Tag Archives: coping
Narcissists have incredibly dysfunctional coping skills. Unfortunately this means that their pain can overflow onto those around them.
When my mother was still speaking to me, for about 2 years or so, she kept telling me what a great mother she was to me. She bragged about forcing me to stand up to a bully in seventh grade (she didn’t), taking me to the doctor when I sprained my foot in ninth grade (as she should have) & other ridiculous things. She also wanted me to validate her delusions, agreeing with how great a mother she was to me.
In talking with others who have a narcissistic parent or two, I have learned this behavior is very common. It’s also very painful.
For me, this used to make me so incredibly angry. How dare she want me to enforce her delusions & pretend I was never abused! I felt invalidated, as if she was pretending the abuse she put me through never happened.
God showed me something though. My mother doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, so this is what she does. She knows what she did to me is wrong, but rather than admit that, she goes into denial. She wants to convince herself she was a great mother, even going as far as to try to force me to agree with her.
As ridiculous & dysfunctional as this is, it is her choice & her right. There is no law against having dysfunctional coping skills. That being said, that choice can be respected while not reinforced.
There is no good reason to reinforce such delusions. It only allows the person to continue in their dysfunction while invalidating your own painful experiences. When approached by a narcissistic parent in this situation, I have found it best to remain as neutral & quiet as possible or to change the subject.
Also never forget- this is the narcissist’s coping skill. It has nothing to do with you even though it feels like it does. It just shows how dysfunctional she is. Remembering that helps you not to take the comments so personally & to put the responsibility right back onto the narcissist. This is all about her dysfunction & lack of coping skills- all the responsibility & baggage belongs squarely on her shoulders, period, so leave it there! Don’t take it on yourself- you deserve so much better than to carry her issues & shame.
I’ve always had a knack for remembering dates. Even after the TBI I got in 2015, I still remember many dates that have been important to me at some time in my life. For example, I got my first car on July 6, 1989. I moved out of my parents’ home on June 9, 1990. I met my husband on March 14, 1992 & our first date was November 4, 1994.
Don’t get me started on my furbabies- I remember who I adopted when or when who was born, & when who passed away.
Remembering dates can be convenient sometimes, but it also can trigger some very unpleasant memories. For years, I beat myself up from August 23 until November 24 because that was the short time I was involved with a man who I thought was a good guy, but I was unhappy dating. When I told him I wanted to break up, he did his best to make me feel stupid & like a failure, which sunk in with me. I believed I ruined his life & was a terrible person for it. Many years later, I read that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself in their home. It finally clicked that maybe he wasn’t the good guy he portrayed himself as. I started remembering our short time together & realized that he was a very disturbed man. I didn’t have clues then to just how disturbed, though.
In a way, learning this information was a good thing. I finally was set free from the guilt of leaving this man. It was as if I finally had permission to accept that leaving him was for my own safety. It also helped me to think about something…
I have spent my life beating myself up for way too many things!
The disturbed man I mentioned? I was only 19, he was 28 when we dated. He was very controlling & I was so accustomed to being controlled, although it bothered me, I didn’t realize it was wrong. It was so bad, in fact, that I didn’t want to date him. I only did because he was pushy & my friend at the time said I should. After growing up with narcissistic parents, this behavior of allowing others to control me is pretty normal. I see that now, but for years, I told myself how stupid I was for this. I should’ve known better. HOW?! How could I have known better?!
I’ve also beat myself up for not standing up to my parents more often, for tolerating way more than I should have. This also doesn’t make sense- they’re my parents! Aside from the dysfunctional teaching I grew up with that said I deserve whatever is done to me, being parents puts them in a unique position in my life no one else shares. Most people are like me in that they are more willing to tolerate things from their parents than other people.
Does this describe you as well? Have you spent way too much time chastising yourself for things that really aren’t your fault? If so, please stop it right now!
Everyone makes mistakes! Those of us raised in abusive, dysfunctional environments tend to make even more than most people because we simply do not know any better. Frankly, it sucks, but it happens!
Have you learned from your mistakes? Good! That shows you don’t want to continue being dysfunctional! That is something to be proud of!!
Do you realize that sharing stories of things you did & what you learned can encourage other people? It really can! I’m hardly proud of sharing the things I have in this blog, but the good part is they encourage other people. I have the emails & comments to prove it. In a way, my mess has become my ministry. Not only the mess of my dysfunctional upbringing, but the mess of the dumb things I did as a result. That encourages me too, because I know it means my pain has a purpose. It wasn’t for nothing!
Your pain has a purpose too, Dear Reader! If you don’t feel that way, then talk to God about it. He will reveal the purpose to you, & comfort you!
As anyone subjected to a narcissist for any length of time knows, narcissists love to control other people. It gives them a sense of power, which gives them narcissistic supply, in other words, feeds their ego.
One tool they use that seems innocuous is interrupting others.
Interrupting seems like simple bad manners, but with narcissists, it is much more.
Narcissists only care about themselves & procuring narcissistic supply, & interrupting gives them a couple of ways to gain that supply.
For one thing, interrupting is often done if the other person in the conversation is not discussing the narcissist or anything about the narcissist’s life. The narcissist will interrupt & turn the conversation back to what she wants to talk about- herself, her accomplishments, how talented she is, etc. Most people who have been interrupted allow the conversation to take the new turn, seldom returning to the original topic.
Another reason narcissists interrupt is that taking over a conversation gives them a sense of power. They were able to redirect the conversation, which makes them feel powerful, & provides narcissistic supply.
Interrupting may seem not worth fighting over, but anything that provides a narcissist supply can make them want to use you more & more. That is why it is vital if you’re in any relationship with a narcissist to provide as little supply as possible. The more supply you provide, the more they will use & abuse you.
Interrupting is pretty simple to deal with. My narcissistic mother uses this tactic constantly, & I have learned from her the best way to deal with it is not to deal with it. I ignore her as much as possible & show no reaction to her. If I’m talking with someone else & she interrupts, I ignore whatever she is talking about, then when she is finished talking, resume the conversation she interrupted.
Sometimes, she uses more unusual methods of interrupting. Once in a restaurant, my father & I were talking about a topic she wasn’t interested in. As we spoke, she picked up a napkin, held it to her nose & acted like she was blowing her nose, making loud, gross noises with her mouth. My father & I stopped talking, & she took the napkin away, & began laughing a very creepy, unsettling laugh. It was painfully obvious she did this to get attention, & it worked. Not only were my father & I looking at her, several others in the restaurant were as well. Thank God, He showed me immediately she just wanted attention, so I quickly resumed the conversation with my father, as if nothing happened. When ridiculous antics are her interruption tool of choice, I ignore them too.
The same goes for nasty comments to interrupt. When she says something hateful, it’s obvious it’s just to gain attention/supply. Another example was during dinner with my parents & grandmother once many years ago. My mother told my father what to order. He said he wanted a change, & asked what I was going to get. I said the taco salad, & he decided to try one. When dinner arrived, he & I were talking. My mother looked at our plates & loudly said, “It looks like someone threw up on your plates.” I acted as if she hadn’t said a thing, & continued talking to my father. It annoyed her- my father reacted to her by giving her a shocked expression, but I ignored her. I’m sure the goal was to get an equal reaction out of me.
Ignoring is pretty easy, but sometimes having no reaction can be difficult. If you remember exactly why this is happening, & how you do NOT want to provide narcissistic supply, that helps you to stay calm.
Prayer also helps. Ask God to help you before you answer that phone or visit your narcissistic mother. He truly will not disappoint you!
Once your visit is done, you’re going to be angry &/or hurt. Don’t hold it in! Get it out by praying, talking with a safe person, or journalling. Maybe a combination of all of them. Whatever works for you.
By staying calm & ignoring your narcissistic mother’s petty interruptions, you are taking back control. It also will frustrate her, & she will use this tactic less & less frequently.
Like many survivors of any type of abuse, one thing I have struggled with my entire life is thinking that everything is my fault. It’s very easy to see why this has happened…
- My mother blamed me for making her abuse me. She claimed she was “saving me from myself”, if I wasn’t so bad she wouldn’t have to do the “tough love” thing on me, & I was too upset to drive after a fight with her when I was 19 so her solution was to throw me into a wall & hurt my back.
- On our third anniversary, my ex-husband started a big fight. I needed time to calm down & think, so I left. When I came back, his mother (we lived with his parents) chewed me out for making him punch her wall after I left, & told me how I needed to fix this. I needed to apologize to him & never leave during an argument again. She also wanted me to apologize to her husband for making my husband so angry.
- My current in-laws blame me for stealing my husband from them & keeping him from his family, according to my husband’s sister. They also don’t understand why I have a problem with how my mother in-law has treated me (she’s a very devious covert narcissist).
- When talking about problems with my parents, I have been told that I need to make things work with them. It’s my job to fix things, period.
You simply can’t survive things like this without learning that everything is your fault, and you deserve whatever you get. It’s your fault for making people act that way. You need to try harder. If the relationship is going to work, then you have to be the one who makes it work.
This type of behavior is extremely common among adult children of narcissistic parents.
Can you relate? If so, read on..
I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is no way that everything is your fault.
It is simply impossible for one person to do every single thing wrong in a relationship while the other does every single thing right. Even people with the best intentions & good relationship skills will make mistakes sometimes.
