My publisher is having a really good sale on print books. 30% off!! To take advantage, use code BFCM30 at checkout.
My books can be found at the link below:
My publisher is having a really good sale on print books. 30% off!! To take advantage, use code BFCM30 at checkout.
My books can be found at the link below:
My publisher is having yet another sale on print books. 10% off until November 20, 2020. Use code SELFPUBLISH10 at checkout
My books can be found at this link:
There is a lot of talk lately about being a minimalist. In other words, not having tons of stuff. Some people even give away of most of their belongings & moving into a tiny house or tiny house trailer.
By their definition, I’m not a minimalist. I need a slightly larger house than that! However, I’ve always been of the mindset I don’t need a lot & regularly clean out some of my belongings.
Since I periodically help my husband with the unpleasant task of emptying his late parents’ home & am in the process of doing the same to my late parents’ home, I’ve realized this minimalist thing needs to be taken up a notch in my life. No, I won’t sell my home & replace it with a 300 square foot tiny house, but I am cleaning out.
I’ve found a great deal of pleasure in downsizing. Recently I went through our entire CD collection. Somehow it grew to just over 300 CDs! Since I’d ripped most of them & safely stored those mp3 files on online storage, I figured this is ridiculous. They take up a lot of space in my small house & I’d like my space back. I made sure everything was ripped & got rid of all but 31 CDs that have some sort of sentimental value. They now fit in a storage box that’s slightly larger than a shoe box! I can’t tell you how good it feels not to have that big collection anymore!
I realized that my paternal grandmother was right. Too much stuff is just more to maintain & clean, which takes up precious time that could be put to more pleasant uses. Some of those uses are hobbies, hanging out with people you love, volunteering… I’d love more time for those things, wouldn’t you?
Too much stuff also can create anxiety. Something about living in a cluttered space makes me VERY anxious, as no doubt it does many other people. Since those of us who survived narcissistic abuse usually deal with a lot of anxiety, that is what made me think writing about this topic may be a good idea.
If you’re considering downsizing, I have some tips to help you get started.
When considering getting rid of an item, ask yourself what function it has in your life. Does it make your life easier? Does it bring you joy? If the answers are no, it may be time to let that go.
When was the last time you used/wore the item in question? If it’s been a while, it may be time to let it go. But, if it’s something you do use, just only maybe once or twice a year, that may be an item to keep. As an example, not everyone needs a deviled egg plate daily, but sometimes it can be useful.
Consider what your life would be like without the item in question. Do you think you would feel better or worse without it? If better, send it to a new home!
If you’re going through items like books, scrapbooks, pictures, movies or music, do you enjoy the hard copy or could you be content with digital only versions? Digital versions don’t take up space like hard copies do & can be right at your finger tips, so they have a big advantage like that. However, some things are irreplaceable, so it would be very hard & even depressing to get rid of them. Use wisdom & balance in these situations. I have a ton of pictures stored online, but I also have quite a few printed pictures from years ago. Also, if you opt to keep digital versions, remember – phones, computers, & external hard drives crash. I recommend using a reputable cloud storage for such things to be sure nothing gets lost. I like Dropbox but there are also Google Drive & other online storage options.
Is the item a one of a kind item? That can make it trickier to give away. If the item has sentimental value because it once belonged to someone you love that has passed on, I recommend keeping it if you can. If you don’t feel peace about that though, find someone special to pass it along to that you know will love it as you have.
I firmly believe in downsizing, balance is the key. Clean out! Give away things that don’t serve you well, but keep things that do serve you & bring you joy. You may be surprised how much less anxious you are when you realize you have a lot less stuff in your home than you once did.
So many survivors of narcissistic abuse I’ve spoken with take on so much blame for being abused. They say things like, “I should’ve known he was this way when we first met…” or, “I was a difficult child.. my mother had to be hard on me.”
This makes me sad. People need to have a balanced view of blame rather than taking on too much.
If you too grew up with a narcissistic parent or two, there is a great deal of blame to be laid on your parent(s). If you have C-PTSD, anxiety or depression issues, struggle with self-harm or eating disorders, chances are very good the root of those problems lies with enduring narcissistic abuse as a child. Nothing you did could create these problems for yourself. It is your responsibility to deal with those problems, but not for having the problems.
If your narcissistic mother shamed you, told you that you were a mistake, ignored you or was abusive instead of disciplining you, the fault lies with her. No matter what a child does, a child cannot make her parent treat her in such cruel ways. No bad behavior is a valid reason to abuse a child!
Having trouble relating to other people after being raised by a narcissist or two is completely normal. The blame for that can be traced back to your narcissistic parent(s). However, the responsibility for making changes to have healthier relationships is on you.
Not having a healthy balance in such areas & accepting blame for these things can lead to nothing but misery. False guilt, shame, depression, anxiety & more can result.
Do you place blame where it belongs or do you take on too much blame, Dear Reader? I urge you to take a long, hard, honest look at your situation. Ask God to help you identify areas where you’re in need of balance. He will!
I realize that saying your narcissistic mother is to blame for your problems as an adult can trigger unkind, even cruel, comments from others who don’t understand narcissistic abuse. That being said, I urge you also to consider carefully who you discuss this with. Aim for safe people- people who have been through similar situations, who are non-judgmental & have your best interest at heart. If you’re unsure if anyone in your life currently fits that description, then check online. There are many online support groups. (I have a Facebook group that is full of love & support. You’re welcome to check it out if you like.) Talking about it can help you a great deal, when you talk with the right people.
When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.
When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms. I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events. Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.
Not even close!
I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012. And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma. Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter. I honestly wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through? It seemed completely bizarre to me.
Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had. The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.
I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.
I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.
If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone. Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.
As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you. Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings. They’re never random, even though they feel that way.
Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well. They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of. They also can simply help you because your brain is processing some information. The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.
If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start. Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.
A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too. I use a website (there are many to choose from). They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams. Write them down & look them over from time to time. That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come. It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.
Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them. Colors, objects, people, feelings. Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant. It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times. It could benefit you as well
Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life. Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream. Her cuteness always made me smile.
Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma. Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible. So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there. On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel! Thankfully it happened at a red light. Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)
When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible. Even so, triggers still happen. No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about. It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.
Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen. The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded. Good triggers can help in this situation. I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid. Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it. Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).
I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold. I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger. If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.
There are conflicting messages for victims of abuse. Some people encourage victims to speak out. Help raise awareness! Confronting your abuser will be good for you! Others encourage victims to keep quiet. Stop dredging up the past. Forgive & forget.
Rather than stating what I think victims should do, I would like to encourage you to decide what is right for yourself. After all, being vocal about being abused can be very challenging. Being vocal about it means you’re reliving some of the most painful experiences of your life. It also means some will criticize you harshly. You may lose friends & family who side with your abuser. Is this something you can deal with?
