Tag Archives: cope
I’ve decided to take a hiatus from writing books for a while. Dealing with my mother’s estate is a lot of work, & with my mental & physical limitations, also excessively stressful. Writing is a lot of work, so I don’t feel I can write & deal with that at the same time. Or, if I could, I doubt I’d do either all that well. So, writing books is going on the back burner for a bit.
I’m still going to keep up with this blog & my YouTube channel though.
Since I have some really wonderful readers, I know you’ll understand & I thank you so much for that understanding. xoxo
Those who are of the “But that’s your MOTHER!!! She wouldn’t hurt you!” mentality, please leave quietly now. This post is for those who are suffering through this day due to having a narcissistic mother. No doubt it will irritate you, & those for whom this post is written don’t want or need to hear any judgmental comments. Thank you.
Now that that’s out of the way….
For those of you with narcissistic mothers, I know this is one of the worst possible days of the year. For many weeks prior, the message of loving mothers is everywhere. “She’s your mother- she would do anything for you.” “She loves you more than life itself!” “Don’t forget to idolize your mother today!!” When your narcissistic mother has tried to kill you, either physically or mentally, there aren’t exactly a lot of warm feelings associated with Mother’s Day. How could there be?
Many people at least are sympathetic to our pain, even if they can’t understand it. God bless these people! Then there are the others. Those who say shaming things like, “But that’s your MOTHER!” Often these people are narcissists themselves, flying monkeys who help their narcissist abuse their victims. Others are people who have suffered abuse & refuse to acknowledge their pain. Their goal is to shut down anyone who faces their pain. Witnessing someone face their pain reminds them of their own & makes them feel cowardly for not facing theirs. Rather than make healthy choices, they opt to shut down healthy people instead.
Understanding things like this can help to take some of the pain out of their heartless comments, because it proves that the comments are about the dysfunction of the person saying these things. However, it’s still going to sting a bit, even knowing that.
Being raised by a narcissistic mother is painful. There are ways to cope, however.
I firmly believe it’s necessary to grieve. Grieve for the fact you didn’t have a good childhood. Grieve because your mother never has been or will be a loving mom. Grieve what you missed out on by your mother not being a healthy, functional mom. Grieving such things helps you to accept your situation & heal.
On Mother’s Day, if you have children, spend time with them when possible. Enjoy your family & celebrate this gift God has given you.
Don’t forget to acknowledge those wonderful women who were like mothers to you. I had a friend I called my adopted mom. She was about 20 years older than me, & a wonderful lady. Kris was nurturing, kind, loving, a natural mom & a devoted Christian. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after she died that I realized I should have celebrated her on Mother’s Day. Don’t make the same mistakes I did! If you have a wonderful mom figure in your life, wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Give her flowers or a card. Take her to lunch. Do something together to show her how much you appreciate her.
If you absolutely must deal with your narcissistic mother on Mother’s Day, before you see her, pray. Ask God to show you what you should do. He will help you to know the best ways to cope!
Don’t forget, you also have the right to set limits on your time spent with your mother. Don’t spend the entire day with her if you don’t want to. Set aside an hour or two for her & no more. If you know you’ll have trouble leaving when you want to, arrange something to do so you have to leave her at a certain time.
Take care of yourself on Mother’s Day & every day, Dear Reader. You deserve to be loved & cared for, especially by yourself. xoxo
People often talk about closure & how beneficial it is. They encourage victims of narcissistic abuse to get closure somehow, such as by saying good bye to their dying narcissistic parent even if they have not spoken for years. What these people fail to realize is closure in the normal sense of the word is impossible with narcissists.
Closure is when someone knows & understands why a relationship ended. Maybe one person even apologized for mistreating the other person, an explanation was given, good byes were said, even some tears shed. This scenario just cannot happen with narcissists.
Narcissists do NOT want to give their victims closure. They prefer to leave them suffering, wondering why things were as they were. Often, their adult children spend their entire lives wondering, “Why couldn’t Mom love me?” Even if Mom knows, there is no way she would admit the truth to her child, because her reasons might make her look less than perfect. Since appearances are so important to a narcissist, they will refuse to admit any wrong doings or even simple shortcomings.
Normal closure is impossible with narcissists, but that doesn’t mean a form of closure isn’t possible. It absolutely is.
If you can surrender the hope that one day the narcissist in your life will change or show genuine remorse, you can have closure with that person. I know this probably sounds like giving up, & maybe in a sense it is, but I believe it is a healthy move.
Everyone knows that most narcissists don’t change unless it is to behave even worse. As long as you cling to the hope that maybe this time will be different or one day he or she will see the light & change their terrible, abusive behavior, you aren’t getting closure. In fact, you’re going to be miserable & constantly disappointed. You are tying yourself to this person with your expectations. Why do this? You’re only causing yourself pain.
Aim for closure with the narcissist in your life. Giving up the hope & expectations of change will do you a world of good. It may not be closure in the traditional sense of the word, but it still is helpful & healing for you.
Ending a relationship with anyone is a huge decision, in particular when it comes to family members. If you read anything about people who are victims of narcissistic abuse, they’re frequently told, “Just go no contact.”
No contact is a very viable option for victims, & usually the best one. However, it also isn’t an easy solution. I have yet to talk to one person who has implemented no contact that came to that decision easily. It often came after months or even years of wondering if there was any other solution & much trying to turn a toxic relationship into a healthy one.
The purpose of this post today is to help you to gain some clarity on whether or not no contact is your best option.
To start with, I always recommend prayer. Ask God to show you the truth about your relationship, what you should do, how to handle the situation & to give you strength, courage & wisdom to do what is best.
Then, consider your relationship. There is a difference between someone who is abusive & someone with whom you just don’t get along. Personality clashes can be very challenging & frustrating, but they also don’t leave a person feeling badly about themselves or even doubting their own sanity. How does this relationship make you feel?
Are you the only one in the relationship who is trying to make it healthy? If not, that’s great! If so, that is a sign this person is toxic.
Does the other person make excuses or blame you for their bad behavior? Do you come away from a confrontation feeling as if you’re the problem every single time? That is a huge red flag! Healthy people accept responsibility for what they do wrong. They also apologize, try to fix things when possible & change their behavior.
How does the other person react to you setting reasonable boundaries? Healthy people are fine with boundaries. Unhealthy people, not so much. They get angry, pout, behave in passive/aggressive ways, ignore & mock boundaries.
Probably by now, you have more clarity on whether or not you should end the relationship. If you think you do need to end it, there are other things you should consider too, especially if this person is a family member.
Possibly the most important thing to consider is this. If you go no contact, will you be able to stay no contact, no matter what? Going no contact then later resuming a relationship with an abuser never ends well for the victim. Reason being is abusers see this as a victim having weak boundaries that mean nothing. They can be trampled over with no real consequences for the abuser. This means an abuser will behave worse than ever when they understand this.
For your own peace of mind, I also believe it’s important to know you tried your best in the relationship. No, one person can’t fix any relationship on their own. However, having peace of mind knowing you did your best is very beneficial. So many abusers do anything they can to make a victim think they didn’t do enough before severing ties or if they just would have done that one thing, the relationship wouldn’t have failed. When you truly know you did your best, those sorts of tactics don’t work.
Going no contact also means losing friends & family who side with the abuser. You need to be aware that will happen, even with those who you never expected to abandon you.