It’s also not one person’s responsibility to make a relationship work. Relationships are not a one way street- they are a two way street. Both people need to be willing to work on the relationship, no matter what kind of relationship we are talking about. Whether the relationship is husband & wife, friends, relatives, co-workers or parent/child, both parties need to work on the relationship if it is to be a successful. One person simply cannot make it work, no matter how hard they try. Sure, one person can make the relationship work briefly, but it won’t last long. The one with all of the responsibility will become resentful quickly at best, or feel like a complete failure when it falls apart.
You need to know today, Dear Reader, that not everything is your fault or your responsibility! You have your own voice, your own feelings, & your own needs. Never let anyone convince you otherwise! You have your own worth & value, no matter what anyone else says.
Trauma actually can cause physical changes in the brain. That is why PTSD & C-PTSD happen- the brain is actually broken due to traumatic experiences. The physical damage to the brain causes the awful symptoms of both disorders.
However, I don’t believe you have to have an actual disorder to be changed by trauma.
I have C-PTSD, but the symptoms didn’t fully manifest until the spring of 2012. Prior to that, I have experienced many traumas, & I realized I changed after several of them, long before the C-PTSD.
In 2010, my house was hit by lightening while my husband & I were at a friend’s wedding reception. When we came home we learned a window unit air conditioner had been hit, & caught fire, but somehow the fire went out. The neighbor’s tree beside our driveway, where my car sits, was hit, as was their brick chimney. There were large limbs & bricks surrounding my car, but nothing touched my car. Coming so close to losing my car, furkids & home was extremely traumatic. It made me appreciate them all even more. I constantly snuggle & tell the furkids how much I love them now (sometimes to their disappointment..lol). Cleaning my home & car also aren’t as big of a nuisance as they once were.
Shortly after the lightening incident, upon leaving a store, my shoe got caught on the curb & flung me into oncoming traffic. Thankfully I was only sore & embarrassed, but that oncoming truck that came within inches of hitting me scared me! It made me realize that life can change or even end in an instant. Since then, I take better care of my mental health now instead of ignoring when the C-PTSD flares up. I am less rigid in my routines, opting to do fun things whenever the opportunities arise. I also constantly reevaluate things in my life & am much more open to making changes than I was.
Things like what I have experienced are normal. Trauma is so dramatic, how can it not change you in some way?
The changes may not be as drastic as mine have been. Sometimes, it’s small changes. For example, since I developed C-PTSD, I am not as interested in knitting & crocheting as I had been. I loved doing both ever since I was five years old, so suddenly losing interest has been very strange to say the least.
Have you changed as a result of trauma? If so, you are completely normal! It’s ok! These changes may simply be a part of the new you. Why not embrace the changes? You may discover new interests or a renewed passion for an old one. You may have a new appreciation for the people, pets or even things in your life. You may wish to end old relationships that aren’t beneficial to you or the other person, & that too is fine. It may be a good thing. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start. You also may change often, your likes or dislikes changing frequently.
I encourage you to pray if you are unsure of or uncomfortable with the changes happening to you. God will reassure you of what is fine & let you know if something is wrong.
Tomorrow is a day I can’t forget. On January 21, 2007, I lost my sweet cat, Magic. He died quietly in my arms after over three years of dealing with heart problems, which was twice as long as vets expected him to live.
Magic was very special. Not only was he my first cat, but he was also my soul mate. He was extremely in tune with me. He defended me when people were cruel to me. He comforted me when I was sad & snuggled me when I was happy. He was extremely intuitive, intelligent, fun, caring & a wonderful surrogate daddy to the other cats & dogs. It’s hardly a surprise that after his death, he was still special..
One day not long after losing Magic, I was listening to the soundtrack from the TV show, “Touched By An Angel.” Wynonna’s song “You Were Loved” came on. God spoke to my heart & said, “This is your & Magic’s song. He wanted you to know that.” Even now, I cry when I hear the song, remembering that precious moment.
That wasn’t even the first time something like this happened. In December 2001, I experienced my first kitty death. My sweet boy, Bubba died from FIV & emphysema at only age 9. God gave me Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” two days later. In 2002 after Sugar died suddenly & completely unexpectedly, God told me the same thing about Lonestar’s “Not A Day Goes By” There have been other songs too. In December 2010 when Vincent died, on my way back from burying him, the song “Someday We’ll Be Together” started going through my mind. God told me that was Vincent’s & my song. A similar thing happened the following year when Jasmine passed, except the song was Aerosmith’s “Angel” & in 2014 when Georgie passed with Steelheart’s “I’ll Never Let You Go.”
My point in sharing all of this with you, Dear Reader, is to reassure you. Not only people go to Heaven or Hell. Animals do as well! Mark 16:15 says to preach the Gospel to all creation or to every creature in every single translation I’ve seen. This tells me that animals also can accept Jesus as their savior. This means they can go to Heaven & we will see them again one day!
I also firmly believe that death doesn’t mean that they no longer think of their humans once they are gone. I have no doubt they think of us & miss us as we think of & miss them. Otherwise, why would God have told me they wanted me to know that these songs are ours?
If you have lost lost a precious pet, please be reassured that your baby still loves you & thinks fondly of you. And best of all, you’ll see him or her again one day. I know it hurts more than you can describe when you lose a furbaby, but knowing you’ll see them again one day is very comforting.
The songs I’ve gotten are also quite comforting. Granted, not every single furbaby & I have a song, & I don’t know why that is, but the ones I do share a song with? That song comforts me & helped me to get through the initial, devastating pain of losing them. If you haven’t experienced this, it may be a good idea to ask God about it. He certainly won’t object to it! And, who knows? Maybe you were too caught up in your grief to notice God gently trying to tell you about a song. It’s certainly possible to be grieving so hard, you don’t listen to God. I’ve done that myself.
If you have experienced the pain of losing a furbaby, please know I understand. It’s devastating!
When you have been abused, you eventually get angry. It’s only natural. Many people think that this means you are harboring anger. It can be very discouraging & painful for you, because so many people will tell you you need to let it go, it was so long ago so why are you still holding onto this & other painful, invalidating things. Christians often will quote verses on forgiveness & make you feel guilty for being angry. I actually was told once by a Christian lady, “God says forgive so I do it. I don’t know what your problem is.” *sigh* I can’t even express how ashamed of myself I felt when she said that.
I always find it interesting that these judgmental people never have good advice on how to forgive, but they sure are quick to tell us we need to do it!
The truth of the matter is anger is not easy to deal with. Some people are very blessed & are able to let it go easily, but they are pretty rare. The rest of us have to feel it, & get really angry before we can let it go. Often several times.
Anger can also be somewhat deceptive. You can think you are done, you’ve forgiven someone, when suddenly something triggers anger at that person all over again. I experienced that a few months ago regarding my ex husband. I thought I’d forgiven him long ago, then after my mother bringing him up in conversation, it triggered a flashback which made me very angry at some things he had done to me. It was frustrating because I was sure I’d completely forgiven him.
Anger is a complex emotion that demands to be heard & dealt with in some way. So long as you are trying to deal with it however works best for you though, this doesn’t mean you are harboring anger, resentful, bitter, etc.
Harboring anger, however, is different.
Harboring anger involves not trying to let the anger go. People who have no desire to forgive are harboring anger.
It also includes a disdain & intense hatred for the person who abused you,
Harboring anger also means you don’t care why the person hurt you- you only care that you were hurt. A mature person tries to understand why someone acted the way they did rather than only knowing their actions. They know if they can understand, even a little, it may help them to forgive the other person & not take on the blame for that person’s actions.
People who harbor anger are very bitter. For example, if someone has a spouse who cheated, she assumes all men are cheaters or he assumes all women are cheaters.
These people also hold grudges for years. They can still be just as angry today as they were the day they were hurt 37 years ago.
These people also talk badly about whoever hurt them at every opportunity. Those who aren’t holding onto anger are different- if they discuss that person, they do so in a matter of fact way, without name calling or insulting.
Today I encourage you, Dear Reader, to examine your actions. Are you harboring anger or are you angry but trying to forgive your abuser? If the latter, then please, stop listening to those who are trying to convince you that you are a bad person for feeling the way you do! Ignore the ignorance of other people, & do what you need to do to heal & forgive!
One thing I learned in the relationship with the narcissists in my life, in particular my mother, is that I am nothing but a screw up. My writing was never taken seriously. In fact, my mother told me once it’s “nothing but a waste of time.” She told my father that “no one wants to read that trash I write.” I’ve also heard comments like all I do is play on the computer all day, & even been laughed at when I mention working (as if being an author isn’t a job). I always heard, too, how I never did enough for anyone, & am too selfish. My mother used to tell me that to have a friend, I had to be one, & by that she meant do anything for others & let them use me. I had so-called friends who would get very angry with me if I wasn’t available when they wanted me to be or do whatever they wanted me to do. These narcissists also always made sure I knew that I was wrong because my personality was very different than theirs, I liked things they didn’t like or I disliked things they liked. They liked to either say outright or imply that I was crazy for such things. My mother’s favorite phrase was, “You need help” (implying I was in need of psychiatric help) accompanied by a pitying look. She even threatened to have me committed many times. (Interestingly, she never once sought counseling for me, so started counseling on my own at 17).