There are pros & cons for speaking out as well as staying quiet. You need to consider them seriously before making any decisions.
Silence isn’t always good, as it can encourage an abuser to continue abusing. Knowing the victim won’t tell anyone what is happening gives the abuser free reign to do as she/he pleases without fear of consequences. It also means things can stay pretty much the same for the victim in that her friends & family will continue treating her as they always have. Silence allows the victim to continue in the familiar place that she is accustomed to. This can be a good thing, to a degree, especially if she does not feel strong enough to confront her abuser or even discuss what has happened, & if this is only a temporary place.
Telling her story can empower the victim. She takes back the power that her abuser stole by forcing her to stay silent. She realizes it’s her story & she can do as she sees fit with it. She can help & inspire others who have been through similar circumstances if she opts to go public with her story (such as blogging about it, for example). By speaking openly about what happened, she also can give her family the opportunity to grow & to heal. However, telling also means that she can be setting herself up for criticism, even from those closest to her. Those she believed were on her side may turn against her. They may refuse to believe her, tell others she’s lying, or invalidate her pain if she speaks to them about the situation. And, if she opts to confront her abuser, that can open up a new world of pain. Abusers hate confrontation, especially narcissistic abusers. The abuser may turn the entire situation around, blaming the victim for what happened or denying they did anything wrong. Often, the one telling the truth is demonized by abusers as well as those who may have known about the abuse but did nothing. Many people can’t live with what they have done, so they vilify the victim.
What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?
Before you answer that question, I urge you to pray. Let God give you advice on which way to go, & how to go about it. Also, allow Him to give you the strength you need, because either way is very challenging. You will need His strength. And remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.” (GNT) God will empower you to do anything you need to do!
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
As many of you know, I have agoraphobia. Leaving home, sometimes even to go into my yard, is very difficult or impossible. Anxiety takes over & logic that nothing is going to go wrong or hurt me goes out the window. Quite frankly, it sucks.
Recently I’ve been wanting to go for a drive. That’s all- just enjoy a short drive in my awesome car. However, the agoraphobia left me at home & my car sitting…
A few days ago, I opened up my email first thing in the morning. I get a Scripture delivered daily. That particular day the Scripture I shared above was in the email. When I read it, something clicked in my mind. No, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear. My agoraphobia is NOT from Him.
The agoraphobia started in 1996, just after my paternal grandmom passed away. My husband told his mother, who didn’t even acknowledge my loss- she changed the subject. A short time later, this exact same experience happened with his sister. Somehow, these experiences cemented in my mind that I don’t matter. I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence, which is a belief that stems from my upbringing with my narcissistic parents. Their behavior made this belief evolve into feeling like I don’t even have the right to leave home, possibly bothering people in public places.
Thinking about this angered me a great deal. As is common with many adult children of narcissistic parents, I’m suffering because of other people’s cruelty. This agoraphobia isn’t from God at all, & that Scripture was a reminder of that.
2 Timothy 1:7 enabled me not only to go for a ride, but a longer one than I originally wanted to do. And, I got on smaller interstates too! (After getting sick in 2015 & being unable to drive for a long time, I lost a lot of confidence in driving. I’ve avoided bigger roads & interstates since.)
I’m not saying I’m cured. Even thinking of leaving home now makes me tense up. However, I do know that keeping these things in mind is going to be helpful for me leaving home in the future.
I’m sharing this with you today, Dear Reader, because I know so many of you also live with anxiety &/or agoraphobia. Please consider what I wrote about here. Know that such awful things are NOT from God. It helped me to remember that & get mad at those who put the anxiety & agoraphobia on me. Maybe it can help you as well to think about it. What is the root of your anxiety? If you don’t know, then ask God- He will show you. He showed me why I have agoraphobia. I never would’ve guessed that on my own! He can do the same for you. Once you get to the root of the problem, you can work on healing it properly.
Mental illness is very different from physical illness in many ways. One of those ways is the fact most people don’t usually believe someone has a mental illness. If you have diabetes, people can see there’s a problem. They see you testing your glucose or giving yourself an insulin shot. If you have cancer, you have xrays, mri’s & maybe even a visible tumor that people can see. But if you have a mental illness, there isn’t such evidence.
If you have Bipolar disorder, you’re just “moody.”
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, you’re “dwelling in the past, need to stop thinking about things, need to get over it or you can’t have it because you weren’t in the military.”
If you’re depressed or anxious, “you’re feeling sorry for yourself, stop being sad or anxious, need to get out more or take a pill & get over it.” “Everyone feels sad/anxious” is another common comment.
What people fail to realize is you can’t control the symptoms of mental illness any more than you can physical illness.
As someone who is not only suffering with mental illness but also frustrated with the lack of compassion & understanding many people have about it, you may do like many people, & try to explain & justify your illness. Chances are, this will only frustrate you further.
As someone with mental illness myself, I get it. You want people to understand & not judge. You don’t want to be invalidated either. After years of thinking any problem I had wasn’t important (thanks, Mom & Dad for the invalidation), I assumed my mental health wasn’t important either. It took a long time for me to accept that I have real problems, & being invalidated by subject changes & such stupid statements as “Just take a pill- you’ll be fine” make me feel as I did growing up, like I don’t count. Frankly, I’ve come too far to live with that feeling anymore. I’ve also realized if I continue to explain to certain people who say such invalidating things, it will leave me feeling even more frustrated & angry. They only dig their heels in deeper & become more committed to know nothing of the problem at hand. They don’t want to understand, so nothing I can say will make them understand. It’s not worth my time & energy trying to make them understand
If you are in this situation as well, Dear Reader, I would like to encourage you today. You don’t have to explain your mental illness to anyone. Some people are going to want to know about it, but some won’t. Those people are committed to not knowing or understanding, & it’s not your place to make them understand or know what you live with. You will know if someone is genuinely concerned for you & wants to know what you experience. They won’t try to tell you what to do to “get over” your mental illness. They will offer understanding & support, not judgment. They will offer to help you if they can. People like this are the only ones that deserve your time & any information you wish to share about your illness.
Triggers are things that trigger PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms to flare up. A certain sound that makes you have a flashback or a scent creates a panic attack are triggers.
Unfortunately triggers are everywhere. There is no avoiding them entirely, as wonderful as it would be if that was possible. I have realized there are times when you can be more easily or less easily triggered. Certain dates (an abusive parent’s birthday for example) can make you more sensitive to triggers. Some people also are more or less triggered at various stages of healing.
So what can be done about triggers? Since they can’t be avoided completely, they need to be managed.
