Tag Archives: cope

If You’re Still In A Relationship With A Narcissist

January 12, 2018, I had a very strange experience.  That was my father’s birthday, his first since he died the previous October.  I was thinking about that when God told me that my father wanted Him to tell me something.  He said, “Encourage the weak, like me.”  I knew what that message meant immediately. 

After my father died, God showed me a lot about him.  He showed me how my father felt trapped in their marriage & unable to protect me.  At the time of his death, upon meeting God, he also finally saw how wrong he had been to me.  God showed me how weak my father felt he was.  When God said to encourage the weak, I knew immediately He meant that I should encourage those who are in similar situations & also feel weak for it.

Every January on my father’s birthday, I write a blog post to do just this, to encourage those who also feel weak & in a relationship with a narcissist.

If you have been unable to end a relationship with a narcissist, I don’t think this makes you weak at all, although I certainly understand why you could feel that way.  Fighting a narcissist is incredibly draining & makes you feel weak both mentally & physically. 

Maybe the narcissist in your life has destroyed you financially & you are dependent on them.  Sadly this is incredibly common.  Narcissists excel at financial abuse.  That doesn’t make you weak!

Maybe the narcissist has made you feel forced to maintain the relationship with them.  Many make terrible threats if the victim says they want to leave.  They threaten to keep them from their children or even kill their children.  They threaten to kill their loved ones or pets.  When this happens, how can you not stay out of fear the narcissist will follow through on such threats?!  That doesn’t make you weak.  It makes you someone who loves others & wants to protect them.

Narcissists also often make their victims feel obligated to them somehow.  They may twist Scripture around to make you seem evil for considering ending the relationship with your parent or spouse.  Or they may manipulate your good nature & make you pity them.  My ex husband made me feel so guilty for breaking our engagement that I later married him, even though I was incredibly unhappy with him.  Manipulation is what made me return to him & stay as long as I did.  If that is your situation too, it’s manipulation, not weakness on your part!

Maybe the narcissist has destroyed your self-esteem so badly, you feel completely unable to make it without that person.  Sadly, this happens!  Feeling this way isn’t a sign of weakness at all.  It’s a sign of a cruel person abusing you to put you in such a terrible state.

Maintaining a relationship with a narcissist is hard!  It takes a great deal of strength to maintain your sanity & courage to continue on in this way.

If ending the relationship is your goal, that is brave!  It also isn’t the easy fix many people seem to think it is.  If you live with the narcissist, it takes time to prepare financially, to arrange for a new place to live, & more.  Whether or not you live with the narcissist, it also takes time to figure out the best way to end that relationship to minimize their rage as well as for you to summon the courage to follow through with your plans.

No, you aren’t weak for staying in the relationship with a narcissist.  If you’re looking for solutions, that shows you are strong.  Obviously you want to survive this situation & that courage of yours will pay off.  You will get through this with your dignity & your sanity in tact!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

The Phrase, “Hurting People Hurt People”

If you have been subjected to abuse, chances are excellent you’ve heard the phrase, “hurting people hurt people.”  And, my guess is when you first heard this phrase, you immediately felt badly for being upset about being abused.  Either you felt guilt for being upset, because the abuser is wounded & has no control over acting out of those wounds or downright shame for your feelings.  I have felt that shame so I understand!  I also can tell you that there is no reason to feel that guilt or shame!  That phrase is a lie!

Saying that hurting people hurt people assumes all who have been abused have zero control over their reactions.  Abusers are absolved of any & all guilt with this phrase, & that is completely wrong!  There are very few people who truly are unaware of the differences between right & wrong.  Most people are aware of the differences.  Narcissists are aware, too.  The difference is they don’t care what is right & wrong.  They only care about what they want.  They shouldn’t be lumped into the same category as those who are so damaged they truly don’t recognize the difference between right & wrong.     

Another problem with claiming that hurting people hurt people is that it means their victims can’t be angry at being abused.  How absurd is that?!  No matter the circumstances of the abuse, abuse is wrong & every single person who has been abused should be angry about the wrongness of what was perpetrated on them!  People need to have a healthy anger at things that are wrong & cruel, because not to feel that anger normalizes the behaviors, & such things never should be normalized!

I do realize that many narcissists come from a place of being traumatized & abused.  My narcissistic mother was one of them.  Her narcissistic mother was abusive to her until she died when my mother was in her 60’s, her mother in her 80’s.  My mother’s pain isn’t solely responsible for her narcissism, however.  I think it started that just ball rolling.  She adapted narcissistic behaviors when she was a child as a way to cope with her pain & gain attention.  However, I also believe she, like many other narcissists who experienced similar circumstances, shut down the natural empathy that most people are born with by ignoring any guilt for her hurtful actions.  The more a person does this, the less affected they become by the pain & suffering of other people.  They lose their empathy & become full fledged narcissists who enjoy hurting & manipulating other people.  People who do this shouldn’t be given a free pass to be abusive because they were abused!  Many people have suffered abuse yet turned out to be good, caring, kind & empathic people. 

And lastly, the final problem I have with this phrase is that it shuts down victims.  It makes people feel as if they can’t be angry with their abusers because that poor person was hurting, too, & they didn’t have any better way to deal with their pain.  That is completely unfair!  Victims never should be shut down from discussing their traumatic experiences!  Discussing such events is helpful when it comes to coping with pain & healing from it as well as helping other people.  There is no valid reason a person should be made to feel as if they need to stop discussing their trauma!  Many people who make others feel that way only do so because they are uncomfortable.  Either they don’t want to hear about it because it makes them think less of the abuser they are so fond of, or they are reminded of their own pain that they are too cowardly to face.  Neither situation is healthy & both situations are cruel to victims of abuse!

If you come across anyone who tells you “hurting people hurt people” when you mention your traumatic experiences, then I hope & pray you will remember what I have said & that it empowers you.  Don’t feel guilty or stop discussing your experiences!  While it’s best to stop discussing them with unhealthy people, that doesn’t mean you should be quiet.  Set the world on fire with your story!  You will heal while also helping others to heal!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Slipping Up As You Heal From Narcissistic Abuse

Healing after narcissistic abuse is messy.   There is nothing easy about it!  It’s not like walking on a nice, level, freshly paved sidewalk.  It’s more like walking on a rocky, narrow path up a steep hill.  Lots of ups & downs & struggles.

There are going to be times on your healing journey when you struggle & even fail.  You’ll slip back into old, dysfunctional patterns.  You’ll apologize for something that isn’t your fault or over explain yourself.  You’ll feel guilty for setting boundaries & maybe even give up on those boundaries since it seems easier not to have them.  You may even resume a relationship with the narcissist you had kicked out of your life.

Times like this are incredibly frustrating, but they also are incredibly NORMAL.  Everyone has had setbacks like these as they heal.  Yes, they’re awful but they happen.  Narcissistic abuse is extremely damaging, so this happens to everyone.

Rather than beat yourself up for being stupid, a failure or whatever other terrible things you’re telling yourself, stop it right now.  Beating yourself up does no good.  Besides, didn’t the narcissist in your life do enough of that for you to last a lifetime?  Why add to it?

Instead, try to relax.  Fix the things you can.  Reestablish those shaky or removed boundaries.  Remind yourself that you owe no one any explanations & stop offering them.  If you resumed a relationship with the narcissist in your life, then end it again & this time, stick to it.  Block their phone numbers, emails, social media accounts.  Avoid going places they go to as much as humanly possible.

Never forget that this was only a stumbling block on your healing path.  Just because you may have fallen into a ditch doesn’t mean you have to stay there.  Pick up where you left off.  If you’re really struggling, ask God to help you.  In fact, even if you aren’t struggling much, ask Him to help you!  We all need His help to survive this incredibly difficult journey, & He is more than happy to help His children however possible.

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“You Never Said That Before!”

Many times, victims are accused of changing their story when they discuss the traumatic abusive episodes of their past.  It can be understandable to a degree that people are concerned with that, because many people lie.  How many false rape accusations have you heard of, for example?  I would bet quite a few.  Or, how many times have you heard of someone being arrested & changing their story either before the trial or while they were in court? 

The problem is that with many victims of abuse, the story can change some but that doesn’t mean the accusations are false or that the victim is lying.  There are several reasons for this.

Many victims have repressed serious trauma.  One way the mind copes to serious trauma is to hide the memory until such a time as one can cope with it.  When you are in an abusive relationship, you endure trauma after trauma, with no time to cope with the first trauma when the second comes along.  Then the third.  Then then fourth & so on.  The mind can handle only so much.  Rather than try to juggle coping with the barrage of constant trauma, it hides some.   Basically, it’s as if the mind puts some events in a box on a shelf.  Later, when in a safer environment, the mind can relax & not function in survival mode.  Those times are often when it decides to take those boxes off the shelf as it is able to cope with them.  This is why immediately after a trauma, sometimes a person can forget key aspects of the situation then days, weeks or even years later, suddenly remember them.  To someone unfamiliar with the mechanics of repressed memories, they can look as if the victim is changing their story even though it is nothing of the sort.