All of these things were devastating to my self-esteem. I’ve wasted so much time thinking I was a complete & utter failure in every possible way- a terrible friend. awful girlfriend then wife, lousy pet mom, & even a lousy author. Depressing doesn’t describe how this felt. But, I’m sure I needn’t tell you this if you too have been subjected to narcissistic abuse. You know all too well how this feels.
There is good news though! You can be healed from this pain & dysfunctional way of thinking! Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” And, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV)
God’s word is very true! I gave my life to Jesus in February, 1996, & from that moment, I began to change & heal. God has been healing me from all the abuse in my life since then, & definitely has made me a new person. The wounded old me who was convinced she was crazy, worthless, stupid, & more is long gone. Thanks to God, I am healing daily, & have no doubt I’ll never return to that miserable, dysfunctional mess I once was. I may not be totally free of low self-esteem, but it is now much better than it once was & continues to improve.
God can do the same for you. All you have to do is trust Him to take care of you, & He will. He loves you so much & wants to bless you. He wants you happy & peaceful. He wants to heal you from the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse. He certainly has done so for me. Sure, I still have a long way to go, but I also was extremely damaged. God, being the gentle, loving Father He is, heals me little by little, as I am able to handle it. He’ll do that for you as well- only give you what you can handle, as you can handle it.
Are you willing today to claim God’s promises for your healing?
Narcissists have a large variety of weapons in their arsenal, but possibly the most favorite weapon is the silent treatment.
The silent treatment usually plays out in a similar scenario: You say or do something that offends the narcissist. Chances are, you’re unaware of it, but she certainly isn’t. She suddenly refuses to speak to you. You ask what’s wrong, & she ignores you, sends one of her flying monkeys to “talk some sense into you” in an effort to make you feel guilty, or she says some ridiculous comments to you such as, “you know what you did!” or (my personal favorite- my mother used this one in my teen years) “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,” You are tormented wondering what you did that was so wrong. You are baffled. Then eventually, she graciously allows you to apologize. And, you may never know what your crime was.
I went through this many times with my narcissistic mother when I was growing up. It used to upset me terribly. It’s very unsettling. I’m a sensitive person & not knowing what I did that was so bad, it made my mother stop speaking to me was very hard. it was confusing, & made me feel like a bad person.
As time went on, though, I began to see that this silent treatment was less about what I did, & more about my mother trying to manipulate me into doing what she wanted. This knowledge was very freeing to me. Once I realized this, I stopped worrying when my mother would give me the silent treatment & stopped trying to fix it. I knew that in time, if I left her alone, she would start speaking to me again, & act like nothing ever happened. This has become her routine. In fact, I’m getting the silent treatment as I write this. My mother’s barely spoken to me in months. Why? I have no idea. The last I heard from my father, she was mad because I don’t come to her house to visit. Interestingly, I haven’t been invited to come over since my father had problems last December & January, so I really don’t understand the logic.
If you deal with a narcissistic mother who gives you the silent treatment, I encourage you to do as I have done. Stop asking her what is wrong when she gives you the silent treatment! Let her pout & act like a spoiled child since that is what she wants to do. Instead of asking her what is wrong, ignore her & go on about your life. Enjoy the break from the drama.
If your narcissistic mother’s flying monkeys come to talk to you (triangulation is another weapon of narcissists), refuse to discuss the topic with them. Nothing good can come of it, so simply refuse to discuss that topic. Tell them you won’t discuss this topic & change the subject. Repeatedly if need be, but stick to your guns.
Your life can be much more peaceful if you do these two things when you’re given the silent treatment.
I’ve realized just recently that all my life, many people have acted like my happiness means absolutely nothing. It’s like they think I am here to serve, & do so without any feelings or needs of my own.
When I broke up with my ex husband before marrying him a few months later, many people told me I should go back with him because he was miserable without me. Not one person cared how miserable I was with him, however.
When my father was in the hospital a few years ago, & my mother wouldn’t tell his family or friends, I did via facebook. (I also provided my parents’ phone number & asked people to tell other relatives what was happening.) There are a lot of us Baileys, & I don’t have many people’s phone numbers or emails, so facebook was simply the easiest way for me to reach the most people. One person called my father in the hospital & told him I was a “spoiled little brat” for not calling her personally about this matter. Other people got upset & chewed me out for using facebook instead of calling them personally. No one got mad at my mother for failing to tell them anything, even though it was her responsibility to do so. No one took into consideration the anxiety I was under daily or how exhausted (mentally & physically) I was.
There have been countless times over the years I was going to spend time with a friend & that friend either stood me up or ran very late, without letting me know what was happening, causing me to wait & worry about them. When I finally did contact them (mind you they didn’t contact me!), no apology was given or any sign that they felt guilty at all for wasting my time or disappointing me.
Do any of these situations sound somewhat familiar to you?
I am reasonably sure that these kinds of situations happen quite a bit to those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents. The only reason I can come up with is because we are groomed from day one to be subservient. Our narcissistic parents firmly believe (& instill the belief in us) that we are put on this earth to take care of & please our narcissistic parent with absolutely no regard to our own feelings, wants or needs. As we grow up, naturally that relationship stays this way, but we extend this dysfunctional role to include others. Because we believe this is what we are supposed to do, we show others that we believe we deserve to be used & ignore ourselves. Often even good people will treat us the way we believe we deserve to be treated simply because it’s natural to treat people how you see they expect to be treated, good or bad.
By saying this, please don’t think I’m saying we get what we deserve when people mistreat or use us! Not by any stretch. It’s still on an individual to control his/her behavior. Ultimately, it is the other person’s fault if they are abusive, period.
To deal with this super annoying problem, I have found that getting healthier & increasing my self esteem has done wonders. I think because I no longer give off that “It’s ok to abuse me” energy. As I’ve gotten healthier & my self esteem improved, I no longer have any patience for being abused, & I think people pick up on that.
Prayer is extremely helpful as well. Asking God how to deal appropriately with people who want to abuse me & how to set & enforce healthy boundaries has helped to give me wisdom & strength in bad situations.
Narcissists rarely apologize for anything, but when they do, you can be certain it isn’t a genuine apology.
A genuine apology doesn’t include excuses. Someone who is genuinely sorry for their actions won’t say you made them act that way. That person also will try to change their ways as they don’t want to hurt you like that again.
All of these are foreign concepts to the narcissist.
Narcissists hate to admit they are wrong, & will go to great lengths to avoid it. They will offer excuses as to why what they did was not their fault, or even blame you for making them do what they did. They love to offer the passive/aggressive type of apology- “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry you think what I did was wrong/unfair/hurtful.” All of these actions show that the narcissist is not genuinely sorry for what she did. Most likely, she doesn’t care that she hurt you & only cares that she accomplished whatever it was she wanted to accomplish.
I also realized recently another trick of the narcissistic apology. My father has done this one many times & it wasn’t until recently I caught onto it. He recently apologized to me for not being there enough for me in my life. I was touched- there was no blame or excuses so I assumed it was a genuine apology. He apologized for missing my fifth birthday because he had to travel for work. I told him it’s fine- not a big deal, it was just a birthday. He went on to say how terrible it was of him, he shouldn’t have gone on that trip. Again I said it was no big deal. I pointed out how many other birthdays he was there for. It was only one birthday. Plus he did other things for me. By the end of the conversation, he was happy.
While there are times I am more than willing to reassure someone who hurt me, this was not one of those times that was a good option. If someone accidentally hurt me once, fine. Bad things happen sometimes. But this was different. My reassurance would have been providing narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, I realized this after the conversation, & then I felt conned into telling him he was a good father.
Whenever you hear a narcissist apologize to you, remember- it is NOT a genuine apology! Don’t get your hopes up thinking they might finally see the error of their ways & change. The narcissist’s apology is like every other thing they do- it’s only about narcissistic supply.
Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is not an easy thing. You go through the abuse & somehow survive, only to be victimized further by people who invalidate what you have gone through.
I have heard comments such as…
- “That doesn’t sound so bad…”(from my high school guidance counselor, referring to my mother screaming at me for hours in my teen years)
- “You just need to understand her better.”
- “Nobody’s perfect!”
- “You need to fix things with your parents. Get into counseling!”
- “You need to work things out with your parents. They won’t be around forever yanno!”
- (from a different counselor after meeting my mother) “I can’t see you anymore- you’re a terrible daughter!”
- “You need to find things you have in common with your parents!”
- “You’re too negative!”
- “I can’t believe they are that bad!”
- “Are you even sure that happened? That’s a pretty serious accusation.”
- Various excuses as to why my narcissistic parents or mother in-law treated me so poorly such as she isn’t intelligent (she isn’t educated- big difference), her mother in-law didn’t like her, etc.
- Laughing at my story of being abused.
After hearing such things, I felt victimized all over again.
Victim blaming is very common in today’s society, so it’s not surprising these cruel words & more are said to victims of narcissistic abuse daily.
Unfortunately I don’t believe there is any way to avoid them entirely. All you can do is use wisdom on who you share your story with. Even when you do this, sometimes people may hurt you by invalidating your pain.
The fact is though that you can validate yourself. You can heal from narcissistic abuse even if there is no one to support you but God.
To do this, you need to lean on God. Talk to Him about how you feel. He can handle it all & wants to be there for you! Let Him be!