Prayer is the best place to start. Ask God for help showing you ways to manage your symptoms during triggers or ways you can avoid them.
Identify your triggers & avoid them when possible. This isn’t always easy, as thinking about your triggers can be upsetting. But, you need to know what upsets you so you can either avoid it or be prepared to deal with it when you can’t.
Triggers can show you what areas you need healing in, so pay close attention to them. For me, hearing someone talk about being sick & having their family care for them is a big trigger for me. I barely saw a doctor growing up, my mother complained when I was sick about having to take care of me or being stuck at home with me. As an adult, my mother doesn’t believe me if I have a health problem, blames me for getting sick or injured or accuses me of faking it. When I hear someone talking about their awesome family who was there for them during a health crisis, I know that I couldn’t experience the same thing, & it hurts me. It also makes me angry at my mother for being incapable of feelings that any normal mother feels for her child, for seeing nothing wrong with her behavior & instead getting upset with me for being rightfully angry with her. All of this shows me I still need healing in this area. The good part about all of this is the more that you do heal in that area, the less power the triggers will have over you.
Also focus on the here & now. Being well aware of your surroundings can help you to stay focused on that rather than get caught up in a panic attack. This also can help you to stay in reality during a flashback. Touch something with an extreme texture- very soft or coarse fabric, maybe hold an ice cube. Smell something with a strong scent, such as lavender (which also has anti-anxiety properties) or that holds good memories for you, such as the perfume your favorite aunt wore when you were a child.
Write in a journal. Writing can be extremely therapeutic. It also can be validating when you see things in writing rather than speaking about them.
Learn what self-soothing techniques work best to relax you. They should involve at least one of your senses. Soak in a bubble bath, wear soft & comfy clothes, stretch, listen to calming music, listen to nature sounds, sing, drink herbal tea or flavored coffee (decaf is best), light a scented candle or incense, smell some flowers, read a book, watch a funny movie or tv show, look at pictures of those you love or that inspire you.
If you have read much at all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have read about the benefits of going no contact. It is often the only solution, as many authors on the topic will feverishly tell you. After all, it’s not like you can reason with someone who refuses to accept any responsibility for their actions. Many times, all you can do is hope to escape the narcissist with your sanity in tact.
Unfortunately though, one thing I have noticed is many people who say that no contact is the only solution fail to mention that is it not a cure all.
Certainly, eliminating an abusive narcissist from your life is beneficial. You no longer have the daily struggles. Without their gaslighting, you can think clearer. Your finances may improve as well, if the narcissist was draining your bank accounts. You finally can focus on yourself & healing. However, without the narcissist in your life, you still will have problems that stem from your time being abused by that peson.
Please believe me, I’m not speaking against no contact. While I believe it is an individual decision & no one should attempt to force anyone into making that decision, I also realize it is usually the best solution. I just think it is very important for people who opt to remove the narcissist from their life to realize that doing so won’t solve all of their problems. Yes, it will improve daily life since they won’t have to deal with new, frustrating, abusive situations, which is fantastic. But, it also won’t solve some things.
No contact doesn’t cure PTSD or C-PTSD. In fact, there is no known cure for either. All you can do is manage the symptoms, which, by the way, can be much easier without a narcissist around!
It also doesn’t stop repressed memories from returning to the forefront of one’s mind sometimes.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t have times of missing the narcissist. They all have something that made you love them. If they didn’t, deciding to go no contact wouldn’t have been a difficult decision at all.
No contact doesn’t mean you won’t think of the narcissist anymore. Whether he or she is a parent, relative, romantic interest or friend, you have shared experiences together. You won’t forget them just because that person is no longer in your life. Birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions will pop into your memory periodically.
Please don’t lose hope after reading these things! They don’t mean there is something wrong with you or you are irreparably damaged. They simply mean you are a normal person who has been deeply affected by narcissistic abuse.
These things also don’t mean no contact is a bad idea. Like I said, it is often the only solution to an extremely painful & impossible situation. The reason I wanted to share these things with you, Dear Reader, is so you will be prepared if you do opt to go no contact.
Something crossed my mind recently…
I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days. I didn’t deal with it. For one thing, I didn’t have the time. It was one crisis after another after another for years. I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened. For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems. It didn’t matter how much something hurt me. My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.
As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured. Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown. I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours. By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work. I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.” The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me. When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work. In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.
I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today. I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional. True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after. Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.
When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is. Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength. It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.
I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak. Quite the contrary. It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma. It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.
It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD. It’s incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback. Things things take a great deal of strength.
It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one. Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory. The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.
Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength. When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition. To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!
So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are? Give yourself some credit today. You are so stronger than you give yourself credit for!
Anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD knows about triggers. Triggers are those things that send us rocketing into a flashback or emotional flashback, or at the very least, remind us of some painful trauma we’d just as soon forget about. They also can trigger a panic attack or dissociation.
As painful as triggers can be, they also can serve a good purpose. They can show us the areas in which we need healing.
I have a very hard time going into the neighboring town where my parents live. It is full of awful memories for me, so I avoid the town as much as possible. Going past the library is the worst though. That was where my first job was, & where my mother did some very abusive & hurtful things to me. She once screamed at the top of her lungs at me in the parking lot in front of my now ex husband, the patrons & my coworkers. She humiliated, belittled, shamed & degraded me there too. Repeatedly. When I see the library building, even just driving past it, I either get a panic attack, flashback or dissociate. I’ve done them all. The one time I went inside that library a few years ago, I had to leave immediately because of having a panic attack & flashback at the same time. Naturally, I haven’t gone back to that library since.
One good thing about this is I realize that I need further healing in the area of the things my mother did to me at that library. I have dealt with so many things my mother did to me, but not the events that took place at that library. I know I have repressed some of them, but not all. I need to deal with what I do remember.
Have you ever thought about triggers this way, Dear Reader? As painful as it can be, it is a good thing when you learn about some area where you need further healing. You can’t heal from what you don’t acknowledge, so you need to know what areas you need to work on. Every event you heal from brings you one step closer to wholeness, one step further from the trauma you have endured & fills you with more joy & peace than you had previously. If you can look at triggers as a sign that you need healing in a certain area, they truly can help you.
Narcissists know how to push every button you have & many you weren’t even aware of having. They do this in order to provoke an emotional reaction from you. Whether you’re angry or hurting, your reaction makes them feel powerful, which in turn provides narcissistic supply, & makes them feel good. That is why they often act much like a machine gun with their cruelty- quickly pumping out verbally abusive comments one right after another. The more they can hurt or anger you, the better they feel. When you have pretty much fallen apart, they are deliriously happy.
If you want to put a stop to this behavior, join the club! We all do. There isn’t any way I know of to stop it entirely. But, there are some ways to slow this down. One very effective way is to learn to respond, not react.