Lastly, what do you feel in your heart is the right move for you to make? Instincts are a wonderful thing & I believe God’s still small voice speaking to us. Trust what you feel in your heart, & you’ll know if no contact is the right decision for you.
In a recent conversation, I’ve come to realize something that may help at least some of you who follow my work.
The conversation was with someone who is involved with a very covert narcissist. She has broken off their relationship months ago, but he continues to call & to try to hoover her back in. She has wanted to tell him to stop calling her, but hasn’t. Based on some of his past controlling behavior, she & I both believe that he is one of those narcissists who would harass & stalk her. She knows what that’s like, having gone through it with me at the hands of a narcissist I went no contact with several years ago, so she wants to avoid that if at all possible, & understandably so!
Rather than face the probability of stalking & harassment, she has opted to use the Gray Rock method, in the hopes that her ex will lose all interest in her. So far, it has worked pretty well. He no longer calls her daily, only a few times a week. This is big progress! Even so, she still wants rid of him completely.
As we talked, I had a thought that I think might work well for her, & it might benefit some of you as well..
Obviously, he is losing interest in her, which is why he isn’t calling so often. Now might be a good time to give him some narcissistic turn offs. She is great with not providing narcissistic supply, but I suggested she also try to take some from him using ways that aren’t bad enough to provoke rage. Turn offs, basically.
One thing that he wants her to do to provide him with supply are always look good. Dress well, makeup done.. things like this. When he sees her, I suggested she dress frumpy. Wear sweats & no makeup. Also never call him since that can make him think she is still interested in him thus providing narcissistic supply. He likes to go out or travel, so she will make a point of exaggerating her naturally introverted & home body ways. She can talk about how glad she is to be at home & have nowhere to be for the weekend, things like this.
Little things like this can be explained away easily, like she just wanted to be comfortable which is why sweats & no make up. This means they most likely won’t bring about a narcissistic rage, especially considering he is trying to behave so she will come back to him. But, these things don’t provide supply, they also are big turn offs & they will get under his skin. At some point, he is going to get sick of her lack of supply & my guess is he will discard her. The good part of this is that if he discards her, he thinks ending the relationship is all his idea, so he won’t stalk or harass her. He will leave her alone.
I did mention that if she does this & he discards her, he’ll probably do the smear campaign thing. She said she really doesn’t care what people think of her, so thankfully that isn’t going to be a problem for her.
Dear Reader, I don’t know your situation with your particular narcissist, so obviously I can’t say making the narcissist want to discard you is your answer if you’re having trouble going no contact. Only you know if this will work for you. I urge you to pray & seriously consider it though. So many narcissists, after a victim has gone no contact, harass their victims in real life, over the phone & on social media. Others who are more covert do the same but with less hostility than their overtly narcissistic counterparts. They claim just to want answers, promise they’ll change, use guilt or portray themselves as the victim as they harass the true victim. If this awful behavior can be avoided or even just minimized by acting this way, then isn’t it worth considering at least?
Some time ago I was mopping the floors on the main level in my house (the glamorous life of an author! lol). As I went towards the bathroom, I remembered something very painful that happened to me in 2009…
As I was mopping my floors one day, my mother called. I took her call & continued to mop. My bathroom floor is ceramic tile & there is a big marble threshold strip at the doorway, as is common in many old houses like mine in this area. As I went to leave the bathroom, my bare foot slipped on the wet tile & crashed into the marble, breaking my pinky toe immediately. The pain caused me to spew a trail of obscenities that probably would embarrass your average truck driver or mechanic, yet my mother didn’t even notice. She continued talking as if nothing had happened. I loudly said to her, “Mom, I have to go. I just broke my toe & it’s killing me.” “Oh” she said. “Did you hear me? I’m in a lot of pain here.. I’ll have to call you back later.” My mother let out an obviously bored sigh. That infuriated me, & I said, “Are you listening at all? I broke my toe & need to go. I’ll talk to you later.” At that point she said “Oh ok.. bye!” & we hung up. I called her back later that day. She never asked if I was OK or what had happened.
It was either that evening or the following evening, my father called. He asked how I was doing. I said laid up with a broken toe, didn’t Mom say anything? No, she didn’t. In fact, when he called back again the next day, he said he told her about my toe & she said, “Oh? When did that happen?”
I have quite a lot of stories along these lines that display my parents’ blatant disregard for me. Even having studied narcissism in depth since 2011, these stories still blow my mind. I mean, I understand a lot about the disorder & the utter lack of empathy narcissists have. Yet, at the same time I can’t fully comprehend how anyone can be so indifferent to the suffering of other people, in particular, their own child.
When I’ve mentioned this inability to fully comprehend narcissistic behaviors on various social media pages or groups, I’ve been attacked several times. People have told me things like, “They’re evil & you just need to accept that.” “Stop expecting narcissists to be normal!” There have been more comments, but honestly I don’t even remember them anymore.
Since I’ve experienced this, I figured some of you who read my work have too, & this should be addressed.
If you can’t “wrap your mind” around the behavior of narcissists, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, I take it as a good sign because I think the only people who can fully understand narcissistic behaviors are narcissists.
If someone tells you there is something wrong with you for not grasping the behavior of the narcissist in your life, the best thing you can do is ignore them, because the truth is their nasty response isn’t about you.
Some people are simply very logical & not quite so open minded simply due to how logical they are. It’s not that they don’t have feelings or are closed minded, but that logic rules their minds a lot. These people may narcissists in the “evil box” or say who cares why they do what they do. Well, not everyone is that way. That doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong here. It simply means some folks have different personalities which means they have different ways of coping & understanding things.
There are also those who write about or make videos about narcissism who are pretty burned out on the topic. If someone asks them a question or makes a comment, these people are very short with their reply, & often even rude.
The truth of the matter is everyone is different. Some people can heal just fine not understanding the reasons behind the narcissist’s actions. Others need to understand the reasons, & get frustrated when they can’t fully grasp those reasons. Neither is wrong. You do whatever works for you!
I’m writing this post for those of you who are currently unwilling or unable to go no contact with a narcissist.
Almost every article out there regarding victims of narcissistic abuse says the same thing – “just go no contact.” The tone in many of these articles & even some fellow survivors can be downright shaming. They make it sound like being unable or unwilling to go no contact means you’re weak, stupid or something is very wrong with you.
No contact is almost always the best way to deal with a narcissist, but that still doesn’t make it an easy solution. It always hurts to end a relationship, even when the person with whom you’re ending it is abusive. The closer the relationship the more it hurts, too. If you’re ending a relationship with your parent, that is going to hurt a great deal more than ending it with someone you have dated only a month. Narcissists usually abuse those closest to them. This is why the most abusive relationships with a narcissist are close relationships, such as parents & spouses.
There is also the fact that narcissists are able to behave & treat people right (they just prefer acting the way they do because it gets them what they want). When they behave, they can be so very good & loving! Seeing that, it’s hard to want to leave them because you can’t help but hoping that good part of them will stick around for good.
Not wanting to end a relationship with a narcissist doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or you’re weak. It means you’re normal!
It often takes a lot of time to work up the inner strength to be able to go no contact. Narcissists beat their victims down so badly, they can utterly destroy their victim’s self esteem. Even when you learn what is happening, it still takes time to repair your self esteem & to build up enough strength to sever ties.
