, etc). This taught me that I was wrong to be sick or injured. I’ve actually felt like my body has betrayed me by being sick or injured when nothing could be further from the truth. It also had me not believing my own symptoms, thinking I must be faking them or at least exaggerating things.
When I realized all of this, I thought there may be others who are going through the same thing, so I figured I should share it.
If you feel the same way, then know you’re not alone. We can change this dysfunctional thinking.
Start by praying about it. Ask God to show you the truth & ask Him for help healing from it.
I believe that it’s important to get to the root of problems if you wish to heal completely, so to do that, I ask God what is the root of this issue? Sometimes, He’ll bring a specific memory to my mind. Other times, several memories come to mind.
Once you see the root cause of your false belief, aside from asking God for more help, also look at the situation objectively. When you look at it as an outsider rather than a victim, you can see just how evil your abuser is & how wrong the things they taught you were.
Also, look at yourself objectively not through the eyes of someone trained to self hate through narcissistic abuse. Psalm 139:14 says that we are fearfully & wonderfully made. Rather than hating your body, consider that verse. God made you the way you are for a reason, & it is a good reason! Consider the good things about your body- how you look & the things you can do. Just because someone told you that you’re ugly or didn’t care when you were sick or injured doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. What it does mean is that the person who said such things to you has some serious problems!
Compassion fatigue is a little discussed phenomenon. It happens when someone continually puts other people’s needs first while ignoring their own, & eventually burns out. It can happen with caregivers, people in helping professions such as nursing or teachers, & also with adult children of narcissists.
Adult children of narcissists learn early in life to ignore their own needs & put their parents’ needs ahead of their own. Their parents demand it & doing so means the child has less of a chance of facing a narcissistic rage, so it becomes a means of survival. Sadly, this sets in place a pattern of behavior that often lasts into adulthood. A lifetime of ignoring your own needs for the needs of others can take a toll, both physically & mentally.
Some signs of compassion fatigue are as follows:
- Being irritable. Anyone who is tired can be irritable. But, when you are beyond tired, irritability is pretty much a given. Little things that normally wouldn’t bother you suddenly can seem like a huge crisis.
- Anxiety is also common. Being too tired can make a person feel “off.” When that person is off, anxiety is more likely to happen, especially if the person in question already has issues with anxiety.
- Lacking motivation. How can a person be motivated when they are exhausted & sick of doing for everyone else?
- Trouble with sleeping can happen too. Have you ever heard the phrase “too tired to sleep”? It does happen. You may find yourself unable to sleep when normally you don’t have that problem. You also may wake up frequently during the night or have unusual dreams or nightmares that disrupt your sleep.
- Depression is also a common problem. Some people are very sensitive to others, so when they need our help often, we can get depressed. We feel badly for them because they can’t do things on their own, or the problems they tell us about make us sad for them.
- A big red flag to compassion fatigue is feeling numb. When you hear of someone having a serious problem, you simply feel nothing. You just don’t care, even if the person with the problem is someone you love dearly. This numbness can happen when you have cared too much for too long.
- Headaches can happen as well. If you never had migraines, they may start. At the very least, chances are your head may ache on a regular basis even if you never suffered with frequent headaches before
If you can relate to any of these signs, then it’s time for you to take a break. You need time to reevaluate your situation as well as to relax.
If at all possible, take some time to yourself & pray. Tell God how you feel, ask Him to show you what to do in your situation & then listen to what He tells you to do. He may not tell you obviously by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord”. It may be much more subtle such as you suddenly getting the urge to resume a hobby you once enjoyed or spending time with your closest friend that you haven’t seen in a few months. Whatever you feel you should do, then do it! It WILL help you!
Also do things that help you feel nurtured & comforted. Indulge in herbal teas, buy yourself that new CD you’ve been wanting or snuggle up in a soft blanket & watch Netflix all day. Little things like that can have a surprisingly positive affect on your emotional state.
Take a break if at all possible & do it frequently. Everyone needs breaks & there is no shame in it. And, while you take that break, refuse to think at all about what is causing this compassion fatigue.
If you’re a caregiver, arrange for help. Tell your family you need help a couple of days per week or whatever you need. If they refuse to help, look into professional in home care. Contact your local Department Of Aging or Social Services. They may be able to help you or at least point you in the right direction. Local churches also may be of some assistance, whether or not you’re a member. Also, don’t forget the library. Libraries are truly a wealth of information. My local library has a lot of very helpful pamphlets right inside the front door, & many of them pertain to caregiving.
Balance is the key to avoiding compassion fatigue. It may feel strange & hard at first, but you need to set reasonable boundaries. You have the right to say no sometimes & to set limits on what you do for others. After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you help others?
As someone who has been through a lot of narcissistic abuse, like many others, I have had to get to know the real me. My parents told me who I was my entire life until our relationship ended, & sadly, I believed them for far too long. I assumed they were right- I was stupid, ugly, fat, a horrible disappointment, wasn’t allowed to have any boundaries, was responsible for fixing other people’s problems, was the reason for any problem in any relationship I had, the world’s worst pet parent & more.
In the last few years, I have gotten very serious about dumping their cruel ideas & getting to know who God made me to be. I hadn’t realized it until today, but in that process, I haven’t forgotten who my parents told me to be. Instead, I still remember it, but I no longer believe it. I choose to believe what God says about me rather than their cruel & abusive words.
I think remembering what they say is important, at least it is for me, so I’m going to guess it may be for some of you as well. It’s a good reminder just how abusive & dysfunctional my parents truly are. That helps me to stay no contact even when the flying monkeys come out. It also reminds me of how long I tolerated such abuse, how I refuse to tolerate that anymore & how much healing I’ve done in the last few years.
Remembering their words also helps me to realize how little they actually knew me. Typical of narcissists, my parents never took the time to get to know me. I am absolutely nothing like what they say I am & never have been. One example is when I was 17 & my mother accused me of having sex with my entire high school football team. I’ve always seen sex as something to be shared with someone special, & never was promiscuous. For her to think I was capable of something like that is absolutely insane. Just more proof of how little she knew me to believe I was capable of something like that. And, if someone knows me so little, then why should I take their opinions of me seriously? You only listen to the opinions of someone who knows something about a matter, right? Would you ask an artist how to fix that pinging sound your engine makes? No- you’d ask a mechanic. So why would you give any credence to the words of someone who knows nothing about you?
Also, criticisms from a narcissist are often nothing but projection. They have nothing to do with you & everything to do with the narcissist. By accusing you of doing things that she actually does, it allows her to be upset about that flaw, to vent her anger or disgust, while accepting no personal responsibility about it or making appropriate changes. If those criticisms aren’t about you, why would you hold onto them, & think they are?
If you think it may help you to remember what your narcissistic parent has said about you as it has me, then give it a try. Think about what they said about you. Or maybe write them down since writing often brings clarity that speaking doesn’t. Chances are, you’ll see how incredibly foolish what was said about you was. Of course it hurt, but it was also foolish. You’ll also see how untrue it was. And, once you realize those were all lies, you can stop believing them & get to know yourself as the wonderful person God made you to be. xoxo
When raised by narcissistic parents, we often feel obligated to prioritize not hurting the feelings of other people, primarily our parents. It is so important, in fact, that we will hurt ourselves rather than hurt them or anyone else.
While it’s certainly a good thing to be concerned with the feelings of others, being so concerned over others that you’re willing to hurt yourself too out of balance.
Dear Reader, if you want to move forward with healing after being abused, you have to think about your feelings more than other people’s, in particular, more than your abusers.
I’m not saying turn into a selfish jerk who cares nothing for anyone but themselves, of course. I am saying though, that you need to consider your own feelings. If you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic parents, you don’t have to go to that big holiday dinner if you don’t feel up to it. Just because your parents want you there doesn’t mean you must do what they want! Or, if you talk publicly about what your narcissistic ex did, there is nothing wrong with that. Sure, it may upset that person, but the story is yours as well- you have nothing to be ashamed of for sharing it, & it may help someone else. As the Anne Lamott quote goes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
There is another reason to avoid putting the feelings of others above your own. Doing so with abusive people means you are part of the problem. It allows them to continue abusing with no fear of consequences. Doing whatever it takes to avoid upsetting them does nothing to stop them from being abusers. While no one can stop another person from abusing, one can create circumstances by having good boundaries that (hopefully!) will make them uncomfortable enough to want to change. Just because narcissists rarely change doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set those boundaries.
Dear Reader, remember, your feelings are just as important, just as valid, as anyone’s. There is no good reason to think otherwise. The only reason you do think otherwise is because an incredibly dysfunctional, abusive person made you think that way. Today, make a decision to get rid of that awful, flawed belief. Remind yourself that you have value! Ask God to tell you what He thinks of you, then listen for the response. He knows you have great value! After all Jesus died for you- He wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t worth it.
I noticed something interest in the last few hours, & I thought I’d share it with you today, Dear Readers.
