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When There Is A Narcissist In The Family

Families that have at least one narcissist in them have some very serious problems.  It may not be evident at first glance.  Everyone may act like they get along just fine.  They may celebrate holidays together every year.  Yet, serious problems still exist in this family.

People raised by narcissistic parents have mental health issues.  There is no avoiding that.  Many struggle with C-PTSD or PTSD at worst, anxiety &/or depression at best.  Some even turn out like their narcissistic parent, emulating the awful & abusive behaviors they grew up seeing daily.  All have relationship problems to varying degrees.

The problems don’t stop at the children of narcissists, however.  If those children grow up to have children, they too will be abused by their narcissistic grandparents.

Other relatives will be drawn into the fray as well.  Narcissists love to tell other people how wonderful they are while also telling them just awful their victim is.  That way, if the victim ever tells anyone about the abuse, no one will believe the victim.  Instead, they will label the victim as crazy, mentally unstable, addicted, selfish, etc. while assuming the narcissist has done nothing wrong.

When this happens in a family situation, it seems that most people are exceptionally willing to blindly believe the narcissist & attack the victim.  That’s how my family is.  No one wants to believe someone they are related to is abusive & cruel.  That is very understandable, of course.  However, in families with a narcissist, they often take this to the extreme.

Not only do narcissistic families not want to accept the fact their relative is an abusive narcissist, they will do anything to shut down the person making the accusation.  They will ignore the victim, accuse the person of lying, being angry, spoiled, immature or unforgiving, or even personally attack the victim.  The particularly aggressive ones may stalk & harass the victim, or inundate the victim with hateful texts, emails or social media messages.  If the victim blocks their phone number, email address, etc, they will find other ways to contact the victim- get a new phone number or email, create a fake social media profile or hack someone else’s profile.  If the victim is a Christian, you can guarantee their faith will become the subject of attack.  The “family” will twist Scripture around to support their warped beliefs &/or claim the victim can’t be a Christian & behave in this manner.

It is a terrible thing finally to summon the courage to open up about the abuse you endured, & when you tell people you think will support you, to be met with disbelief & even cruelty.  It is one of the most horrible things a victim can endure- being mocked or shamed for divulging the most painful experiences in their life while watching those they thought would be on their side comfort & support the very person who abused them.

I know there is nothing I can say to make this experience hurt any less.  I’m very sorry if you’re going through this.  There are some ways you can cope though.

Always, ALWAYS maintain a close relationship to God.  He knows the truth & understands your situation.  He will give you comfort & strength.  He will show you the best way to handle the situation, too.

Remember, you do NOT need anyone’s validation but your own.  Yes, it’s a good thing having people in your life support you & even say things like, “That was awful.. I’m sorry you went through that.”  However, you don’t *need* it.

That brings me to my next point- learn to validate yourself.   To do this, accept your feelings without judgment.  You’re allowed to be hurt & angry your family treats you badly.  Be proud of the good person you are & the direction towards healing you’re taking.  You have overcome a great deal.  If you recently learned about narcissism & began speaking about it, that is a huge step- be proud of yourself for that!

And lastly, never, ever forget that these people who have hurt you so badly have serious problems.  Functional people defend victims, not attack them while coddling an abuser.  These people may get something from the narcissist, so they won’t go against her & risk losing it.  Maybe the narcissist is someone they idolize, so they refuse to listen to anything bad about them.  Maybe they’re simply cowardly, & think it’s easier to go along with the narcissist than to stand up for what’s right.  In any case, this person’s behavior says nothing about you but plenty about them.

Although I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, you will survive this awful situation, & you will be much stronger for having done so!

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“Just Don’t Think About It”

I have a knack for remembering dates, including kinda obscure ones, that even having brain damage hasn’t affected.  I graduated high school on May 13, 1989, for example.

Two other dates I remember are August 23, 1990 & November 24, 1990.  Those were the dates I met & then broke up with a man I was involved with.  He made me feel so guilty for breaking up with him that ever year for many years, I dreaded those dates because I’d feel such guilt.  Although he was only in my life briefly, the dysfunctional relationship had quite an impact on me.

January 31, 2014, I learned that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself two days before.  The news came as a complete shock to me since I had absolutely no clue of his orientation or capacity for murder.  Keeping in mind my knack for remembering dates, all those dates bring him to mind & every time, make me sad for him, his family, his victim & his victim’s family.

A few times, I’ve mentioned the date in passing conversation & the person I was speaking with told me, “Just don’t think about it.”  It sat very wrong with me, even when I knew the person had good intentions, & I’ll tell you why.