Or, maybe you believe in your heart that the timing isn’t right just yet for no contact. That happened to me with my parents. I wanted to go no contact with them for well over a year before I felt God was saying it was time.
A lot of times, a victim who lives with a narcissist is financially dependent on that narcissist. Narcissists love using money as a means of control, so often they take away any access a victim has to money, even if it’s his or her own paycheck. It takes time to be able to find means of supporting oneself in these situations.
There are also some narcissists who are pretty low on the spectrum. Yes, that person causes problems but they aren’t over the top in their behavior. In cases like this, some people would prefer to learn ways to deal with these people than end those relationships, & it is their right to do that.
None of the above situations make a person weak or flawed.
For those of you who are in situations like these, I want to encourage you today.
It’s very difficult at best being in a relationship with a narcissist, I know. Until the time comes when you are ready & willing to go no contact, there are some things you can do to make your relationship with this person a little easier.
The first thing you should do is ask God to show you creative & effective ways to cope with this person & also to enable you to go no contact if that is your desired result.
Always remember that narcissists are all about gaining narcissistic supply. It’s the motivation behind everything they do. Any attention or reaction you give them, good or bad, provides supply. Learn to be as boring to the narcissist as possible. Show them no anger, sadness or happiness. Be calm & collected in the presence of the narcissist. Offer simple answers without explanations. Provide no personal information. This is known as the Gray Rock method.
Don’t forget to question whatever the narcissist says. They are masters of gaslighting & manipulation, so basically almost everything they say needs to be examined. Ask yourself if what they say is true or not. You also can question the narcissist directly. If you opt to do that, do it calmly in your best gray rock way. “Why do you think that?” “Explain how that makes sense.. I don’t follow you.” Logical & calmly asked questions can throw a narcissist off balance. They show her that you’re onto her.
Never forget to keep & enforce healthy boundaries. You have every right to tell the narcissist no & to expect to be treated with respect. Don’t explain your boundaries either, as the narcissist will tell you why your boundaries are wrong, & may make you doubt yourself. Or, if you feel you absolutely must explain something, remember to stay gray rock & keep all explanations minimal.
Never forget that whatever any narcissist is doing isn’t about you. It’s about them. Everything is always all about them! Yes, that person is hurting & abusing you, but it’s because it makes her feel better. It’s not because you have done something to deserve it. Also, nothing that person says about you is true. Narcissists project their own flaws onto their victims. It doesn’t mean you actually are whatever the narcissist says you are. In fact, if you listen to what the narcissist says about you, you can learn a lot about that person. If she calls you a liar, it’s because she lies often.
If your goal is to go no contact in the future, low contact may be an excellent option for you. It’s as the name describes – you are in low contact with the narcissist. You don’t take phone calls or visit often, but only when you feel able instead. Low contact can be a really good stepping stone to no contact.
While there are no easy, one size fits all solutions for narcissists, these tactics can help you at least. And, don’t forget – there is nothing wrong with you for being unable or unwilling to go no contact. It’s a very big decision, & every person has to do it only when & if they feel equipped to do so.
It seems like when someone is suffering in some way, the majority of people have no clue on what to say. Rather than saying nothing or admitting they don’t know what to say, most people make insensitive, hurtful or even invalidating comments….
- “You should be glad your grandmother died.. she’s not suffering anymore.”
- “I know you’re sick. I had that same problem & it was horrible. I ended up in the hospital & in more pain than I thought was possible!”
- “The reason you have this problem is you just don’t have enough faith!”
- “You should be grateful it’s not worse! Other people have it much worse than you do!”
Comments like these are invalidating & hurtful. They also make the person with the problem feel as if they are whining about some petty little problem instead of the crisis they are facing. These are the last things a person needs to feel but especially at this time!
If someone you know is having a problem, then please, PLEASE seriously think about what you say to that person. You don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. Also, a good idea is to ask God to give you the right words to say. He will be glad to do so. Luke 12:12 says, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” (VOICE)
Don’t forget too that people are individuals. Even if you have experienced the exact same problem as your friend, you both will handle it differently because you’re individuals. Just because your friend feels differently than you did or is handling the situation in a different way than you did doesn’t mean that friend is wrong.
Remember, the situation is about your friend, not you. Even if you experienced the exact same problem, keep the main focus on your friend, not you or what you did. It’s fine to share that information if your friend asks, but the main focus should be on your friend.
This brings me to another point. Don’t offer advice unless asked for it. A lot of times, people just want to vent or talk about their problem to help them get some clarity. They aren’t looking for you to solve it. They’re looking for you to listen & offer empathy.
Don’t go too far with positivity. Sometimes being too positive comes across as invalidating. When I survived carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015, I nearly died. It was tough to come to terms with. Upon telling one person that I came very close to death, that person said, “But you didn’t die!” That comment came across as something was wrong with me for being upset instead of only being grateful I survived. “I’m so glad you didn’t die!” would’ve been a much better response. That response would have shown the person accepted that the situation was bad & they care about me rather than basically shaming me for being upset as any normal person would’ve been. Being positive can be a good thing but sometimes it’s also ok to admit something is very wrong, & to respond accordingly.
There are also some situations where you simply have no clue what to say. When a person loses someone they love, for example, there is nothing in this world you can say to make their pain go away. Rather than try, simply be honest. Admit that you don’t know what to say, but you’re there for them if they need anything. When my father was dying, a couple we’re friends with stopped by our home one day. Neither had said anything so I wasn’t sure if they knew about my father or not. I mentioned it along with the abuse I received from the flying monkeys at the time during our conversation. They said, “We saw you mentioned it on Facebook, but honestly, we had no clue what to say. We’re sorry all this is happening.” That may have been the best thing anyone said to me at that time. They were honest, non-judgmental & not critical at all, which was just what I needed.
Lastly, don’t forget to offer to pray with & for your friend. I’ve noticed even people who don’t share my faith appreciate the offer a great deal. Prayer seems to offer comfort to most people, no matter their religious beliefs. However, if the person in question is angry with God or adamant in believing He doesn’t exist, this is not a good thing to say. Nothing says you can’t pray for that person when not in their presence though…
Dear Reader, please keep these things in mind when someone you know is suffering. These simple tips will help your friend & maybe even strengthen your relationship.
One topic that I haven’t seen a great deal of information on is anger after narcissistic abuse. It’s a pity too because most victims face a great deal of it, & rightly so!
Not long ago, as I was praying, God spoke to my heart & said that I have a lot of anger inside. He was not accusatory, simply stating a fact. He also said it’s time to face it.
I was less than thrilled with this. Like all other victims I have spoken with, anger was just one more facet of myself I ignored rather than face my mother’s ridicule or shaming for my terrible temper. It’s only in the last couple of years I’ve begun to recognize & face when I get angry, & it’s not fun! I’m still not used to it. Even so, God’s been helping me.
He showed me why this happens in victims, why so many of us stuff our anger. It isn’t only due to the ridicule & shaming from the narcissists. It’s also because in many cases, we had two narcissistic parents, & when the overt was abusive, the covert turned the situation around to him or her, & how painful it is for that parent. As children, we comfort that parent rather than face our anger regarding what was done to us.