As many of you know, in 2015, I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. In spite of all the time that’s passed, like many others who have survived it, I still live with many symptoms. They get better or worse, but they’re still there. All the time. If this post sounds “off”, I apologize- thinking clearly isn’t my strong point at the moment because that’s part of it when symptoms flare up. I just wanted to write this out before I forgot everything I wanted to say.
So, bringing us to what I noticed…
I noticed when I’m way too stressed or going through an exceptionally hard time, something happens to make the symptoms get to the point of me needing to rest, to take time off, because I can’t do anything else.
Lately, I’ve been having a rough time with repressed memories & flashbacks as I mentioned previously. As if that wasn’t tough enough, at the time of me writing this, it was 1 year ago today that I lost one of my kitties & that anniversary is making me sad. I have a knack for remembering dates & dates like this always are very hard for me, even days before.
Yesterday evening, my husband was working on my car. I took a shower while he was doing this. While in there, I began to feel weird (headache, dizzy, couldn’t think clearly, body aches, shaking, etc.), but thought nothing of it. When I got out, I came into the living room & heard my car running. I suddenly knew why I felt so yukky & didn’t think anything of it- carbon monoxide removes my ability to realize if I feel bad, something is wrong. I quickly found my husband & ask him to move my car away from the house while she’s running because the exhaust was sickening me. He did, but the damage was already done. Last night & today, I’ve felt horrible. Today, I’m resting because there’s nothing else I can do. Physically & mentally, I’m a whipped pup.
Since I’m finally thinking a little clearer today, I realized this sort of thing happens during especially difficult times.
My point of all this? I realized that although God didn’t give me my health problems, He has been using them to help me.
My mother has called me lazy ever since I can remember. As a result, I’ve always worked hard. Too hard- I rarely took time to relax. Self-care has been a huge struggle for me, as I feel on some dysfunctional level that it’s selfish & wrong to take care of myself. Since I’ve even ignored God’s promptings that I need to take care of myself & relax sometimes, I firmly believe God allowed getting sick to happen because now, there are times when I have no choice but to relax & rest.
Please, Dear Reader, learn from my mistakes!! I know so many adult children of narcissistic parents who ignore their mental & physical health because they don’t want to feel selfish or lazy by taking care of themselves as I have. This is so wrong!! Even God rests!
Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (NIV)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with resting! Self-care is vital to being healthy, physically & mentally, & frequent rest is a part of that. I know shutting off the internal, critical voice calling you lazy or selfish is hard, but please try to do it for your own sake before you end up sick like I have. I should’ve listened to God’s promptings years ago, but I kept ignoring them. As a result, I believe God had no other choice but to allow this to happen to force me to rest before I killed myself by neglecting my needs. I wouldn’t wish this on you, so please, make appropriate changes in your life. You have every right to take care of yourself.
At the time of me writing this post, it’s just over a month since my sweet tabby cat, Weeble passed away suddenly at 16. She was the oldest member of our family, & deeply loved & respected by the other furkids.
Since her passing, I haven’t been able to wash the linens on the guest bed where she & I spent her last 30 hours as she fought so hard for her life. Aside from the obvious fact that grief takes a lot out of you & I haven’t had much energy, the other cats have spent time on that bed quite a bit since her passing. Chester in particular naps often in the very spot where she passed away.
I think it was 2 days after her death that I found him here, & asked him “Are you missing Weeble?” He meowed a soft, mournful meow, & pulled the covers close to him. It broke my heart. Grieving is hard enough but the hardest part is watching the furbabies hurting too & not being able to do anything to help them feel better.
Animals feel deeply. Moreso than many humans I’ve known. Please remember that about your pets. They hurt when another animal in your home dies too, so don’t forget to give them extra love & comfort during this trying time. It will help both of you to feel better.
And, keep their feelings in mind at other times too! They can be hurt just as easily as a human can if someone snaps at them after a bad day or ignores them for the TV. Criticisms hurt them too. Don’t forget, animals understand the words you say, not just the tone of your voice. If you call your dog fat or your cat lazy, they know exactly what you mean, & it makes them feel as badly as it would you if someone called you fat or lazy. (This topic has been the cause of many arguments with my narcissistic mother, as she thinks it’s acceptable to come into my home & tell my pets who is too fat, too skinny, too whatever. It took over 20 years to get her to stop that awful behavior.) Calling your pet beautiful, smart, etc. will have a very positive effect too, just as it would if someone complemented you. I also tell my furkids how proud I am of them, how smart & caring they are. I praise them frequently & they respond to it well. Do the same with your pets, & see if they don’t love the praise!
One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that my furkids love to be prayed for. Pretty Boy was diagnosed with liver carcinoma at the end of 2013. The vet said he only had a short time left. I knew the vet was right- not only was she a very good, but she showed me the bloodwork results. He also had lost 2 pounds- a fair amount of weight for a cat. His side where his liver is also felt somewhat enlarged, which the vet said was his liver. She saw it on an ultrasound. I prayed for him constantly, & every time I did, Pretty Boy would purr the entire time. I even asked him before I prayed if he wanted me to pray for him, & many times, he would rub on me or headbonk me. The best part of this is when he went back to the vet the following year, there was no sign of the liver carcinoma! No swelling, he had gained back the 2 pounds he lost, & his bloodwork was fine. In fact, the vet said “it was perfect.”
Just please remember, your furkids are people too! Treat them with the love & respect they deserve, & talk to them with love. When you must correct them, do so gently & with respect. They will respond very well when you do this!
I’ve always been a strong person. In fact, the night of my first nervous breakdown, thanks to my mother’s verbal attack, I didn’t sleep at all, then went to work the following morning. That’s pretty strong!
As the years have passed, I developed C-PTSD that left me much less able to cope. Three years after that, I got a brain injury from passing out from carbon monoxide & hitting my head. The TBI changed me a great deal. One of those changes is I’m no longer the strong chick I once was. I get overwhelmed by the tiniest things, such as having to change my daily routine. And, if I’m already stressed, it gets even worse.
I’m still getting used to not being strong anymore. I’ve noticed though, that people around me haven’t seemed to notice the change. People still think I’m able to handle pretty much anything which isn’t even close to reality.
When you’re a strong person, people tend to forget that you need help or need a break sometimes, too. Even if you haven’t changed like I have, you still need help or a break. Everyone does, but often people forget that when they are accustomed to relying on you.
If you are in this position, then it’s time for a change. No one, no matter how strong, can keep going indefinitely. Everyone needs help sometimes, & there is no shame in asking for that help. It’s time to start telling people you need a break or asking for help. I know it’s hard to do when you aren’t used to doing it, so don’t forget to ask God to help you in this area!
Ask God also to help you to have & enforce good boundaries. Don’t keep pushing yourself when you’re exhausted. You have the right to take care of your physical & mental health!
Remember, “no” can be a very good word sometimes. If people look to you for help or support constantly, they aren’t looking to God. He is where they should be looking, not you. God should be that person’s everything, not you!
One thing that helps me a lot is alone time. If you’re an introvert too, then be sure to tell people you need time alone to recharge. Some extroverts don’t like to hear that, but that isn’t your problem. Make sure they understand that it’s not them- alone time makes you feel like being around others makes them feel. Take the alone time you need. Or, if you’re an extrovert, then plan fun times with good friends or go to parties so you can recharge.
Remember, just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you need to be strong 24/7/365. Everyone needs breaks & help sometimes. There is no shame in that! Besides, taking care of yourself also means you’ll be more able to help others when they do need you!
One thing that is very common among those who have experienced narcissistic abuse at the hands of a parent is an extremely overdeveloped sense of responsibility.
Narcissistic parents are extremely demanding of their children. They expect their child to please them, no matter what. The child must take care of the narcissistic mother emotionally (emotional incest). The child must anticipate her narcissistic mother’s every whim, preferably even before she knows she has the whim, & meet it perfectly. If she doesn’t, the mother believes she has every right to rage at her child. This scenario makes the child extremely responsible. Not only for her narcissistic mother, but for anyone in her life.
Thank God for helping me, because I was absolutely terrible in this area. If someone was upset & I knew it, I thought it was my responsibility to make that person happy. If the person had a need or want, it was my responsibility to meet it, even if they could take care of it themselves. This was an awful way to live. So much pressure! I thank God for getting me away from that.
Learning about boundaries is what helped me the most. Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend’s book “Boundaries” literally changed my life. Boundaries show you where you end & others begin, which helps you to know what you are & are not responsible for. Once you know that information, you realize it is truly NOT your responsibility to do certain things. It takes a great deal of the burden off of you.
Leaning on God is a tremendous help too. Ask Him to show you what to do, then wait for the knowledge that you should or should not help that person & how to go about it. He truly will guide you & enable you not to feel guilty if He doesn’t want you to help someone for whatever reason. God does not want you to suffer with feeling you have to fix everyone.
Much information I’ve read about Alzheimer’s stresses the importance of treating the patient with respect. They are more frustrated than you because they can’t remember things or function like they once did, & your lack of respect will upset them even more. One article gave a very valuable tip for the caregivers that is also extremely useful for dealing with difficult people in general. Although I have mentioned it before, I want to stress it again because I believe it is extremely valuable.