“Just don’t think about it” is invalidating.  You’re thinking about something that bothers you & are trying to talk it out, yet the other person shuts you down.  That is invalidation.  Why they do it doesn’t change that fact.

If you “just don’t think about it”, how are you supposed to heal from the incident?  If you want to heal, you have to think about it & process the emotions connected to it.  Not thinking about it is no help at all!

Not thinking about it also contributes to mental & physical problems.  It can create anxiety, depression, anger, high blood pressure, heart disease, & kidney disease.  It also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, leaving you open to sickness.

Obviously, “just don’t think about it” is not good advice & you should NOT follow it!

I’m not saying you should think of nothing but the traumatic event you were told not to think about.  Instead, I’m saying work with it.  Realize you feel as you do for a reason.  Maybe it’s there to let you know now is the time you should face this issue.  If so, face it.  No, it isn’t easy to face past trauma, but do it anyway!  If you face it, it will lose much maybe even all of the negative effect it has over you.  It also won’t affect your physical health.

If it’s something you’ve already dealt with like I have dealt with my situation, maybe it’s a reminder to pray for the people involved.  I know, praying for a person who has abused you, especially one with no remorse or who has made you out to be the abusive one is tough, but do it anyway.  Do it not because this person deserves your prayers, but because God wants you to do it & because it really can help you.  Praying for those who use & abuse you is incredibly helpful at releasing the anger & even bitterness you feel towards them.  Carrying such things around isn’t good for your health, so why do it?  You can maintain boundaries or even no contact while not carrying around anger.

Whatever you feel when something traumatic comes to mind, honor those feelings & know they are there for a valid reason.  Accept them without judgement.  Face them however you feel you need to do in order to heal.  Pray for the abusive person if you can too.  Whatever you do though, remember that “just don’t think about it” is terrible advice.  Ignore the advice, & take good care of yourself!

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Encouragement For The “Weak” & “Flawed”

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It’s Not Good Ignoring Symptoms Of PTSD & C-PTSD

Recently I read an article about symptoms of PTSD.  I didn’t think much more about it at first, but it kinda bopped around the back of my mind a bit for a few days.

A couple of days later, my husband & I had to go to the doctor for our health insurance.  His appointment was first, & we texted periodically.  He mentioned the doctor was concerned about his depression.  When I saw the doctor, I asked him about it & he said, “I see a lot of people day after day.  He has the look many have who have been depressed for years.”  I thought it was an interesting statement- he’s very observant!

A couple of days later, something hit me.  Our doctor didn’t say a word about my mental health.  Not a comment one about me looking like someone who’s been depressed for years, even though I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t depressed.  Somehow, my lazy Susan-esque brain connected that with the article I read about PTSD symptoms.  In that moment I realized just how much I have been ignoring my C-PTSD symptoms.  I’m so good at it that even my observant doctor had no idea I struggle with C-PTSD.

Yes, I’m hyper-vigilant, but you probably wouldn’t know it to look at me.  Rather than upset people by startling easy, I am on constant guard, surveying my environment so not much surprises me.

I also get very quiet when I have flashbacks.  Naturally I’m quiet anyway so that isn’t a huge red flag  My husband has seen me have many flashbacks, but hasn’t noticed a lot of them because of that.  I don’t even tell him most of the time when I have flashbacks.  I just recover & go on the best I can.

These are just two examples, but there are others.

Thinking of such things I realized how incredibly unhealthy this is that I ignore so many of my symptoms.  On the outside, I look like I’m managing the C-PTSD just fine, but on the inside is a very different story.

In considering all of this, I think this happens simply out of habit.  Growing up with narcissistic parents, I learned early never to “bother” my parents with my problems.  My purpose was to take care of them, not the other way around.  As a result,  like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned to hide or even ignore anything that didn’t please them.  I ignored emotions, illness, thoughts, wants, & needs.  Now here I am, an adult in my 40’s with my own life, still hiding & ignoring important things that I shouldn’t be hiding or ignoring.

No doubt I’m not the only person in this position, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue with you, Dear Reader.

It’s important with PTSD & C-PTSD to manage your symptoms.  Ignoring them isn’t the same thing.  Managing them means you have some control over your symptoms.  Ignoring them means you’re working hard to pretend they don’t exist, which shows they have control over you.

Ignoring symptoms also means the problem won’t get fixed or at least controlled.  It also can mean you face health problems because emotions that are ignored can cause stress & we all know stress is terrible for your physical & emotional health.

