Tag Archives: cope

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

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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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

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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Signs Of Surviving Child Abuse In Adults, & Ways To Cope

There are some very clear ways to identify a survivor of child abuse.  These symptoms also are detrimental to the mental health of said survivors.  If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, then please don’t beat yourself up.  We’ve all been there!  Try to accept them as nothing more than a sign of having experienced some really terrible things, then find ways to heal from them however work best for you.

  • Blaming yourself for what happened.  Children seem to take the responsibility on for their parents’ bad behavior rather than face the fact that their parent has done something pretty terrible.  It’s totally normal!  However, it isn’t helpful once you’re an adult.  It’s ok to admit your parents were less than perfect, & yes, even cruel.  No child can make any parent abuse them, including you.  Abusive behavior lies squarely on the shoulder of all abusers, never their victims.  ALWAYS!
  • Accepting what your parents said as the gospel truth.  Abusive parents lie.  Period.  They also convince their children that their lies are the truth.  Not only that the abuse was the child’s fault, but that the child is unlovable, stupid, ugly, useless, no man/woman will ever want to marry that child & more.  It’s time to start challenging those false beliefs as they rise up in you.  Ask yourself, what evidence is there that what your parent told you is true?  I would guess there is no real evidence at all!
  • Unhealthy coping skills.  Watching too much TV, emotional eating, sex, shopping, drugs or alcohol.  Whatever coping skill used is unimportant.  The fact is the person using such coping skills is trying to avoid the pain inside.  Although these coping skills may have served you for some time, it’s time to retire them & face the pain.
  • Being a people pleaser.  Growing up afraid of rocking the boat where your parents are concerned can create a habit of people pleasing.  This is so unhealthy!  Of course, it’s good to care what people think.  When that rules your life & makes you do things that you disagree with or hurt you, however, there is a big problem!  Learn to say “no”.  It’s perfectly ok!
  • Lack of good self care.  Self care isn’t all bubble baths & eating ice cream.  Self care also involves taking good care of your physical & mental health, resting when tired, not overworking, & having good boundaries.

If you’re wondering where to start changing these behaviors in you, the best place I know of is what I always recommend.  Prayer.  Ask God to help you to be healthier & to heal from the trauma you have experienced.  He truly will!  One thing I do is when something comes up, I ask Him to tell me the truth about it.  “Am I right to feel *insert feeling here*?  Why or why not?” & listen for His response.

Read about the type of abuse you experienced.  Chances are, you’ll find other survivors experience similar things to you.  Learning there are others out there going through what you are can be extremely validating.  It also will help you to learn how to cope with what you’re experiencing when you see how other people got through it.

Do you keep a journal?  If not, now is the time to start!  Seeing things in writing can be so validating & clarifying.  It also can help you to keep track of the truth.  Abusers, narcissists in particular, love to reinvent the past, & lie about the present.  Having written documentation helps you to keep track of the truth so you don’t get lost in their lies.

I truly wish you the best, Dear Reader.  Facing pain & changing dysfunctional behavior isn’t easy.  However, it is worth it when you’re healthier, happier & behaving in a much more functional way.

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Helpful Tips For Coping With Narcissists

Most Christians, even new ones, have heard of the armor of God that is written about in Ephesians 6:13-17.  To summarize, the armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of Salvation & sword of the Spirit.

Have you ever considered how the armor is when viewed from the perspective of dealing with narcissists?  I would guess not.  I’ve been a Christian since 1996 & studying Narcissistic Personality Disorder since 2011 & it never  crossed my mind until recently.  It’s well worth considering if you have to deal with a narcissist in any capacity.

When dealing with narcissists, you truly need that belt of truth.  Narcissists twist the truth around to their advantage, deny the truth or even recreate their own version of any situation & call it the truth.  When dealing with them, you must be well aware of the truth rather than accept their twisted version of it.  Knowing the truth helps you to avoid being manipulated by narcissists.