Rather than reacting out of emotion, take a moment to take a deep breath, think, then respond instead.
Reacting is done without thinking while responding requires thought. Reacting causes stress & disagreements, where responding can avoid them. No matter how functional or dysfunctional your relationship, or whether or not the other person has an awful illness like Alzheimer’s, responding is always better than reacting.
As I’ve mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July of last year. Also as I’ve mentioned before, Alzheimer’s & dementia exacerbate narcissism in a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dealing with him has become very difficult sometimes even though the disease hasn’t progressed too badly yet. I have found the pause to take a deep breath tactic very useful for dealing with him. As an added bonus, I learned it’s also useful in dealing with my narcissistic mother.
Deep breathing is relaxing, plus the pause gives you a moment to calm down your anger. Both really help in dealing with narcissists!
This technique also helps me to deal with the frustration of flaring symptoms that accompany C-PTSD like having trouble finding the right words. The brief pause often means the word comes to me when it wouldn’t during moments of frustration. It also can help to trigger remembering something that was lost a moment before.
It also helps my marriage. Thanks to the C-PTSD & a brain injury, I can be very moody & irritable. Unfortunately there are times I have snapped at my husband for no reason, but I have found this technique helps to cut back on those times a lot. If we’re talking while I am irritable, I stop & take a deep breath. It helps me to have more control, & not snap at my poor husband.
No matter the status of your relationships or your mental health, I hope you will consider what I have said & begin to employ this technique. It really can be helpful in even the most challenging of relationships!
Like I said in my last post, I realized how incredibly verbally abusive I am to myself. My narcissistic mother has always been extremely critical of me, as have the other narcissists I’ve been in relationship with. As a result, I copied their behavior & became very critical of myself. Unfortunately I think this is quite normal for survivors of narcissistic abuse.
As I said, I was berating myself a few days ago for my anxiety levels being so high, even though it’s a normal part of C-PTSD. In fact, many other times, I have told myself I’m stupid, weak & a failure for having C-PTSD. I have said similar things to myself for other reasons, such as for being depressed after losing someone I love or even being sick.
Does this type of self-talk sound familiar to you? If so, then like me, you need to put a stop to it! This kind of talk is abusive! It is basically continuing the verbal abuse of your narcissistic mother! Why do that?! Didn’t she do it enough?!
No one deserves such vicious abuse, but especially from yourself. Absolutely nothing good comes from it! Only bad. This sort of verbal abuse devastates & can destroy your self-esteem. It adds to a root of toxic shame.
I realize it’s probably such a habit, you do it without even noticing. That’s how it’s been with me. I’ve noticed it some times, but never thought much about it until the other night. If you haven’t really paid attention to your own self talk like me, then I urge you to start now. And, if you discover your self talk is bad as mine, then it’s time to start showing yourself some compassion for a change.
I’m sure making changes in self talk isn’t easy. It’s just something you’ve always done, talk to yourself that way. Even so, I think paying attention to it & changing the negative words into more accepting ones is doable. It seems to me it should be a matter of quitting a bad habit & turning it into a good one by showing yourself the same understanding & compassion you show other people. It will require focus & patience with yourself.
Also, ask God for help as well. He will help! He always does!
Do you have other ideas? If so, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to post them in the comments section or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Many of us who have been abused in some way have learned that other people, even strangers, like talking to us. I’ve had people in the grocery store or laundromat strike up a conversation & tell me their entire life stories. (One lady caught me twice in two different stores about six months apart- she apparently didn’t remember me from the first time) It’s strange to say the least, but I think it’s because some people are so desperate for some compassion, they’ll try to find it in a stranger.
Since many of you are also introverts like me, I know this can be uncomfortable. You probably want to just duck into a place, do what you came to do & leave quickly with minimal human interaction. (I even use the self-checkout lanes to eliminate interaction with one more person.) When a person decides to chit-chat, it can be annoying, especially if you’re in a rush.
I have begun to think a bit differently about this “annoyance.” I believe when this sort of thing happens, it is God putting you in a place to be a blessing to someone. Just listening to someone talk for a little while may make their day better or lighten the burden of the problem they discussed with you. Why not let the person talk for a while?
One evening recently, I saw my parents. I wasn’t in a good mood after leaving them. On the way home, I went by the post office to mail something out after hours yesterday using the machine in the lobby rather than dealing with people during regular business hours. A lady came in & dropped off a package while I was at the machine. Out of the blue, she told me about her day at work, which sounded very frustrating. The conversation lasted maybe five minutes, but it seemed to help her mood a bit. It also helped mine some because I had a distraction from my own situation for a few minutes. It was a small one, but I think a blessing for both her & I. And, as I’m writing, I also remembered to pray for her- I may not know her needs, but God does.
The next time you are in that somewhat awkward position of listening to a stranger, then why not just go with it for a while? You may be helping that person more than you know. You might even help yourself.
One thing I learned in the relationship with the narcissists in my life, in particular my mother, is that I am nothing but a screw up. My writing was never taken seriously. In fact, my mother told me once it’s “nothing but a waste of time.” She told my father that “no one wants to read that trash I write.” I’ve also heard comments like all I do is play on the computer all day, & even been laughed at when I mention working (as if being an author isn’t a job). I always heard, too, how I never did enough for anyone, & am too selfish. My mother used to tell me that to have a friend, I had to be one, & by that she meant do anything for others & let them use me. I had so-called friends who would get very angry with me if I wasn’t available when they wanted me to be or do whatever they wanted me to do. These narcissists also always made sure I knew that I was wrong because my personality was very different than theirs, I liked things they didn’t like or I disliked things they liked. They liked to either say outright or imply that I was crazy for such things. My mother’s favorite phrase was, “You need help” (implying I was in need of psychiatric help) accompanied by a pitying look. She even threatened to have me committed many times. (Interestingly, she never once sought counseling for me, so started counseling on my own at 17).
All of these things were devastating to my self-esteem. I’ve wasted so much time thinking I was a complete & utter failure in every possible way- a terrible friend. awful girlfriend then wife, lousy pet mom, & even a lousy author. Depressing doesn’t describe how this felt. But, I’m sure I needn’t tell you this if you too have been subjected to narcissistic abuse. You know all too well how this feels.
There is good news though! You can be healed from this pain & dysfunctional way of thinking! Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” And, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV)
God’s word is very true! I gave my life to Jesus in February, 1996, & from that moment, I began to change & heal. God has been healing me from all the abuse in my life since then, & definitely has made me a new person. The wounded old me who was convinced she was crazy, worthless, stupid, & more is long gone. Thanks to God, I am healing daily, & have no doubt I’ll never return to that miserable, dysfunctional mess I once was. I may not be totally free of low self-esteem, but it is now much better than it once was & continues to improve.
God can do the same for you. All you have to do is trust Him to take care of you, & He will. He loves you so much & wants to bless you. He wants you happy & peaceful. He wants to heal you from the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse. He certainly has done so for me. Sure, I still have a long way to go, but I also was extremely damaged. God, being the gentle, loving Father He is, heals me little by little, as I am able to handle it. He’ll do that for you as well- only give you what you can handle, as you can handle it.
Are you willing today to claim God’s promises for your healing?
When dealing with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realistic expectations are extremely important for the sake of your mental health. They will help you not to be constantly disappointed or hurt. They also will help you to be prepared for whatever may come, because you understand that this is how the narcissist in your life acts.
For many adult children of narcissistic parents, adjusting their expectations to be realistic is very hard. It’s hard not to hope that this will be the time things are different, the one time that Mom actually cares about me or doesn’t insult my husband. It’s also hard to grasp that normal things- such as treating your child with basic respect- are things that no narcissistic parent wants to do.
If you feel that way about your narcissistic mother, you’re perfectly normal. However, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider taking care of your mental health, your peace & joy, & lowering your expectations of your narcissistic mother.
Realistic expectations of narcissists are very different than those of other people. Most people, you are safe in assuming that they will have some level of empathy, think of people other than themselves & not viciously criticize anything they wish to about you. Not so with narcissists. Let’s look at some features of a narcissist:
- They are constantly looking for narcissistic supply- anything that helps boost their self-esteem.
- They are incredibly entitled- they feel as if they deserve anything they want, even if it means hurting others (yes, even their own family) to get it.
- They have absolutely no empathy- never will a narcissist genuinely understand or care about your pain. Never.
- Narcissists are excellent manipulators- they read people very well to find out their vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for personal gain.
- Narcissists don’t care how much they hurt you, destroy your self-esteem or even destroy your sanity as long as they get what they want from you.
These few qualities alone mean you cannot deal with any narcissist as you would a normal person if you wish to survive this relationship with your mental health in tact. Keeping realistic expectations of the narcissist will help you tremendously.
So what are realistic expectations of a narcissist? Basically, have no expectations. Never expect to be able to run to your narcissistic mother with your problems without her criticizing or mocking you. Never expect her to be able to genuinely celebrate your victories either. She may try to take credit for what you have done, ignore it completely or trivialize it.