Reaction is done immediately, often without thinking. If a doctor uses that little hammer & taps your knee is a certain spot, your reaction is for your leg to kick. That is the type of response narcissists want from you- immediate anger or hurt without thinking as soon as they have said or done something hateful.
Responding however is different. It’s slower & more deliberate. You take time to think, possibly even putting your emotions aside before you give any sort of response. This is not what narcissists want, & that, Dear Reader is a good thing!
The more you react emotionally to a narcissist, the more buttons they will push to get you to react more. It’s a vicious cycle. However, the less reaction you give them, the less interest they will have in hurting you.
Responding can seem impossible to do at first, but it really does get easier & easier with practice. The best way I personally learned to do this is a technique common to caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. When something is said or done, stop for a second. Take a deep breath in & out, then speak. That brief moment of the deep breath helps you to think, & also to remind yourself why you must stay calm & focused. Plus the deep breath relaxes you. This technique enables you to stay calm & focused in the face of sheer madness.
I urge you to give this a try the next time you must deal with the narcissist in your life. It really does help you. I have done this when speaking with my narcissistic father. Now that he has Alzheimer’s, the narcissism has gotten worse than ever. I don’t feel right about being too harsh with him since it’s the Alzheimer’s making it worse rather than him deliberately trying harder to get attention or hurt me. (Dementia & Alzheimer’s can make someone with NPD act worse) But, at the same time, I need to protect myself. Stopping long enough to take in & release that deep breath helps me to maintain my composure & give a decent response rather than an angry reaction. It may help you as well! Try it- what do you have to lose?
I recently had an interesting revelation that I’d like to share with you today, Dear Reader.
A friend of mine has PTSD as a result of time in the military. One story he told me was how he was on patrol in the gunner hatch of a humvee, in the lead vehicle, when they were approached by a 12 year old boy carrying a teddy bear. My friend told him to stop, but he wouldn’t. Even firing a warning shot into the air didn’t deter this boy, & my friend had no alternative- he had to shoot the boy. It turns out the boy’s teddy bear contained 6 pounds of explosives- he could’ve killed so many people!
When this story crossed my mind the other night, something else crossed my mind: I’ve been through enough trauma at the hands of narcissists to give me the same disorder as this man who has been through unspeakable trauma.
Wow. Talk about giving a new perspective! It really showed me just how bad the abuse in my life has been.
So many people with PTSD or C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse tend to trivialize their experiences & I have been one of them. They think it’s not so bad because they weren’t in the military or their narcissist didn’t hit them. They even try to hide their awful symptoms because it’s embarrassing they have the disorder because the abuse “wasn’t so bad.” They think they’re weak for having PTSD or C-PTSD.
Having PTSD/C-PTSD aren’t signs of weakness. They are anything but! They are signs of having experienced trauma so severe, it actually physically broke your brain. They are normal reactions to extremely abnormal circumstances. They are a sign you survived something pretty horrific.
If you live with either PTSD or C-PTSD, please know you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Would you be embarrassed if you got diabetes? Cancer? Then why be embarrassed about having a mental illness? Also, just like you can’t do anything to get a physical illness like cancer, you didn’t do anything to get PTSD/C-PTSD.
If you feel able to, please talk about your experiences with PTSD or C-PTSD or even the abuse you endured. Talking things out is good for you- it helps you to heal. Also, talking about what you live with as a result of the trauma can help to raise awareness of PTSD/C-PTSD. People truly have no idea what it’s really like to live with such an awful mental disorder. They have these crazy, false ideas of what it means to have PTSD/C-PTSD & those ideas need to be eliminated & replaced with the truth!
I would like to encourage you to ask God to show you if He wants you to discuss what has happened to you or the PTSD/C-PTSD, & if so, how. Does He want you to speak to groups? Write a book? Write a blog? There are many ways to raise awareness. Maybe you have a calling to one of those ways.
Today, September 6, the day I’m writing this, was one rough day for me. I’m hoping sharing it here rather than in my private journal can help others. I also hope my writing makes sense- it’s really hard to write when the C-PTSD flares up.
To start with, I woke up first thing in the morning after a restless night full of nightmares I barely remember & repeatedly waking up for no obvious reason. I started out my day very tired, which made concentration harder than usual. It also means my moods are more erratic.
I decided to go to the local craft store for some yarn for a new crochet project. Although I spent 3 days prior out all day & it wore me out beyond description, I thought maybe going for a brief drive & visiting a craft store alone when it’s not busy would be doable. Yea… that sounds good in theory.. in practice though? Not so much. The parking lot was super busy since other stores in the shopping center were packed apparently. Then, the cashier at the craft store was on her first day, so she was confused & learning as she went rather than being fast like the lady who was training her is. UGH.. I wanted out fast & there was no escape! Not one other register was open! I got my yarn & made a mad dash for the parking lot since I felt like the agoraphobia was going to overwhelm me.
After leaving, I went to visit a dear friend. The brief drive shouldn’t have been full of triggers & anxiety, but it was. On the way to her home, I followed a car for a good part of the journey that resembled a car an old boyfriend of mine drove. This ex died in 2014 after killing his boyfriend, then himself, in their home. It was all over the local news at the time & very hard for me to come to terms with for a while after that, since I didn’t realize how he was. The story was a complete shock to me. Seeing this car reminded me of our brief relationship, & how incredibly sad his story was. Also it made me grateful I escaped him unharmed. I have no doubt he would’ve killed me if I’d stayed with him. When I left him, I had NO idea how dysfunctional or dangerous he was. All I knew was he spent hours screaming at me when I broke up with him that evening, telling me I was making a huge mistake, he was a great guy, I’d regret leaving him, I was ruining his life, etc. (Nothing out of the ordinary for me since my mother screamed at me constantly in my last couple of years before moving out of her home.) As a result, I spent many years beating myself up for ruining his life. Learning of his death in 2014, I realized how dysfunctional he was which set me free from that guilt, however, the story was so sad, I still feel pity for him, the man he killed & their families.
There was also a surprising amount of traffic out today & the exhaust fumes made me feel sick, thanks to the over-sensitivity I have to carbon monoxide. Surviving carbon monoxide poisoning can do this to a survior, & frankly, it’s a real nuisance! I got a nasty headache, stomach ache, & I felt woozy after breathing in the fumes that doesn’t want to go away.