There is also the fact that most narcissistic parents don’t give their children time to recover from one abusive incident before inflicting another. There simply isn’t time to process the anger! The victim is too busy trying to survive, so emotions get pushed aside so survival instincts can work. This becomes a habit, even into adulthood, & victims ignore their emotions without even realizing it.
Often, people don’t want to hear our stories. “It’s in the past” “Let it go” “Stop wallowing” “You need to forgive & forget!” & other callous phrases show victims it isn’t safe to talk about their experiences & emotions, so they continue ignoring their emotions.
We can’t forget the flying monkeys, either. Prior to learning about narcissism or in the very early stages of learning about it, it’s easy to buy into their nonsensical logic. “That’s your mother!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They won’t be around forever yanno!” Such gibberish can make a person feel guilty for their feelings, & resume the dysfunctional lifestyle that is so familiar.
While these situations are understandable, that doesn’t mean they need to be permanent! Dear Reader, maybe it’s your time to face your anger too!
I know facing anger is scary, especially when you haven’t done it before, but it is also necessary for your mental & physical health! Holding it in can cause all sorts of physical & mental problems such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, pains without a physical cause, depression & more. You deserve better than that, don’t you agree?
Once you decide to start facing it, pray. Let God help you through this difficult process. I found He guides me to what I need to face & only allows things in small doses. The anger isn’t overwhelming that way. I also talk to Him a lot about what I feel, which helps so much in getting it out of me.
Journaling about it is also very helpful! Seeing your story in writing can be shocking at first, but it also reminds you that yes, this happened, yes it was awful & no it was not something you deserved.
Talk to safe, non judgmental friends. They can be a gift from God! They’ll understand, support & validate you, all of which are so very important!
As you work through your anger, you may feel like suddenly you’re angry about all kinds of things that never bothered you before. I firmly believe this is normal. I believe facing the unfairness of the awful things done to you seems to make you more aware than you once were of just how many awful or even simply wrong things have been done to you. I don’t mean things like someone stealing your parking space. I mean things like how you are usually the one to compromise with your spouse. Maybe you’ve just always done it, but suddenly you’re seeing that isn’t right & your spouse could do some compromising too for a change. Just work through that anger like the rest, & have a talk with your spouse when you are able to do so calmly.
You can get through this ugly process, Dear Reader, & you will be so much better for doing so! You’ll feel freer & more peace & joy than ever. xoxo
Don’t you wish you knew some ways to shut the narcissist in your life down & make them behave? Well, I can’t promise you some magical words that make narcissists behave, but there are some things you can say to shut them down temporarily…
- Don’t let the narcissist change the subject. When you need to discuss something important to you such as the narcissist’s bad behavior, you can count on her changing the subject in an attempt to avoid being called out. As frustrating as it can be, keep changing the subject back to what you want to discuss.
- Let the narcissist know she doesn’t scare you. Narcissists love to intimidate their victims, but truthfully, most of their “intimidation” is nothing but smoke & mirrors. In typical bully fashion, narcissists often make threats they won’t follow through on in an attempt to scare victims into doing their will. What is the worst this person can do to you? Chances are when you think about it, you’ll realize it’s not really a lot.
- Use logic. Ask logical questions. “So you think I should do what you want even though I don’t want to do it. Why? How does doing that benefit me? Seems to me it benefits you & hurts me.” “You think I’m fat? You know I weigh 110 pounds. Unless a person is 2′ tall, that’s not fat, & I’m taller than that.” “How is it my fault you lost your job?” Doing this in a calm way calls the narcissist out in such a manner that she can’t get mad at you without looking foolish. Often, they simply change the subject when a victim does this. End of nasty comments!
- Do not allow the narcissist to make decisions for you. Any decisions that the narcissist makes for you gives her a bit of control over you, even if it’s something as simple as what you order for dinner. If she tells you to try the soup, order a sandwich. Simply say something like, “No thanks.. I want to do/try this instead.” in a calm manner & follow through.
- Do not take orders from the narcissist. Narcissists do love to control others, don’t they?! My mother used to bark out orders to me like I was the hired help. I found a way to put a stop to it when I realized just how much she enjoyed doing this. When she told me to do something, I would do it but add in a comment like, “Of course! I’d be glad to do it since you asked so nicely. You’re welcome!” The first time I did that, the look of shock on her face was priceless. But, it did change her behavior for a bit. When she slid into her old habits, I said the same kind of comment & she behaved again for a while. Or, if it was something I didn’t want to do, I’d nicely say, “Nope. Not gonna happen.” & change the subject. Usually a small narcissistic rage followed both of these, but it was very small usually consisting of a few snarky comments.
- Say, “no” without any explanation. This might just make the narcissist’s head explode.. lol There isn’t one narcissist alive who is ok with being told no, but especially sans a good explanation. You owe no one any explanation, especially a narcissist who will just twist your words around to make you look & feel bad, so don’t give them that opportunity. Honestly, doing this can kinda be fun too.. if you’ve read this story of mine before, I apologize for the repeat but it’s such a good example! Years ago, when my husband & I were at his parents’ house, my mother in-law said she wanted me to do something for her. I didn’t want to, plus I had an appointment on the day in question. Although I could’ve rearranged things, I opted not to because she was so hateful to me. “Quality time” with her was not something I wanted. When she told me I could do this thing, I said no, I couldn’t. She said, “Oh. Well it must be awful important if you won’t help me because of it.” I gave a non committal “hmm mm.” As the visit wore on, she kept bringing it up. “You must be doing something for your parents that day.” “Nope.” I forget what all she asked me, but each time, I either said no or didn’t respond at all. By the time we left her house, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! She was dying to know my plans & couldn’t get mad at me for not sharing them without looking like a jerk to my father in-law & husband! It was amazing!!!
Although nothing can stop narcissists completely, doing these simple things will help you to keep your sanity & make them behave better even if only temporarily. I wish you the best in your situation!
Matthew 5:37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (AMP)
One common sign that you grew up with a narcissistic parent is the need to over explain everything about yourself. For example, if someone asks you to go with them & you don’t want to, you feel you must give them a very valid reason why you can’t rather than say “I don’t want to go there” or even simply “No.”
Maybe this is because our narcissistic parents made us so afraid of upsetting them, we learned early always to have a reason that they could accept. Anything beat facing that scary narcissistic rage!
In any case, there is rarely a valid need to explain yourself, & definitely no need to over-explain yourself anymore. Even the Bible says in Matthew 5:37 to keep it simple. It doesn’t say you should go into great detail. In fact, it says anything more comes from the “evil one.”
I don’t believe that this Scripture means you are evil if you over explain yourself. I think it tells us that if you feel the need to do so, that someone evil or at least influenced by evil is putting that need in you. If you think about it, mentally healthy people may ask for an explanation, but they don’t need a lot of details & they accept it even if they disagree with it. Narcissists, however, require much more. Let me provide an example..