Some details are too embarrassing to share, so they prefer to censor some of the story.  Being involved with an abusive person in any capacity is embarrassing, but it seems to me that being involved with them romantically is especially embarrassing.  It’s embarrassing to admit you fell in love with someone so awful, because it makes you feel stupid & incredibly flawed.  I never was in love with my ex husband, although I thought I was & said I was.  I tried to be.  Even so, for a long time I felt ashamed of myself for wasting my time with someone like him.  As if that isn’t enough though, a lot of narcissistic spouses are very demeaning sexually.  They have no problem raping their spouse through violence or guilt/shaming tactics.  They also seem to get a thrill from degrading them by expecting them to perform acts that cause them either physical or emotional pain or both.  Most people aren’t overly comfortable discussing details of their sex life even when they have a normal one, but discussing the details of the degrading things your narcissistic spouse has done to you or made you do is even worse.  No one wants to admit to having done or been subjected to such awful things!

Most victims also realize that not everyone is capable of emotionally handling the gory details of abuse, so they edit their story for some people while sharing more with others.  This doesn’t mean a victim is trying to get attention from certain people.  It means we’re all pretty aware that there are some folks who can handle our story better than others, & we feel more comfortable sharing details with them. 

As you heal, you become more comfortable discussing your story.  The more you heal, the more comfortable you are with your story.  You realize you aren’t the awful person the narcissist convinced you that you were.  You realize the abuse wasn’t your fault.  You also realize the shame of the abuse isn’t yours to carry, but your abuser’s.  The things you are willing to discuss today may not be things you were willing to share last year.  It’s simply part of the healing process to be more comfortable with being open about your story than you once were. 

If someone jumps you for never saying that before or some similar comment, remember these points.  There is nothing wrong with divulging more or less during certain times or to certain people as long as you’re telling the truth.

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10% Off All My Print Books Until October 1, 2021

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Animals, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health, Narcissism, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.), Writing

Ways To Handle Flying Monkeys

In scrolling through my memories on Facebook recently, a picture came up.  The picture is one taken of my parents on their wedding day while they stood by my father’s car.  I originally shared it on Facebook in 2014 because I thought the picture was nice & my family might enjoy seeing it.  The car in the picture was special to my father, too, & I thought they also might remember it.  One of my cousins said something about how my father & I both love cars.  I responded that was true, it was one of the few things we had in common.  Out of nowhere, one of my aunts verbally attacked me for not trying harder to find things in common with my father.

Does this sound at all familiar to you?  If so, welcome to life with narcissistic parents & their awful flying monkeys!

Flying monkeys absolutely love to tell the victims of narcissistic abuse what we need to do, how we need to work harder for the narcissist, how we should ignore our own needs in favor of the narcissist & so much more.  The pressure can be unbearable sometimes.  It also can trigger a lot of anger, as my situation with my aunt did.  I hope to help you to find ways to help you deal with these awful people in this post.

The very first thing you should do when trying to learn ways to deal with flying monkeys is to pray.  Ask God for wisdom, clarity, strength not to cave into their unrealistic expectations & creative ways to help you to cope.  He absolutely will grant you those things!

Some flying monkeys are people who were genuinely duped by narcissist, but not many are.  Many flying monkeys are truly horrible, evil & narcissistic people that enjoy causing others pain while simultaneously acting as if they are only trying to help so no one can be angry with them.   The way to tell the difference is by listening to what these people say.  The genuinely duped are open to hearing your side & admitting that the narcissist might just be wrong.  The evil flying monkeys however have no interest in hearing your side of the story.  They are convinced you are wrong, the narcissist is right & that is the end of the story.  They have zero interest in truth, & their minds are completely closed to anything that disagrees with their views, no matter how slightly.  People like this are toxic, & need to be removed from your life.  It’s not likely that those who are genuinely duped need to be removed from your life.  They may see the error of their ways & aren’t so toxic.  Use your best judgment with them regarding whether or not to remove them from your life.

If you’re unable to remove the toxic flying monkeys from your life, it’s best to interact with them as little as possible.  If you must interact with them, share as little personal information as possible.  Telling them anything personal means that most likely, they will run to your narcissistic parent to share that information as quickly as possible.

Refuse to discuss your narcissistic parent with the flying monkeys.  Remember, the toxic ones are online interested in what supports their perspective.  As a result of that, they WILL hurt you by invalidating or shaming you.  They will attempt to force you to do what they believe you should do, such as resume contact with your narcissistic parent no matter how toxic your parent is.  Change the subject, even if it means doing it repeatedly or being rude.  Only discuss neutral topics with flying monkeys such as the weather.  Or, ask them about things in their lives.  There’s not a narcissist around that will pass up the opportunity to discuss themselves, so why not use this to your advantage?

Show no emotions whatsoever to the flying monkeys.  Narcissists feed off emotions, & their flying monkeys do too.  In fact, they use any emotions you show as proof that the narcissist is right about you, & you’re crazy, angry, unreasonable & more.  No matter how justifiable emotions are, flying monkeys still take them as proof of a victim’s mental incompetence.  Once they are convinced of your mental instability, they will use that to hurt you, so it’s best to refuse to show them any emotions that you feel.

Flying monkeys are miserable, awful people who thrive on hurting others.  Not dealing with them is the best solution, but if you must deal with them, I hope the tips in this post will help you to do so.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Stop Comparing Your Struggles To Someone Else’s

One thing I have noticed a great deal of in the community of abuse survivors is comparisons.

Those without PTSD or C-PTSD sometimes think those with either disorder are weak, & shame them for being so weak.

Those who have siblings shame those of us who are only children, because they think we had it so easy growing up without abusive siblings.

Still others who were older children look down on their younger siblings for having it so easy as to be “spoiled” by the same parents that abused them.

The problem is that these mindsets make no sense whatsoever.

Someone who managed to escape an abusive childhood or abusive marriage without PTSD or C-PTSD should be grateful for that fact rather than judging others who live with these disorders.  Those without such disorders are in the minority.  The fact is that surviving an abusive relationship often causes either disorder, & it’s not very common to escape without them.  Rather than looking down on those of us you may deem weak, instead be grateful that you don’t live with PTSD or C-PTSD.  Be grateful you don’t have any idea what it’s like to live with crippling anxiety & depression, or have nightmares every night, or live with being so hyper-vigilant that your own spouse coming into the room where you are can make you feel blind terror for a few moments.  Living with such horrible things is an absolute nightmare.  Be glad you don’t suffer with this! 

If you think those of us who were only children had it easy, then think again.  I won’t say it’s easier for only children to survive an abusive upbringing than those with siblings, because each situation has its own unique challenges.  I will say as an only child, I can speak from experience in saying that being the sole focus of a narcissistic parent’s rage is a nightmare.  It’s just as bad of a nightmare as it is for someone who grows up with siblings who turn out like their parents, & abuse their scapegoated sibling.  One is no better or worse than the other, simply different.  Different does NOT mean one had it easy & another did not.

Rather than waste time comparing your experience to someone else’s, I would like to encourage you today to accept not only your experiences but the experiences of others to be valid.  Everyone who has survived abuse has seen some horrific things.  While yes, some experienced worse than others, that does not make the experiences of those who experienced less horrific abuse any less valid or abusive.  Abuse is abuse & it hurts.  Period.  Accept that.  Validate your experiences.  There is nothing wrong with this!  In fact, doing so can help you to heal.  Not doing so, & comparing your experiences to that of others invalidates your pain.  It makes you feel your experiences don’t matter.  They weren’t so bad, so just ignore them & pretend they never happened.  That mindset is incredibly unhealthy!  I know facing your demons is hard, but it also is healthy, brave & a strong thing to do.  It’s necessary if you wish to heal from the trauma in your life.  So why waste time comparing your experiences to those of other people when you can help yourself to heal?

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A Way To Cope With Dysfunctional People

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world with flawed people.  Many of those flawed people are very dysfunctional & they refuse to change.  There is no escaping them, so we all need to find ways to cope with them.

One way I have found to deal with such people is by accepting these people where they are.  Please don’t think I am saying people have the right to treat you any way they want & you should accept it.  That isn’t what I mean at all.  I mean recognizing that some people are comfortable operating in their own dysfunction & that is their right.  You have every right to protect yourself from such people, of course.  You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries.  You also have the right to distance from such people to protect yourself. 

Here is an example from my life of what I’m talking about.

For quite some time, my mother went through a phase of often telling me how good a mother she was.  She regaled me with stories of how she took such good care of me.  The stories were strange to say the least.  While there was some truth in many of them, she twisted some facts around to make herself look good.  Other times, she denied any wrong doing towards me at all.

When she first began to do this, I felt like she was invalidating the pain she caused me yet again.  First, by doing the things she did that caused the pain, then later by acting as if such things never happened or spinning the stories around to make herself look good.  And, to add insult to injury, she clearly wanted me to validate her delusions. 

Naturally, I was incredibly hurt & angry when this happened.  I literally could feel my blood pressure rise when she would start telling her tales, or if not then, when she wanted me to agree to her stories.  In time, I realized something though.  This was how she coped. 