What you can expect from most narcissistic mothers-
- She will criticize everything about you without mercy. I don’t mean constructive criticism- I mean mocking, insulting, saying cruel things that can bring you to tears.
- Gaslighting. Lots & lots of gaslighting & mind games.
- Conversations will be all about her. If you try to mention something about yourself, she’ll find a way to bring the conversation back to her.
- No empathy. It doesn’t matter if you broke a nail or are getting a divorce- your narcissistic mother will treat any problem you have exactly the same way. She won’t care.
- Her trying to destroy any joy you have over something good that has happened to you.
- Demands or hints rather than requests. She thinks she deserves your complete obedience.
Of course, each narcissist is a bit different, so I’m sure you can add to this list.
The good thing though is that if you keep in mind that your narcissistic mother is going to do these things, it will help you tremendously. You won’t be caught off guard by her outrageous behavior. You also can plan ahead of time how you wish to handle her outrageous behavior. You won’t be so hurt because you know it’s coming.
And, if you know what to expect, when your narcissistic mother calls or comes by, you can decide whether or not you can handle her on that particular day before you pick up the phone or answer the door.
Lastly, having these realistic expectations of your narcissistic mother also will help you to remember what kind of person she is, which will help you to remember that she has problems. You aren’t the terrible person she claims you are!
My mother recently ended her silent treatment. She barely spoke to me for several months, & as usual, I don’t know why.
It was an interesting conversation to say the least. Among things she said, she asked me if my ex husband ever hit me & I said he did, once. She never asked how badly I was hurt, just said if she would’ve known she would’ve called a lawyer. (*sigh* She did know- she saw me all bruised immediately after it happened & made sure I knew she didn’t care in the least.) Then she said, “His family was really religious though, weren’t they?” I said no, his mother was. “So it was his father that was abusive!” Not really- more neglectful than anything & wasn’t there much since he was an over the road trucker. She went on to say no one should be abused, it’s not fair to abuse people, abusers are bad people & other drivel.
Later that night, I’d been thinking of this part of the conversation & wondering why she was trying to justify my ex’s actions. I couldn’t come up with an answer for that one. But, I do believe that she was saying he was a bad person to justify why she abused me so badly when I wanted to date him when we were teens. In her mind, if he was a bad person, she was right in doing the horrible things she did to me in an attempt to keep me away from him. She used to tell me back then that she was saving me from myself, & probably this could reassure her that it was true. I thought of this as a sort of retroactive justification for her crazy, abusive behavior
As my narcissistic parents have gotten older, I believe they are trying to cope with their abusive actions. Normal people would see the error of their ways, & apologize. They may even do something to try to make it up to their victim. Narcissists however, do nothing of the sort. They find alternate coping skills, because they refuse to accept the fact that they made mistakes or did cruel, hurtful things. While you hear plenty about their most common coping skills like projection, there are others you rarely, if ever, hear anything about.
Some of those lesser known dysfunctional coping skills are:
- Retroactive justification- like my mother just did regarding my ex husband’s abuse. Finding a reason why they were right to be abusive after the damage is done.
- Reinventing the past into something nice- things didn’t happen the way you remember, according to the narcissist. They happened in a much happier, more pleasant way. My mother loves to talk about what a great mother she has been to me.
- Denial- “That never happened!”
- Selective memories- Only remembering the pleasant things, never the bad. “I don’t remember that at all…”
- Creating excuses- “you made me do that!” “If you wouldn’t have done ____, then I wouldn’t have had to _____” “You were a very difficult child.”
- Making themselves the victim- “I tried to stop your mother from hurting you, but she wouldn’t stop.” “He’s so much stronger than me.. there was nothing I could do to stop him.” “It was so hard on me, what she did to you”
- Feigning incompetence- “I just didn’t know what to do.”
- Feigning ignorance when they knew what was happening- “I had no idea she was doing those things to you!”
- Constant chatter- Both of my parents are very talkative, but especially with me. They actually listen to others, but with me, it is pretty much non stop chatter & ignoring anything I say, especially my mother. I believe having an audience not only provides them with the coveted narcissistic supply, but also means I won’t have a chance to ask questions about why they did the things they did.
- Looking for comfort from you, the victim- my father is especially good at this one. When he finds out I’m experiencing a crisis, he wants me to reassure him that I’m ok & all will be fine. If anything comes up in conversation about abusive things my mother has done to me, it’s the same thing- he wants reassurance that I got through it ok. Twice I tried to tell him about me having C-PTSD, & twice he changed the subject.
- Money- my parents never were overly generous with money with me, but in the last few years, they have been very generous. I’ve never asked my parents for help, but they have volunteered it several times during tight times for me. I believe it’s to appease their guilt.
So how do you handle these incredibly frustrating coping skills? (And yes, you are going to have to figure this out, because narcissistic parents WILL force you to deal with them at some point.)
In my experience, I decided to let them have their coping skills rather than try to get them to face the truth. Nothing you can say or do will give them a “light bulb” moment. They’ll never say “You’re right! I never should’ve done that to you! It was wrong & I’m sorry.” So why try? It’ll only frustrate & hurt you. Instead, I’ve found it’s best for me to allow them to have their dysfunction. Besides, I know in my parents’ case, they aren’t very strong emotionally- I don’t know if they could handle facing the ugly truth about the awful things they’ve done.
While allowing them to use these coping skills, at the same time, I refuse to validate them. My parents have often wanted me to confirm their false beliefs, & I refuse to do so. I also refuse to acknowledge that they were incompetent, innocent, ignorant, had to do what they did, or the real victims. I may allow them to have those false beliefs, but I refuse to validate them & participate in the dysfunction.
When my parents want comfort from me about my problems, I flatly refuse to give it. I ignore them, or change the subject. If it gets too bad, I’ll say, “I’m the one with the problem. I can’t comfort you when I’m the one who’s got the problem & am trying to figure out what to do about it.” (notice I neglect to admit I’m hurting or any feelings- this is because if I said I felt badly, it’d feed their narcissism. They’d end up hurting me even more. Never ever admit your feelings to a narcissist!)
As far as the incessant chatter, I’m not very talkative anyway, so it works for me not to have to create conversation. Besides, sometimes they do have very interesting things to say. Like most narcissists, my parents are very intelligent. Their conversations at time can be quite interesting. My father knows a great deal about WWII & the War Between The States. He also was a drag racer in the 50’s-60’s. My mother knows quite a bit about varied topics, & enjoys crafts. I enjoy crafts too, so we can have some good chats about crafts we like. It can be a good thing when you can just sit back & let them do the talking, because you don’t have to try to come up with topics that won’t start an argument.
Even knowing how to handle these dysfunctional behaviors, I still come away hurt or angry sometimes. My mother discussing the time my ex hit me made me physically ill for that entire day & the next, plus triggered a flashback. But, the good thing is this sort of thing is a rarity. Understanding their coping skills & finding ways to cope with them means this sort of thing isn’t the norm anymore. I no longer leave every conversation with my parents feeling devastated. In fact, understanding these things mean I usually only feel a bit frustrated or sad that things aren’t better. That is a thousand times better than feeling devastated or physically ill each time!
This really is about the best you can hope for when dealing with narcissistic parents. Probably this is partly why so many people think no contact is the only answer. While it is in many cases, sometimes no contact is impossible or not the desired result. My prayer is information like this will help those of you still in relationship with your narcissistic parents.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook. He’s a former soldier with PTSD. I saw just how hard he can be on himself for not perfectly managing his symptoms, & it broke my heart.
On July 4th, he went with his wife & kids to see fireworks. Like many vets, this isn’t an easy thing for him. This year though, he got through just fine with some help from his family. He was proud of himself, as he should have been. The next day he was due to go to the beach with his family but had such bad panic attacks, he couldn’t go. He said some pretty bad things about himself for not having control over the panic. He said he felt he should be able to conquer this, but he couldn’t, & was extremely hard on himself over it.
I realized I do the exact same thing when my symptoms flare up sometimes. I try not to, but there are still some times when I tell myself I’m worthless, stupid & a host of other things. I think a lot of us with C-PTSD or PTSD do this exact same thing. That doesn’t make it right though!
C-PTSD & PTSD are actual brain injuries & the symptoms are not caused by faulty thinking or beliefs like many people think. The symptoms come about because the trauma(s) a person has endured is so bad, it caused physical changes to some parts of the brain. Expecting to be able to control the symptoms perfectly is just not wise. It’s like trying to control the symptoms of a sprained ankle. Not going to happen! How can you expect to control physical injuries? It’s impossible!
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, then you know you have good & bad days. Good days are like my friend’s fireworks experience this July 4th. When you can manage your symptoms well, it’s a very good day & you can feel on top of the world. Bad days are the polar opposite, & you often feel like the most worthless human being alive. Unfortunately though, both good & bad days happen. It’s only natural.
When the bad days happen, I really think it is best to avoid beating yourself up over them. No good can come of it! Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse about yourself. It also can make the anxiety worse. It makes you feel even more depressed.