Years ago, my late covertly narcissistic mother in-law asked me if I could do something for her in a few days. I said no because I had an appointment that day. (Granted, I could’ve moved things around & helped, but frankly, I didn’t want to- she was awful to me every single time we were alone.) At this point, a mentally healthy person would’ve said, “Oh ok..” & figured out someone else to ask for help. Not my mother in-law. She obviously was upset I wouldn’t help her & wanted to know what I had to do that was more important to me than help her. She asked what I had to do & I ignored her question. She said, “Are you doing something for your parents?” I said, “No.” She said, “Well, it must be awful important if you can’t help me…” (nice attempt at guilt, no? lol It didn’t work.) I forget the other things she said, but until my husband & I left her home about 20 minutes later, she continually tried to get me to tell her why I wasn’t able to help her rather than simply accept the fact I had something else to do. (On a funny note: Refusing to give her the information she wanted infuriated her. But, she couldn’t admit that without looking bad in front of my husband & father in-law who were in the room with us. It was hilarious to me, watching her get more & more frustrated & unable to do anything about it as I stayed calm. Not sure how I didn’t laugh in her presence, but I held myself together until we were in the car & away from her home.)
This is typical narcissistic behavior- they feel they have the right to know every tiny detail about you when the truth is, they don’t have that right. My no should have sufficed. She truly didn’t care about me or what was going on in my life. She only wanted to know what I was doing that day so she could use the information to criticize me for not helping her (“You think that is more important than me?! That’s so mean!! What’s wrong with you?”) or blab to her whole family my personal information. Is that behavior not evil?
I think it is a good idea to use the reaction of a person to your “yes” & “no” as a gauge to see how safe a person is. Safe people may sometimes ask you why you said what you did, but are satisfied with a simple explanation such as, “I have an appointment at that time & can’t make it.” Unsafe people will respond as my mother in-law did- refusing to simply accept your answer, & doing their best to get you to explain in great detail why you responded to them as you did.
As I’ve said many times, my heart goes out to those in the position of being unable or unwilling to go no contact with their narcissistic parents. You’re in a tough, tough place, & I understand since I’ve been there. I want to help you if I can, & that is what today’s post is about.
There are some small, easy ways you can set boundaries with your narcissistic parent while not eliminating them from your life entirely.
For starters, reduce the amount of time you spend with your narcissistic parent. Don’t visit or have your parent visit you as often. Stop taking their calls every time they call. Ask yourself if you feel up to dealing with your parent, & if not, don’t take that call or visit.
When you must visit or speak with your parent on the phone, set a time limit. Don’t allow your narcissistic parent to waste half your day when that is so hard on you! Set a limit, then say “I have to go” & go.
Also if you visit your narcissistic parent, have a way out. Plan something to do so you only have a limited time to spend with your parent. If you can’t think of something, say you just remembered something you have to take care of & go. It’s not a lie- you remembered you have to take care of yourself!
Remember to keep the conversation away from you. Your love life, in-laws, job, troubles & even your mental & physical health should be off the table for topics to discuss with your narcissistic parent. Giving any narcissist personal information is just asking for trouble such as criticism & unasked for, useless advice. Change the subject if your parent wants or demands to know something personal about you. If all else fails, ask your parent about something that matters to her. Chances are excellent she’ll drop the matter at the opportunity to talk about herself.
If you’re dependent even slightly on your narcissistic parent financially, find ways to put an end to it. Narcissists love controlling their adult children with money, so remove that tool if at all possible. If not, then at least find ways to reduce the amount.
If you have pets or kids, have strict boundaries in place. It is your job to protect them & that includes from abusive & narcissistic parents.
When it’s time to set boundaries with your parent, remain calm. Show no emotion, simply state the facts. Any signs you are upset will fuel your narcissistic parent’s behavior. Stay calm, state your boundary & the consequence of your parent not respecting the boundary, then enforce it if necessary.
If you’re friends on social media, unfollow your narcissistic parent. You will remain friends, but you won’t see her posts which can reduce stress.
If you must go somewhere with your narcissistic parent, drive separately. That way, you are free to leave at any time if need be. Also, cars are a great weapon for some narcissists. There is no escape- you have to put up with whatever they do when you’re in a car together. My mother loved having me trapped in her car, & used it to scream at me when I was a kid or belittle me as an adult.
Always remember the Gray Rock Method. Think about what gives your narcissistic parent narcissistic supply, & refuse to provide it. Basically, you need to be boring to her. Don’t admire her. Don’t praise her. Don’t get angry at her so she can portray herself as the victim. Don’t coddle her. Don’t share anything personal about yourself that she could use against you or as fuel to spread lies about you. Don’t empathize with her if someone has hurt her. Show no real interest in her problems. If she needs your assistance with something, do the bare minimum, don’t go above & beyond. Gray Rock can be hard at first because every tiny thing can provide narcissistic supply, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Lastly, pray & pray often. Ask God to help you cope with your narcissistic parent, to give you the right words to say, & to give you effective, creative ways to cope with her behavior. He will NOT disappoint you!
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We try to discuss some about our traumatic situations with a narcissist only to be met with someone trying to shut us down. They clearly don’t want to hear about it & say things to invalidate your pain such as “Just get over it already,” “Lots of people were abused by their parents but you don’t hear them talking about it,” or (possibly the stupidest one yet) “But that’s your MOTHER/FATHER!!”
When this happens, it can make you feel bad in many ways. It can make you ashamed of “whining”, it can make you feel like you’re petty or overreacting to things that weren’t a big deal, or it can make you feel like a bad son/daughter or even Christian for being upset about your parents abusing you.
Dear Reader, I want to tell you today, please do NOT feel bad when someone treats you this way! The truth is, their wanting to shut you down is about them, NOT you! These people have their reasons for wanting to shut you down, They aren’t good reasons, but they also have nothing to do with you.
The person may be gaining something from supporting/enabling your narcissistic parent or partner. What that is can be anything- maybe they get money, things or even just the narcissist’s praise. If this person is also a narcissist as many flying monkeys are, that praise is extremely important to them after all. This person obviously is not willing to jeopardize losing whatever it is he or she is gaining, so it is more beneficial for them to shut you down than to listen to what you have to say.
The person also may have their own issues, & you facing yours reminds them of theirs. That can make them want to shut you down quickly, because you make them feel uncomfortable by reminding them of their similar situations.
What if a person has codependency issues? If that person is raised in an emotionally incestuous/parentalizing environment, that person is going to believe it is a child’s job to take care of & cater to their parent forever. At least until such time as they learn how unhealthy this situation is. But, if a person doesn’t realize how unhealthy it is, they think everyone should do as they do, & cater to & care for their parents no matter what. They may even think it’s loving & “Godly” to tolerate whatever abuse their parents dish out. If you’re standing up for yourself, setting boundaries or even *gasp* saying your parents are less than perfect, to this person, you are committing a terrible sin in this person’s eyes. They want to shut you down so they don’t have to hear about it. They think everyone should do as they do. That is their reality & it makes them uncomfortable if you threaten it in any way.
There are two other possibilities that God spoke to me when my father was dying in October, 2017. As I wrote about before, at the time, people continually harassed & tried to bully me into visiting my father. I mean, not only daily but often multiple times in a day. I eventually asked God why were they so cruel to me? He told me two things…
They were in denial about my father. They wanted to believe he was a good guy, & me refusing to speak to him threatened that denial. They wanted me to go to him so they could remain in denial. After all, if I went, it would be proof to them that all was fine. People in denial will do about anything to protect their delusions.
God also said to me that they don’t know me now. They remembered me as that scared of everything little kid I once was, that was also blindly obedient to my parents. By that person being strong enough to face her own issues, it makes them feel weak for not facing theirs. They wanted to push me back into being like I used to be so they didn’t have to feel weak. If the person in your situation knew you when you were being abused, they knew a different version of you. They knew the beat down victim that we all have been at some point. It’s very possible that they may want you to stay that way so they don’t have to feel badly for not dealing with their own issues.