I also realized the date on my way to my friend’s house.. September 6. On that day in 1990, I hurt my back at work. Not terribly, but pretty painful. As it was healing, my mother threw me into a wall during an argument which made the pain a thousand times worse. Shortly after, I had to quit working outside my home. My mother never believed my back was injured, & told anyone who would listen how I was so lazy that I was faking the injury so I wouldn’t have to work again. In fact, my doctors even thought I was faking it, & said similar things. I was told so often that I was faking it, I wondered if I really was faking it. Years later I learned people with PTSD often have lower back pain with no known physical cause- you’d think a doctor back then would’ve sent me to a counselor, but no one did. Instead they shamed me for being lazy. The memories of that experience made me angry.
Thinking of how my mother responded to my back pain triggered other intrusive memories I really don’t want to have. For one, about a year ago, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex husband hit me. She said she had no idea, & if she’d have known, she would’ve called a lawyer about this & straightened it out! The fact is she did know- she blamed me for making him hit me right after it happened. She saw the bruises I wore- the most obvious injury was the shape of his hands were on my wrists in the form of bruises. It was just one more time she didn’t care about my pain. Other memories intruded my mind, against my will & I was unable to push them away. They reminded me of many painful times that my parents have abused me & I was supposed to tolerate it all quietly, with a smile, including our most recent fight in May & how they have quit speaking to me since then, even though they were in the wrong. I was angry & sad all at once remembering these things.
Did I mention I’m still having difficulty grieving the loss of my 2 cats since May? Grief seems to magnify other issues, making them even more challenging than usual to deal with.
This awful, miserable day meant I had to hold in my tears or anger until I was alone since no one was responsible for the emotions. It’s just a part of the disorder & no one I was around today should be forced to feel bad for making me cry or making me angry.
I’ve also reviewed this post at least 10 times to make sure my writing makes sense, because making sense is so hard to do when the C-PTSD flares up.
This is typical of a day in the life of someone with C-PTSD or PTSD. Any little thing can trigger thoughts that they don’t want to have yet are helpless to prevent. Mood swings & anger &/or depression can be triggered easily too. To be honest, it’s sheer hell to live with.
PTSD or C-PTSD are not a result thinking too negatively. They aren’t wallowing in the past or looking for pity. They aren’t playing some “poor me” card, looking for attention or pity. They mean someone has experienced such trauma in their lives, it literally broke parts of their brain. They are serious mental disorders with symptoms that can easily be out of control. They mean the person who is sick has good days & bad days. On good days, it may seem like the patient is totally fine. That isn’t the truth however. On good days, this usually means the patient is just better at hiding his/her symptoms than on other days.
I’m not explaining this because I want pity. I’m putting it out there because I know many people who read my work live with PTSD or C-PTSD, & can’t always explain it to other people in their life. I’m hoping this will help those people relate to my crappy day. Maybe they will now be able to explain to their counselors or their friends & family just how triggering & difficult a typical day with PTSD or C-PTSD can be. Sure, my specific circumstances may be different, but I’m sure the basics are the same- agoraphobia, unexpected triggers, & intrusive thoughts & wicked mood swings. Please know, Dear Readers, I pray for you daily. Living with PTSD or C-PTSD is horrible, & I pray for God to heal you & until He does, show you how to live with the awful symptoms.
Also, you’re not alone! You’re not crazy! There are so many of us who live with these symptoms due to traumatic experiences. Having PTSD/C-PTSD doesn’t make you weak or a failure or any other ridiculous thing you’ve been told. It’s a sign you reacted normally to very abnormal circumstances.
I’ve always had a knack for remembering dates. Even after the TBI I got in 2015, I still remember many dates that have been important to me at some time in my life. For example, I got my first car on July 6, 1989. I moved out of my parents’ home on June 9, 1990. I met my husband on March 14, 1992 & our first date was November 4, 1994.
Don’t get me started on my furbabies- I remember who I adopted when or when who was born, & when who passed away.
Remembering dates can be convenient sometimes, but it also can trigger some very unpleasant memories. For years, I beat myself up from August 23 until November 24 because that was the short time I was involved with a man who I thought was a good guy, but I was unhappy dating. When I told him I wanted to break up, he did his best to make me feel stupid & like a failure, which sunk in with me. I believed I ruined his life & was a terrible person for it. Many years later, I read that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself in their home. It finally clicked that maybe he wasn’t the good guy he portrayed himself as. I started remembering our short time together & realized that he was a very disturbed man. I didn’t have clues then to just how disturbed, though.
In a way, learning this information was a good thing. I finally was set free from the guilt of leaving this man. It was as if I finally had permission to accept that leaving him was for my own safety. It also helped me to think about something…
I have spent my life beating myself up for way too many things!
The disturbed man I mentioned? I was only 19, he was 28 when we dated. He was very controlling & I was so accustomed to being controlled, although it bothered me, I didn’t realize it was wrong. It was so bad, in fact, that I didn’t want to date him. I only did because he was pushy & my friend at the time said I should. After growing up with narcissistic parents, this behavior of allowing others to control me is pretty normal. I see that now, but for years, I told myself how stupid I was for this. I should’ve known better. HOW?! How could I have known better?!
I’ve also beat myself up for not standing up to my parents more often, for tolerating way more than I should have. This also doesn’t make sense- they’re my parents! Aside from the dysfunctional teaching I grew up with that said I deserve whatever is done to me, being parents puts them in a unique position in my life no one else shares. Most people are like me in that they are more willing to tolerate things from their parents than other people.
Does this describe you as well? Have you spent way too much time chastising yourself for things that really aren’t your fault? If so, please stop it right now!
Everyone makes mistakes! Those of us raised in abusive, dysfunctional environments tend to make even more than most people because we simply do not know any better. Frankly, it sucks, but it happens!
Have you learned from your mistakes? Good! That shows you don’t want to continue being dysfunctional! That is something to be proud of!!
Do you realize that sharing stories of things you did & what you learned can encourage other people? It really can! I’m hardly proud of sharing the things I have in this blog, but the good part is they encourage other people. I have the emails & comments to prove it. In a way, my mess has become my ministry. Not only the mess of my dysfunctional upbringing, but the mess of the dumb things I did as a result. That encourages me too, because I know it means my pain has a purpose. It wasn’t for nothing!
Your pain has a purpose too, Dear Reader! If you don’t feel that way, then talk to God about it. He will reveal the purpose to you, & comfort you!
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Most people have heard of flashbacks, where you feel as if you are reliving a traumatic event. It can be so difficult to tell reality from the awful memory during a flashback. They are horrible, & I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.
But, this isn’t the only type of flashback. Emotional flashbacks happen too. They are when something triggers an overwhelming feeling in you. For example- being late makes me feel tremendous anxiety & shame. My mother would get me to high school at the last possible moment to show me she was in charge, telling me how lucky I was she would do this or anything at all for me, considering how awful I treated her. It’s been almost 30 years since she did this yet anxiety & shame still kick into overdrive if I’m running late.