Instead of beating yourself up, then why not accept the fact that days like this happen? You obviously can’t control them, so it’s not like they’re your fault. Accept that they happen,& do the best you can do to manage the symptoms as they arise. Sometimes your best may not be very good, & that’s ok too. It’s just part of having such an awful disorder. Also remember, this disorder doesn’t define you- it is simply a sickness. You are NOT your disorder!
You can’t experience trauma without changing. It’s only natural that when you experience something life altering or even life threatening that you change.
I’ve had 5 nervous breakdowns to date, & after each one, something about me changed. After the first & second ones, I got even better at stuffing my feelings. No one cared what happened, so I took that to mean I needed to not bother anyone with my ‘trivial’ problems. (You can tell I was surrounded by narcissists at the time & not a Christian..) After the others, I realized that even if no one cared but God & I, I cared, & needed to take better care of my mental health.
After coming close to death with carbon monoxide poisoning in February, I gained a new strength. Although I still have problems with anxiety, I refuse to sweat the small stuff as much as I once did. I now get angry quickly & set boundaries immediately if someone mistreats me rather than trying to be understanding. Oddly, even my eating habits are different.
When these changes first happened after my first two nervous breakdowns, I ignored them. Then I began to realize that they are happening for a reason. God is using negative circumstances to get my attention. I started asking Him to show me what I need to learn, & those prayers were answered. The information has been very valuable. I’ve learned I like the new me.
If you’re reading this post, it is safe to assume you too have experienced trauma, most likely narcissistic abuse, since that is what I write about most often. As you are healing from it, you’ll realize that you have changed. You may feel differently or think differently. That is perfectly fine! Don’t worry about it or beat yourself up over it. Why not just get to know the new you? Take the time to really pay attention to how you feel or think. Get to know the new you as if you were meeting a new friend.
The changes happened in you for a reason, & chances are, because they needed to happen. While I don’t believe God makes bad things happen, I do believe He will use them for our benefit. If you are unsure of what good has come from the trauma you’ve experienced, just ask God to show you. He will help you..
One of the favorite tools of a narcissistic mother is to groom her child to believe the child is the problem. If the child wasn’t so difficult, the narcissistic mother wouldn’t have to “discipline her” (translation- abuse). The child is rebellious, ungrateful, or has mental problems. Communicating this message to the child ensures that she won’t question her narcissistic mother’s cruelty. She believes the abuse is all her fault. She also may try to please her narcissistic mother endlessly to make it up to her for being such a bad child.
Not only does the narcissistic mother communicate this message to her child, but to anyone else as well. This serves the narcissistic mother well, as people believe her, without question. The child is not believed by people who know her narcissistic mother, even as an adult, even by people who have known her for a long time.
Grooming her child & spreading her vile message to anyone who will listen, along with manipulating people pretty much guarantees the adult child of the narcissistic mother won’t be believed if she ever opts to reveal the dysfunction of her family.
This has happened to me. Most people I have discussed my relationship with my parents with who also know my parents don’t believe me. They think I’m exaggerating, things weren’t so bad, I’m oversensitive or I’m the problem with the relationship. I need to forgive & forget, just let it go- it’s in the past.
When this type of situation happens, it hurts & frustrates you badly. I have had moments where I wondered if the other person was right- was I really the problem? Were things as bad as I thought they were? These people were so adamant about what they believed, maybe they had a point, I thought. It took praying & remembering the horrible events of my past to realize that no, they weren’t right. I was not the problem, & I really was abused.
When evidence of your narcissistic mother’s grooming appears, you will know it immediately, as you will be invalidated & blamed while she is praised. Unfortunately, this will happen at some point. Who does it may surprise you, too. It won’t be only those friends & relatives of your narcissistic mother, but those who aren’t particularly close to her. Those you would think would be more objective. In my case, I have had two people who my mother hates & who hate her rush to my mother’s defense. One told me I was the one who needed to fix the relationship, & the other trivialized what I have been through, telling me I needed to get over it (never admitting “it” was abuse). Imagine my surprise when these two treated me this way!
You need to be very careful who you discuss your situation with. Even then though, sometimes this type of thing may happen anyway. When it does, all you can do is deal with the hurt & anger you feel & cling to the truth. Also, refuse to discuss this topic with that person again, even if they are the ones who bring it up.
Know that this may damage your relationship irreparably with that person. In my case, the love I had once felt for the two people I mentioned above died abruptly. Not that I wish them harm, of course. I just suddenly no longer felt warmly towards them. I’m quite sure that they feel the same towards me as well. One stopped speaking to me for several months after our discussion & was very cold the few times we’ve spoken since. The other became critical of anything & everything about me since. It’s amazing how devoted people can be to narcissists, even when they despise them!
If you have C-PTSD like I do, this can be an especially painful & frustrating experience. It triggers all kinds of awful feelings that you really don’t want to feel. Personally, I felt like I did as a teenager going through the worst of my mother’s abuse- alone, hopeless & like no one cared. It is vital to be especially good to yourself during times like this.
There is a saying that is pretty common, but especially here in the South. “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I believe it to be very true. The very things that have been meant to kill me, such as narcissistic abuse, have instead strengthened me in the long run.
But, the truth is, in spite of being grateful for the strength I’ve gained, I’m pretty tired! Tired of the nonsense I’ve lived through, & mostly tired of always being the strong one who carries other people can fall apart.
Many people, especially those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse, are a great deal stronger than we realize. This doesn’t usually escape the notice of other people, however. They notice it right away & often, don’t hesitate to use our strength to help themselves out. Even when they know we’re going through a crisis, they’ll come to us for comfort, advice or to meet some other need, often without even asking how we’re doing. When faced with a difficult person, we are the one who is always supposed to be understanding or the “bigger person”, & let the offenses go. People know we’re strong & can handle bad situations, so they assume we never need help, a shoulder to cry on or, well, anything really..
The simple truth is that even the strongest among us need help sometimes. Being strong can be hard enough, but feeling as if you’re completely alone in your struggles with no one to help, & you have to be strong all of the time for others is incredibly hard. It’s extremely depressing, because you know you can’t count on anyone else to let you lean on them. It’s also mentally & physically draining.
Chances are, if you’re reading this post, then you understand this all too well. I would like to encourage you today to make self-care a priority. Take breaks as needed from work or from other people (especially the ones who lean on you without reciprocating). Set & enforce healthy boundaries to protect yourself. Do nice things for yourself often. What makes you feel good? Make it a priority to do those things as often as possible. Participate in your hobbies often. Express your creativity often.
And, remember- sometimes you need to lean on others as they have leaned on you. It’s actually a good thing for a relationship- it makes you depend on each other instead of the relationship being one sided. It also increases intimacy in the relationship, because asking for help makes you vulnerable. I understand that it is very hard to do, but I encourage you to step out & try it. Ask God how to do this & who to ask- He won’t guide you wrong!
And, speaking of God, don’t forget to lean on Him as well! He loves you so much, & wants to help you in every way you need help. I’ll never forget what happened when I was sick at the end of February.. I was relaxing, just playing a game on my tablet, & I couldn’t get past this one level. It was frustrating me. I muttered & asked God to help me get past this stupid level. Suddenly, I did it! I started to cry. Granted, I was super emotional because of the concussion I got only a few days prior, but even so, it was a lovely moment. I knew God helped me to win that game because He loves me so much that He even cares about something so trivial that means something to me. He loves you just as much- allow Him to show it. Trust Him & lean on Him. He won’t disappoint you.
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.
Sometimes having the bad short term memory that accompanies C-PTSD can be interesting. I find things I thought were lost or forgot I had. It can be like Christmas some days..lol I just found something I’d started to make a couple of months ago, then promptly forgot about.
It’s a small box that I painted & wanted to fill with little slips of paper containing good ideas on combating anxiety. I wrote out a bunch of ideas on colored construction & painted the box to make it more visually appealing. Anyway, some of the ideas are stop & breathe deeply for 2 minutes, go for a drive, pray, listen to relaxing music, read about something I find interesting, look at fun pictures or paintings I enjoy. I searched the internet for ideas & found a bunch!
If you too live with anxiety, then you know sometimes it can be hard to fight. It also can be hard to think of ways to fight it when you’re in the throes of it, especially if you’re having a panic or anxiety attack. That is where this box idea comes into play. When the anxiety is too bad & I need help alleviating it, I’ll pull out ideas from the box & do whatever it says on the paper.
I thought this was a helpful idea, & it might benefit you too, Dear Reader. It’s a very cheap & easy to do idea that won’t take up much of your time. I found a pretty little wooden box I liked at a craft store for $1 & construction paper at the dollar store. I used acrylic paint (usually just over $1 for a bottle) to paint it, then sprayed a clear paint over it since acrylic paint is water soluble. Just use a little creativity & you can create a cute box that you enjoy looking at. A trip into your local craft store should provide you plenty of inspiration. It seems to me this box is more likely not to be ignored if it’s visually appealing.