Just remember, Dear Reader, when people invalidate you or try to shut you down, it’s not your fault. It’s not about you. It’s about them & their own issues.
Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, I suddenly felt as if a ton of bricks landed on me. I have had one very hard, painful year & currently have quite a bit going on. The intensity of it all hit at once. I really felt overwhelmed for a while & couldn’t stop crying.
Eventually I did though, & realized what was happening. I hadn’t really dealt with things very well. In fact, I avoided thinking about some things, stuffing my emotions like I always used to do. Old habits die hard, & apparently that one resurrected briefly without me realizing it. I think my old habit returned because I had so much happening at once. I didn’t have time to cope with one thing when three more bad things happened.
Upon realizing all of this, I have formed a plan. I will take things one issue at a time. When I first realized I had problems stemming from my childhood, I thought I could deal with everything at once. Forgive my parents, accept the fact they were abusive, face being depressed & anxious, think positive, & all would be fine. Naive? Oh yes.. but truthfully, I didn’t realize how deep my issues went or have any grip on this emotional healing stuff. Now I know better, & I have learned that a lot of times, it’s best to face one issue at a time, as it arises.
What I mean is this…
As an example from my life, part of my issue is the fact that when my father was dying, so called “family” came out of the woodwork to tell me what I needed to do regarding my parents,what a horrible person I was for not obeying them or “forgiving & forgetting” & not “honoring” my parents. Mind you, this is on top of the death of my father. Instead of lumping this all into one thing to deal with, I’m dissecting it, & dealing with each issue as I am able. Here are the issues:
- My father died.
- I was attacked by many people at that time over a few months, but in particular my father’s final month of life.
- Some people were strangers, so dealing with their nonsense isn’t too hard. I don’t know them so they don’t mean anything to me.
- Others were family & those relatives fall into 2 categories:
- Family I once had been close to & felt betrayed they treated me this way.
- Other family I never was close to so the fact they attacked me was a big shock in addition to the pain of the things they said & did.
I think it’s healthier to deal with things this way because the events of that time are very distinct & complex, not to mention overwhelming to face all at once. Even just the one part with family is difficult because there were two very different dynamics at play. My relationships with these people were very different, so naturally that means I must deal with the situations differently. Plus, doing this also gives me smaller things to cope with rather than trying to tackle one huge issue. Smaller bits will be easier to cope with, which is especially important since I have C-PTSD. Having the disorder means my brain is broken. I have to treat myself gentler than a person without C-PTSD treats themselves.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, Dear Reader, I’m sorry. It happens sometimes & it’s rough, I know. Just try to remember to approach the situation in small doses, especially if you too have C-PTSD. Break it down into manageable parts, & deal with those however works best for you rather than tackling the big picture all at once. The little things will add up to form the big picture. Also remember, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (KJV) Sometimes when you’re facing your pain, it feels like you are all alone. People don’t understand, & may avoid or even abandon you during your darkest hours. God isn’t that way though. He loves you & is with you no matter how bad things may be. xoxo
As anyone with experience with narcissists knows, you can’t avoid them entirely. Try as you might, they are everywhere. Because this is a sad fact of life, everyone needs to have some effective weapons in their arsenal.
Below is a list of things that can help stop narcissists in their tracks. While I always recommend prayer as the best place to start, these are some useful tactics I have found that can be helpful as well.
- Show no emotions when in the presence of a narcissist. Narcissists feed off the emotions of their victims. If you act happy, they will do their best to make you unhappy. If you’re sad, they’ll try to make you sadder. Angry? They will push your buttons to attempt to make you even angrier. In the presence of a narcissist, show NO emotions. You aren’t happy, sad, angry or anything. You simply are. This gives them nothing to work with.
- Ask the narcissist, “How does that make sense?” It is best to ask this question logically, minus any signs of emotion aside from confusion. Narcissists are highly illogical beings, so when you ask them to explain their actions, it can stop them in their tracks. It also can cause a narcissistic injury, but not one they usually react to with narcissistic rage. They know if they do, they’ll end up looking ridiculous, & that fact stops them in their tracks.
- “No.” Simply, no. No explanation, no excuses. If they continue to try to pressure you for more information, simply continue saying no. Narcissists don’t know what to do with this, especially when you refuse to explain your no. They may try to intimidate you with their anger or make you feel guilty for your no, but if you stay dedicated to your no while showing no emotions, they will give up fairly quickly.
- Make eye contact. People who have nothing to hide or are honest have no problems making eye contact. Narcissists have plenty to hide & are very dishonest. Eye contact will freak them out. They don’t know what to do with a person who meets their gaze.
- Let them know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Narcissists expect the world to center on them. If you let them know this isn’t the case where you are concerned, it will fluster them. To do this, you can refuse to do something for or with them because you have other plans at that time. “I can’t.. I have plans that day” without any explanation is a perfectly acceptable response. “Oh” when they cry to you about how mean someone was to them also works.
- Let them know they don’t scare you. Overt narcissists in particular love to intimidate their victims. Intimidation means a victim will do whatever you want, & overt narcissists rely on that fact. But think about it- what can this person do to you? Chances are, not much. If that person belittles or criticizes you, remember that narcissists project their flaws onto their victims & do their best to tear a person down. That doesn’t mean what they say is true! If you remember that & show no fear or even act a bit bored, you aren’t showing fear.
- Let them know their guilt trips don’t work on you. If the narcissist is a covert narcissist, rather than try to intimidate you, chances are very good they will use guilt. Guilt can be difficult to fight. Instead of accepting their guilt trips, ask yourself if what they say makes sense. Should you feel guilty for what they say you should? Was that truly your responsibility?
- Show your self-confidence. I adopted a chow chow mix dog in 2002 for my husband for his birthday. What I didn’t know about Bear at that time was that chows are known for having a very dominant nature. Combine that with the fact he obviously had been abused, & it was a recipe for disaster. It took a lot of work to turn him into the wonderful, loving, kind dog he turned into. The main thing that helped was to let Bear know he was NOT in charge. Dominant dogs need a very strong leader or they will take over, & Bear was no exception. Narcissists are much the same way. If you show any sign of weakness, narcissists will take over. If you refuse to believe the awful criticisms they say or be manipulated, & make your feelings know, narcissists will back down. Bullies are at their heart cowards, & since narcissists are usually bullies, this applies to them as well.
Nothing is guaranteed to stop any narcissist from abusing you for good, but using these comments can stop them at least temporarily. They may even stop the narcissist for good on specific topics. I wish you the best with the narcissists you face, & hope these tactics help you!
Sometimes avoiding narcissists is impossible no matter how hard you try & how much knowledge you have about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. When that happens, there are some ways that you can fluster them enough to where they will want to leave you alone.
If you have & enforce good boundaries, narcissists won’t like you. A good victim has weak or non existent boundaries. If you have & enforce your boundaries, a narcissist won’t know what to do with you. They may try to make you feel stupid or wrong for having them, but when you are secure in the knowledge what you are doing is right, their gaslighting won’t work.
Having healthy self esteem is a huge turn off to narcissists. The lower a person’s self esteem, the easier that person is to control. Similarly, the healthier a person’s self esteem, the harder that person is to control. While narcissists often enjoy the challenge of controlling a person with healthy self esteem, they will give up when they see that person isn’t going to tolerate their abuse.