Other examples of emotional flashbacks are things like believing if you make a mistake it makes you bad or feeling shame if someone disagrees with you, or doesn’t like something you like.
There is also such a thing as a sensory flashback. Sensory flashbacks are brought on by something that affects the senses. For example, smelling a certain perfume or seeing a style of clothing like your narcissistic mother wore creates terrible anxiety in you.
Emotional & sensory flashbacks can be managed with the same methods used to manage regular flashbacks. Grounding techniques can help you to get through it. Use something to stimulate the senses, such as smelling something with a very strong scent, or touch something with a very coarse texture or even hold an ice cube. Something that strongly stimulates at least one of your senses will force your mind to take notice, & help to loosen the flashback’s hold on you, keeping you in reality. And, once it’s done, don’t forget to take care of yourself while you recover. Flashbacks, even mild ones, can take a lot out of you. You need to rest & pamper yourself to recover afterwards.
Although flashbacks can be extremely painful to experience, they also can be beneficial. They show you what areas you need healing in. I encourage you to try to use that awful flashback to help you in this way. As you feel strong enough, face whatever issue came up & cope with it the best you can. Pray- ask God to help you to heal. Learn about ways to forgive your abuser, because you deserve to be happy, without carrying around anger or bitterness. Learn ways to take care of yourself, to be the nurturer you never had.
I just got myself a little ice cream. Rocky road, my favorite 🙂 Hubby brought it home probably close to a month ago by now. I’ve been the only one eating it & it’s maybe 1/4 gone. Realizing that I haven’t been over indulging triggered a flashback.
When I was growing up, my mother would get candy bars at the grocery store, & often when we came home, she’d give one to my father, one to me then take one for herself. Often, she forced me to take another one, then when I finally did, she’d call me a hog & give me a very creepy, maniacal smile. It was so scary looking! If I confronted her, she’d say “But it’s cute when I do it” & continue the scary smile. I also had to eat the stupid candy bar or she’d have treated me even worse, more shaming. I still flippin’ HATE Fifth Avenue candy bars because of her. Not sure if they even make them- I’m not a big candy bar fan. Gee, I wonder why??
It was kinda funny though.. for once, I realized how angry I am about what my mother did to me. I also realized it wasn’t a bad thing. I certainly have a right to be angry about this! Not only did this awful behavior of my mother’s trigger a flashback (I sincerely hate them!), it’s things like this which are directly responsible for me having eating disorders in my younger days. I wasn’t overweight growing up, but my mother consistently commented on my weight or my body. She also very harshly criticized whatever I ate or didn’t eat. Everything about me, my body, my looks & what I ate was wrong.
God’s been working with me on getting OK with my anger for quite a while. I’m never angry all that long, I forgive easily & I don’t get vengeful or cruel. I’m not consumed with anger. Also for quite a while now, I’ve envied those who say they don’t let things bother or anger them & felt guilty for not being so “good”, being a bad Christian or even worse, proving my mother right when she said I have a terrible temper. The Bailey temper, as she’s always called it. According to her, the Bailey temper is the worst plague in all humanity, past or present. So not being ashamed of my anger or feeling like it was misplaced or over the top was a breakthrough!
If you struggle with anger too, Dear Reader, please know you are not alone! Many of us raised by narcissistic parents go through this. Also, please know that feeling anger is human! God gave people emotions so we are aware of things. Joy means what you’re doing is a good thing- have fun with it! Sadness helps us grieve when we lose someone we love. Anger is a sign someone is mistreating us. Emotions are God-given & there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them, including anger! It’s what you do with emotions that can be a bad thing. Simply feeling anger isn’t bad at all. Hurting someone in the heat of anger, however, that is bad.
So the next time you feel angry, feel it! Don’t ignore your anger! Ignoring or burying your anger only leads to problems. Feel your anger. Tell God what you’re feeling. Journal about it. Talk to a safe friend or relative. Beat up some pillows if that helps. Write angry letters you never send. Find a safe way to get your anger out, & rest easy that your anger is not only normal, but God ordained. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling angry for being mistreated!
Also once you get the anger out, know you’re going to be tired. Emotional work can be very draining. Take care of yourself. Rest & relax. Lay around & watch movies if that helps. Do things that comfort you & make you feel nurtured. It’s good self-care to take it easy after any emotional work.
When people discover that what they have experienced is narcissistic abuse, they look for answers. Some make the mistake of thinking there are obvious answers, but unfortunately, there isn’t any such thing.
Every narcissist is different. Every victim is different. There are also many gray areas when it comes to dealing with narcissists- very little is black & white. As a result, what works for someone else may not work for you & vice versa. You aren’t going to find anything that maps out your perfect way to healing yourself of ways to cope with a narcissists. You have to try different things to figure out what works best in your situation.
An online friend & I were discussing this topic recently. For her, understanding that her narcissistic mother was abused as a child didn’t help her in the least. In fact, it seemed to make her angrier that her mother would take her issues out on her daughter. While I get that, for me, learning my narcissistic mother was abused helped me to be more understanding & compassionate with her while still maintaining my healthy boundaries. I was able to stay calmer than I once had around my mother. I realized she was wounded & acting out of those wounds because she has no healthy coping skills. Neither my friend nor I are wrong- we’re doing what works for us.
As an author who writes primarily about the topics of narcissism & narcissistic abuse, I have come to realize that as much as I want to help everyone who reads my work, I can’t. The best I can do is explain what I have learned, talk about what works & doesn’t work for me, & discuss my experiences. It’s up to each reader to glean from the books & articles what works for them. Unfortunately, some will be disappointed that what I suggest doesn’t work for their situation.
And, ignore those who say things like, “*fill in the blank* will work for you”. It may work for you. Hopefully it will. But, it also may not work for you. People who say they have the answers may, in fact, be narcissists themselves. I realized that after reading a blog about healing from narcissistic abuse some time ago. The blogger wasn’t open to opinions other than her own. She seemed to think what worked for her would work for everyone, & if you disagreed, you were wrong. For example, no contact. It was the only solution this blogger supported, & there were no excuses for not going no contact. While that makes sense to a degree, not everyone is willing or able to go no contact. What if the narcissist is low on the spectrum? They may be hard to deal with but also tolerable. Plus, going no contact is very hard, especially with your own parents. Not everyone feels capable of going no contact. Low contact may be a better option. Still others live with their narcissistic parent & can’t afford to move out so again, no contact isn’t an option.
That is just one example. There are other authors that are the same way- they believe they have all the answers & you need to listen to them. Be careful whose advice you take when reading about narcissism! If something seems off, trust that feeling. Pray & ask God to show you who you can trust & who you can’t, & help you to get the information that will help you the most.