Then when your box is all done, or at least while the paint or stain is drying, write out a bunch of ideas that help you to relax. Use a pretty paper or if you prefer, type them out on your computer using a really interesting font, then cut out the ideas, fold the pieces of paper & place in your box.
I hope this idea helps you, Dear Reader. Anxiety is nothing to ignore. It can wreak havoc on your mental health as well as your physical health. Treat yourself well & try to relax when anxiety becomes a problem for you- you deserve to be as healthy & happy as possible!
Many people who grew up abused tend to have black & white thinking. For example, you may think you’re a bad employee because you made a mistake at work, or a bad spouse because you forgot your wedding anniversary rather than just thinking you made mistakes. Most people aren’t so hard on themselves, & are much more forgiving than that.
This type of thinking can damage relationships as well as your self-esteem. If, as an example, you grew up told by your narcissistic mother that all people who listen to heavy metal music are bad & accepted that belief, then you are either missing out on potentially good relationships, or if you later find out someone you’re close to likes metal, you’ll end that relationship.
Black & white thinking has its roots in childhood, like so many other things. When you grow up with a parent berating, shaming & criticizing you, you take it to heart! You tend to continue to do those same behaviors to yourself as an adult. It’s time to stop doing that to yourself! You don’t deserve to continue the abuse that was so unfairly done to you! You deserve better!
Today, I want you to decide to stop with the black & white thinking!
To do this, you’ll need to do several things. First of all, ask God to help you. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth & the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight”. God wants to help you think better! Allow Him to do so.
You also need to challenge how you think. Slow down & pay attention to your thoughts. When you make a mistake & begin to beat yourself up for it, stop! Stop right there & remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE! Not only you. If people didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Mistakes are a part of life- you need to accept that fact.
If you find yourself thinking something or someone is bad, then again, stop. Ask yourself why you think this. If you realize it’s because your narcissistic mother dislikes a quality that person has, then it’s time to challenge her opinion. Not to her but to yourself. Did she say why she hates something or someone? Do her reasons make sense? If not, discard them & form your own opinion! You don’t have to share her beliefs or feelings. You have the right to have your own!
Black & white thinking also can be a hindrance in healing from abuse. If you’re like me, you tend to frequently tell yourself that you should be better by now, you’ve been feeling sorry for yourself for too long, you need to let this go & more unhealthy things. Please, please, please stop it right now!!! Easier said than done, I know, but please try anyway. I’ve gotten better at this, although I still slip up sometimes. When I tell myself these awful things, I remind myself narcissistic abuse is a terrible thing. Healing from it is a lifelong task. Narcissistic abuse is insidious & permeates every part of your being. You can’t heal from that kind of pain & suffering in a month or even a year. It’s perfectly normal to heal little by little over the course of your life. It’s also perfectly normal for healing to be an up & down process. Emotional healing is never strictly an uphill battle. It’s more like an uphill battle with periodic falls into valleys & side trips.
Dear Reader, please be encouraged today to be better to yourself. Think about what you’re thinking about. Challenge those things that aren’t beneficial to you, & change how you think into more healthy thoughts. You deserve it!
Narcissists treat their children as if they are mere tools- they take them off the shelf when they need their narcissistic supply or need the child to do something for them, then they put them back when done, & expect the child to stay out of sight & out of mind the rest of the time. (Isn’t this also how your average screwdriver or hammer is treated?)
Many narcissists also tell their children that children are to be seen & not heard, speak when spoken to only or other such hurtful things. They also clearly don’t wish to be bothered with their child’s needs or wants.
These things mean the child grows up learning to behave as if she is invisible. She stays quiet, & stays out of people’s way. People treat her as if she is invisible as well, because they see how she acts. (Your behavior shows others how you expect to be treated.) Their treatment reinforces to her that she needs to be invisible, & the painful cycle continues. It is so frustrating when even total strangers treat you this way. A few years ago, I stopped by a convenience store. When I was done & backing out of my parking space, I looked. No one was behind me so I backed out. Suddenly my car jolted to a stop. Someone in an SUV backed into me. We got out of our vehicles & she immediately began screaming at me for upsetting her by hitting her truck. I couldn’t even get in a word to tell her she had backed into me, not the other way around! Thankfully no damage was done to my car & she said none to her SUV, so we walked away from the incident. Her behavior hurt though. I felt like she thought I was so unimportant I shouldn’t be allowed to say one word.
This invisible thing results in a deep sense of shame about your very existence. You feel as if the fact you exist is a bad thing, & this can destroy your self-esteem. I know this from personal experience- I’ve never had healthy self-esteem. In fact, at 44 years old, I still battle low self-esteem often.
I have been working on becoming visible instead of staying invisible off & on for a few years now. I’ve learned that to do that, you need to start setting some boundaries. Don’t let others call all of the shots, all of the time. For example, I’ve always let others end the phone call first, & now I’m starting to do end it when I feel strong enough. (sad.. such a mundane task shouldn’t be so stressful!) If someone wants to go out with me but I have plans, instead of rearranging my plans, I suggest another time. Basically, I’m finding little, reasonable ways of making myself noticed. The good news is it does get easier & easier, the more I do it. I hope you will try to do the same thing so you no longer feel invisible. You deserve so much better than that!
Last night I had a very bizarre dream. I dreamed that there were a bunch of small children in my yard, making a lot of noise. It was irritating me (I like peace & quiet) & I went to chase them off. As I was getting my coat, I heard them in the backyard as well & was becoming more irritated. Who were they & why were they on my property? I went outside & they were gone, so I came back inside. I looked at a shelf & found they’d left me things I need, like soap, cleaning supplies, food & even my favorite perfume from my teen years. I knew they weren’t actually children, but angels when I saw this.
Upon waking up from this bizarre dream, I had no idea what it meant, but it reminded me of a Scripture…Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (KJV)
I wonder how many people really believe this Scripture? The actions of most people don’t really show that they believe it.
I’m not saying that we have to cater to everyone we meet, ignoring our own needs. Not by any stretch. I’m saying just be civil & kind to one another. Be an example of God’s love- patient, kind, caring, all while exercising healthy boundaries. Believe it or not, sometimes saying “no” is actually the most loving thing you can do for another person. If it wasn’t loving behavior, God wouldn’t tell us no sometimes, would He?
I just wanted to take a moment today to make you think about how you treat people, even the strangers you pass on the street or the cashiers at the grocery store. Simply smiling at a stranger can make their day. So many people are rude & unpleasant to strangers, so why not be different? Be nice instead. Be polite. Ask how someone is & wait for an answer that you genuinely care to hear. Don’t give the impression you’re only asking to be polite- let the other person know you really care how they are. Little gestures like this truly make a person’s day. They say, “I care about you” & there is a great shortage of caring people in the world. Be one of those who do care!
Since many of you reading this are also adult children of narcissists, I can’t help but think you may be hoping I don’t mean include your narcissistic parents in this niceness thing. Well, sort of I do. What I said about exercising good boundaries? That is extremely important when you deal with narcissists, & truly, boundaries are very loving. They mean you won’t enable certain behaviors from others. Narcissists don’t think boundaries are good or loving, but they really are in God’s eyes, & that is what really counts! 😉
As many of you know, I absolutely love animals. I’m currently the very proud mama to 9 cats, 1 dog & 1 finch. If I can brag a bit, they are all very well behaved (not perfect, but pretty impressive anyway!), happy, affectionate, gentle, sweet & very caring. I think they’re pretty awesome, & am happy to say that people who meet them seem to share my opinion.
Except for my narcissistic mother & mother in-law.
Before my mother in-law met them (& she met them only one time), she told me I had too many cats & needed to get rid of them. She also told my sister in-law the same thing. The one time she met all of the cats I had at the time, she looked at them with such disdain. In fact, when she entered the room, they all gathered close around me very protectively. Magic, the head of our family at the time, sat on my lap, swishing his tail angrily & looking at her with the evil kitty eye until she left us alone. Magic met her one more time, in her home, & promptly pooped on her carpet. Needless to say, Magic was my favorite cat I’ve ever had..lol
As for my mother, the cats don’t like her & with good reason. She insults them. This one is too skinny is she sick, the other one is so rude & too pushy with wanting affection, the cat she used to have weighed 13 pounds & that one over there is obviously way more than 13 so he is way too fat & needs to go on a diet! Although many people think animals don’t understand words, only the tone of voice, mine are proof that is not true. Each time she has insulted them, they give her this look like they’re thinking “Well screw you then, Lady..” & walk off, refusing to give her more attention. It got so bad, I told her repeatedly that if she can’t be civil to my pets, she is no longer welcome in my home. As a result, she didn’t set foot inside my home for over 3 years. I guess insulting my pets is really important to her.
Do these scenarios remind you of your narcissistic mother?
If they do, I want to urge you today to pay close attention to how she is with your furbabies & protect them! The same hurt you feel when she insults you, they feel when she insults them. It’s not fair, especially since they can’t fight back like people can. They are completely innocent victims, & deserve your protection. As the pet parent, it is your job to protect them from any & all dangers, & that includes your narcissistic mother.