I realized that my mother felt badly for doing abusive things to me.  Not like a normal person would though.  She didn’t feel badly for causing pain.  Instead, her actions were so embarrassing to her that she simply couldn’t bear the thought of anyone knowing what she had done.  That is why she started to reinvent the past.  She worked very hard to convince herself, others & even me that she didn’t do the horrible things she did or the events didn’t happen that way I remembered.  She spun facts around in some way to make her look good.  The fact it hurt me didn’t seem to cross her mind.  Often when she said or did things to hurt me, she looked pleased with herself, but that didn’t happen with her stories.  I think she was simply so focused on helping herself feel better, how it affected me simply didn’t occur to her. 

When these things happened, I prayed & God showed me what I told you just now.  This was how my mother coped.  Many people do this exact same thing, narcissist or not.  It is incredibly dysfunctional for sure, but it also is a person’s right to live as functionally or dysfunctionally as they want to do. Naturally I wanted better for her than this for my sake as well as hers, but there was nothing I could do to make my mother operate in a healthier way.  This was her choice & even her right to behave this way.

When I realized that, it helped me to accept my mother’s behavior for what it was.  Dysfunctional but also her right. I kept that in mind when she started sharing her stories, & I was no longer so negatively affected by them. 

I also realized that just because she wants to drag me into this behavior doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it.  While it’s true people have the right to behave badly, that doesn’t mean you have to participate in it.  I never validated my mother’s stories like she wanted me to.  Instead, I changed the subject or ended the phone call.  You too have the right to protect yourself from the awful behavior of other people. 

Accepting people where they are while not encouraging their dysfunctional behavior can make coping with them so much easier!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Celebrate Your Healing!

Some time ago, I shared something on Facebook someone else disagreed with. The way this person stated their opinion triggered shame in me because they sounded much like my mother & ex husband used to sound when they disagreed with me. The good part about this was I realized very quickly what was happening. This person didn’t intend to shame me. The way they stated their opinion was simply a trigger, nothing more. I also realized this person was wrong, but rather than blindly believe this person or get into some big debate (which I absolutely hate), I simply deleted my post.

Do you have any idea how very important this is?!!?

Until the last few years, when someone disagreed with me, I automatically assumed I was wrong, they were right & I should be ashamed of myself for thinking what I did. Growing up hearing how wrong you are about everything will do this. You naturally assume you’re wrong about everything, even when every fiber of your being knows otherwise. I’m sure many of you who also were raised by narcissistic parents can relate all too well to this. The behavior goes deep & is hard to change. Yet, I conquered it!!! That is worth celebrating!

Another common behavior of those of us with narcissistic parents is to minimize our accomplishments & not celebrate them. I always thought my parents expected me to do great things not because I was smart or talented, but just because they thought I should do those things. As a result, I learned not to celebrate anything I did because I figured I was just supposed to do those things. It took me writing several books before I created a celebratory ritual that I do once I publish a book. Prior to that, I just published a book & started another. No celebration was involved.

Some time back, after considering such things, I decided to celebrate more often & that includes when I recognize how much I’ve healed. The incident I mentioned at first almost went uncelebrated. Old habits die hard, after all. It took a few days for me to realize what had happened & that I should be proud of myself for healing to this point. When I did though, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for healing.

I want to encourage you, Dear Reader, to do the same.

There are going to be times when you backslide in your healing journey. We all do that. Chances are good you spend plenty of time beating yourself up for those times. I certainly do! Why not spend at least the same amount of time celebrating your successes? The more you do that, the better you’ll feel about yourself. And as an added bonus, the less the backsliding times will affect you. They’ll still annoy you of course, but they won’t be devastating.

By celebrating these times, I don’t mean you have to have a big party or anything so elaborate. If you like that, by all means, go for it! If not, that’s fine too. The celebrations can be simpler. I often reminded myself of how far I’ve come. I remember some things from my younger & much more dysfunctional days then thought of how that person is now a stranger. God has helped me heal so much, I don’t even recognize the old me. I sit with that for a while, knowing God truly has blessed me. Sure, I still have issues. I still have C-PTSD. But, I also no longer make rash or foolish decisions based on what other people want while ignoring what I want. Other people can no longer control or manipulate me. These are really important accomplishments! It took a lot of work & listening to God’s guidance to get to that point & I am proud of myself for what I have done.

You should feel the same! Be proud of everything you have accomplished in your healing. Even the baby steps count, so if you feel you’ve healed in one tiny way, be proud of yourself for that! That still took work & is something special. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

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Being An INFJ With A Broken Brain

I was going to simply write about this in my journal but since many of you who read my work have told me you share the INFJ personality with me & also have various types of brain damage, I figured putting this out there might help others too.

Being an INFJ isn’t easy.  Naturally we feel things deeper than many other people. We also see red flags of toxic people many don’t even notice & think something is wrong with us for noticing.  We’re often misjudged because we tend to be quiet around people we don’t know well & we’re naturally rather private people.  We also are subjected to some pretty ridiculous expectations, like no matter what is happening in our lives, we should always be willing to listen when people have problems & be the one to do all the work in relationships.  It also seems to me that people think we either don’t have problems or are able to handle anything, so we aren’t really allowed to have bad days or be in a bad mood. 

Even more frustrating than this is being an INFJ with a malfunctioning brain either due to a traumatic brain injury or C-PTSD or even both.  Being an INFJ with both C-PTSD & a traumatic brain injury, I can tell you that frankly, it really just sucks sometimes!  Today has been one of those times.

I woke my husband & myself up at 4:30 this morning from a nightmare that made me wake up having a particularly nasty panic attack.  It took quite some time to fall back asleep & by the time I did, it was time to get up.  A few hours later, I had a flashback.  One of these alone would be hard enough to deal with but having both in a short period of time was rough.  Add in the brain injury making my cognitive skills not function as they should & that makes everything even harder.  It’s been a really long day already & it’s not nearly over yet.

The natural inclination for INFJs in such positions is to go on as normal & not burden anyone with their problems.  I’m no exception.  I even hate writing about this when it’s not going in my journal where only I will see it.  But, for some reason, I felt I should write this out today to let my fellow INFJs know you’re not alone!

Being the rarest of the MBTI personality types, it’s just a given we will be misunderstood.  This can make you feel like a freak but just because you feel that way doesn’t mean it’s true.  Unique isn’t a bad thing at all!  Far from it!  It sure beats blending in with the crowd.  Besides, I’ve noticed INFJs tend to find other INFJs & become friends with them.  We also get along well with INFPs who can understand us surprisingly well.  These friendships are truly a treasure!

If you too have C-PTSD, I know it’s awful.  Absolutely awful in every way.  But, there is one good thing about it.  C-PTSD is not a sign of weakness like many people foolishly think it is.  Quite the opposite.  It is proof that you survived something that was meant to destroy you.  I’m not saying be grateful for C-PTSD of course.  If it could be returned to a store like a bad birthday gift, I’d say return it today!  What I’m saying is just remember C-PTSD is proof that you are an amazing person who is strong, courageous & has a great will to survive.

Lastly, if you have a brain injury too, I truly feel your pain, literally & figuratively.  Brain injuries are incredibly frustrating at best.  They cause some really obnoxious physical symptoms such as terrible headaches & seizures.  They can steal your identity, your talents, your memories & leave you feeling incredibly stupid.  They also can help you to recognize what is truly important in your life & give you the courage to focus on those things.  They can help you to gain the courage to stop tolerating people in your life who don’t love & appreciate you.  There are very few good parts of having a brain injury but the ones I just mentioned are extremely good!

I hope this post helped you to know you aren’t alone in your struggles.  Don’t forget to take good care of yourself, mentally & physically, but especially during trying times.  If other people don’t understand your natural need for self care, that isn’t your problem.  Do what you need to do! 

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.)

Acting Normal After Trauma Can Create Shame

I’m a huge fan of the ID channel’s true crime shows, & I watch them often. It fascinates me the things that people are capable of. Not only those who commit heinous crimes, but those who have the strength & wisdom to outwit their attackers & survive brutal attacks.

Recently I was watching one of these shows. In it, a woman’s ex boyfriend kidnapped her under the guise of saying he wanted her to come with him to say good bye to his daughters. He said there was a party in another town, & he would take her to the party where his daughters would be so she could say good bye. On the way there, he threatened her & even tried to choke her. Sadly, when they got inside the house where the party supposedly was, it was empty & abandoned. It’s where he killed her.

What got me about this show was what happened just before they got to that house. The boyfriend told her to behave herself when they arrived at the party, in other words, act like he hadn’t just tried to choke her. It struck me – that is exactly how narcissists act! They can do the most painful, vulgar thing to a victim, & victims aren’t allowed to show others any signs of the trauma they just survived.

Naturally, narcissists do this to hide their horrible behavior so they can continue to do it & to impress whoever they want to impress. However, there is another facet of this behavior. Not allowing someone to act as if they have been through trauma instills shame in them.