You also will need to wear the breastplate of righteousness at all times.  Being aware of what is right & moral will help you to stay on the right track with narcissists.  They try to force victims into doing whatever they want, & often those things aren’t good for anyone but the narcissist, let alone moral.  Being secure in what you know is right helps you not to get sucked into compromising yourself & your beliefs.

The shoes of peace are also incredibly important.  Narcissists feed off the emotions of other people.  Any sign of any emotion triggers a reaction in a narcissist.  If you’re clearly happy, they’ll do what they can to make you sad.  Angry?  They’ll make you angrier.  Sad?  They’ll push you to the point of seriously considering suicide.  The best thing you can do in any dealings with a narcissist is to remain completely neutral & peaceful.  Show them no emotions whatsoever.  Naturally, once you’re away from the narcissist, you need to deal with what you’re feeling however works best for you, because holding emotions in isn’t a healthy thing to do long term.  I am only recommending holding emotions in while in their presence because it will help you in dealing with them.

You also will need your shield of faith.  Faith in God can get you through anything & everything, even the impossible situations like dealing with narcissists.  My faith enabled me to find successful ways to cope with my narcissistic parents, to go no contact at the right time & even helped to get my father to turn to Jesus at the end of his life.  With God, all things are possible, even when it comes to dealing with narcissists.

The helmet of Salvation is truly invaluable as well.  When you are secure in the knowledge that you are a child of God, it helps you in so many ways.  It gives you peace, faith & the knowledge that your Heavenly Father will protect you from anything & enable you to survive anything.

The sword of the Spirit, God’s word, is incredibly valuable too.  When you know what God has to say about things, it gives you wisdom & peace knowing not only how to handle what you must, but knowing that you can handle anything, even anything a narcissist can dish out.

If you’re wondering how to put on this armor of God, ask God to help you, listen to anything He suggests to you & have knowledge of the Bible.  There are some really wonderful email lists you can subscribe to that will deliver Scriptures to your inbox daily.  I subscribe to one that lets me read through the Bible in a year.  There are also many devotionals available, either in email or book form.  Whatever you do isn’t important.  Your relationship with God & knowledge of His word are.

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Reinventing The Past As An Unhealthy Coping Skill

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About Coping With Pain & Suffering

I get a daily email from the funeral home that took care of my mother when she died.  It sometimes has good & interesting emails.  Sadly though because our relationship was so abnormal, & it’s aimed for people with normal relationships who are grieving, it isn’t usually particularly helpful.

I just read the first email I truly disliked.  Even so, I think it can be a valuable teaching tool, even for those in relationships with narcissists.

The email quoted a book written by a young woman whose sister died.  She said her mother cried non stop.  She wore headphones constantly so she wouldn’t have to hear her mother cry, & her father worked very long hours for the same reason.  The commentary on this brief story said that as someone grieving, you should consider how your actions affect others.  You should keep your home life as normal as possible.  People who love you will be upset to see you suffering.  It ended with take time to share your feelings & not isolate yourself.

When I read this, it bothered me.

Not talking things out isn’t healthy.  Whether you’re grieving as the lady in this article or suffering at the hands of a narcissist. you have to talk about things.  You can’t ignore things & hope they’ll go away because they won’t.  The same goes for toning bad things down when you do talk about them.  It’s wise to share only with people you know are safe of course, so I’m not saying talk to just anyone.  Only aim to talk with safe people who won’t judge, criticize or invalidate you.  Can you imagine how much better the lady in this article would’ve felt if she had someone to talk to?!

Also, it seems to me the family in this article split up rather than pulling together with their shared loss.  That isn’t healthy!  The family in this email would have been so much better off if they would have spoken to each other about what each one was feeling & supported each other.  Whether you are grieving a death like the lady in this article or are suffering at the hands of an abuser, you should come together with people who are experiencing a situation similar to yours.  That way you can help each other to get through.  Finding that common ground with another person also can be incredibly validating!  If you don’t know anyone, there are countless online forums & groups on social media sites where you can meet such people.