Doing this isn’t easy at first, I know. My mother completely ignored me time & time again when I told her to knock it off- don’t talk to them that way. I figured out why though- I was livid with her & didn’t mind showing it. She fed off the fact she upset me, just like any narcissist does. Me being upset only made her mistreat my animals more & more.
The secret to dealing with a narcissist is to stay calm- don’t let them see you’re upset! Remain calm & collected in their presence. (Once they are gone, rant & rage all you want though!) Calmly state to her that you won’t tolerate whatever it is she is doing to your pet. Never admit that it upsets you, however! Just calmly state that you don’t let people talk to your pet that way or you don’t allow your pet to eat that type of food or whatever the situation is. Offer no explanations at all- it is simply something you don’t tolerate. If she continues, remind her of what you said. If she still continues, walk over to her, pull your pet away from her & keep him or her at your side until your mother leaves. If she tries to call your pet to her, tell her no- the pet stays with you. She may at some point say something about you being oversensitive, she was just teasing, she just thought your pet would like that treat, etc. Ignore the innocent act & stick to your guns. Let her know that certain things are not tolerated & if she insists on treating your pet the way she thinks he/she should be treated instead of how you know is best, then she won’t be welcome in your home any longer.
I know this may be hard at first, but do it anyway! Your narcissistic mother is trying to hurt you by using your pet. If she can’t hurt you directly anymore either by beating you or by insulting you (eventually we all develop a pretty thick skin to her insults & become like an insult Navy seal..), she’ll look for new ways to hurt you which is where your pets come into play. Don’t let her get away with hurting you or your pet! It’s not fair to either one of you! Protect your furbaby just as much as you would protect a human baby- they are equally innocent & undeserving of abuse!
Validation is very hard to come by. People are very quick to minimize the successes of others & to tell others their pain isn’t so bad. When others either fail to validate you or directly, deliberately invalidate you, it hurts. It also leads many people to invalidate themselves, especially when the invalidation starts early in life by their own parents. Parental invalidation of a child easily can instill a belief in the child that she or he isn’t worth validating. Accomplishments, dreams, needs, feelings all become trivial, unworthy of any recognition. I believe invalidating a child helps to instill a root of deep shame in him or her. The child becomes ashamed of his or her own needs, wants, feelings & even accomplishments.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, this is a very common phenomenon. In my own life, I have only recently begun to see how badly I have invalidated myself. I tend to look at what I haven’t done rather than what I have, & berate myself for what I haven’t done rather than be proud of what I have. Or, if I accomplish something good, I just look at it as something anyone can do, or it’s something I should do so why should that be celebrated? My wants, needs & feelings come after those of others, even if I have a crisis. While I am getting a bit better at these behaviors, it’s difficult since they are so deeply ingrained in me. Plus, by behaving this way, I have essentially told others it’s perfectly OK for them to invalidate me, which means others do so on a regular basis.
If this describes you as well, I want to encourage you today to do as I am trying to do myself- begin to validate yourself! It’s time to recognize that your wants, needs, actions & feelings are just as important as those of other people. To do this, ask yourself why you believe the way you do. What makes you think your wants, needs, etc. are less important than those of other people? If you are unsure, ask God to show you. Once you realize why you feel the way you do, ask Him to speak truth to you about why you feel this way. Are your feelings accurate? Or, are they the result of someone else invalidating you? How can you change this false belief into the truth?
Also, pay attention to those things you feel, good & bad, & acknowledge them. Don’t brush things off so easily- feel your feelings. If someone hurt you, then feel that hurt & be good to yourself by doing nice things that make you feel good. If you feel good because you accomplished a task that was on the back burner for too long, stop & bask in how good that feels for a few minutes. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Maybe even celebrate by giving yourself a gift.
Another thing to think about. People who invalidate on a regular basis are often toxic. They can be narcissists (or even just plain self-centered people) who believe they are the only ones worthy of validation, passive/aggressive types who use it as a means of punishing others, or they can simply be the superficial type of people who don’t like to delve into any deeper subject matter. Superficial people don’t care for anything that requires much thought or effort on their part, & validation requires some of both. Validation requires one to see things through another’s eyes if you wish to truly understand their feelings, plus you have to consider the right thing to say to properly validate another person.
In any case, the point is an invalidating person is the one with the problem, not you. People want & need validation. It’s how God made us, & is completely normal to want it! I believe it is also abnormal not to wish to bless people by giving it freely. There is nothing wrong with you for being hurt or disappointed when you are invalidated. But, since it is becoming a rare thing in today’s society, you can validate yourself.
And, while you’re becoming more aware of the importance of validating yourself, don’t forget to validate others as well! People are starving for validation- be a blessing, & validate others! If you are unsure when it’s appropriate, ask God to show you who to validate & when.
I was talking with a good friend of mine recently. She, too, has problems with anxiety, although hers isn’t associated with C-PTSD. It still sounds pretty bad, unfortunately. While we were discussing our experiences, I told her that since I got since in February, my anxiety levels have been a lot better. She asked what I have done to change things. Honestly I couldn’t think of what to say at that time. I had to get alone, pray & really look at things later on.
I got a new revelation on how quickly life can change or even end when I got sick. When I got sick that February day with carbon monoxide poisoning, I didn’t realize just how serious it was, nor did anyone at the hospital tell me. I read about it on the Mayo Clinic’s site & Wikipedia after I got home & was shocked at just how close I came to death or the possibility of permanent brain damage. I made myself face how I felt about this situation instead of ignoring my feelings (as I learned early in life to do), & although it’s been painful to go through, it’s been good. Coming that close to death really gave me a new revelation on just how fast life can change, or even end. That revelation has helped me tremendously to have a better perspective. I don’t sweat the small stuff so easily now. I don’t want to waste whatever time I have upset if I can help it. We only have a relatively short time on this earth, & I have wasted enough years upset, angry, hurt & anxious- I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have as much as possible!
Wanting to enjoy my life as much as I can also made me enforce my boundaries better. I’m learning to respect how I feel & say no sometimes. I began asking myself some tough questions: What is good or right about making myself miserable just to make someone else happy? If someone wants that, they certainly are selfish & don’t have my best interests at heart. And, what makes that person so much more important than me anyway? Why is their happiness so much more important than mine?
Before I got sick, I was too stressed & anxious. So much so, my hair is damaged & broken. This was another sign that things had to change. If my hair was showing such awful signs of stress, what could be happening on the inside to my heart or other organs? I made the decision that I deserved better than this- it’s time to fight the anxiety & stress. Making that decision was important. The decision enabled me to slow down or even stop when anxiety kicks in & talk to myself. I ask myself is this going to hurt me, is there something I can do to make this situation better, what am I so worried about? Questions like that make me think about the situation logically, which cuts back on or even eliminates anxiety.
I have begun to focus more on relaxing. When I take my daily shower, I enjoy the feel of the warm water instead of just rushing through it. I exfoliate my skin often & use a good quality lotion I like after my shower so my skin feels great. I shampoo & condition gently with good products to take care of my fragile, recovering hair. Often too, I turn on some good music, & light a scented candle while in the shower. This turns a boring daily ritual into something I enjoy & that relaxes me. I also turn on music when I do household chores, as the music makes me feel good. When I get into bed, I take a moment to relish how comfortable & cozy it is. I have a collection of pictures on my tablet that make me feel good- pictures of serene scenery, Victorian era images or even inspiring quotes that validate me. Little things like this add to squelching anxiety.
Often, people talk to me about their problems. (I think many adult children of narcissists are often the friend everyone talks to about their problems). I’ve recently begun to remind myself that I’m not God- it’s not my place to fix other people’s lives. Just because my parents raised me to fix their problems doesn’t mean that fixing people is my responsibility! My job is to offer compassion, advice if asked, help them in some way if I feel God is leading me to & direct them to God. This has enabled me to feel less anxiety because I can detach emotionally some now in these situations.
Most importantly, I also remind myself constantly that God is in control & is my provider. No matter what we do, God still is in charge. He wants what is best for me & wants to bless me. He has brought me this far for a reason, & has not once forsaken me. Reminding myself of such things has brought me closer to God & our relationship has drastically improved. Not that I have complaints about how it was before, but even so, I feel so much closer to Him now & my faith has grown.
Granted, this doesn’t conquer all anxiety every time it happens. I still battle agoraphobia every time I leave my home or wake up with panic attacks sometimes. However, things have improved greatly. And a bonus has happened- by slowing myself down to deal with anxiety, it’s become such a habit, I’ve also started doing it automatically when dealing with my narcissistic parents. Instead of immediately getting angry or hurt over what they do, I am now able to remind myself that whatever they’re doing isn’t about me- it’s about their dysfunctional behavior. For example, if they try to make me feel guilty for not calling more often, I remember that they don’t want me to call more because they care about me, but because they want that narcissistic supply. The result is I don’t feel guilty- I realize they are trying to get supply from me & I have the right to protect myself from it. Talk about a bonus! I can cope better with anxiety & my parents too?! It feels good not to feel guilty, hurt or angry every time I hang up the phone from talking to my parents!