Hiding your emotions in such a situation is good for survival, but at the same time, it can make you feel like something is very wrong with you for being upset about the trauma. I wonder if it’s partly because of how narcissists think. Many act like their victim is supposed to be able to do anything. Not because that victim is capable or smart, but because they want the victim to do things. Certain things are just expected of a victim, no matter the victim’s abilities, strengths or weaknesses. Acting normal after trauma is one of those expected things. When you feel as if you can’t act normally or struggle to do so immediately after a traumatic event, you can feel ashamed of your feelings.

Another reason for shame in such situations could be how many people treat victims. So few people are sympathetic to victims. Many people expect victims to “just get over it”, “let go of the past” or “forgive & forget.” Not a lot of people have patience for a victim who still shows signs of having been through trauma & they do their best to get them to act normal. Being around such people can instill a great deal of shame in a victim.

I’ve also experienced shame by being around someone who isn’t affected as strongly as I am by similar traumas. As an example, my husband is someone who can go on no matter what. No trauma slows him down. I’m not sure why he’s that way & trauma hits me much harder. There have been plenty of times I would see him keep going to work, working in the yard & doing other normal things after something traumatic happened. Yet, let something not as traumatic happen to me & I struggle to do things I do every day. This kind of comparison also can instill shame just like being told to act like nothing happened can.

When you experience this type of scenario, & chances are you will at some point, you need to turn to God. Pray about it. Tell Him how you feel & ask for help.

Also think about your situation objectively. It’s not normal to act like nothing happened after trauma. It’s normal to feel certain things & to act differently. If it was 95* outside, it’d be normal to sweat. Would you be angry at yourself for sweating in such hot weather? No, because it’s totally normal & understandable. Similarly, it’s normal & understandable to act differently after trauma. You have no reason to feel shame for acting differently.

Just remember, Dear Reader, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for being affected by trauma, no matter what the narcissist or insensitive people may think. xoxo

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When Gratitude Can Be Toxic

Gratitude is a topic that is presented as of the utmost importance in society.  And, gratitude is a wonderful thing.  Life is much happier when you are grateful for the good things in your life.  I feel so much joy when I focus on appreciating little things, like going for a drive with some good music playing in the car.

There are times though that gratitude isn’t the best solution.  It may even be impossible. 

If you have lost a loved one, for example, you will get to the point where you are grateful they’re no longer suffering & that you had them in your life for however long the time was.  To get to that point though, you first will need to go through the grief process.  That is going to take time, & involve some unpleasant emotions like feeling lost & alone, anger & intense depression.  To get to the grateful place is messy, & shouldn’t be skipped over.  Focusing only on gratitude for that person while not properly grieving means you’re ignoring pain that needs your attention in order to heal.  Ignored pain finds alternative ways to get your attention, & those ways aren’t healthy.  It can manifest as unhealthy relationships, addictions, physical & mental health problems.

This is also true when it comes to dealing with abuse in your past. 

There are people who tell victims that they need to be grateful for the trauma because it supposedly made them strong or it made them who they are today.  This can be so harmful for victims!  It’s invalidating & also can create a great deal of shame in a victim who is struggling & unable to feel any gratitude.  It is so cruel to tell someone this & make their struggle even harder than it needs to be!

This post is for people who have hurt such comments about how they need to be grateful for what they have been through.  There is nothing wrong with you for not feeling grateful.  Healing is ugly.  It involves a lot of terrible feeling emotions.  It also is a grief process, because you have to accept that some pretty terrible things were done to you, & that caused you to lose precious time in your life, maybe even your whole childhood if your abuser was your parent.  How can any human feel gratitude during such a process?!  It takes a long time & a lot of healing first before you can feel any gratitude related to your situation.

Rather than try to create a grateful heart at this time, forget that.  Not necessarily forever, but for the near future at least until you are further along in your healing journey.  Focus on your healing instead of gratitude.  Feel all the ugly emotions & process them fully.  Then, maybe you can be grateful for some aspects of your experiences.  There are a few things to be grateful for after all.

You can be grateful the trauma & abuse didn’t destroy you, that you have a lot of inner strength that enabled you to survive it, that the abusers are no longer in your life & that God has found some purpose in your pain such as writing about it to help other people.  You also can be grateful for having the courage to face your struggles, because that courage isn’t something everyone has.  Please remember that gratitude can be a good thing to help a person add joy to their life, but it isn’t a cure all.  It isn’t a healthy alternative to pain.  It isn’t like an ointment that will soothe your pain either.  You can feel gratitude while also facing painful, even traumatic things have happened to you.  Just remember not to try to rush yourself into feeling gratitude.

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15% Off My Print Books Until May 7, 2021

If you have been interested in getting the print version of any of my books, now is a good time! My publisher is offering 15% off when using code SPRING15 at checkout until May 7, 2021.

My print books can be found at the link below…

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Thoughts On Being Comfortable With Who God Made You To Be

I recently had an interesting dream.  In it, I was at a concert of one of my favorite bands ever, Motorhead.  The dream was a bit odd since I’m not exactly a concert goer.  Watching them on TV is as close as I get.

When I woke up, I prayed then looked up what music & concerts meant on my favorite dream dictionary website, dreammoods.com.  According to the site, dreaming of a concert symbolizes unity & cooperation.  Very cool.. my husband & I were moving soon & the dream made me realize how well we’re working together to accomplish this.  Dreaming of music meant something different though.  The site said that dreaming of music depends on the dreamer.  Each genres means something different & if the genre is something you like, the music is offering you advice.  When I read this, it clicked in my brain immediately.

I’ve been a Motorhead fan for a long time, but in particular a fan of their late singer, Lemmy Kilmister.  In some ways he was your typical heavy metal musician.  But, in other ways he wasn’t & I always thought those ways were really interesting.  Not only was he highly intelligent but had a very unique personality.  He was fascinated by history.  Most of all though, he was unapologetic for being himself.  Not like a narcissist of course, just he had this attitude of, “This is who I am.  I like me.  Your approval isn’t required.”  Never having such an attitude myself, I admire & even somewhat envy it in others.

I believe my dream was trying to tell me that I need to share Lemmy’s attitude.  There is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin & not caring what others think about you.  I realize narcissists try to make victims feel that way, but that doesn’t mean they’re right.  They don’t want victims to feel that way because an insecure victim with low, or better yet NO, self esteem is easy to control.  A person who is insecure doesn’t know what they want, think, feel & believe, which means they are going to be easily controlled.

Someone who has a healthy self esteem, however, is a threat to narcissists.  They know who they are.  They know what they want, think, feel & believe.  They are well aware of their boundaries.  Because of such things, they aren’t easily controlled or manipulated.  They may be briefly but they catch on fast, & put an end to being treated that way even if it means ending the relationship.

Anyway I don’t think the lesson in this dream was only for me.  I think it was for other victims of narcissistic abuse.  If it was for you too, I’m sure this resonates with you as it did with me.

I have tried to develop Lemmy’s attitude.  This is what I figured out about how to do that.

Naturally pray.  Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself.  That alone is eye opening!  I did that myself some time ago & was shocked at what He had to say.  He told me to research the personality of wolves, because that is what he created me to be like.  I assume because of being such an animal lover, that was why He used that example.  It was fascinating & so eye opening!  I never would have thought that is what God created me to be like.

Once you do this, remind yourself often of whatever it is He tells you about yourself.  Having the knowledge is a good thing of course, but reminding yourself of it often is what will get that knowledge inside of you.  This was where I made my mistake.  I didn’t focus on it as much as I should have, which is probably why I had the dream.  Learn from my mistake!  Think about what He said.  If it helps leave notes or pictures around your home that remind you of it.  Let this valuable knowledge get inside you & help you to blossom into the wonderful person He created you to be!

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Illness Changes Personality & Behavior

When a person faces serious health problems, they change & not only physically.  Their personalities change, too.  That is normal.  Sometimes the personality changes can be very bad.

A dear friend of mine lost her husband some time ago after caring for him for several years.  Not long before he died, she told me some very disturbing things about his behavior.  This once good, kind, loving man was suddenly exhibiting many narcissistic traits.  In particular, he didn’t want his wife to be with other people, including their children.  It was bizarre since narcissism doesn’t suddenly show up, like when you catch a cold.  The more we talked about things, the more I thought of something… 

After I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the hospital gave me no information & even said my elevated carbon monoxide levels “weren’t so bad.”  They also said I had no brain injury in spite of showing many signs of a concussion from hitting my head when I passed out.  The hospital said I could return to work two days later, but by that time, I still felt just as miserable as I did when I left the hospital.  I was lost, so I started researching my condition.  I also joined a traumatic brain injury group on Facebook.  I noticed immediately most people in the group showed a LOT of narcissistic tendencies & were very insecure.  I left the group quickly, but I realized something.  I was starting to behave much as they were!  I wanted my husband to be with me non stop & was very annoyed he wasn’t.  I knew he had demanding, elderly parents with health problems, plus a full time job which all left him exhausted much of the time, but even so, I was annoyed he didn’t spend more time with me.  Realizing how selfish I was behaving was a real wakeup call!

I told my friend about my experiences plus what I witnessed in that group & in time, we realized what happened with her husband was much like what happened to me.