The final sentence bothered me, too.   It seemed to me that taken in context with the rest of it basically said, “Let people know you’re upset, but not *too* upset.”  That is just wrong.  If people truly care about you, naturally they don’t want to see you upset of course, but they also won’t expect you to hide your feelings just to appease them.  They would rather see you bawl your eyes out or yell than plaster on a fake smile & pretend everything is ok.  They probably would see through the fake smile easily anyway.  I know my friends would.  If you’re suffering at the hands of a narcissist in particular, I know it can feel sometimes like no one cares, but that isn’t true!  That is only what the narcissist wants you to think, so you won’t discuss the abuse with anyone.  There will be people who genuinely care & want to help you.  Let them!

In the midst of suffering, it really can feel like there is no escape, like you’re all alone & no one cares.  Don’t believe that!  People do care & you can get through this.  And most importantly, there is a God who loves you so much & will be there for you no matter what.  Don’t forget to turn to Him & let Him help you to get through!

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“Super Powers” In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently saw the most interesting conversation on television!  In this particular scene, a younger lady was talking with an older lady.  The younger lady was deaf, & discussing how things went when she began to lose her hearing in her teens.  She said she was afraid & angry, naturally, but her older sister told her being deaf was her super power.  She learned how to adapt to this new life which obviously wasn’t easy.  She also mentioned how people in their community were learning sign language, & that it was all because of her.

Immediately I began to think of those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse.  We have super powers too!

We survived some pretty horrific stuff!  Simply surviving narcissistic abuse definitely fits into the super power category!  Many people don’t.  They end up committing suicide, & quite honestly, who can blame them?  Like many others, I sure considered it plenty when I was going through it.

We also not only survived, but we did so with our sanity & humanity in tact.  Narcissists pull out all the stops when they abuse their victims in an attempt to utterly destroy them.  Surviving that without becoming angry or bitter or continuing their abuse is really impressive!  Many people who survive narcissistic parents simply don’t have the strength or courage to break the cycle of abuse, & they abuse their children.

Many of us go on to talk openly about our painful experiences, & by doing so, help other people.  We create awareness of narcissistic abuse, which is desperately needed.  And, we help other victims to learn what is happening with them when we discuss our experiences.  I’m sure you remember how it was prior to learning about narcissistic abuse.  You felt like you were going crazy, maybe the narcissist was right & you were causing all of the problems in the relationship & more.  Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is incredibly freeing because you learn the narcissist is the problem, not you like the narcissist said.  By discussing your experiences openly, you’re helping other people obtain that freedom!  Also, by discussing narcissistic abuse, we are able to show others what does & doesn’t work with not only dealing with narcissists but the healing process as well.

If you have C-PTSD as a result of the narcissistic abuse, you aren’t exempt from having the super powers.  I know many who have it consider themselves weak or seriously flawed, but that isn’t the case at all!  You simply have a scar that shows yourself & others you survived some pretty horrific stuff.  I know C-PTSD is horrible, I live with it too.  But living with something so painful & challenging is a super power!

And you know something else?  By being open & honest about your struggles with C-PTSD, you’re helping others.  You may help some people who may not yet realize they too have the disorder.  They may hear of your struggles & realize this is what’s been happening with them.  While naturally no one wants to be diagnosed with any illness, mental or physical, if you’re suffering with symptoms & have no clue why, learning what is happening is incredibly helpful!  Having answers means you know what you’re dealing with & can find the proper treatment.

Also, by discussing your symptoms openly & how you cope with those symptoms, you help others find ways to manage their symptoms.  It can be so hard to come up with ideas to help yourself, especially when symptoms are flaring up, which means learning what works & doesn’t work for others can be extremely helpful!

Please never forget, Dear Reader, that you have super powers.  You survived some of the cruelest abuse a human can survive & are going on to help others.  Those are some impressive super powers!  That is amazing & you should be very proud of yourself!