As for you.. you need to trust that what happened was bad. Admit it to yourself. No more excuses, no more telling yourself you’re oversensitive or weak. Narcissistic abuse permeates every part of a person’s being. It can destroy one’s self-esteem, perception of reality or even sanity. It is nothing to take lightly! If you’re having trouble with this, write your story out. When I wrote my autobiography “Emerging from the Chrysalis” a few years ago, it was hard. Very hard. For the first time, I realized just how bad the abuse I have survived really was. Yet, as hard as it was to see things in black & white, it was very freeing too. It gave me a new perspective. I realized I’m a very strong person. I also realized God must love me a great deal to have gotten me through all of that. It also helped me to see my parents as they truly are, instead of making excuses for their behavior or thinking I was the one with the problems- I really wasn’t oversensitive, overreacting, reading too much into things, etc. They have some serious problems & one of those problems is NOT me!
Once you are able to accept the truth about what you have gone through, healing will come. You will grieve, you will be angry, but these are necessary steps to freedom from narcissistic abuse. And, the more you validate yourself & heal, the less other people’s invalidation will bother you. I’m not saying it won’t hurt sometimes- it’s only human to be hurt when your pain is trivialized- but it won’t devastate you as it once did.
Have you ever heard the phrase “my truth”? I heard it again recently. That phrase is said to describe what you believe. Whether it is really true or not, however, is inconsequential.
This phrase is perfect for describing what narcissists believe. Their truth rarely resembles the real truth.
I think it is used when someone is trying to convince themselves of something that they know is not true, which narcissists love to do frequently. If they say something is their truth, it implies the thing is true, so it’s OK to believe. As an example, my mother believes she was a good, loving, caring mother to me. That is her truth. She has convinced herself of it. It’s how she copes with her guilty conscious. She knows what she did to me was wrong & rather than accept responsibility for it, she reinvents the past & creates her own truth. She has convinced others of her truth as well.
I know just how frustrating this is when you know the real truth & others insist that lies are the truth. Never forget- their truth is just that, theirs. It isn’t yours. So long as you know what the real truth is, that is what matters. Don’t let anyone sway you from what you know to be true. If you have any doubts, ask God to help you to see what the truth really is. He will do so!
When dealing with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realistic expectations are extremely important for the sake of your mental health. They will help you not to be constantly disappointed or hurt. They also will help you to be prepared for whatever may come, because you understand that this is how the narcissist in your life acts.
For many adult children of narcissistic parents, adjusting their expectations to be realistic is very hard. It’s hard not to hope that this will be the time things are different, the one time that Mom actually cares about me or doesn’t insult my husband. It’s also hard to grasp that normal things- such as treating your child with basic respect- are things that no narcissistic parent wants to do.
If you feel that way about your narcissistic mother, you’re perfectly normal. However, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider taking care of your mental health, your peace & joy, & lowering your expectations of your narcissistic mother.
Realistic expectations of narcissists are very different than those of other people. Most people, you are safe in assuming that they will have some level of empathy, think of people other than themselves & not viciously criticize anything they wish to about you. Not so with narcissists. Let’s look at some features of a narcissist:
- They are constantly looking for narcissistic supply- anything that helps boost their self-esteem.
- They are incredibly entitled- they feel as if they deserve anything they want, even if it means hurting others (yes, even their own family) to get it.
- They have absolutely no empathy- never will a narcissist genuinely understand or care about your pain. Never.
- Narcissists are excellent manipulators- they read people very well to find out their vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for personal gain.
- Narcissists don’t care how much they hurt you, destroy your self-esteem or even destroy your sanity as long as they get what they want from you.
These few qualities alone mean you cannot deal with any narcissist as you would a normal person if you wish to survive this relationship with your mental health in tact. Keeping realistic expectations of the narcissist will help you tremendously.
So what are realistic expectations of a narcissist? Basically, have no expectations. Never expect to be able to run to your narcissistic mother with your problems without her criticizing or mocking you. Never expect her to be able to genuinely celebrate your victories either. She may try to take credit for what you have done, ignore it completely or trivialize it.
What you can expect from most narcissistic mothers-
- She will criticize everything about you without mercy. I don’t mean constructive criticism- I mean mocking, insulting, saying cruel things that can bring you to tears.
- Gaslighting. Lots & lots of gaslighting & mind games.
- Conversations will be all about her. If you try to mention something about yourself, she’ll find a way to bring the conversation back to her.
- No empathy. It doesn’t matter if you broke a nail or are getting a divorce- your narcissistic mother will treat any problem you have exactly the same way. She won’t care.
- Her trying to destroy any joy you have over something good that has happened to you.
- Demands or hints rather than requests. She thinks she deserves your complete obedience.
Of course, each narcissist is a bit different, so I’m sure you can add to this list.
The good thing though is that if you keep in mind that your narcissistic mother is going to do these things, it will help you tremendously. You won’t be caught off guard by her outrageous behavior. You also can plan ahead of time how you wish to handle her outrageous behavior. You won’t be so hurt because you know it’s coming.
And, if you know what to expect, when your narcissistic mother calls or comes by, you can decide whether or not you can handle her on that particular day before you pick up the phone or answer the door.
Lastly, having these realistic expectations of your narcissistic mother also will help you to remember what kind of person she is, which will help you to remember that she has problems. You aren’t the terrible person she claims you are!
As many of you know, I got very sick in February. My fireplace’s flue wasn’t functioning right, which resulted in me getting carbon monoxide poisoning. At its height, I passed out, hitting my head on the log holder beside the fireplace, passing out for around 25 minutes & getting a concussion. It’s been a long six months living with all the symptoms, & I’m still getting used to them.
A few days ago, I felt really bad because of it. Everything on my body ached, especially my head, I was exhausted even though I hadn’t done anything tiring, my moods were all over the place & I kept forgetting things. Yet in spite of the obvious & annoying symptoms, I wondered if I was faking them!
This baffled me. I don’t know how to convince myself of the body aches or make myself moody. Besides, I was home alone- no one knew how I felt. What would be the point of faking it with no witnesses besides my cats & dog?! They weren’t going to tell anyone anything. So why would I think this? I didn’t even get to ask God before He started showing me some things. I believe what I learned may help you as well.
God reminded me of many things that I experienced that invalidated any suffering I felt when sick or injured. There are many more but here are a few examples:
- When I was 5, my mother woke me up one morning by tickling me. To get away from her I hit my head on the edge of the bookcase headboard on the bed. She called the pediatrician who saw me then sent me to the ER. I ended up with several stitches & had lost a lot of blood. To this day, my mother says how hard that episode was for her. She also complains that when she took me to the mall after leaving the ER (WHY?!) I wanted new crayons & I already had so many. Seriously? $1.50 on new crayons after that experience shouldn’t have been a big deal.
- In elementary school, I hurt my foot in gym class, & my mother wrote a note excusing me from gym. That teacher told me I’d never amount to anything if I refused to participate. I was a failure, lazy & other cruel things.
- In fifth grade, I got the chicken pox. For whatever reason, it lasted 2-3 weeks & I was utterly miserable the entire time. My mother complained about being “stuck in the house” because of me, so my parents & I went out to dinner while I was sick. She told me to lay down in the back seat & hide. She also said to tell my friends she was taking me to the doctor if anyone saw me in the car as she drove out of the neighborhood. I never saw a doctor, by the way. She did get me two presents during that time, which made me think she actually did love me.
- Towards the end of ninth grade, I hurt my foot. One weekend several days later, my mother wanted to go window shopping & I said I’d rather wait in the car. She brags that she knew if I wouldn’t go shopping, I had to be in pain, then she got me to the doctor a couple of days later. She later complained about how her mother’s day was ruined that year because I was on crutches & my father had hurt his back.
- During that time on crutches, my class was to visit the local high school to see where we were attending school the following year. My mother sent me to school that day, even knowing how big that campus was & I was on crutches. Then while trying to keep up with my classmates, I stopped using the crutches briefly & a classmate made fun of me “faking” it.
- When I was 19 & my mother threw me into a wall, I had back pain for 10 years. For those 10 years, the only people who believed I was in pain were my chiropractor, my ex husband & later my current husband. The doctors, others I knew & especially my mother said I was faking the injury to get out of working, I was lazy, & I had a low threshold of pain.
- In 2010, I lost several furbabies & was under a lot of stress. I got the flu 3 times, probably from the stress compromising my immune system. My mother & another person said it was my fault for not getting a flu shot.
- Last year, as my father was recovering from a stroke, I volunteered to help my parents get things done around their home on Sundays. Unfortunately, the arthritis in my knees didn’t appreciate it & I had to quit. I told my mother this & she ignored me. My father listened & understood. He mentioned it to my mother who called me & asked if I “really had arthritis like my father claimed. Had I even seen a doctor about this” Just one of many times she’s doubted I had something wrong with me. She then told me if I’d just lose some weight, I’d be fine.
- I’ve been insulted for how bad my memory is & how hard a time I have finding the right words sometimes even when the other person knows what causes these problems. (C-PTSD made these things bad, but the carbon monoxide poisoning & concussion made them much, much worse.)
Incidents like these instilled some false beliefs in me:
- My pain or illness wasn’t as bad as other people’s.
- My pain or illness didn’t matter, but other people’s did.
- I shouldn’t bother anyone with any illness or injury.
- I just want attention, so I fake illness or injury in an attempt to get it. I’m not really sick or hurt.
- On the off chance I really was sick or injured, it was all my fault & I’m weak. I deserve whatever I get.