The reason I’m sharing this is so many people are affected by serious health concerns either in themselves or in those they love.  Whether you are the person with the condition or someone you love is, it’s vital to understand that serious health problems can change someone’s personality drastically.  The condition doesn’t even need to be something that affects one’s brain directly like Alzheimer’s, stroke or traumatic brain injury for this to happen. 

When you become seriously sick or injured, you become scared.  Even if you’re getting the best of care & have a great prognosis, health problems are terrifying. 

Add in that you can’t do things you once took for granted & are forced to rely on other people for help.  That too can make you feel afraid, especially for the person who has always been self reliant, & is a serious blow to the self esteem.

Having to rely on other people also can make you feel like a burden, which unsurprisingly is terrible for one’s self esteem.

Feeling like a burden can make you feel that you need to put your best face forward & not show others just how miserable you feel or how much you’re struggling.  There is a very difficult balance in this situation.  If you act as if your symptoms aren’t as bad as they are, or not happening at all, people often think you’re faking the health crisis.  But, if you are honest about it, people often think you’re exaggerating your symptoms, feeling sorry for yourself or looking for attention.

Feeling insecure & afraid naturally change a person.  Many people get angry.  Many others talk about their illness non stop in an effort to educate people, which often alienates them because people get tired of hearing about this topic.  Most people though seem to become insecure, some even to the point of displaying narcissistic tendencies.

If you are the person who is ill & behaving this way, please work on healing!  You are only hurting yourself & those around you!  I know it’s hard but you can change!  Watch your behavior, & change it accordingly.  Apologize when you mistreat someone or have unfair expectations on them.  Stop expecting people to meet your needs & focus on God to do that. 

If you are the person in a relationship with someone who is behaving this way, remember, you can’t change their behavior.  They have to change themselves.  But, you aren’t helpless.  You need to have good boundaries in place & enforce them.  Talk to this person & explains that their behavior hurts you.  Non-narcissistic people will respond to that!  I know it seems hard to believe if you’ve dealt with a narcissist, but it’s true.  Remind yourself that their behavior isn’t personal.  It’s their illness making them act this way rather than something you are doing wrong.

Whichever position you are in, remember to stay close to God. Nurture that relationship.  That is what will help you more than anything else!

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How To Find The Right Therapist

Finding a good therapist isn’t always as easy as it may seem.  Every person has their own unique personality, beliefs, ways of thinking & more, so finding a therapist who is compatible with you can be a challenge.  When you are seeing one to help you to deal with the effects of narcissistic abuse however, the challenge can be much more difficult.

For one thing, there are many therapists out there who are narcissists.  Narcissists are drawn to the helping type professions such as teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement & even the mental health field.  I’m not saying all teachers, clergy, doctors, law enforcement officers & mental health professionals are narcissists of course.  Many very good people are in those fields too.  When it comes to finding a therapist that can help you cope with issues stemming from narcissistic abuse though, it’s especially important to be certain your therapist isn’t a narcissist.  No one needs to be subjected to a narcissistic therapist!  It only makes things much worse!

There is also the fact that most in the mental health field received little to no training on the cluster B personality disorders like narcissism.  Unless a therapist has personal experience with a narcissist, chances are they won’t know ways to help you to heal.  They may not even recognize the type of person who abused you.  And, if they don’t understand the person who abused you, there is the chance that they may not believe you let alone be able to help you heal.  Honestly, much of what narcissists do is pretty unbelievable.  I think back to the things I was subjected to at the hands of narcissists, & can barely believe it.  I was there!  It shouldn’t be hard to believe it, yet it is. If your therapist doesn’t believe you, that is a sign you need to find a different one.

If you are considering therapy after narcissistic abuse, I hope I haven’t dissuaded you.  That certainly isn’t my intention at all.  I just want to let you know that finding one who can help you may not be easy.  That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though!

Many therapists have areas they specialize in such as drug rehabilitation, sexual problems, marriage counseling & more.  Find one who specializes in trauma & abuse. Often their specialty is listed on their website or on your insurance carrier’s list of providers who accept your insurance. 

If you know other people in your area who have been to counseling, ask them about their counselor.  What did they like or dislike about that counselor?  Even if they saw that counselor for a different issue than what you want to see one for, you never know.  That counselor may not specialize in helping others recover from narcissistic abuse, but may be highly empathic & able to think outside the box enough to help you.

Remember that the first counselor you see may not be one that you stay with.  Or the second counselor.  Or even the third.  Things may start out just fine then something happens that makes you think this counselor may not be the one for you.  Don’t worry about that!  It happens sometimes.  Not everyone is compatible with every counselor.  Don’t give up easily, but don’t stay with a counselor for longer than you feel comfortable either.  The goal is to help yourself, so do what you need to in order to help yourself.  It doesn’t mean you’re a failure if it takes you seeing a few counselors before you find one that you really like. 

Don’t be biased, either, when seeking a counselor.  If you’re a woman, you may be more comfortable talking to women about personal issues as a general rule, but that may not be the case with a counselor.  You may end up finding a male counselor more effective for you.  Or, vice versa- a man may prefer a female counselor.  Remember, men & women think very differently as a general rule, & sometimes those differences can be very helpful. 

I wish you the best in your quest to find a good counselor!

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Willful Ignorance

Many people realize the truth will set you free.  They know that even the ugly, painful truth is always better than a pretty lie, & no matter how much it may hurt, always aim for truth in their lives.

Then there are other people who are nothing like that.  They prefer pretty lies any day.  They excuse the bad behavior of others readily & deny those people have done anything wrong.  These people are practicing something called willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is a legal term which basically means a person has made a poor decision to circumvent information as a way for people to avoid making uncomfortable decisions.  On a more personal note, it is the avoidance of information or evidence that would force a person to face something unpleasant.

One of the best examples of this came from my personal life.  As I’ve written about before, at the time my father was dying, I had been no contact with him for several months.  My family attacked me via any means possible daily, trying to force me to go say goodbye to him.  Every time I would block one means, they’d find another.  I finally asked God why.  One of the things He said was that me staying away meant I was proving that not everything was ok.  If I would have gone, that would have shown them that my father was the great guy they wanted to believe he was.  I was threatening their willful ignorance. 

This also happens in cases where a person is abused by their parent, spouse, in-laws, etc. & other people refuse to believe it rather than get involved & try to protect the victim.

While it is certainly understandable to avoid painful things, willful ignorance is incredibly dysfunctional.  It sets people up for disappointment & unnecessary suffering because they refuse to acknowledge the warning signs most people see.  It hurts those closest to those who engage in this behavior because they are helpless to help the person they love.  These people are so devoted to their dysfunction that they will ignore what the person who loves them says, & will fight with them to protect their denial.

It is so hard being in this situation, whether you are the one practicing willful ignorance or the one who loves someone who practices it.

If you are the one practicing it, please stop!  I know the truth can be scary & painful, but by avoiding facing that, you’re hurting yourself, not helping yourself.  You need to know that God loves you & will help you to face whatever needs facing.  If you have trouble with that due to having an abusive parent figure in your life, He understand that too!  Be honest & tell Him just how you feel.  It’s ok!  I can promise you, He won’t cast you into hell or strike you down with a lightening bolt.  He will gently help you to see you can trust Him which will help you to start facing the painful things you must face.

And, if you are someone who loves a person who is willfully ignorant, I want you to know that God understands your pain & frustration.  Ask Him to show you how to support our loved one in a healthy way.  He will!  Don’t get sucked into the dysfunction either.  Stick to the truth & don’t let this person convince you of their false beliefs.  Keep your boundaries in place & protect yourself from the dysfunction of this situation.  This person has the right to engage in their dysfunction to their heart’s content, but you also have the right to engage in healthier ways.  Part of that means protecting yourself & not getting involved in their dysfunction.

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Another Sale On My Print Books!

This time, my publisher is offering 10% off all print books until March 19, 2021 when you use code SELL10 at checkout.

Check out my print books at the link below…

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

If you prefer ebooks, those are also availble at the link below…

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CynthiaBaileyRug

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Dealing With Those Who Think They Know It All About Narcissistic Abuse

I keep hearing the term “mansplaining”.  I get how annoying this can be.  Being a blonde female who loves cars, I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of men acting like I’m too dumb to know much of anything, let alone a complicated topic like cars. 

This know it all attitude isn’t just men doing it to women, & it isn’t just about cars.  Anyone can treat someone this way & the subject matter can be anything.  Many victims of narcissistic abuse have experienced it.  I would bet that all victims have heard someone say that the abuse wasn’t so bad or NPD isn’t a real thing.  If the victim is a Christian, then it also includes smug people without any real understanding of the Bible misapplying Scripture to justify the behavior of abusive people while condemning the victim for wanting to set boundaries or end the relationship. 

When on the receiving end of know it all behavior, it can be so hard not to take it personally & cuss out the person treating you this way.  Truly, I get it!  I’ve felt that way.  That doesn’t mean I have followed through with that desire however.  I also learned how not to be so upset when it does happen.  In fact now it barely bothers me at all.

Getting to this point isn’t as hard as you may think.  To start with, I think it’s best to accept the fact that people who act this way are going to cross your path.  There is no way to avoid them completely because know it alls are everywhere.  The more you heal though, the more repelled toxic people will be by you & the more functional, healthy people will be attracted to you.  This means that naturally, the less you’ll be exposed to know it alls.  Another motivation to focus on healing!