Knowing about NPD is also a huge turn off to narcissists. Even if you don’t explain the ugly details of narcissism to them or call them out, so long as you know what these people are like & what they are capable of, it will be a problem for them. Narcissists don’t want anyone to figure out what they are doing, because a person who understands their games cannot be controlled or manipulated, & won’t create any narcissistic supply.
Self validation is a powerful weapon against narcissists. They want their victims to look only to them for validation. A person who doesn’t need the narcissist for validation won’t provide any narcissistic supply or be controlled by a narcissist.
Understanding that no contact is a very viable option gives you strength when dealing with a narcissist, & they can’t handle that. Narcissists want to be the ones in charge at all times. If you know that you have options, & don’t have to let the narcissist make all decisions in the relationship, you will become a problem to a narcissist.
If a narcissist knows you don’t need him or her, you become a threat. Narcissistic parents & spouses in particular like to make a victim completely dependent on them, preferably financially or emotionally. If they see you are well aware you don’t need the narcissist, can leave the relationship anytime & still survive just fine, you won’t be a good victim to the narcissist.
Avoiding all narcissists seems to be impossible, unfortunately. However, if you can implement some of these tools, you will be able to handle yourself very well when you must deal with them.
Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life. Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream. Her cuteness always made me smile.
Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma. Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible. So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there. On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel! Thankfully it happened at a red light. Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)
When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible. Even so, triggers still happen. No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about. It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.
Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen. The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded. Good triggers can help in this situation. I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid. Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it. Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).
I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold. I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger. If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.
When victims of abuse first tell their story, people often ask why they didn’t tell someone when it was happening. They figure it couldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t even tell anyone.
This thinking is incredibly faulty! Nothing could be further from the truth!
Abusers of all types have some things in common. One of those things is they love secrecy. They don’t want people to know what they are doing to their victim, so they threaten & scare their victims into silence.
Some abusers tell their victims things like, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill your child/parents/sibling.” Others beat their victims upon finding out the victim told someone what the abuser has done. Narcissistic abusers usually aren’t so obvious with their intimidation, but they value secrecy nonetheless. When I was growing up, my mother used to scream at me when she thought I was “airing our dirty laundry” as she called talking about her abuse. She would shame me for needing to talk about things, like there was something incredibly wrong with me- everything she did was completely normal, I had no right to think otherwise or talk about her behind her back. I stopped talking. It wasn’t worth the screaming & berating.
Then sometimes if we tell, people either don’t believe us anyway or they think we’re exaggerating. When I was a teen & told some people about my mother, no one believed me. One school guidance counselor said “it didn’t sound so bad.” When my mother threw me into a wall, I went to my friend’s parents’ home to see if I could stay with them. Her father laughed at me. 26+ years later & I still don’t get the joke.
Reasons like this are why victims don’t tell someone when the abuse is happening. We’re terrified the abuser will follow through on their threats or hurt us in some way, or afraid no one will believe us. As painful as staying quiet about what’s happening is, it’s easier than facing the wrath of the abuser or apathy of someone we turn to for help.
So many people I talk to that have survived narcissistic abuse tell the same story about how people in their lives responded to them discussing the abuse. They were met with invalidation (“It couldn’t have been that bad!” “Other people had it way worse than you did.”), scolding (“How can you say those things about your own mother?!”), disbelief or being accused of being unforgiving or needing to “get over it”.
Especially in the early days of awareness of narcissism & learning what you went through really is abuse- you aren’t crazy or to blame like you were told- this sort of behavior is devastating. The more you heal, the better you can handle it, but I don’t think it ever stops hurting at least some to be met with such indifference to your pain. It can leave you bitter & angry if you allow it to.
In all fairness, you certainly have a right to be angry at people who say such things! It’s heartless & hurtful! So get angry! Get it out of you so you can forgive. You don’t deserve to live with that anger inside of you, stealing your joy! Whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or asks for it is irrelevant. You deserve better than carrying around anger inside of you!
That being said, there are other ways to cope.
Journalling is a wonderful thing. It is a completely safe way to get your feelings out, especially if you use a password protected journalling website. This will help you to let go of all the negative feelings.
Focus on the positive. Just because one person mistreated you doesn’t mean everyone will. Appreciate your good friends & let them know you appreciate them! What other good things are in your life? Maybe start a gratitude journal- daily, write down at least 2 things you’re grateful for.
Accept the fact that not everyone will understand what you’ve been through. In all honesty, narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it. (Even if you’ve been through it, it’s hard to grasp!) And sadly, some people have no desire to even try. With people like this, it’s just smart not to discuss the topic of narcissism. They won’t be convinced of anything you say because they lack the desire to understand. When that wall is up, it stays up, & nothing you say can make a difference. Stick to more neutral topics with this person, & if you need to discuss something you’ve been through, then seek out someone who understands.
On Mother’s Day, I came across a very good article called “A Mother’s Day Card For The Disposable Child.” One sentence in particular hit home with me.. “She walked away from me and shamed me for asking for a healthier way of relating. If I wanted to go back to the old way, I suspect she’d accept me as her daughter again.” Reading this sentence, I thought about my parents & that is exactly our situation.
As usual when reminded of something so dysfunctional about my parents, it really made me sad. I knew I needed to deal with this rather than bury it, but I just wanted to finish the article first. As I scrolled down I read the letter the author wrote to her mother, but never sent. Upon reading this, what I needed to do clicked in my mind. I needed to write a letter to each of my parents, but never send them.
Have you ever done this, Dear Reader? Have you ever written out what you would love to say to your parents if it was completely safe to do so? If not, I urge you to do this.
Writing things out can be a very therapeutic experience. There is something validating about seeing things in writing rather than simply remembering them. It makes experiences seem more real.
Also, by writing things out, you are in charge of who sees what you write. You can hide it so no one but you & God know about it (I like an online, password protected diary), or you can add to it & turn it into a book. You are totally in control. When speaking things out, there can be interruptions, or others can hear what you don’t want them to hear.
By writing things out, you’re safe. If you confront your narcissistic parents, you are far from safe. Narcissists don’t do confrontation. They refuse to accept responsibility for things they’ve done since that might make them look or feel bad. They will do or say anything to avoid accepting responsibility. Denial, projection, gaslighting are all distinct possible scenarios. Why subject yourself to them if it’s not necessary? Yet, you still may need to purge the awful emotions you’re experiencing. That is where writing letters you don’t send come into play.
Writing letters like this helps you to get out your feelings in a completely safe manner. You can say anything you like, in any way you like, without fear of judgment or narcissistic mind games. When I write these letters, I don’t worry about bad language or using “I” statements or anything- I let it all out, no matter how ugly it is.
Once the letter is done, I’ve noticed I feel very tired & a bit raw emotionally. It doesn’t last long, thankfully. This seems to be a typical phenomenon after doing heavy emotional work on healing. When it happens to you, just remember to be especially gentle with yourself. Do whatever self-care things make you feel loved & nurtured.
One tool narcissists love to use is calling their victim abusive. Whether overt or covert, this tactic is a favorite of the more extreme narcissists.