- I don’t deserve to have help while recovering.
- If I don’t look sick or have other solid, irrefutable evidence of illness or injury, then nothing is wrong.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I believe, set the stage for me to believe these ridiculous ideas easier than if I’d had a healthy upbringing & had normal self-esteem.
I never realized any of this until a few days ago. These false beliefs were so deeply ingrained in me that it took me until age 44 & healing from a life threatening situation to understand why I handle things so poorly when I’m sick or injured. Aside from wondering if I’m faking whatever the problem is, I try to cover it up so nobody knows I have the problem. I also trivialize it. For example, when I broke a toe last year, I said, “It’s just a broken toe. No big deal” even though it was my big toe (which I learned sees a surprising amount of activity) & a year later, still hurts often. I also never used crutches or sought medical care.
Dear Reader, please learn from my mistakes. If you too have a hard time admitting you’re sick or hurt when you really are, ask God to show you why. Chances are, you have stories similar to mine. If so, it’s time to reject those false beliefs that cruel people instilled in you. You are allowed to have problems, you are allowed to ask people for help in your time of need. You aren’t weak or looking for attention if you’re sick or injured- you are simply sick or injured! Your pain is just as bad as other people’s & just as valid as other people’s. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you get sick or hurt. It happens to everyone at some point in their lives.
In life, many people say out of balance things, such as always look for the positive or always listen to your heart. While this may sound good, it isn’t healthy. Sometimes, there is little or no positive to be found, & that is fine. Valuable lessons can be learned in negative circumstances, not just positive. And, listening to your heart is always wise, but logic must intervene at some point too. I know if I listened to my heart only, I would never accomplish anything around my home- I’d spend my time writing, being creative, playing with the furkids & such without doing laundry or cooking. While that sounds amazingly fun, it’s also amazingly impractical.
I just wanted to take a moment today to encourage you, Dear Reader, to have some balance in your life. So many of us who have survived narcissistic abuse have trouble in this area. We often put others ahead of ourselves even when it isn’t best for anyone involved, we give at the expense of our own selves or we even can become obsessed with learning about narcissism since it finally gives us the answers we’ve been seeking.
Think about your life- what areas are out of balance? Do you listen to your feelings over logic every time? Do you always make sacrifices for others while expecting nothing in return? Are you a workaholic? Do you read non-stop about narcissism?
Please stop those out of balance behaviors! Balance is a good thing- it helps you to stay happy & healthy, two things you deserve. While working or doing for others are certainly admirable, you still need breaks from doing them. The same goes for learning about narcissism. You absolutely must learn about it if you wish to heal from narcissistic abuse, but even so, take breaks where you refuse to think about it sometimes. Narcissism is such a deep & negative subject- your emotions need breaks from thinking about it so you don’t plummet into depression.
How do you achieve balance? To start with, ask God to show you what areas you need to improve. Make any changes you know you need to do. Also, ask God to show you if you need to make further changes & to help you to do so.
If you are close to someone who is also out of balance, you could see if this person wishes to be an accountability partner. You could be accountable to each other, discussing your situations & what you are doing. You could pray together, too.
Listen to your heart. If you feel resentment or dread regarding certain tasks, that is for a reason. You may be focusing too much in that area.
Learn about boundaries if you haven’t already. Learning to set & enforce healthy boundaries will help you so much.
I have been asked quite a few times how long it takes to recover fully from narcissistic abuse. I believe it to be a lifelong battle, unfortunately. However, I don’t want to discourage you with that, because there is good news. Although it can be a lifelong battle, it does get easier!
You will stumble sometimes, but even so, you are constantly getting stronger as you heal. The more wisdom you gain about NPD & the effects of its abuse, the more strength it gives you. You finally realize it wasn’t your fault, & that you’re suffering the normal effects of abnormal treatment.
The dark times of depression come less frequently & don’t last as long when they come.
There are times you feel stuck, as if you are always going to be depressed, anxious, or feel like you’re going crazy. But, the longer you have been healing, the less frequently those times happen. They, like depression, won’t last as long on the rare occasions when they happen.
Your self-esteem soars. Sure, sometimes you may backslide into feeling like the worthless piece of garbage your narcissistic mother always said you were, but at least that isn’t how you constantly feel anymore. They’re merely fleeting moments. When you realize this dysfunctional thinking is happening, you remind yourself that isn’t true. Healthy self-esteem also stops the dysfunctional people-pleasing at your own expense ways many children of narcissistic parents possess.
You try to practice good self-care rituals- prayer, relaxing activities, participating in fun hobbies. Granted, sometimes you let your schedule get too busy, but the healthier you become, the quicker you are to realize this mistake & make the appropriate changes.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to change how you think about your recovery. While it may be a lifelong battle with no definite end, try to focus instead on the good that comes during your healing. Focus on each baby step, every bit of progress you make. Your narcissistic mother tried to destroy you, but she didn’t! You are like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Little by little, you are getting healthier & happier. Maybe right now you aren’t where you want to be, & feel like you have a long way to go. How about instead focusing on how far you have come? You are no longer that wounded, dysfunctional little child, but instead are a grown woman who is getting stronger & healthier each day!
Healing from narcissistic abuse is good for you. You learn & you grow. You become more peaceful & happier. You become well equipped to deal with abusive & narcissistic people when they cross your path.
I’ve noticed that something else happens- the narcissistic parent doesn’t really know what to do with you. Narcissists simply have no clue what to do with someone they can’t control.
I was thinking lately about the relationships with various narcissists I’ve had in my life. The healthier I got, the more they changed. One dumped me, claiming I lied to her when I hadn’t (in fact, she lied to me many times). Another suddenly became a victim when I refused to put up with her games, even sending her daughter to verbally attack me. Even the relationship with my parents has changed drastically.
It used to be that my parents would call me often. My mother daily, my father a few times a week. We got together often, usually going to lunch or dinner. Then I started learning about narcissism & healing from its abuse. The communication became less & less frequent. Now, I honestly don’t remember the last time I went out with my parents. The last time we spent a lot of time together was when my father was in the hospital last December. They came to my home to visit me in April just before my birthday, but since my mother was behaving so poorly & I felt sick, I made them leave after only a short visit. As for the phone calls? My mother called me once asking me to look something up on my computer for her (my parents don’t own one) & couldn’t get off the phone fast enough, then called a second time earlier this week for about half an hour. My father calls about once every week or two now, & the calls never last more than about 10-15 minutes where they used to last at least 30.
I had decided on going limited contact with my parents quite some time ago, but apparently healing has made this happen anyway. I think that’s pretty cool!
Healing has been tremendously helpful not only for me, but also in the relationship with my parents. Not only do I have to deal with them less often now, but they have moments of being civil with me now since I won’t tolerate the nastiness anymore. As narcissists, I know they’ll never be respectful like most people are, so I think of these moments when they’re civil as progress. It’s more than I ever expected.
Granted, there are times when a narcissistic mother will become enraged by her daughter’s healing. She will lie about her daughter so she can cut her out of her life without anyone questioning it. However, it doesn’t always happen this way. Sometimes, what has happened with my parents happens with other narcissistic parents as well.
Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today. If you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic mother, continue to focus on your healing. It will benefit you immensely & it will change how she relates to you. It may improve your relationship with her as it has mine. At the very least, you can be sure she won’t attempt to control you so much, because she knows she can’t. The interesting part about that is although it will make her angry, she won’t be able to take it out on you. You’re doing nothing wrong, so she has no reason to rage unless she wants to look foolish, & we all know narcissists will do anything to avoid looking foolish. She may give you the silent treatment, but that isn’t such a bad scenario- it gives you a break from her drama for a while!
Recently I was talking with one of my readers about holidays. She mentioned Mother’s Day in particular, & said how much she hates the day. Obviously, she has a narcissistic mother. Anyway, she said she has been working on changing her attitude & focusing on enjoying the day with her children, because she doesn’t like feeling this way about the holiday. It hasn’t gone well. Even after several pleasant Mother’s Days, she still isn’t a fan of the day, & felt guilty about her “failure.”
From my experience, I have seen this as a pretty common scenario for adult daughters of narcissistic mothers. Not just with Mother’s Day, but birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving or other special days.
I’m no different. After countless awful birthdays, Christmases, & Thanksgivings, I couldn’t care less about those days. I have tried to enjoy my birthday at least, celebrating with friends each year for the last few years. It has been fun, until this year when I was sick & unable to celebrate. Also, my husband wasn’t able to leave work early like he was supposed to be able to do. We were going to spend the day together. Instead, I wasted my day waiting on him to come home instead of enjoying myself. My old feelings of wanting to ignore my birthday came back with a vengeance as a result, & I realized it may be permanent this time.
While aiming to have a positive attitude about days that have been bad for you is certainly a good thing, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, the best you can do is learn not to hate the day. I don’t mean to sound negative, just realistic.
I’ve heard that it takes ten praises to eliminate the negative effects of one criticism. Honestly, I think it takes more. I also think that bad holidays are much like that- it takes a lot of really pleasant holidays to change your negative feelings. I also think that one negative one thrown in with the good ones can hinder changing how you feel. It can set you back.
The reason I am telling you this, Dear Reader, is so that you won’t feel guilty like the lady I mentioned at the beginning of this post if your attitude isn’t better. Unfortunately this happens sometimes due to bad experiences, & beating yourself up about how you feel won’t help you improve your attitude! If anything, it only makes it worse.