Also, rather than be hurt or angered by their heartless words, it really helps to remember that this isn’t personal.  While it can feel intensely personal, it truly isn’t.  Know it alls clearly have some sort of issues.  Functional people realize they don’t know everything.  They have no problem admitting that they aren’t experts on certain topics or trying to learn new things.  They listen to other people as well, & aren’t quick to offer their input unless asked for it.  Dysfunctional people however aren’t willing to learn or grow.  If someone they’re speaking with is discussing a topic they don’t know much (or nothing) about, they don’t want the speaker to know this.  They would rather act like they are experts on a topic than risk people thinking they aren’t as smart as they want others to think they are by admitting they don’t know much about a specific topic.

Another thing to remember with these know it alls is they have their own painful situation similar to yours.  When you discuss your situation, it triggers their own painful memories that they are trying to avoid.  Rather than realize their triggers are trying to tell them they need healing, they prefer to shut down the person who is inadvertently triggering them.  One of the ways some people do that is by shaming the victim.  They create shame in victims by claiming to know everything about narcissism & it isn’t so bad.  Or, they pull random Scriptures they remember out of thin air & use them to shame a victim for not being willing to tolerate abuse.

And lastly, never forget to ask God to help you in this situation.  Sometimes even knowing these facts isn’t enough to help you deal with a truly impossible person.  God will be glad to help you to do whatever you need to do.

I pray the next time you run into someone who thinks they know everything, the tips I have shared with you will help you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Anger As A Helpful Tool

Some time back, I decided to change my online diary to another website.  Unfortunately I can’t export the old one & import it to the new.  I have to copy & paste old entries manually.  I considered starting from scratch but quickly abandoned the idea.  It’s helpful to be able to read over old entries.

One thing I realized in reading those old entries was how helpful anger has been to me.  Many of you may remember in 2016, I had a big argument with my parents that led to no contact.  It was a very hard time for me, & I was full of a great deal of anger.

I don’t like feeling anger.  In fact, I really hate it.  When someone wrongs me, no matter how badly, I do my best to release that anger as quickly as possible.  Yet after the argument with my parents, not only could I not release it, it got worse for a while.  At the time it felt horrible & I was miserable.  I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did.  Looking back though, I realize how valuable that anger was.

The anger I felt then helped me to stay no contact with my parents.  I felt incredibly guilty for going no contact because they were in failing health.  That anger helped me to maintain my distance.  And, I later learned that maintaining no contact was what God wanted from me at the time.  In fact, it led to my father’s Salvation at the very end of his life.  (That incredible story is on my website at http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug if you’d like to read it.)

That anger also helped me to maintain boundaries when people insisted I should speak to my parents.  We all know that flying monkeys think they know best what victims should do to please their narcissist.  This behavior really goes over the top when a victim boots a narcissist out of their life.  I experienced this in 2016 & 2017.  The anger I felt at my parents helped me to keep a good perspective on the relationship I’d had with my parents, & not to cave when people tried to force me to resume it.

The anger I felt also helped me to think logically.  That was very helpful, too!  If I started to think the flying monkeys might be right, almost immediately I would ask myself what would it benefit anyone for me to return to the abusive relationship?  What makes people think they have the right to suggest that to me?  Logical thoughts like that are fantastic for giving a healthy perspective.

I know in Christian circles, talk like this is often very frowned upon.  So many quote Colossians 3:13 that says we should be quick to forgive or they say anger is a sin.  While I agree that forgiveness is a good thing, people shouldn’t be labeled sinful for feeling anger!  Anger isn’t a sin.  It’s simply an emotion.  What a person does with anger can be sinful, but isn’t that true with pretty much anything?  Owning a knife isn’t a sin either, but if that knife is used to kill someone, that becomes a tool to sin.

Rather than looking at anger as some black & white issue, I think it’s good to look at it more objectively.  Consider the reason you’re angry & pray about it.  Maybe you can learn something from the anger or the situation.  Maybe it will help motivate you to change.  Few things are as good a motivator as anger, after all.

While I’m not saying act carelessly out of anger, let it help you.  Don’t let it be a waste.  Let your anger teach or help you in whatever way it can.  It can be uncomfortable to experience but it also can be a very good teacher & helper.

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Things That Scare Narcissists

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Encouragement For People Still In A Relationship With A Narcissist

January 12, 2018, I had an odd experience. It was my father’s birthday, the first birthday after his death. I was thinking about that when I felt strongly that he wanted God to send me a message.. “Encourage the weak, like me.”  I immediately knew in my heart what that meant.

At that point, it was just over 2 months since my father died, & in that short time, God showed me a great deal about him, including why he didn’t protect me from my mother. One of those things was that he felt trapped in their marriage, unable to escape. I believe that was what he meant by “the weak”, other people who also feel trapped in their situation.

Every January around his birthday, I try to encourage those who are still in relationships with narcissists as a result of that message.

If you’re still in a relationship with the narcissist in your life, I don’t think you’re weak at all.  I think my father used that word because he felt weak for not protecting me & wanted me to know others in similar situations also felt weak.  I get that, but I still don’t think you’re weak.  If you were, I doubt highly that you would have any interest in reading this post or anything else about narcissism.

Maybe you’re forced to stay because of financial reasons.  Narcissists abuse in every way, including financially.  Many narcissistic parents & partners steal money from their victim, ruin their credit, get them fired from their jobs or even forbid them to work. 

Many victims feel a sense of obligation to the narcissist.  My ex husband made me feel as if I owed it to him to be with him, even when I was miserable with him.  He hardly the only one who has done that to a victim.

Many stay because they mistakenly feel as Christians, it’s dishonoring their parents to go no contact or it’s a sin to divorce an abusive partner.  Sadly, many victims are encouraged to think this way either by narcissists & their flying monkeys or by those who don’t understand the Bible very well. 

Another possibility is that you can leave, but feel so beaten down, you don’t think you can leave.  You don’t trust in yourself to make it on your own without the narcissist telling you what to do, how to think, how to feel, what to wear, & on & on.  You don’t think you have any marketable skills to earn a living that could support you & maybe also children. 

Staying in a relationship with a narcissist takes a great deal of inner strength.  Fighting to keep your sanity in a completely insane situation day after day isn’t easy!  It takes a TON of courage & strength.

In spite of what many people say, no contact isn’t an easy solution that fixes all of your problems.  If that is your goal, know being prepared for it won’t happen overnight.  It takes time to build up the courage to do it, & courage to face the aftermath.  The narcissist most likely will create a smear campaign against you & send the flying monkeys.  Mentally preparing for all of that takes time, learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & boundaries, a great deal of prayer & leaning on God to show you what do to, when to do it & how to do it. 

No, Dear Reader.. you aren’t weak.  You are strong.  The fact that you are looking for solutions to your situation shows you have strength.  Know that you will survive this with your sanity & dignity in tact.  Until you know what you need to do, always practice the Gray Rock method, keep & enforce healthy boundaries & focus on your healing.  You can get through this!!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Experiencing Grief After Narcissistic Abuse

A common feeling many people experience after narcissistic abuse is grief.  It makes sense since there is a great deal to grieve!  If the narcissist in question was a parent, you grieve the loss of your childhood, the pain of having a parent who didn’t treat you right or love you, the years wasted trying to please your impossible to please parent, the parent you wish you had & more.  If the narcissist was a spouse, there is grief too, because that person married you not out of love, but out of wanting to use & abuse you.  There is also time wasted with this person that could have been spent in much better ways.  You also may grieve the loss of the person you thought the narcissist was at first.   If you passed up a good person to marry the narcissist, there is regret & grief over losing that good person.  If you had children together, no doubt there is also a great deal of guilt over giving your children this terrible person as a parent. 

Whatever your situation, if you’re grieving after escaping narcissistic abuse, please know you are normal!  It’s awful to experience but it’s also very normal.  Grief isn’t only something to be experienced after someone dies.  It comes after all kinds of losses.

You need to experience & process your grief after narcissistic abuse just as you would after losing someone you love.  It is healing to cry & be angry about the unfairness of it all.  Ignoring it, pretending it isn’t happening or even shaming yourself as if something is wrong with you for feeling this way isn’t healthy at all!

Rather than do those unhealthy things, why not try accepting your feelings without judgment?  They’re not abnormal, they’re not wrong & you aren’t crazy for feeling the way you do.  Stop criticizing them.  Accept them for what they are- your feelings that are completely valid.

As you accept them, sit with them for a while.  Cry or yell if you need to.  I know this can be difficult for those of us shamed for having feelings by our narcissistic parent, so if those are too much, then try writing things out.  If you don’t have a journal, it may be an excellent time to start one.  If you want to be certain no one ever reads it, there are online journals that are private & password protected.  I use Penzu’s free version, but there are plenty of others as well if it doesn’t meet your needs.