With both PTSD & C-PTSD, there are some symptoms that are just a part of life but others that can be managed.  Flashbacks come to mind.  Rather than ignoring them or simply accepting them, why not make them work for you whenever possible?  Flashbacks can be a sign of a particular issue that you need to work on.  I’ve learned that if I deal with the issue my flashback was about, I don’t have another about that particular issue.  The same goes for nightmares.  This also can work with anxiety.  Figure out what is the root of this anxiety.  Ask God to help you if need be.  Once you know the root, you can face the problem & eliminate one cause of your anxiety.  Chipping away at it one issue at a time can help make it more manageable.

Maybe your symptoms are flaring up because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard lately or it’s near the anniversary of some traumatic event.  If that is the case, your brain is trying to tell you to slow down & do some good self care.  Listen to the symptoms!  They’re trying to get your attention for a reason!

Remember, PTSD & C-PTSD are potentially life threatening disorders.  They should be taken very seriously.  Ignoring your symptoms isn’t going to help you & can hurt you.  Pay attention to your symptoms- your brain is trying to tell you something, so listen to it!

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Narcissists & Dominance

Whether overt or covert, narcissists are control freaks.  They must be in control of their environment & the people in it at all times.  We all know overt narcissists use fear & covert narcissists guilt to accomplish this, but there are other methods they also use.

Narcissists may use ignoring a person as a means of control.  They accomplish this in many ways.  They may simply ignore the victim in conversation, acting as if the person didn’t say anything when they did.  The narcissist may talk over the victim in conversation.  They may conveniently “forget” to invite the victim to a gathering.  If the victim arrives with someone, the narcissist may greet that person while ignoring the victim.  When a person is ignored this way, they may shut down, fading quietly into the background which leaves more room for the narcissist to get attention.  Or, they may question the narcissist, wondering what they did wrong & pleading with the narcissist to forgive them.  Ignoring a victim also lets that person know that the narcissist thinks they are unworthy of the narcissist’s attention, so the victim may try harder & harder to please the narcissist.

Interrupting is another display of dominance narcissists use.  When most people have a conversation, & someone interrupts them, they stop talking to let the interrupting person talk.  Narcissists will use this natural proclivity to their advantage.  My father used this tactic a LOT.  In fact, he put a unique spin on it.  When I started talking, he would open his mouth as if he was going to talk, then close it quickly.  Naturally, I thought I was interrupting him, so I encouraged him to talk.  One day after a visit, I prayed about it.  I don’t usually interrupt people, so why was I doing it with him?!  God showed me I wasn’t.  My father was using this tactic to get me to stop talking so he could talk.  I hate bad manners, he knew it & used that to dominate our conversations.

Shock is a big favorite with narcissists.  If a narcissist is a part of a group of people & not the center of attention, that narcissist is incredibly uncomfortable.  She feels out of sorts, & will do whatever it takes to restore her position of being in control & being the center of attention.  One method she may use to regain her position is by shocking everyone in the group.  She may start talking loudly & suddenly about an entirely different topic of conversation.  She may blurt out some weird or disturbing facts that is so odd that it gets everyone’s attention.  She may walk away while someone is talking, make a loud noise or even spill her purse to restore the balance of power she wants.  My mother once broke into song when my father & I left her out of our conversation.  Remember the old musical, “Oklahoma!”?  Apparently my mother does.  She started singing the theme song.  Loudly.  Since this was well before I knew anything about NPD, my father & I ended our conversation at that point.  Attention was focused back on her, as she wanted.

Possibly the most disgusting way narcissist try to assert their dominance is with body functions.  Even passing gas or burping isn’t too low for a narcissist desperate enough to establish dominance.  They also may blow their nose extremely loudly or make the sounds more disgusting than need be.  If they don’t use a body function, they will at least talk about them.  My mother has irritable bowel syndrome & has absolutely no trouble discussing all the gory details of it.  Body functions are so seldom a part of a conversation in any way that when it happens, people are naturally shocked & notice the person who brought them into the conversation.

The best way I’ve found to deal with these dominant behaviors is very simple.  Ignore them.  Pretend the narcissist didn’t say or do anything unusual.  Carry on with your conversation as usual.  If she interrupts you, you can either talk over her or wait until she is finished, then resume your previous conversation.  If she ignores you, pretend not to notice.  The same goes if she uses shock value or body functions- pretend you notice nothing whatsoever.  By ignoring the narcissist’s attempts to dominate, you aren’t allowing her to dominate.  You’re depriving her of narcissistic supply, which is the best thing you can do with any narcissist.