So, Dear Reader, if you are dreading holidays or your birthday, I truly wish you the best with learning to enjoy those special days! I pray you will be able to do so! However, if you are unable to, please don’t beat yourself up over it! Unfortunately it happens sometimes. Just know you are not alone in how you feel. xoxo
When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you learn quickly that narcissists are murderers. Maybe not in the typical sense of the word as in they don’t try to shoot you, stab you or run you over with their cars but they are murderers nonetheless. They try to kill the person you are & recreate you into the person they want you to be- blindly obedient, enabling, having no needs, wants or feelings of your own. Basically, a robot here only to do their twisted will.
Once you escape the abuse, a part of your healing should be discovering the person God has created you to be. After all, He made you the way He did for a specific reason which is infinitely more valuable & important than the narcissist’s reasons for trying to turn you into a robot.
God made you to have a special place in this world, blessing others & enjoying being who you are. The narcissist’s only reason for trying to destroy that & remold you into what she wants is selfish- to enable her dysfunctional & abusive behavior. Isn’t it worth shedding the narcissist’s image of you & embracing the person God made you to be?
Rediscovering yourself, or discovering yourself for the first time, is not easy when you are accustomed to being the narcissist’s robot, but it is worth the effort. It also is fun, learning about yourself. Just start paying more attention to your feelings on things- do you like that or not? Are you drawn to things you never were allowed to pay attention to before? Then why not explore those things now? What do you have to lose?
Last February when I got very sick, it really caused me to re-evaluate my life. In my thirties, I tried to discover myself. I made some progress, but I abandoned the effort many times though, slipping back into old, dysfunctional habits. While recovering though, I realized I didn’t want to die knowing I had wasted my life being the person the narcissists in my life had tried to make me into. I didn’t like that person at all. So, I started exploring things that sounded appealing to me. I bought some clay & tried making various items. I tried felting. I also got back into drawing- something I loved to do as a child, but got away from. I feel much more peaceful & more confident doing things just for myself for the first time. I have become more self-confident, even when dealing with my narcissistic parents- I speak up to them more often now when I didn’t used to do so at all. (Using wisdom of course, as many times speaking back to narcissists only causes more problems since they can’t handle criticism or confrontation). I have also begun to take better care of myself & be more understanding & forgiving with myself.
Unfortunately, I also have been slipping back into the old, dysfunctional habits! It’s so frustrating! Like all emotional healing, it’s not a straight uphill path, but a windy one with a few big potholes. One thing helped me a lot, & that was a video I saw on facebook. It’s of Trace Adkins in the movie “Moms Night Out” talking to a lady about her feelings of not being good enough. Watching this brief video was eye opening to me, & I will be watching it over & over again to help keep me on track. I hope it blesses & helps you as it did me, Dear Reader. xoxo
My mother recently ended her silent treatment. She barely spoke to me for several months, & as usual, I don’t know why.
It was an interesting conversation to say the least. Among things she said, she asked me if my ex husband ever hit me & I said he did, once. She never asked how badly I was hurt, just said if she would’ve known she would’ve called a lawyer. (*sigh* She did know- she saw me all bruised immediately after it happened & made sure I knew she didn’t care in the least.) Then she said, “His family was really religious though, weren’t they?” I said no, his mother was. “So it was his father that was abusive!” Not really- more neglectful than anything & wasn’t there much since he was an over the road trucker. She went on to say no one should be abused, it’s not fair to abuse people, abusers are bad people & other drivel.
Later that night, I’d been thinking of this part of the conversation & wondering why she was trying to justify my ex’s actions. I couldn’t come up with an answer for that one. But, I do believe that she was saying he was a bad person to justify why she abused me so badly when I wanted to date him when we were teens. In her mind, if he was a bad person, she was right in doing the horrible things she did to me in an attempt to keep me away from him. She used to tell me back then that she was saving me from myself, & probably this could reassure her that it was true. I thought of this as a sort of retroactive justification for her crazy, abusive behavior
As my narcissistic parents have gotten older, I believe they are trying to cope with their abusive actions. Normal people would see the error of their ways, & apologize. They may even do something to try to make it up to their victim. Narcissists however, do nothing of the sort. They find alternate coping skills, because they refuse to accept the fact that they made mistakes or did cruel, hurtful things. While you hear plenty about their most common coping skills like projection, there are others you rarely, if ever, hear anything about.
Some of those lesser known dysfunctional coping skills are:
- Retroactive justification- like my mother just did regarding my ex husband’s abuse. Finding a reason why they were right to be abusive after the damage is done.
- Reinventing the past into something nice- things didn’t happen the way you remember, according to the narcissist. They happened in a much happier, more pleasant way. My mother loves to talk about what a great mother she has been to me.
- Denial- “That never happened!”
- Selective memories- Only remembering the pleasant things, never the bad. “I don’t remember that at all…”
- Creating excuses- “you made me do that!” “If you wouldn’t have done ____, then I wouldn’t have had to _____” “You were a very difficult child.”
- Making themselves the victim- “I tried to stop your mother from hurting you, but she wouldn’t stop.” “He’s so much stronger than me.. there was nothing I could do to stop him.” “It was so hard on me, what she did to you”
- Feigning incompetence- “I just didn’t know what to do.”
- Feigning ignorance when they knew what was happening- “I had no idea she was doing those things to you!”
- Constant chatter- Both of my parents are very talkative, but especially with me. They actually listen to others, but with me, it is pretty much non stop chatter & ignoring anything I say, especially my mother. I believe having an audience not only provides them with the coveted narcissistic supply, but also means I won’t have a chance to ask questions about why they did the things they did.
- Looking for comfort from you, the victim- my father is especially good at this one. When he finds out I’m experiencing a crisis, he wants me to reassure him that I’m ok & all will be fine. If anything comes up in conversation about abusive things my mother has done to me, it’s the same thing- he wants reassurance that I got through it ok. Twice I tried to tell him about me having C-PTSD, & twice he changed the subject.
- Money- my parents never were overly generous with money with me, but in the last few years, they have been very generous. I’ve never asked my parents for help, but they have volunteered it several times during tight times for me. I believe it’s to appease their guilt.
So how do you handle these incredibly frustrating coping skills? (And yes, you are going to have to figure this out, because narcissistic parents WILL force you to deal with them at some point.)
In my experience, I decided to let them have their coping skills rather than try to get them to face the truth. Nothing you can say or do will give them a “light bulb” moment. They’ll never say “You’re right! I never should’ve done that to you! It was wrong & I’m sorry.” So why try? It’ll only frustrate & hurt you. Instead, I’ve found it’s best for me to allow them to have their dysfunction. Besides, I know in my parents’ case, they aren’t very strong emotionally- I don’t know if they could handle facing the ugly truth about the awful things they’ve done.
While allowing them to use these coping skills, at the same time, I refuse to validate them. My parents have often wanted me to confirm their false beliefs, & I refuse to do so. I also refuse to acknowledge that they were incompetent, innocent, ignorant, had to do what they did, or the real victims. I may allow them to have those false beliefs, but I refuse to validate them & participate in the dysfunction.
When my parents want comfort from me about my problems, I flatly refuse to give it. I ignore them, or change the subject. If it gets too bad, I’ll say, “I’m the one with the problem. I can’t comfort you when I’m the one who’s got the problem & am trying to figure out what to do about it.” (notice I neglect to admit I’m hurting or any feelings- this is because if I said I felt badly, it’d feed their narcissism. They’d end up hurting me even more. Never ever admit your feelings to a narcissist!)
As far as the incessant chatter, I’m not very talkative anyway, so it works for me not to have to create conversation. Besides, sometimes they do have very interesting things to say. Like most narcissists, my parents are very intelligent. Their conversations at time can be quite interesting. My father knows a great deal about WWII & the War Between The States. He also was a drag racer in the 50’s-60’s. My mother knows quite a bit about varied topics, & enjoys crafts. I enjoy crafts too, so we can have some good chats about crafts we like. It can be a good thing when you can just sit back & let them do the talking, because you don’t have to try to come up with topics that won’t start an argument.
Even knowing how to handle these dysfunctional behaviors, I still come away hurt or angry sometimes. My mother discussing the time my ex hit me made me physically ill for that entire day & the next, plus triggered a flashback. But, the good thing is this sort of thing is a rarity. Understanding their coping skills & finding ways to cope with them means this sort of thing isn’t the norm anymore. I no longer leave every conversation with my parents feeling devastated. In fact, understanding these things mean I usually only feel a bit frustrated or sad that things aren’t better. That is a thousand times better than feeling devastated or physically ill each time!
This really is about the best you can hope for when dealing with narcissistic parents. Probably this is partly why so many people think no contact is the only answer. While it is in many cases, sometimes no contact is impossible or not the desired result. My prayer is information like this will help those of you still in relationship with your narcissistic parents.
The phrase, “They did the best they could” used to make me feel so guilty. I felt shame for being hurt or angry about the abuse I went through at the hands of my parents & ex husband. After all, my mother had a terrible childhood, abused by her narcissistic, evil mother & no contact with her father- how could she know how to be a good mother? My father was in a near fatal car wreck at 15, & has had problems stemming from the brain damage since, so that must be why he never felt able to intervene with my mother abusing me. As for the ex? Not like his parents modeled a healthy marriage- no wonder he didn’t know how to be a husband.