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Any Reaction Is Good As Far As Narcissists Are Concerned

Narcissists do their best to elicit reactions from their victims.  It doesn’t matter to them if the reaction is positive or negative, so long as it’s a strong reaction.

If you react positively to a narcissist, this provides narcissistic supply because it builds up their ego.  They see your reaction as proof that they are the awesome, amazing person they want people to think they are.  This means they will pursue you fervently in order to gain more of that precious supply you provide.

If you react negatively to a narcissist, this also provides narcissistic supply.  In the mind of the narcissist, it proves they are incredibly powerful.  After all, only a powerful person could elicit such a reaction, as far as they’re concerned.  Or, they can portray themselves as your victim, which is another great way for them to gain supply.  This situation also means they will pursue you fervently, because they want that narcissistic supply.

Narcissists really are experts at creating “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenarios, aren’t they?

As difficult as it seems, you need to avoid both scenarios.  The more narcissistic supply you provide, the more the narcissist will demand of you.  They will not hesitate to drain you of anything & everything you have- money, possessions, your time, energy, etc- to gain that supply.

To avoid providing a narcissist with supply, you need to stop reacting & start responding.

Reacting is that knee-jerk reaction, that thing that just happens automatically, without thinking.  Responding, however, happens after you take time to calm down & think.  Responding is what you need to do when dealing with a narcissist.

Responding isn’t nearly as easy to do as reacting, but it is possible, even when face to face with a narcissist.  To start with, pray.  Ask God for help responding & to keep your reactions in check.  You also can pray Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (KJV)

Remind yourself how important it is to stay calm.  Remembering why you need to behave this way can be helpful.  Also tell yourself that you can do this, you are well able to remain calm no matter what.   Remember Proverbs 23:7  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…” (KJV)  If you tell yourself such things, you will be able to do them.

Another trick I learned is to stop for a second & take a deep breath, then release it.  This act forces you to calm down because of the breathing.  It also gives you a second to think of a response or ask God for help.

If you are no longer in a relationship with the narcissist, & they are either harassing you (themselves or via flying monkeys) or creating a smear campaign, I still would urge you to remain calm.

If the narcissist is harassing you, block her every way possible- on social media, email, your phone- & ignore her completely no matter what.  If she sends you something via postal mail, before you do anything with it, pray.  Some narcissists see returning mail as contact, thus it provides them with supply, & encourages them to continue harassing you.  Others may not see it that way.  You need to pray about this before you accept or return their mail.  You also may need to get a restraining order (talk to a police officer in your area for more details).  In many cases, narcissists know about stalking laws & stay just barely legal.  This means you can’t get a restraining order since they haven’t broken the law.  Even if you can’t, document everything they do.  Save emails & texts.  Take screen shots.  Save voice mails.  And, save everything in a safe place, such as online storage, so you won’t lose it no matter what.  This way, if the narcissist does break the law at some point, you have evidence that their behavior has been awful for a long time.  This can help you with the legal system.

If flying monkeys are harassing you, also remain calm in their presence & respond, don’t react.  Any reaction on your part just proves to them that the narcissist is right about you & may encourage them to continue abusing you.  Change the subject.  Tell them you don’t wish to discuss the narcissist with them.  If they ignore your boundary, tell them this subject isn’t up for debate & if they continue, you will leave/hang up the phone.  Follow through on your threat.  If the flying monkeys approach in other ways such as via email, ignore the email.

If you’re the victim of a smear campaign, ignore it.  Let your true character shine.   I know it hurts when you hear the horrible lies being told about you, & when people you thought cared about you believe them, & I’m sorry for that.  Unfortunately, people are going to believe what they want to believe.  Some people are so determined to be right, they will ignore all evidence to the contrary.  Let them.  Smear campaigns, as painful as they are, are also a good way to find out who your true friends are.  True friends will question the person saying awful things about you & defend you.  Those people are gems that you should thank God for placing them in your life.