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Hoovering Tactics

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Bad Decisions & Narcissists

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Ways To Repel Narcissists

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About Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Since my last post was about red flags in those who write about narcissism, I thought I’d make today’s post about fellow survivors.

Most people who have survived narcissistic abuse are good people who are trying hard to recover. Naturally they have issues, but at least they’re working on them & working on getting healthier. They also are willing to share what they learn to help others in similar situations, & do so without any arrogance. They’re also open to input from other people, because they realize they don’t know it all- there is always more to learn on this topic.

Not every victim is this way, however. Some turn abusive.

I don’t know why some victims try to heal & why some become abusive but it does happen sometimes. If you’re going to interact with other victims through online support groups, reading blogs or on social media, you need to be aware of some red flags.

The biggest red flag to watch out for is narcissism. Many of you know the signs already so I won’t repeat them here. I’ll just share a link to the page on my website where I wrote about it if you care to check it out: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder.php

There are other red flags, too. If a person gives advice too freely, for example. While most victims want to help others, they also realize how rude it is to give unasked for advice. They also realize sometimes a person just needs to speak things out loud to help them work through a situation, & that doesn’t mean they’re looking for advice.

If a person is bossy or demanding with their advice, that’s another red flag. Most people realize that all people are individuals. What worked for them may not work for another. They realize it’s not a good idea to try to force someone to follow their advice & let the other person decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.

Your average victim of narcissistic abuse also isn’t judgmental or critical. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged & criticized so harshly, so they don’t inflict that on anyone else. Some victims turned abusers, however, can be extremely judgmental & critical.

Some victims also become very arrogant. They seem to think because they found success in doing something that helped them, that everyone should follow in their footsteps & if they don’t, they’re foolish.

These same people are also usually the first ones to shame people who, “don’t just go no contact.” They make it clear they don’t believe there is any reason not to go no contact, & they offer no compassion to anyone who wants to but it unable to or is trying to find another option.

Abusive victims also make excuses. If they are short with someone, it’s always for a reason like they’re having a bad da, as one example. They don’t apologize or accept responsibility for the hurtful things they do.

And, if you call a person like this out on their actions, they WILL be furious. They may offer a non apology. They may offer lame excuses for their behavior. They also may get mad at you. That in particular is a big red flag, because most victims of narcissistic abuse apologize easily & often. They don’t get mad when called out on their bad behavior. They usually get mad only when someone is accusing them of something they didn’t do.

One other red flag is a smear campaign. This is very common on social media. If someone feels the online support group they participated in wasn’t a good environment for example, social media is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about it. That is pretty normal behavior, I think, but if a person posts about that group in a way that really trashes it, that is a red flag.

The last red flag is stalking or harassing another person online. With your average victim of narcissistic abuse, they may have a dispute with someone then either stop speaking with them or even block them entirely. A victim who is also abusive however, may harass or stalk someone who disagreed with them. They may leave nasty comments on their page or join groups the other person is in & harass them in the group. This nonsense can go on for a very long time, especially with narcissists.

The best advice I can give in these situations is the Gray Rock method. Don’t react to their outrageous behavior or show them that what they do bothers you. Remain calm & ignore their behavior. Don’t defend yourself to their smear campaigns. Instead, simply block them wherever you can. Most people like this will get bored easily & leave you alone at this point. Narcissists may not be so simple to get rid of however. They may bother you for a long time. Never, ever respond to them- instead keep blocking them & their flying monkeys.

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About Those Who Write About Narcissism

I never, ever want to come across as someone who trashes other authors, especially those who write about the same topics I do.  I realize we all have our different views even on the same topic, & honestly, I think that’s pretty cool!  Different people can have different ideas & views, so I think it’s great when a person finds an author they can relate to, even if it’s not me.  The most important thing is that people find the help they need.

That being said..

Recently I was scrolling Facebook & saw a meme from one blogger with whom I’ve had issues.  We were friends on Facebook several years ago, & followed each other’s blogs.  A couple of months into our new friendship, I began to see some signs of narcissism.  I hoped I was just being paranoid, but I kept looking for whatever the truth was.  Then one day, her mask came off.  She disagreed with something I said in a blog post & proceeded to tell me how wrong I was.  Some of my regular readers disagreed with her & told her that.  She then blocked & unfriended me.  Mind you, I wasn’t even online at the time & didn’t know this was happening until hours later.. yet, she still was mad at & blamed me.