I’m sure if you’ve been the victim of abuse, you have heard the same tired phrase, & had the same kind of thoughts that I had. I think it’s only natural to think things like that under the circumstances. Today though I want to challenge that phrase regarding how it relates to your situation.
If someone is really doing the best they can, naturally they are going to make mistakes just like anyone does. They will apologize & try to make the wrongs right somehow if possible. They won’t repeat that mistake over & over again, make excuses or blame you for making them do what they did.
Someone who is truly doing their best won’t hide their actions or demand someone not to tell anyone what they are doing.
They also won’t be one way behind closed doors & totally different when in public situations.
They won’t criticize your every word, thought or deed.
People who truly are doing their best don’t try to gaslight others, making people doubt their own sanity.
They will try to build you up, encouraging you to be your own person who exercises whatever talents you have, rather than deliberately tear you down, discouraging you to be the person God made you to be.
They will care about others, not only themselves, & especially their children & spouse.
Now, think about the narcissist in your life. Does this sound like her? If not, then you need to keep in mind that she really didn’t do the best she could! Even if she had been abused or through hard times, that does NOT give an excuse to abuse! If being abused made the victim become an abuser, you would be abusive. If you think she does not know what she’s doing, then think about this- does she hide the abuse from other people, only raging at you in private? That is a sign she knows what she is doing is wrong.
Rather than feel guilty because your narcissistic mother “did the best she could”, instead, I encourage you to have a more realistic view of her situation. In mine for example, with my mother- yes she was abused terribly as a child. Her mother continued abusing her as an adult. She’s been miserable married to my father for 46 years. I do feel sorry for her for those reasons. However, those reasons were NOT my fault or a reason to take her frustrations, anger & hurt out on me, to expect to be able to live the life she actually wanted through me. As her daughter, it was never my job to make her happy, although she expected that. She also knew then & still knows how she treats me is wrong. I know this because she always worked hard to hide her actions from everyone, including my father.
Looking at my situation logically like this has helped me to no longer feel guilty when someone says that she did the best she could. It will help you as well. There is no good reason for you to feel bad when some insensitive, naive person says that obnoxious phrase to you! Don’t accept their delusion as your reality!
Growing up, I think my situation was very typical of many children who have narcissistic parents in some ways. Mainly in one way- secrecy was of the utmost importance. My mother never clearly said don’t tell anyone what she was doing to me, but somehow, I always knew telling would be a big mistake.
When I turned 17 & wanted to start dating, her abuse magnified. She was losing control of me & was less than thrilled with that fact. That is when she began to scream at me on a daily basis, making sure I spent my school & work lunch breaks with her, & she even had someone at my school report to her daily what I did during the day when she wasn’t around. It was a bad, bad time for me. I tried to talk a little about it to friends & even a school guidance counselor. No one was any help, so I sought out a therapist who turned out to be even less help. I found out I was completely on my own.
My mother often said during that time that I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry.” I failed to realize at the time that it was *her* dirty laundry, not mine. I did realize though that telling the truth about the abuse she put me through was a bad thing. When she learned I’d talked to anyone about what she did, she would rage worse than usual. More screaming at me would follow, telling me what a terrible person I was, she was only doing what she did to help me, since I was so unreasonable she had to practice tough love on me, & more garbage.
As a result, I learned to keep quiet, not discussing what she did to me. I lived in fear that she would learn if I’d said anything about her. Plus, I also felt I was to blame. I believed her lies about what a terrible person I was. I must have been terrible to make her treat me so badly- what other reason could there be for what she did, I thought. Telling also felt disloyal- I felt like I was betraying my mother if I told what she did.
Eventually, I had to talk about it. I lived through hell with her, even as an adult, & couldn’t keep it bottled up inside anymore. My emotional health was a mess. I had to talk about it & start to heal. It was hard to do. For years I continued to feel guilty for “airing our dirty laundry.” It finally clicked though a couple of years ago… I felt God wanted me to write & publish my autobiography. That task was very daunting- once you write a book & it’s published, it’s out there for the world to see. Having a website is one thing- my parents don’t even own a computer, plus I could take it down if I was so inclined, so that wasn’t too intimidating. But a book?! That was terrifying!
To write the book, I finally had to get rid of those dysfunctional thoughts about sharing what happened to me, & God helped me tremendously in doing so. He showed me the real truth about discussing narcissistic abuse.
He showed me that talking about it isn’t being disloyal or dishonorable- it’s simply telling the facts. I have yet to embellish anything. I tell things as they happened. I never try to paint my parents in a bad light, although I’m sure the stories I tell do just that since they’ve done some bad things. I try to keep the way I phrase things as respectful as possible.
He also showed me that although I wasn’t a perfect child, I was good & I did nothing to deserve what happened to me. I never got into trouble or did drugs. I cut a few classes in high school (which my parents never knew about), but still maintained honor roll grades. My worst sin was sneaking behind my mother’s back to date the man who is now my ex husband. Granted not a good thing, but not the worst thing I could’ve done either. I only saw him at school & work so we didn’t see each other much.
God showed me too that there is nothing my parents can do to punish me anymore. My mother can’t show up at my job again & scream at me for the whole population of the place to see (that was humiliating!) or force me to listen to her tell me what a horrible person I am for having my own thoughts, feelings & needs. If she tries to scream at me now, I’ll either leave, hang up on her or kick her out of my home.
Accepting these truths will help you tremendously in your healing as well as your ability to talk about what happened!
And, I found a quote that helped me tremendously in writing my autobiography. Anne Lammont said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” It’s very true! What happened to you at the hand of your abusive narcissistic mother is YOUR story. You have every right to share it with anyone you like.
I believe discussing narcissistic abuse to be a calling from God. You have to respect His calling more than fear your parents’ retribution. You aren’t betraying them by talking about it. You aren’t being a “bad daughter” either, so long as you share things in a respectful manner. If you believe God wants you to share your story, then share it! Not everyone is going to like it, but that isn’t your problem! Sharing your story will help raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the damage it causes. It will encourage others who have been in similar situations. It lets people know they aren’t alone to read stories similar to theirs. It also helps reassure people that they aren’t crazy, bad, wrong, etc. It wasn’t their fault, & your story can help people to learn that.
Share your story, Dear Reader, however you believe God wants you to share it! xoxo
The last few days, my C-PTSD has been flaring up. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve been especially moody, anxious, depressed, & having more nightmares than usual. Then last night, I had a very odd experience.
My husband & I were lying in bed, watching tv. He was starting to nod off, & I was relaxed, hoping to go to sleep soon, when suddenly I smelled coconut. Immediately, an ex boyfriend of mine came to mind, as he used coconut scented air freshener in his car & I felt extremely anxious, almost to the point of having a panic attack.
A little background on this boyfriend.. I dated him in 1990, when I was 19 & he was 28. I wasn’t in love with him, yet he told me I would marry him (no proposal, just a command) & we’d have lots of kids (another command). He was controlling, jealous & angered easily. I was not happy in this relationship at all & spent most of our short time together anxious, miserable & trying to avoid his anger. The night I broke up with him, he spend hours screaming at me, telling me how stupid I was, how great he was & how much I’d regret leaving him. Fast forward to January, 2014. I read on my county police’s facebook page that he shot & killed his boyfriend, then himself. I had no clue he was gay or capable of murder. It was very traumatic when I realized the kind of person he was & how utterly clueless I was to that. Even looking back, I don’t recall any signs of him being gay or that dangerous.
So back to last night…
As I lay there, smelling coconut, it quickly turned into an actual emotional flashback. I felt like I was 19 again, back in his home & full of anxiety. No specific event played out in the flashback, only the awful emotions that were a daily part of our relationship. Eventually it passed & I was fine, just tired & emotionally drained. I went to sleep a little while after this.
This morning I prayed about it & the term “sensory flashback” popped into my mind. I did some research online & found very few details. At least what I found was somewhat helpful. Sensory flashbacks involve the senses, such as feeling someone is touching you when no one is. They are not very different than the typical type of flashback in that you feel like you’re reliving a traumatic experience. Last night, I had a hard time telling reality from flashback, just like during a typical flashback.
Dealing with a sensory flashback seems to be about the same as dealing with other flashbacks. You need to ground yourself- touch something, smell something, taste something. Something that is strong to the senses helps to keep you grounded- hold an ice cube, smell lavender, taste a little lemon juice. Something that basically “assaults” your senses will help you to stay grounded.
Focus on deep, slow breaths to help you to avoid hyperventilating.
If this happens while you are away from home, try to find somewhere safe to work through it.
Don’t beat yourself up for this. Many people have flashbacks. It happens sometimes when exposed to trauma.
Be understanding & gentle with yourself. Flashbacks can leave you feeling very tired & drained for a couple of days.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook. He’s a former soldier with PTSD. I saw just how hard he can be on himself for not perfectly managing his symptoms, & it broke my heart.
On July 4th, he went with his wife & kids to see fireworks. Like many vets, this isn’t an easy thing for him. This year though, he got through just fine with some help from his family. He was proud of himself, as he should have been. The next day he was due to go to the beach with his family but had such bad panic attacks, he couldn’t go. He said some pretty bad things about himself for not having control over the panic. He said he felt he should be able to conquer this, but he couldn’t, & was extremely hard on himself over it.