I’ve also found writing letters to the narcissist very helpful.  I wrote out everything I thought & felt about what they did, not censoring myself.  The especially important part of this is I never sent the letters.  I wrote them to purge myself of the awful things I felt because of the actions of a narcissist, not to tell the narcissist how they made me feel or to try to make them see the errors of their ways.  Doing such things is a complete waste of time & energy with a narcissist.  In fact, if you do them, chances are you’ll only feel worse after instead of better because the narcissist will try to convince you that you’re oversensitive, overreacting or even crazy.  Instead, I’ve found ripping the letters up & throwing them away or burning them to be very helpful.

If you have a safe friend, relative or even counselor, talking about your grief or praying with them can be very helpful as well. 

You also need to be aware that grief doesn’t have time limits.  You can’t expect to get over the trauma in a set time.  In fact, a part of you most likely always will grieve to some degree, just like when someone you love dies.  It does get easier in time though.  You also learn to rebuild yourself & adapt to your new life without suffering narcissistic abuse. Whatever you choose to do to cope isn’t important.  What matters is that you deal with your grief & accept it as a natural part of the healing process.

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Remembering Only Good Things After The Death Of A Narcissistic Parent

One thing that has always baffled me is how people talk about how wonderful that person who died was, even though you know very well that person was an absolute jerk.  As if death somehow turned that sinner into a saint.

A few years back, a former friend of mine lost her mother.  Her mother had abused her terribly for her entire life.  Yet, when this woman died, my friend constantly posted on Facebook how much she missed her mother, she loved her & what a beautiful, wonderful person her mother was.  Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore… I had to ask her why she was saying these things after all the terrible things her mother did to her.  She said it helped her to cope with the emotions if she pretended her mother was a good mother.  Not a healthy coping skill by any means, but she was content with it. 

I think many people probably have the same reason for their similar behavior.  Losing someone you love, even someone abusive, is incredibly difficult & painful.

After my mother died, I caught myself remembering the good things about her.  Those few times we got along well, when we could laugh & have fun together.  The time she taught me to crochet when I was 5.  Little things like that.  I also prayed a lot during this time & knew that not only was she in Heaven, but she also was no longer the abusive & cruel person she was before she died.  I realized that I was starting to do somewhat like my former friend did when her abusive mother died, focusing on only the good about my mother.  While she was fine coping in that way, I wasn’t.  It didn’t feel right or healthy to me.  I got in prayer about it & learned some things.

When you love someone dies, you’re going to miss them.  If that person was abusive, you’re going to miss the few good things about them, if there were any.  If not, you’ll miss the person you wish they had been.  Part of grieving is letting go.  You are naturally going to have a harder time letting go of the good things than the bad, or even the good things you wish would have been. 

Remembering the good things brings some normalcy to a very abnormal situation.  There is absolutely nothing normal about coping with the death of a narcissistic parent.  You can feel as if you’re completely alone, you’re crazy or unreasonable. You also most likely will feel that not one single person on the face of the earth understands what you’re feeling, because what you feel isn’t what most people feel when their parent dies.  Focusing on the good, remembering the good things makes you feel more normal.  It’s normal & socially acceptable to miss the good things about your parent.  In most situations, it’s not normal or socially acceptable to feel glad your parent is gone or relief he or she can’t abuse you any longer.  Unfortunately with narcissistic parents, both of those feelings are totally normal, they just don’t feel that way.

It’s incredibly difficult to mourn the death of a narcissistic parent.  It’s easier in a sense to grieve the normal aspects of your parent, whether they were real or what you wish your parent had been like.  Grieving the death of a narcissistic parent can be complex, confusing, infuriating, sad, devastating & so much more.  When you grieve someone you love, basically it boils down to you miss that person.  Of course that’s painful but it isn’t really convoluted.  You don’t have to deal with all the intricacies & complexities that go along with mourning the death of a narcissistic parent.  If you can make your parent more “normal”, it makes the grief process easier by making it less complex.

I don’t think remembering the positive things about your narcissistic parent is a bad thing in general.  However, if you’re in this situation & remember only the good, that should be a red flag that you aren’t coping with your parents’ passing in a healthy way.  It’s ok to remember the awful times & the abuse, & even to be angry about them.  It’s ok to admit to yourself & others that your parent wasn’t exactly parent of the year.  It’s also ok to be glad your parent is gone & you’re finally free.  These things don’t mean you’re a terrible person.  They mean you’re HUMAN!

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Humor As A Helpful Coping Skill

Some time back, I saw a quote.  I don’t recall the name of the author but anyway the quote said something like, “What didn’t kill me made me stronger.  It also gave me a dark & twisted sense of humor.”  Immediately I felt a bit embarrassed because I know that’s me.  My sense of humor can be very dark & twisted.  Quickly though I remembered something.

In my late teen years, I had a good friend a couple of years younger than me.  His mother was also abusive, & his sense of humor could be very dark & twisted like mine.  One day, we were laughing about something & he said, “Yanno, I’m so glad to have a sense of humor.  I really believe that’s helped so much to get me through everything.” 

I believe that former friend was right.  His relationship with his mother never really got better after we grew up.  He had very limited contact with her well before I even knew that “low contact” & “no contact” were healthy options, but kept his sense of humor through it all.  One day we went to a yard sale.  He found a pot for houseplants he liked.  He commented how it looked like a spittoon from the old west & I agreed.  He paid for it then looked at me & said, “Now when Mom comes over, she’ll have a place to spit her chewing tobacco!”  She didn’t chew, but the mental picture of this made me laugh. 

I’ve laughed at some things regarding my mother too.  In high school she accused me of having sex with the entire football team.  I’ve never been promiscuous & was a virgin at the time, so the accusation was ridiculous & hurtful.  Eventually I found humor in it.  My husband has too.  Once in a while, he says something about it & we laugh at the stupidity of the comment.

Sometimes, even in the midst of dark times, humor can be a blessing.  My husband’s favorite ring tone is Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor, which happens to be the well known theme song from the old scary movie, “Tales From The Crypt.”  It’s very morbid sounding yet beautiful.  Anyway, while in the ER with his father one night, one of his sisters called, triggering that ring tone.  In spite of the serious situation, he & a few nurses laughed at the ring tone which helped lighten everyone’s mood.  Also, the night we received the death notification about my mother, the funeral home called my husband’s cell as we were talking with a police officer.  Again, Bach’s song played when his phone rang.  The poor policeman looked horrified, but it made me laugh.  Inappropriate?  Sure, but I was so shaken up, that laugh helped to calm me a bit so I could focus on the task at hand.

I know when times are painful, it can feel impossible to laugh.  It may even feel disrespectful to find humor in such a somber situation.  But if at all possible, I want to encourage you to try to find some humor in the situation.  It often can be done.  It also can be an incredibly helpful coping mechanism, so why not use it?

Rather than be offended & hurt by the lies the narcissist accuses you of, try to find the humor in it.  Often their lies are so incredibly outrageous, they’re funny!  Really!  Look at my mother’s lies about me with the entire high school football team.  I was in her presence constantly & had no time for that even if I had the inclination.  It was an outrageous & stupid thing to say.  No doubt the narcissist in your life has also said outrageous & stupid things about you.

I also hope you find a reason to laugh every day.  Find a comedian you like & listen to his or her routines often.  Watch funny movies or tv shows.  Spend time with your friends who make you laugh.  Doing these things will improve your mental health.  You’ll be happier & enjoy life more.

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A Useful Problem Solving Tactic

My husband & I were recently talking about the Myers Briggs personalities.  For those of you familiar with the types, he’s an INTJ & I’m INFJ. 

I mentioned how INFJs are often thought of as too logical for the feeling types & too feeling for the logical types, so we don’t always fit in with either.  We use both emotions & logic to make decisions & problem solve, & I find this incredibly useful.  Many people don’t do this.  Since he’s the logical T type, I had to explain how my mind works when there is a situation I need to deal with at hand.  I thought it might help others as well, so I decided to share.

Basically, I think of the situation like I’m looking at a show on tv or a movie.  This allows me to detach emotionally enough to come up with a logical resolution.  He mentioned one of our favorite true crime shows, “Homicide Hunter” with Detective Joe Kenda, because it sounded to him like when they recreate the detective’s work when he first arrived at crime scenes.  It was actually a good description!  If you have seen this show, you know what happens.  They set the detective at the scene & remove the other police officers, witnesses, & victims.  The detective is left with an empty crime scene & he can start piecing together what happened as he looks around.  Certain things get his attention like a pool of blood, a knife in a sink, or items that obviously were spilled.  Each of these clues fits together in his mind & begins to form a picture of what happened. 

That is exactly how I problem solve!  When something happens, I pull away from it for at least a few minutes.  I look at situations & mentally remove unnecessary pieces so I can focus more on the clues.  Emotions enter back in once I have a clearer idea of the situation.  Keeping them out at first allows me not to make an overly emotional assessment of the situation.  Emotions are necessary though so naturally they come back in when they can serve me better. 