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Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is often a very shameful feeling. If the narcissist was our parent, we are often ashamed of the fact that our parent didn’t love us & that our childhood was so different than other kids’. If it was a spouse, that too is embarrassing because we feel stupid- how could we not know how bad a person he was? How could we be so stupid, we ask ourselves.
While feeling this way is understandable, that doesn’t mean it is right.
As the victim, you had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You are innocent. What was done to you was done because of someone else’s dysfunction, not because of anything you did. Damage was done to that person long before you came along. Nothing you did could have made that person do what was done to you.
As you are healing, rather than hiding your problems, why not discuss them? Be open with safe people as you feel able to discuss things. Again, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are damaged because someone deliberately hurt you. Would you be ashamed of yourself for having a broken leg if someone hit your leg with a tire iron? Then why be ashamed of having C-PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc. after surviving narcissistic abuse? You reacted normally to a very abnormal situation.
Talking about what you have experienced helps you & it also helps others. It puts a face to narcissistic abuse. It shows that the victims aren’t crazy, drama queens (or kings), or overreacting like so many people think. It also shows that narcissistic abuse can happen to anyone, no matter how intelligent or how strong they are.
I’m not saying it’s necessary to talk non stop about narcissistic abuse. That isn’t good for anyone to focus constantly on something so negative. I’m saying though to be more balanced. There is nothing for you to be ashamed of. You have nothing to hide. Don’t carry the shame of what was done to you for another day. That shame belongs on your abuser’s shoulders, not yours. Let him or her carry the shame & refuse to carry it any longer!
Like many survivors of any type of abuse, one thing I have struggled with my entire life is thinking that everything is my fault. It’s very easy to see why this has happened…
You simply can’t survive things like this without learning that everything is your fault, and you deserve whatever you get. It’s your fault for making people act that way. You need to try harder. If the relationship is going to work, then you have to be the one who makes it work.
This type of behavior is extremely common among adult children of narcissistic parents.
Can you relate? If so, read on..
I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is no way that everything is your fault.
It is simply impossible for one person to do every single thing wrong in a relationship while the other does every single thing right. Even people with the best intentions & good relationship skills will make mistakes sometimes.
It’s also not one person’s responsibility to make a relationship work. Relationships are not a one way street- they are a two way street. Both people need to be willing to work on the relationship, no matter what kind of relationship we are talking about. Whether the relationship is husband & wife, friends, relatives, co-workers or parent/child, both parties need to work on the relationship if it is to be a successful. One person simply cannot make it work, no matter how hard they try. Sure, one person can make the relationship work briefly, but it won’t last long. The one with all of the responsibility will become resentful quickly at best, or feel like a complete failure when it falls apart.
You need to know today, Dear Reader, that not everything is your fault or your responsibility! You have your own voice, your own feelings, & your own needs. Never let anyone convince you otherwise! You have your own worth & value, no matter what anyone else says.
Trauma actually can cause physical changes in the brain. That is why PTSD & C-PTSD happen- the brain is actually broken due to traumatic experiences. The physical damage to the brain causes the awful symptoms of both disorders.
However, I don’t believe you have to have an actual disorder to be changed by trauma.
I have C-PTSD, but the symptoms didn’t fully manifest until the spring of 2012. Prior to that, I have experienced many traumas, & I realized I changed after several of them, long before the C-PTSD.
In 2010, my house was hit by lightening while my husband & I were at a friend’s wedding reception. When we came home we learned a window unit air conditioner had been hit, & caught fire, but somehow the fire went out. The neighbor’s tree beside our driveway, where my car sits, was hit, as was their brick chimney. There were large limbs & bricks surrounding my car, but nothing touched my car. Coming so close to losing my car, furkids & home was extremely traumatic. It made me appreciate them all even more. I constantly snuggle & tell the furkids how much I love them now (sometimes to their disappointment..lol). Cleaning my home & car also aren’t as big of a nuisance as they once were.
Shortly after the lightening incident, upon leaving a store, my shoe got caught on the curb & flung me into oncoming traffic. Thankfully I was only sore & embarrassed, but that oncoming truck that came within inches of hitting me scared me! It made me realize that life can change or even end in an instant. Since then, I take better care of my mental health now instead of ignoring when the C-PTSD flares up. I am less rigid in my routines, opting to do fun things whenever the opportunities arise. I also constantly reevaluate things in my life & am much more open to making changes than I was.
Things like what I have experienced are normal. Trauma is so dramatic, how can it not change you in some way?
The changes may not be as drastic as mine have been. Sometimes, it’s small changes. For example, since I developed C-PTSD, I am not as interested in knitting & crocheting as I had been. I loved doing both ever since I was five years old, so suddenly losing interest has been very strange to say the least.
Have you changed as a result of trauma? If so, you are completely normal! It’s ok! These changes may simply be a part of the new you. Why not embrace the changes? You may discover new interests or a renewed passion for an old one. You may have a new appreciation for the people, pets or even things in your life. You may wish to end old relationships that aren’t beneficial to you or the other person, & that too is fine. It may be a good thing. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start. You also may change often, your likes or dislikes changing frequently.
I encourage you to pray if you are unsure of or uncomfortable with the changes happening to you. God will reassure you of what is fine & let you know if something is wrong.
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!
When you have been abused, you eventually get angry. It’s only natural. Many people think that this means you are harboring anger. It can be very discouraging & painful for you, because so many people will tell you you need to let it go, it was so long ago so why are you still holding onto this & other painful, invalidating things. Christians often will quote verses on forgiveness & make you feel guilty for being angry. I actually was told once by a Christian lady, “God says forgive so I do it. I don’t know what your problem is.” *sigh* I can’t even express how ashamed of myself I felt when she said that.
I always find it interesting that these judgmental people never have good advice on how to forgive, but they sure are quick to tell us we need to do it!
The truth of the matter is anger is not easy to deal with. Some people are very blessed & are able to let it go easily, but they are pretty rare. The rest of us have to feel it, & get really angry before we can let it go. Often several times.
Anger can also be somewhat deceptive. You can think you are done, you’ve forgiven someone, when suddenly something triggers anger at that person all over again. I experienced that a few months ago regarding my ex husband. I thought I’d forgiven him long ago, then after my mother bringing him up in conversation, it triggered a flashback which made me very angry at some things he had done to me. It was frustrating because I was sure I’d completely forgiven him.
Anger is a complex emotion that demands to be heard & dealt with in some way. So long as you are trying to deal with it however works best for you though, this doesn’t mean you are harboring anger, resentful, bitter, etc.
Harboring anger, however, is different.
Harboring anger involves not trying to let the anger go. People who have no desire to forgive are harboring anger.