I realized I do the exact same thing when my symptoms flare up sometimes. I try not to, but there are still some times when I tell myself I’m worthless, stupid & a host of other things. I think a lot of us with C-PTSD or PTSD do this exact same thing. That doesn’t make it right though!
C-PTSD & PTSD are actual brain injuries & the symptoms are not caused by faulty thinking or beliefs like many people think. The symptoms come about because the trauma(s) a person has endured is so bad, it caused physical changes to some parts of the brain. Expecting to be able to control the symptoms perfectly is just not wise. It’s like trying to control the symptoms of a sprained ankle. Not going to happen! How can you expect to control physical injuries? It’s impossible!
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, then you know you have good & bad days. Good days are like my friend’s fireworks experience this July 4th. When you can manage your symptoms well, it’s a very good day & you can feel on top of the world. Bad days are the polar opposite, & you often feel like the most worthless human being alive. Unfortunately though, both good & bad days happen. It’s only natural.
When the bad days happen, I really think it is best to avoid beating yourself up over them. No good can come of it! Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse about yourself. It also can make the anxiety worse. It makes you feel even more depressed.
Instead of beating yourself up, then why not accept the fact that days like this happen? You obviously can’t control them, so it’s not like they’re your fault. Accept that they happen,& do the best you can do to manage the symptoms as they arise. Sometimes your best may not be very good, & that’s ok too. It’s just part of having such an awful disorder. Also remember, this disorder doesn’t define you- it is simply a sickness. You are NOT your disorder!
You can’t experience trauma without changing. It’s only natural that when you experience something life altering or even life threatening that you change.
I’ve had 5 nervous breakdowns to date, & after each one, something about me changed. After the first & second ones, I got even better at stuffing my feelings. No one cared what happened, so I took that to mean I needed to not bother anyone with my ‘trivial’ problems. (You can tell I was surrounded by narcissists at the time & not a Christian..) After the others, I realized that even if no one cared but God & I, I cared, & needed to take better care of my mental health.
After coming close to death with carbon monoxide poisoning in February, I gained a new strength. Although I still have problems with anxiety, I refuse to sweat the small stuff as much as I once did. I now get angry quickly & set boundaries immediately if someone mistreats me rather than trying to be understanding. Oddly, even my eating habits are different.
When these changes first happened after my first two nervous breakdowns, I ignored them. Then I began to realize that they are happening for a reason. God is using negative circumstances to get my attention. I started asking Him to show me what I need to learn, & those prayers were answered. The information has been very valuable. I’ve learned I like the new me.
If you’re reading this post, it is safe to assume you too have experienced trauma, most likely narcissistic abuse, since that is what I write about most often. As you are healing from it, you’ll realize that you have changed. You may feel differently or think differently. That is perfectly fine! Don’t worry about it or beat yourself up over it. Why not just get to know the new you? Take the time to really pay attention to how you feel or think. Get to know the new you as if you were meeting a new friend.
The changes happened in you for a reason, & chances are, because they needed to happen. While I don’t believe God makes bad things happen, I do believe He will use them for our benefit. If you are unsure of what good has come from the trauma you’ve experienced, just ask God to show you. He will help you..
Recently I realized an effective way to put an end to narcissistic games: ask logical questions. I realize that sounds silly, but I’m telling you, it works!
When the narcissist in your life starts their games, whether it is gaslighting or simply being hateful, immediately start asking logical questions, & watch the narcissist become confused & stop what they are doing.
Some good questions you can ask are:
- “How is that supposed to help?”
- “What exactly do you mean?”
- “I don’t understand..explain that?”
- “What are you trying to say?”
Once you ask your question, wait for an answer. The narcissist won’t know what to do! They may ignore your question totally, but you can be sure of two things: 1- she heard what you said, & 2- she will stop what she was doing.
I have done this recently, & have found it to be not only effective, but funny as well. It’s funny watching someone who is usually so confident in their talents in manipulation & cruelty suddenly become flustered. They are so shocked when someone doesn’t just blindly let them get away with what usually works, especially when it’s the person who usually does let them get away with things.
Doing this also helps you to take back some power, while taking away some from the narcissist. When she realizes her games or cruelty aren’t working, that takes power from her. The bonus is at the same time, it gives you power & confidence.
The next time you’re dealing with a narcissist, I would encourage you to try asking questions. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Have you ever heard the term projection regarding to how it relates to narcissists? Projection means that whatever they are doing, they project onto another person, accusing them of doing. For example, narcissists are know liars. Often they accuse others of lying to them while defending how honest & trustworthy they are.
Narcissistic mothers are no exception. They love to project, especially onto their children. The child of a narcissist isn’t viewed as the child of a normal, healthy person is. Most people view their children as separate human beings, with their own wants, emotions, personality & more. Narcissists, however, view their children as tools to be used in any way they see fit, not allowed to have their own wants, emotions or personality. Their children are not allowed to have boundaries. A narcissistic mother has no problem reading her child’s diary or snooping through her personal belongings. Nothing is off limits to the narcissistic mother, so why would projecting her flaws be?
I think another part of projection is also when a narcissist criticizes something about you that she wishes she had or could do. My mother is quick to criticize long hair on women, no matter how beautiful it is, yet has always complained that she can wear her thin, fine hair in only one, short style. She also has ruthlessly criticized my furkids, I think because they don’t like her & are very devoted to me.
Projection doesn’t stop just because a child of a narcissistic mother reaches adulthood. I haven’t heard of one narcissistic mother yet who has given up projection just because she is older or her child has grown up. My mother still gets on me about my weight, as she has my entire life, even though she is a lot heavier than I’ve ever been.
So how do you deal with this frustrating thing called projection?
The best way I’ve found is to remember what projection really is- a dysfunctional coping tool for a narcissist to use to deal with her own shortcomings. Remembering this helps to take some of the sting out of her cruel words, because you know it isn’t a personal attack- it is simply her own dysfunction. It still will hurt or anger you though, as it should, because it is unfair of her to use you in such a way.
Once I learned about projection & realized it was about her dysfunction rather than me, I’ve felt pity several times for my mother when I have caught her doing her projecting. She does it so often, she must truly feel awful about herself. It’s sad when you think of it. However, feeling pity doesn’t mean that I should try to make her feel better about herself. With a narcissist, attempting that puts you in the position of being responsible for her self-esteem, iffy as it may be, & she will use you up in order to gain the coveted narcissistic supply that improves her self-esteem. Please remember that if you too feel any pity.
One of the favorite tools of a narcissistic mother is to groom her child to believe the child is the problem. If the child wasn’t so difficult, the narcissistic mother wouldn’t have to “discipline her” (translation- abuse). The child is rebellious, ungrateful, or has mental problems. Communicating this message to the child ensures that she won’t question her narcissistic mother’s cruelty. She believes the abuse is all her fault. She also may try to please her narcissistic mother endlessly to make it up to her for being such a bad child.
Not only does the narcissistic mother communicate this message to her child, but to anyone else as well. This serves the narcissistic mother well, as people believe her, without question. The child is not believed by people who know her narcissistic mother, even as an adult, even by people who have known her for a long time.
Grooming her child & spreading her vile message to anyone who will listen, along with manipulating people pretty much guarantees the adult child of the narcissistic mother won’t be believed if she ever opts to reveal the dysfunction of her family.
This has happened to me. Most people I have discussed my relationship with my parents with who also know my parents don’t believe me. They think I’m exaggerating, things weren’t so bad, I’m oversensitive or I’m the problem with the relationship. I need to forgive & forget, just let it go- it’s in the past.
When this type of situation happens, it hurts & frustrates you badly. I have had moments where I wondered if the other person was right- was I really the problem? Were things as bad as I thought they were? These people were so adamant about what they believed, maybe they had a point, I thought. It took praying & remembering the horrible events of my past to realize that no, they weren’t right. I was not the problem, & I really was abused.
When evidence of your narcissistic mother’s grooming appears, you will know it immediately, as you will be invalidated & blamed while she is praised. Unfortunately, this will happen at some point. Who does it may surprise you, too. It won’t be only those friends & relatives of your narcissistic mother, but those who aren’t particularly close to her. Those you would think would be more objective. In my case, I have had two people who my mother hates & who hate her rush to my mother’s defense. One told me I was the one who needed to fix the relationship, & the other trivialized what I have been through, telling me I needed to get over it (never admitting “it” was abuse). Imagine my surprise when these two treated me this way!
You need to be very careful who you discuss your situation with. Even then though, sometimes this type of thing may happen anyway. When it does, all you can do is deal with the hurt & anger you feel & cling to the truth. Also, refuse to discuss this topic with that person again, even if they are the ones who bring it up.
Know that this may damage your relationship irreparably with that person. In my case, the love I had once felt for the two people I mentioned above died abruptly. Not that I wish them harm, of course. I just suddenly no longer felt warmly towards them. I’m quite sure that they feel the same towards me as well. One stopped speaking to me for several months after our discussion & was very cold the few times we’ve spoken since. The other became critical of anything & everything about me since. It’s amazing how devoted people can be to narcissists, even when they despise them!
If you have C-PTSD like I do, this can be an especially painful & frustrating experience. It triggers all kinds of awful feelings that you really don’t want to feel. Personally, I felt like I did as a teenager going through the worst of my mother’s abuse- alone, hopeless & like no one cared. It is vital to be especially good to yourself during times like this.