Lastly, you will need to release all the anger & hurt the narcissist has caused you once you are away from them or their flying monkeys.  Prayer is incredibly helpful.  Sometimes you may not feel like talking & journaling is a great way to cope during those times.  I think of my journal entries as talking to God in writing since He & I are the only ones who read my journal.  Talk to a safe friend or counselor.  When you’re able to release the negative emotions, be sure to let it all out.  I admit it- I’ve used awful language & called the narcissists in my life terrible names during those times, but it helped me to purge myself of all the awful feelings.  Not once have I felt God judged me for it either.  Not like He hasn’t heard those kinds of things before!

Whatever your situation with the narcissist in your life, Dear Reader, you can handle it.  I believe in you!  xoxo

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What I Learned From No Contact

So many websites & authors make no contact sound like an easy decision & once you go no contact, all will be right in your world.  Nothing could be further from the truth!!  While no contact is often the best & even the only solution, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy one.

If you’re considering no contact with a narcissist in your life, in particular one in your family, you need to be aware of some things.  I am not writing these to make you change your mind about no contact, only to help you prepare for the potential aftermath.

  • No one has the right to abuse you, not even your family.
  • You are under no obligation whatsoever to tolerate abuse from anyone & yes, that includes family.
  • Cutting toxic people out of your life doesn’t make you a bad person.  It makes you someone who cares enough about yourself not to tolerate abuse.
  • Just because you severed contact with someone doesn’t mean you hate them.  You can love someone but still not be able to be in a relationship with them because they’re abusive.
  • No one can fully prepare for what may happen after no contact because all people are different.  When I went no contact with my mother, she ignored me & kept her distance.  When I went no contact with my father, he continually tried to force me to talk to him, including getting his family to try to force me to talk to him.  It’s hard to predict how the person on the receiving end of no contact will handle it.
  • You will be depressed for some time after going no contact.  No matter how sure you are that you did the right thing or how much you know you had no choice but to do this, ending a relationship especially one with a family member is TOUGH!  It hurts!
  • You’ll also feel very guilty for a while, even though there isn’t a valid reason to feel that way.  This is simply because that is how this person trained you.  Their feelings are more important than yours & how dare you put your feelings ahead of theirs, at least that is what they want you to believe.  Remember, this person is the reason the relationship fell apart.  Yes, you walked away but only after you were pushed into doing so to protect your mental health.  There is no reason to feel guilty about this!
  • You’re going to have doubts.  It’s only normal.  Remind yourself of how much thought & prayer went into your decision when this happens.  Also remember what led you to make this incredibly difficult decision.  Doing so helps a great deal.
  • Not everyone is going to understand.  Some people are going to judge you very harshly.  Those people can be incredibly hurtful & cruel.  No matter how convicted they are in their beliefs, it doesn’t mean they are right.  Don’t let them make you doubt your decision or tolerate their abusive words.
  • Of those who judge you, you will be surprised by who is doing it.  Some folks you were convinced were on your side will turn on you, & it is going to hurt badly!  You also may be surprised by acquaintances & even strangers who attack you for going no contact.  It’s shocking when someone you barely know or don’t even know at all thinks they have the right to tell you what they think you should do with your life.
  • Those who don’t understand also will try to guilt or shame you into reconnecting.  Don’t let that happen!!  Again, remind yourself of what led you to making this decision.  Also remind yourself that these people don’t know the whole story, so their input is useless to you.
  • Often, these people who attack you are going to be your own family.  Family is often the most abusive in these situations.  Mine certainly has been.  Various members have attacked me like they were starving lions & I was vulnerable prey.  Sadly this is pretty normal in narcissistic families.  Family members often delude themselves into thinking they’re a happy, normal, functional family.  They will do anything to protect their delusions, including attack someone who tells the truth.  If they can quiet the truth teller, then their delusions can remain in tact.  To them, attacking their own kin is worth it if it protects their delusions.
  • You may think if you just did something they wanted you to do or loved them enough, the abuse would have stopped.  That is not true!  A person changes because they want to.  To make an abuser want to change is nearly impossible.  They get what they want from being abusive & they lack empathy.  This means they see no reason at all to change.
  • You also may have days where you miss this person.  You may be tempted on those days to rekindle the relationship.  You may even want to apologize for going no contact.  DON’T DO IT!!  Once someone has gone no contact then later returns to the relationship, it gets much worse than it originally was.  It may start out good, but it won’t take long before the mask comes off again.  When that happens, the person underneath is even uglier than they were before.
  • You won’t be functioning in survivor mode anymore, so you may feel much different.  You may feel very vulnerable & over sensitive.  Little things can make you cry or make you angry that never bothered you before.  You may have more nightmares than usual.  You may experience changes in anxiety levels by either becoming more anxious in general or less anxious but when you do get anxious those times are harder than they used to be.
  • You may feel oddly lost, too, like you don’t know what to do with your life.  When in a relationship with a narcissist, they seem to take up all the room in the relationship, even down to including all the room in your brain.  Without them, what is there to think about?!  It can take some time to feel less lost after survival mode is over.
  • At some point, you are going to feel so much better!  You’ll experience freedom & enjoy that feeling immensely.  If the narcissist in your life was a relative, guilt will come attached to enjoying your new freedom, but in time it will get less & less, until it disappears.
  • You’ll also experience peace, possibly for the first time in your life!  No more unnecessary drama.  No more narcissistic rages.  The peace is glorious!!
  • You won’t feel on edge all the time, worried about what to say or do to appease the narcissist so he or she won’t rage at you.  You finally can relax & not focus all of your energy on this person.  It’ll feel like a giant weight is lifted off your shoulders.
  • You also will start to enjoy little things more than you used to.  When you’re life is totally focused on a narcissist, it’s hard to enjoy subtle things like a bird singing, a beautiful full moon or even a great song on the radio.  It can feel almost like you’re reborn, I think is the best way to describe it.