It also includes a disdain & intense hatred for the person who abused you,
Harboring anger also means you don’t care why the person hurt you- you only care that you were hurt. A mature person tries to understand why someone acted the way they did rather than only knowing their actions. They know if they can understand, even a little, it may help them to forgive the other person & not take on the blame for that person’s actions.
People who harbor anger are very bitter. For example, if someone has a spouse who cheated, she assumes all men are cheaters or he assumes all women are cheaters.
These people also hold grudges for years. They can still be just as angry today as they were the day they were hurt 37 years ago.
These people also talk badly about whoever hurt them at every opportunity. Those who aren’t holding onto anger are different- if they discuss that person, they do so in a matter of fact way, without name calling or insulting.
Today I encourage you, Dear Reader, to examine your actions. Are you harboring anger or are you angry but trying to forgive your abuser? If the latter, then please, stop listening to those who are trying to convince you that you are a bad person for feeling the way you do! Ignore the ignorance of other people, & do what you need to do to heal & forgive!
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?
In case you don’t know, intrusive thoughts are thoughts that shove their way into your mind & are often impossible to get rid of. They are very common with PTSD & C-PTSD. In my experience, a brain injury combined with C-PTSD made them even worse. Yay me..
A few minutes ago, I had yet another experience with intrusive thoughts. My newest cat, Minnie Rose, is named after my great grandmom, who I absolutely adore. She passed when I was 11, but I still have many fond memories of her, some of which replayed in my mind when Minnie Rose walked into the room with me. Suddenly, I remembered that my parents never asked if I was ok or offered comfort when she died. My granddad held me & let me cry at her viewing, & that was the only comfort or love I was shown regarding her passing. I began to get angry that my parents didn’t care that I was grieving or even talk to me about her death. I decided to get on facebook & distract myself for a little while as I really didn’t feel like dealing with this anger right now. Even a short break so I could finish my housework in peace would have been nice. That was a bad idea. The “today’s memories” feature popped up & in there was a link to this old blog post. Remembering how cruel my mother was to me last year at this time was very painful.
So now, I’m sitting here pretty pissed off. Fun times… Not.
This type of thing has happened enough times that I’m used to it. I also have learned how to handle it in a way that works for me, & I want to share it in the hopes they will work for you as well.
I have yet to find a way to stop intrusive thoughts. They seem to have a mind of their own. Also, I’ve noticed when I try, often something else happens that pretty much forces me to deal with what is on my mind. This has shown me that intrusive thoughts have a purpose. They serve as a reminder to say, “Now is the time to deal with this! Get alone, get quiet & get with God so you can do it.” This is actually a good thing, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time. (Apparently for me they also can serve as fodder for blog entries..lol)
When I can get alone, quiet & with God, I tell Him how I feel. I let it out, all the anger & ugliness. In return, He comforts me. Sometimes (well, often..) I don’t feel like saying things out loud, so instead of talking to Him, I write in my journal as if I am talking to Him. Either way, God does the same thing- helps me to get rid of the anger &/or hurt & comforts & often heals me from that painful incident. It’s really that simple. Healing isn’t always complicated. Sometimes you just need to get your feelings out, be validated & receive some comfort in return.
Sometimes, I also ask God to tell me the truth about what happened. Was it right? Did I deserve it? His answers are always amazing! When God tells you that you didn’t deserve to be abused, you can’t help but believe it! I’ve often sensed His anger at the injustice of the experience I went through, which also, believe it or not, is very healing. It validates the fact that you were done wrong, very wrong.
Another thing I have noticed is that doing this may help you to release some anger, but acquire a new anger. A righteous anger. I know this can be difficult for victims of narcissistic abuse, because we were never allowed to be angry. Often we carry that dysfunction well into adulthood. And, as a Christian, many folks misunderstand anger. They often believe you should forgive & forget, anger is from the devil, & shamed if you feel any anger no matter the situation. We often feel wrong & ashamed if we feel any anger, so we try to ignore it. I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with righteous anger! Remember Jesus in the temple, overturning tables & freeing sellers’ livestock for sale? That was righteous anger. People were doing something offensive to God, & that enraged Him, as it should have! Abuse is also offensive to God- why shouldn’t anyone be enraged by that?!
Righteous anger has its place. It lets you know that something is very wrong & change needs to happen. It also motivates you to make that change by stirring up your emotions. I have only recently learned to embrace righteous anger. It has helped me when I have to deal with my parents & their abusive, dysfunctional behavior. Realizing that they expect me to behave as they want after how horribly they have treated me makes me angry with that righteous anger. That anger gives me the strength to be firm in my boundaries & not tolerate things I would have tolerated without that anger.
In conclusion, I know intrusive thoughts are painful, upsetting & disturbing, but please be encouraged, Dear Reader. They do have a purpose! Dealing with them as quickly as possible will help you to heal & grow stronger.
Also, when you are done dealing with your intrusive thoughts, don’t forget to take care of yourself! Emotional work is so exhausting. Be gentle with yourself. Pamper yourself. You’ve earned it!
And now, I’m off to write in my journal then take a relaxing, long shower & goof off for the rest of my day…
Society has skewed so many mental health issues badly.
Ignorant comments such as this along with the lack of compassion for people with genuine mental illness has done much to create a terrible stigma about mental illness. The mentally ill are thought of as weak, wallowing in the past, stupid & more. Even some in the medical field are not immune to having these warped views.
Living with mental illness & putting up with this cruel stigma is not easy! If you too have a mental illness, I applaud you! As if the disorder isn’t bad enough, putting up with the ignorance of others makes it even harder. It can create so much shame in you that you shouldn’t be forced to carry!
My hope is that writing about my experiences with C-PTSD helps to show that just because a person has a mental disorder doesn’t mean they are crazy, stupid, drama queens or even “less than.” I’m a normal person who happens to have an illness, that is all. It doesn’t mean I am weak- quite the opposite, as I’ve always been strong. The fact I have C-PTSD means that I’ve been through repeated traumatic experiences, not that I’m weak or feeling sorry for myself.
That is what you are too, Dear Reader. If you battle mental illness as well, don’t tolerate people making you feel badly about yourself. You are fine- you just have an illness. Would you be ashamed of your illness if you had diabetes, cancer or heart disease? Then why be ashamed of having a mental illness? Why should mental illness be something to be ashamed of when physical illness is not?
If you’re like many who read my work & have PTSD or C-PTSD stemming from narcissistic abuse, I also want you to know that you are not alone. I know it can feel that way sometimes, but it’s not true! Unfortunately, many others have survived narcissistic abuse only to develop PTSD or C-PTSD as a result. Sadly, they are normal results from abnormal circumstances like narcissistic abuse. No one escapes narcissistic abuse unscathed. Anyone who says they are completely fine is lying, especially to themselves.