My overtly narcissistic mother & I were having an argument once when I was 17. As usual for that time, she had been screaming at me, literally in my face. Finally she backed off. She then balled up her fist & pulled back like she was going to hit me. I immediately closed my eyes & threw the first punch. Even as dysfunctional as I was then, I was NOT going to let anyone hit me. When I felt that I’d hit her, I opened my eyes. She was shocked I hit her, obviously since I’d never really stood up to her before. Immediately she said, “You hit me in the breast! Now I’m going to get breast cancer & die & it’ll be all your fault!!” When my father entered the room a moment later, he asked what was happening. My mother started to cry (she can turn her tears on & off like a faucet) & said I hit her, failing to mention what she did leading up to that.
My late mother in-law was a covert narcissist & extremely good at the covert part, having everyone close to her convinced she was a great person. She used to go through my purse every time I left it out of my sight when it was at her house. One time when my husband & I were at her home doing some laundry, she snooped through my dirty laundry, coat pockets & purse. She left $40 in my purse. I got my husband alone & absolutely flipped. I told him I was sick of her crap- there is NO reason for her to snoop through my things & I don’t want her $%^& hush money. YOU talk to her- she doesn’t listen to me & right now she doesn’t want me talking to her anyway. He did. The little bit I heard of the conversation, she was whining about having “allllll this cash just lying around the house” & she didn’t know what to do with it, so she wanted to do something nice for me. She claimed she had no idea why I was upset.
See what I mean? Narcissists can turn themselves into victims in pretty much any situation, no matter what craziness they have done to you. The worst part is while you are yelling or crying, they maintain complete calm. This makes you look & feel absolutely insane. Or, they pull out the tears, which makes you feel incredibly guilty.
When this kind of thing happens, remember, narcissists gain narcissistic supply from this sort of thing. They feel powerful when they can make a normally calm person act crazy. Strong emotions, whether positive or negative, make them feel powerful too because they know they have an effect on someone.
This is also good for them because if they can prove to you that you’re crazy, over reacting, etc., you will be willing to change your behavior. You’ll be ashamed of how you acted, so you’ll be more likely to listen to the narcissist’s advice on how you should act. This tactic makes a victim more pliable.
When you confront a narcissist, be as calm as humanly possible, asking God for help. The more emotion they see in you, the more they will push your buttons & the more likely their victim side will come out.
And, before confronting a narcissist, think & pray. You really need to pick your battles wisely. It’s not a good situation- narcissists need confrontation to know they can’t get away with the things they’re doing, yet confronting them often is incredibly frustrating. Sometimes, they behave worse after the confrontation because they know how to provoke a reaction from you.
From the narcissists’ flying monkeys to even the most well meaning of people, people like to tell victims of narcissistic abuse how to feel.
- “You’re too negative. You need to be more positive.”
- “You need to let that go/get over it.”
- “Aren’t you over that yet?”
- “You need to forgive & forget.”
- “You shouldn’t have let them abuse you.”
- “You need to stop thinking about it.”
- “You haven’t prayed enough.”
Early in healing, such statements add to the toxic shame you already feel stemming from the abuse. You feel ashamed of yourself for not being over it, not forgiving your abuser & forgetting their awful deeds or being so “negative.”
Later in your healing, after you’ve gained some wisdom & experience, such comments really just get under your skin. You know that there is no way to “just get over” the horrible things that have been done to you. It takes a great deal of prayer & work to heal, & even then, you may never be “over” the abuse you endured. If you live with PTSD/C-PTSD, you live with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression & more every single day because of the abuse. As long as you have the disorder, you are forced to live with the abuse every day, like it or not. And forgive & forget?? HA. Even if you are able to forgive your abuser, you don’t forget abusive things done to you. It also makes you angry people tell you how to heal, as if they know what you need better than you do. So presumptuous & arrogant!
No one has the right to tell you how to feel or how you need to work on your healing. You know what you need more than anyone else. Besides, what may have worked for them doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too. Different things work for different people.
No one has the right to blame you for being abused, saying things like “you allowed the abuse.” No, you didn’t. Abusers abuse, period. No matter what you did or didn’t do, the abuser planned to abuse you & did so, all of his or her own free will.
No matter what happened to your abuser, that does NOT give him or her the right to abuse you. Many people who grew up in a toxic environment became good, caring people as adults. Anyone that tries to excuse their abusive behavior because they had a bad childhood or other lame excuses is toxic. Avoid these people as much as possible! If you can’t avoid them entirely, at the very least have strong boundaries when you’re with them & refuse to discuss the abuse you endured.
You have the right to protect & care for your physical & mental health however works best for you.
You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries by whatever means work for you.
You have the right to limit or end contact with people who are detrimental to your healing, no matter if those people are friends or even family.
You have the right (& obligation) to take care of yourself, to rest on bad days, to cry when you’re sad, etc.
You have the right to feel whatever you feel. If you’re angry, you have the right to that anger. If you’re sad, you have the right to those tears. Feel the emotions so you can process them & heal, no matter who says you’re wrong for feeling such things.
You have the right to decide with who to share details of the abuse. You don’t have to share your story with everyone. Even if someone asks you what happened, you don’t have to tell them if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Besides, sharing with just anyone isn’t wise, since some people will use the information to hurt you.
I realized something this morning. When I know I’m going to have some sort of interaction with at least one of my parents, the same thing happens almost every time. I have either a nightmare about my childhood or a repressed memory come back to the forefront of my mind.
For the longest time, I assumed this was simply because I was thinking & worrying about what was coming. I believe this is wrong though. I believe God allows these things to happen as a way of enabling me to deal with my parents.
As I mentioned before, I want to go no contact with my parents, but God isn’t allowing me to tell them this. Instead, He wants them to be the ones to pull away. He has told me that by me getting healthier & tolerating less of their abuse, this will happen naturally. So far, it really has. Keeping that in mind..
My father plans to visit me on Friday (I’m writing this post on Thursday to publish Friday), & last night I had a horrible nightmare that reminded me of exactly how miserable I was growing up. I was utterly depressed, even suicidal, yet had to pretend to be happy to appease my mother. She would get mad at me if I looked depressed, so I had to hide it rather than have her yell at me & shame me. Remembering this has made me angry. Angry that my mother would shame me for my feelings, angry that my father never even noticed anything was wrong with me, angry that there was absolutely no concern that I was suicidal.
This anger I feel will help to strengthen me around my father during his visit tomorrow. As hard as I try, sometimes I still tend to fall into bad, old habits around my parents. But, when I am angry with them, the chances of that are much slimmer. I have a better focus on just how dysfunctional & abusive they really are, which helps me not to fall into their traps or for their manipulations. Once the visit is done, I will deal with my anger about the situation & heal a bit more.
Remembering traumatic things isn’t easy, I know. But, God isn’t into waste. He doesn’t allow things like this to happen for no reason. There is always a purpose. I have learned to use such things not only to help me heal by coping with the trauma I remember, but also to help me when I must deal with my parents. It’s turned out to be a good thing, albeit not an easy one.
Does this happen to you too, Dear Reader? Does something happen to make you angry before you deal with the narcissist in your life? If so, you’re not alone! It actually can be a good thing, although it doesn’t feel that way at the time. It certainly has been for me, & if it can be for me, it can be for you as well. Use that anger to help strengthen you against her manipulations. Use it as a reminder of exactly how dysfunctional the narcissist is.