In time, you’ll learn that no contact was absolutely worth it.  In spite of all the pain, the tears, the doubts & the attacks from horrible people, it truly was worth it.  You will survive it, & be better & stronger for it!

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My Newest Book Is Now Available!

I have just published my newest book, “When A Narcissistic Parent Dies: Expanded Version.”

I originally wrote this book after my father died in 2017.  When my mother died last year, I learned a lot more about what it’s like to lose a narcissistic parent.  Rather than write an entirely new book on the topic, I decided simply to expand on what I had already written.

The print version is available at this link.  The ebook is available at this link.

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Ways To Cope With Triggers

Anyone who has suffered trauma knows about triggers.  They are something that reminds you of past trauma & can leave you feeling very shaken up.

Triggers can be such a miserable thing to experience!  They feel like there is no reason for them when you’re going through them, but I believe they actually have a purpose.

When you are healed in a specific area, you can experience a trigger, & although it certainly isn’t pleasant, it isn’t devastating either.  It reminds me of what it feels like when you remember a nightmare.  Unpleasant but not terribly upsetting.

When you aren’t healed in some area however, that is when triggers can be helpful.  They show you the areas where you need some healing.   Paying attention to exactly what emotions you feel can be an excellent start to heal in this area.

When you’re triggered, I firmly believe it’s wise to consider exactly what you felt & why you felt it in order to heal.  For example, were you angered because you felt invalidated, powerless, ignored, or disrespected?  Did you feel shame because you felt judged, unimportant, or mocked?  Were you hurting because you felt excluded, unloved or as if no one cared at all about you?

Once you realize the root of your feelings, you can heal.  What helps me if I’m unsure why I feel what I do is to ask God to show me the root of this feeling.  Where did this start?  Usually then I remember some incident from a long time ago that shows me where the problem began.  Once I remember that, I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing.  I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be.  The more thoroughly an incident can be remembered, I believe the more healing takes place.  The more healing that happens, the less you will experience triggers like this in the future.