An example of this is years ago, someone I didn’t know well accused a man I knew of molesting her sisters as children.  I was taken aback!  She just spouted this out of nowhere plus knowing this person, I couldn’t believe it.  After the conversation was finished, I thought a great deal about it.  It was difficult, especially considering what I write about!  A part of me wanted to tell her she was lying, that’s impossible, but the victim advocate part of me wanted to offer help or at least empathy.  I considered the situation as I described, examining the clues first.  This person & her family didn’t even live in the same state as the accused man for most of their life.  I also saw this man a great deal in my life & not one time, did I see anything even slightly inappropriate in his behavior.  How could he hide his deviant ways for that long?  It’d be impossible!  He also loved children & was a good, Godly man.  I realized either she was misinformed or was lying because she hated the man in question.  I’m grateful that I took the time to consider this situation though because it helped me to find out the truth & treat the person accordingly.  For the record, I never spoke to her again.

If you are in a situation that you need to figure out, I would like to encourage you to try doing it as I suggested.  It really is very helpful for creating good solutions while also giving you a good perspective on the situation that isn’t unbalanced with too little or too much emotion. 

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Another Way To Help You Heal From Narcissistic Abuse

I recently watched a show about cults, & this episode featured the Heaven’s Gate cult.  The entire story is interesting, but something said during an interview with an anti-cult lawyer really got my attention.

He was talking about how in cults, many people are forced to change their name to something very different, & Heaven’s Gate was no exception.  He said something to the effect that many cult leaders require this of anyone who wishes to join them.  It is a way to shed their old identity & take up a new one.  Interesting, no?

It made me think of something.  Many of us who have suffered narcissistic abuse have changed our names.  I’ve done it.  My parents always referred to me as “Cindy”.  Now I ask no one call me that, & call me “Cynthia” instead.  Other people may take this to a more extreme place & legally change their name to something entirely different, sometimes even changing their last name as well.

In any case, I think this is a good idea however it’s done.

When narcissists are involved with something, that thing can be tainted somehow.  As an example, if you dated a narcissist who loved the same restaurant you love, after breaking up, you probably won’t want to visit that restaurant anymore.  The same kind of thing can happen with your name.  My parents never, ever called me Cynthia.  My mother always said she loved the name Cindy, & C-I-N-D-Y is the only correct way to spell the name.  As a result, Cindy feels nothing like the person I am, but the dysfunctional mess that I used to be.  The person my parents created.  By choosing to go by Cynthia, I took their power away by essentially killing off Cindy.  As far as I’m concerned, that person no longer exists & will NOT be resurrected under any circumstances.  Cynthia is the person that I’ve created, & the narcissists who have been in my life have absolutely no part in her.

If you’re reading this today, I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said.  Whether you opt to alter your given name slightly, change its spelling or legally change it to something entirely different, it really can be a healing move.  It empowers you by giving you control over something you should have control over.  At the same time, it also helps you to shed the person that the narcissist in your life tried to turn you into.  I can tell you, after years of being Cynthia, when I look at old things with Cindy on it, such as papers from when I was in school, it feels very different.  When I look at my old name, even in my handwriting, it feels as if that is someone else I once knew & quite frankly, never really liked.

One final thought.. if you do opt to do this, if possible, I really don’t recommend telling the narcissist what you have done.  If he or she is still in your life, then they will ruin it for you, & you’ll be right back to square one.  You making a change to your name in any way will offend the narcissist, because it’s something you decided to do & followed through doing all on your own, without his or her input.  Because of this, that will gain disapproval & anger.  It’s better not to let the narcissist know this.  My parents died without knowing I asked people to call me Cynthia.  I did once tell my mother I preferred Cynthia, which shocked her, but I always signed cards to my parents Cindy, as she preferred.  I knew who I was, in spite of them, so it wasn’t a big deal.  It was a small price to pay to keep the peace in that area.  

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A Way To Stump A Narcissist

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Gratitude After Abuse

Every once in a while, I hear someone say they are grateful for the terrible things that happened to them at the hands of an abuser, because those awful things made them stronger or made them who they are today.  Honestly, I’m not sure that this is a good thing.  It may sound empowering, but really… is it truly good to be grateful for suffering horrific abuse even when good came from it?  I just don’t know.  It sounds too close to toxic positivity for me, but I can’t say with 100% certainty I’m right about that.  It may just be something that each person needs to decide for themselves if it is good for them or not.

What I do know though, is that whether or not you’re grateful for those terrible things, it’s a good idea to be grateful in general.  It helps to appreciate your loving husband, great kids, a secure job & whatever else is going on in your life.  A grateful attitude can help alleviate or at least lessen depression so naturally you should be grateful for the good things.

While it may be hard, I really think it’s good to appreciate the good that came from the bad things in your life too.  It’s taken me quite some time, but I eventually became grateful for all that I learned as a result of the narcissists & their abuse in my life.

I can spot a narcissist easily now, rather than simply ignore my instincts that were saying I should run for the hills rather than deal with this person.

If somehow I end up forced to deal with a narcissist, now I know how to deal with them in ways that protect my mental health.  There will be no more narcissists defining who I am.

Also if I end up forced to deal with one, I know ways to set boundaries now that prevent them from taking advantage of me.

My tolerance for abuse in any form is now gone.  I have no problem calling out abusive behavior whether it’s done to me or to someone else.  If it’s done to me, & someone reading this has been abusive to me, just know that you are going to be the subject of at least a blog post or two, YouTube video or maybe even a book at some point.  Probably you already have been in one of these roles by now.

I love the fact that the awful experiences in my life had a purpose.  Being able to write about such things & help others learn, grow & heal is incredibly rewarding.  It helps me to cope.  I can be less angry about the abuse knowing it all had a purpose.

Also, being through the horrors of abuse means I appreciate good people in my life more than the average person.  Those who haven’t been abused tend to take good people for granted much easier than those who have.  Appreciating good people just feels good, & that leads you to seek out other good people while rejecting toxic people.  It also strengthens relationships with good people because you can’t help but to let them know they are appreciated.

The more grateful you are, the more grateful you become.  Certainly that is a very good thing!

So what good things can you think of in your life that are a direct result of surviving abuse?  I’m sure if you think about it, there are plenty of good things.  Whether you are grateful for the horrors you’ve experienced or not, I really would like to encourage you to be grateful for the good that has come from it all.  It can be very good for your mental health!  xoxo

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Regaining Your Inner Strength

In a previous post, I mentioned that I found some notes my father wrote concerning the abuse my mother inflicted on me.  He had put them in the Bible he wanted me to place in his casket upon his death.

Since reading those notes, I hadn’t thought too much about them.  It hurt too much & made me angry.  Basically, from what I gathered from his notes, knowing him & what God spoke to me about the situation, it boiled down to my father let my mother abuse me because he felt unable to protect me.  He didn’t have the inner strength to protect me, let alone himself.  While it’s true he also got a degree of narcissistic supply from the situation, in this post, I want to focus on the lack of inner strength only.

Narcissistic abuse can sap a person of so much, including their inner strength.  You can feel as if there is no point in trying anything, because anything you do is wrong, according to the narcissist.  They also tell victims things like no one else will ever care about them like the narcissist does, you can’t trust anyone else, & you’re lucky the narcissist loves you because no one else would.  These statements can destroy any sense of hope in a victim.  Without hope, there seems to be no point in trying to escape the abuse or even protect yourself from it.  If you have children with the narcissist in your life, it also seems hopeless to protect them.

As difficult as it is, please try to regain your inner strength!!  No one deserves to be treated the way a narcissist treats their victim, & that includes you.  I’m sure the narcissist told you that you deserve whatever they do to you, or that you make them act the way they do, but that is not true!  It’s a lie to justify their abuse.

If you continue to tolerate this abuse, there is also the chance it could make you suicidal.  Many victims have experienced that, including me.  That is a terrible place to be, & one where you don’t deserve to be.  You deserve to be happy & living a life free of abuse, not one where you’re planning your own death.  I know it can look like the only escape you have, but that isn’t true!  There are ways out, & you can find them!

If you have children, think about them.  One of your jobs as the parent to protect them, & that includes protecting them from any abusive person, even if that abuser is their other parent.

If you think you should stay with your narcissistic partner “for the sake of the children”, think about what kind of example you’re setting for them by doing so.  You’re showing them that they should tolerate abuse, & that people can treat them any old way they want to.  They also see your partner abusing you, which sends them the message it’s ok to abuse you.  This can lead to children who become angry at their parent for failing to protect them & treat the parent badly, even abusively.

If the narcissist in question is your children’s grandparent, I want you to think about something.  Do you remember how your parent made you feel when you were your child’s age?  Your parent is inflicting that same pain on your child.  Do you really want your child to feel as miserable & hopeless as you did?

To help you regain your inner strength, think about things that inspire you to be strong.  Sometimes a song makes me feel strong, other times it’s Scriptures in the Bible.  Even internet memes can be surprisingly inspiring sometimes.  I also read previous entries in my journal to remind me of things I’ve overcome since that helps strengthen me.

Most of all, I have found a close relationship with God to be the best thing to increase my inner strength.  I ask Him to give me strength & to help me as I need it.  Before my parents died, I asked those things often when I had to deal with them & God never failed to give me just what I needed at the time.  He will do the same for you.  Let Him help you, & do what you need to as well.  Before you know it, you’ll have your inner strength back.

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