I believe what I have learned can help you as well. I urge you to pray about what I’ve written & put it into practice if God leads you to do so!
Many adult children of narcissistic parents grow into very compassionate, empathetic adults. We listen to others & offer support, even when strangers approach us in a grocery store & want to tell us their problems. We help generously. We’re often caregivers in many ways- taking care of the sick as well as providing emotional or even financial support to those in need. And, truthfully, we often enjoy it.
Whether you enjoy caregiving or not, though, sometimes it burns you out.
It’s like a bank account- you can’t withdraw money without ever putting in a deposit or you will overdraft your account. The exact same thing happens with your mental health- if you do nothing but give, there is nothing left over for you. You become tired, mentally & physically. You also become very irritable & bottle up your emotions. You may abuse substances or overeat. You isolate yourself because you feel you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with people. You become indifferent to their suffering. You have plenty of aches & pains without a physical cause & you have difficulty concentrating on things. Some people stop their good self-care habits, even hygienic habits.
This is a frustrating place to be! I’ve felt some degree of compassion fatigue for years, but it has reached a peak during my recent recovery. When all you can do is lay around & do very minimal tasks, it gives you plenty of time to think. I realized how very few people close to me genuinely cared about the fact I came very close to death recently. Very few have even asked how I’m doing more than once. Aside from the obvious anger about this, it hurt me badly. I have done my best to be there for those in my life as much as possible, & this is how I’m treated after trauma? This seemed to rocket the compassion fatigue into overdrive. As I write this, there aren’t many people I’m close to that I can muster up some empathy for at this time.
So.. how does one combat compassion fatigue? Honestly I had to research it because I’ve never found a way to do it on my own. The suggestions I’ve found are below along with some things I’ve been trying to do myself.
- Sometimes people won’t be there for you, but God will be. Give Him first priority in your life, & go to Him when you need comfort before you go to people.
- Don’t judge yourself for how you feel.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Practice good self-care rituals.
- Set & enforce good boundaries to give yourself a break as you need.
- Remember, when people come to you for help, you should do your best to point them back to God as much as possible, & not become a god to them by fixing their problems.
- Talk with others who understand how you feel.
- Participate in your hobbies often, or start new ones.
I hope this helps you to combat compassion fatigue & to achieve a healthier balance with helping other people. May God bless you!
As of yesterday, it’s been one month since I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & a concussion. It’s been quite an interesting month, too.
My recovery is a slow one, but at least it is giving me a much needed break from life. It’s also given me more time to think & pray.
Shortly after returning home from the hospital, God showed me that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which stems from emotional neglect & criticisms in childhood. (it’s why I felt I didn’t deserve any help from the ER staff, even though that is their job, & my husband shouldn’t help me recover- I should do it all on my own. That’s pretty bad, especially considering the severity of my illnesses!) I believe this is a very common problem for adult children of narcissistic parents, so I thought I would share a bit about this past month’s journey with you.
When God first revealed this to me, I was happy & sad. Happy because I finally understood what was wrong, why I felt I deserved nothing. Also sad because, well, let’s face it- this is pretty depressing realizing I was made to feel so poorly about myself. I also had no idea how to cope with this problem, & had to ask God to show me. He gave me some really good ideas, which I shared in the post I originally wrote on this topic. Please read that post at this link. I’ve been trying to do the things I mentioned in that post. I also have been doing other things, such as paying more attention to my dreams, which have been revealing a great deal to me about how much I need to take care of myself. (Almost nightly, I’m having dreams that show me that, so obviously God thinks it’s important!)
I also told God I want to change this problem- I want to be rid of this toxic shame once & for all, & I want to learn to take care of myself too instead of only everyone else. Was that a powerful prayer! He has been helping me tremendously!!
About a week after I got sick, I got an email from a jewelry company. They had a lovely ring on sale that reminded me of one my paternal grandmother had when I was a kid. This wasn’t a real diamond like hers, but it was still beautiful. I felt that instead of thinking it’s pretty & ignoring it, I should ask hubby if we could get it. That took a lot of guts for me- I hate asking him for anything, let alone something frivolous. He said sure, go ahead & get it. When I got on the website to order it, I saw they had an identical ring with a much larger stone that I liked even more. I ordered it, even though it cost a bit more. For once, probably the first time in my life, I realized I deserved something special & felt no guilt about it. Getting myself that prize was a big step towards shedding the “I don’t deserve…” mindset of toxic shame. Now the company has failed to fulfill my order, but I’m not giving up- I will just get that ring from another company . 🙂
Also, I’ve had trouble with my recovery. I need to relax, avoid any strenuous physical activity & stress until I am healthy again. This means hubby gets to do the bulk of housework. It’s been hard just laying around while he works, then comes home & does laundry & cleans. Every time the guilt comes up, God reminds me to relax. I need to recover- I’ve been poisoned by carbon monoxide & have a nasty head injury. Anyone in that situation would need to relax & recover so stop beating myself up! Besides, hubby has never really had to take care of anyone before, so this is good for him, having to prioritize another person’s needs.
Although I haven’t told my parents about my illnesses, I’ve spoken with them a few times during my recovery. Instead of the usual feelings of guilt, hurt or anger when they play their head games, God has reminded that they have problems. For example, my father recently said I should call if I need anything or just want to talk. I felt guilty for not calling more often, like a bad daughter, but only for a second. Almost immediately, I realized he only wants more contact with me to receive his narcissistic supply, not to spend time with me. The guilt was alleviated immediately. I realized I’m not a bad daughter, but instead am someone who doesn’t wish to be used. Life is too short to be someone’s narcissistic supply!
Something else interesting just happened that made me realize what progress I’m making. I just had a good, long cry. You see, when some of my pets have died, God has comforted me by telling me shortly after their death that a certain song reminds my recently departed of me- the song then becomes our song. Aerosmith’s 1988 hit “Angel” just came on. That’s my lovely snowshoe Siamese cat Jasmine’s & my song. When I heard the song, I started to cry. I miss Jasmine so badly, & maybe because I’m very sensitive due to my illnesses, the magnitude of missing her hit me very hard. As the tears finally came to a stop, I realized something- I felt no shame for them! As much as I love my animals, because my grief at losing them has been so severely invalidated repeatedly, I’ve often felt shame for crying because of them & did my best to ignore my pain. Especially years later, when I “should be over it”, according to many people. Today was different. It was the first time I can say I honestly felt no shame, & was able to cry without holding back. It was actually a very good feeling. Jasmine was a very brave, amazing & special cat. She survived 4 strokes before she passed away in 2011 & fought hard to come back from each one. She deserved the love & respect of being grieved properly, yanno?
I’m sharing these things with you today in the hopes of encouraging you. If you too suffer with toxic shame, God can help you to heal as He is helping me. He is breaking the hold of toxic shame in my life & will do the same thing for you! Living with toxic shame is no way to live! You deserve so much better than that, as do I. God wants us to be happy & healthy- two things no one living with toxic shame can be.
No one can go through something life altering & not change in some ways. Whether the experience is losing someone you love, a divorce, abuse or something that threatened your life, that experience will change you somehow.
While sometimes the changes aren’t positive ones, like developing PTSD or C-PTSD (which are unavoidable, unfortunately!!), sometimes the changes can be good. That can take a deliberate choice to make the changes good, but it’s worth it. Some examples are:
- Losing a loved one, which causes you to realize how suddenly life can end. You can either become terrified or you can decide to enjoy life more. Also, you can decide that it’s time to start showing those you love just how much you love & appreciate them more often.
- Going through a divorce can make you give up on love, or you can think of it as a stepping stone to find the person God meant you to be with.
- Abuse can make you bitter & afraid, or you can learn from it. You can learn how to identify abusive people, how to be compassionate with & help other victims of abuse & learn ways to heal. Also, surviving abuse gives you a different perspective than others who haven’t been abused. You can appreciate the fact that you’re strong & don’t get flustered easily over the little things.
What have you been through that has changed you? Are you trying to learn from your experiences? If not, I encourage you to do so. If you’re at a loss as to what good could come from your pain, ask God to show you. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV) Although it may not feel like it, there is some good that can be gleaned in your painful situation, & God will show it to you, gladly.
I mentioned a while back how I went through a potentially life-ending experience with carbon monoxide poisoning. Aside from the fact I survived, I wasn’t sure if any good could come of it, but it did. God showed me through that event that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which was causing me a great deal of pain & suffering. He also showed me what I needed to do to cooperate with Him to set me free of that, & I’m making progress! I also grew up with narcissistic parents, & also have narcissistic in-laws. In the last few years, I have learned a great deal about narcissism, which has enabled me to help others in similar situations. Although I’m not grateful for the painful experiences, I am grateful that God has been able to make something good from them. That is my wish for you too, Dear Reader- that you too can see something good that has come from your awful experiences & appreciate those good things.