One important thing to remember is when you do this, take breaks.  Emotional healing is very difficult & painful work.  It also doesn’t happen quickly.  Because of these factors, it can get to be too much sometimes, especially when the trauma is extremely bad.  When those times happen, it’s best to take a break.  Stop focusing on your healing & focus on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with the trauma for a little while.  You need to put your emotions in a box on a shelf for a time, & take some time to do something fun.  Watch a movie, read, work on a craft, snuggle your furkids, spend time with a good friend sharing some laughs… whatever you do, make sure it is lighthearted & fun.  If it can make you laugh, all the better.  After you have relaxed & feel less overwhelmed, when you get back to working on your healing, you will be in a better frame of mind to do so.

Triggers can be difficult to deal with, I know.  Frankly, they just stink.  However, they can be a very helpful tool in your mental & emotional healing.  Why not use them that way & make the pain they cause count for something?

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About Flashbacks

Those who don’t have flashbacks usually have no idea what a flashback truly is.  They sometimes think those of us who have them are exaggerating or being dramatic about something we remembered, & have little patience for us because of our “drama queen” ways.

People who think like this need to understand something.  Flashbacks aren’t the result of someone being overly dramatic.  They also aren’t simple memories or even repressed memories.  They are much different.  They’re intense & complicated.

Flashbacks aren’t as simple remembering a traumatic event.  All of your senses kick in & you see, hear, smell, taste & feel the same things you felt when the event originally happened to you.  It literally feels as if you’re reliving the traumatic event, even though logically you know you aren’t.  It can be very hard to tell the difference between reality & the flashback.

If you’re very lucky, when a flashback happens, you still maintain enough composure to remember to ground yourself somehow.  Touching something with an extreme texture, such as burlap for example, can help.  Or, smelling something with a very strong scent like lavender also can help.  The trick is to override your confused senses with something real in order to get them to focus on something other than the flashback.  Grounding yourself like this can be quite effective in helping you to get through the flashback.  Even so, remembering what to do in the midst of a flashback is something else entirely.  It’s incredibly hard to have focus on anything when your mind & body are trying to convince you that this horrible memory isn’t just a memory, but it’s happening to you all over again.

As if all of this isn’t quite enough, once the flashback is over, you’re drained both mentally & physically to the point of exhaustion.  I have described it as feeling like I was hit by a huge truck.  The anxiety of it tenses your muscles greatly.  When it’s over, those muscles can ache badly for a while.  Your heart races during the flashback & it takes time for it to slow back down once the flashback dissipates.  Chances are very good your stomach will be upset & you’ll have a nasty headache for a while as well.

In addition to the physical side of flashbacks, there is also the mental ones.  Flashbacks are utterly depressing.  It’s so unpleasant remembering traumatic events under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you feel as if you just relived it.  They also can make you feel ashamed for not being healed from the trauma by now, embarrassed if it happened in front of another person or other people, & they take away your hope of having a normal life without flashbacks.

They also make you incredibly anxious because you wonder when is the next one going to strike?  Will it be just like this one or will it involve another traumatic event?  What if it happens when I’m driving?  What if it’s worse?  Is it possible to get stuck in the flashback & never come out of it?

If you’re one of those folks who never has experienced a flashback, I’m telling you, count your blessings!  Thank God for this!

If you know someone who has flashbacks though, I hope you will remember this information & treat your loved one accordingly. Remember that this person isn’t seeking attention or being overly dramatic.  They are dealing with a very difficult & painful mental illness.  They have experienced something or some things so traumatic that their brain physically broke!  It isn’t your loved one’s fault they have flashbacks, & chances are excellent if this person could find a way never to have them again, they would.  So please, be patient & understanding with anyone you know who suffers with flashbacks.  A little gentleness can help us more than you know.

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