This, Dear Readers, is why I try to remind you fairly often not to blindly follow or believe in anyone, not even me.  Not that I don’t appreciate having fans.  I really do appreciate every single one of you.  The truth is though that we all are imperfect.  We may share something we honestly think is true only to find out later it isn’t.  Or, we may share some advice that helped us but it may not help you simply because of the differences in our personalities.

Plus, there are some who write about narcissism that are narcissists.  I admit, I haven’t seen that often, but I have seen it, such as in the story I told earlier.  Narcissists are attracted to helping professions such as police, teachers, pastors, therapists & more.  It makes sense they would want to write to reach others & manipulate them that way.  There’s also the admiration factor.  If someone has been helped by something you wrote, that person is going to admire you.  That is a nice ego boost to anyone, but it’s huge narcissistic supply to a narcissist.

If you start to follow someone on social media or a blog who writes about narcissism, there are some red flags to narcissism to look for.

How does the person interact with his or her readers?  The blogger I mentioned?  Her followers had almost a cult/cult leader relationship with her.  Regulars never disagreed with her.  If a new follower dared to disagree, the regular followers got angry with the one who disagreed.  She would diffuse the situation eventually, but came across smug when she did, saying things like that person just doesn’t know any better because they haven’t been through what she (the blogger) has.  The person who disagreed would disappear quickly.

Another red flag is does the person constantly brag, even in a subtle way.  The blogger I mentioned did that constantly.  She mentioned on a regular basis how many people looked to her for advice, including mental health professionals (she wasn’t one, just FYI).

An attitude of superiority with readers is not good either.  Granted, most of us who have been writing about NPD have been doing so for a long time & know a lot.  That being said though, we don’t know everything, & if we’re smart, we’re well aware of that!  Also, watch how this person answers questions.  A narcissist will act like the question is stupid, or she is too good to have time to respond to such a question, whereas the average person won’t act that way.

This blogger also only shared memes that she made of things she has said or articles she has written.  That was a big red flag, because I’ve never seen that with any other blogger or author.  Most want to help people, & will share helpful memes & articles often, no matter who has written them.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid narcissists entirely.  At least you can be aware of the subtle signs of narcissism people exhibit online so you know who you need to avoid.

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When No Contact Isn’t An Option

While no contact is often the best solution for a person with narcissistic parents, sometimes it isn’t an option or at least isn’t an option in the near future.  This post is for those of you in that position.

I understand how difficult it is to be in that situation.  I wanted to sever ties with my parents for over a year before the timing felt right.  I did learn some things during that time though, & I hope what I learned can help you.

I think it is a good idea first to get to the root of why no contact isn’t an option & eliminate the problem if at all possible.  Are you financially dependent?  Then try to find other means of supporting yourself.  Are you afraid of being alone?  It is better to be alone than to have abusive people in your life!  God can send you new friends who genuinely love you & become like family.  Are you afraid of what may happen if you go no contact such as relatives attacking you?  I know that can be pretty intimidating, but think about it- what can they really do to you?  If all they can do is tell you what a terrible person you are, that is something you can handle.  After all, didn’t your narcissistic parents tell you that often growing up?  My mother did.  Although it bothered me when the flying monkeys told me the same things, I realized their words only upset me because they reminded me of when my own mother said worse to me.  Once your own mother has called you horrific names, you develop a sort of armor to that verbal abuse.  Do you somehow know that the timing isn’t right like I did?  Then keep praying & follow God’s promptings.  When the timing is right, you will know it & He will enable you to follow through with going no contact.

If you are unable to go no contact at this time but want to, then try for low contact.  Limit your exposure to your narcissistic parent as much as possible.  Don’t be available every time they call.  Don’t visit or invite them to your home often.  Follow your heart & deal with them only when you feel you are able to.  I used to pray before answering my parents’ calls.  I’d ask God if I should take it or not & if I felt His answer was yes, I’d ask Him to guide my words & enable me to handle the situation in the best possible way.

When you must deal with your narcissistic parents, there are some helpful skills you can use.

Always remember that your parents are narcissists.  You aren’t dealing with normal, stable, healthy people.  You can’t expect them to behave as such.  Get rid of any expectations for them to behave normally or show love to you.

Also remember- with narcissists, everything boils down to how can they get narcissistic supply?  You’re best off depriving them of that supply, but in ways that can’t trigger their narcissistic rage.  To do this, the Gray Rock method is best.

I think of Gray Rock as becoming boring to narcissists.  What interests them?  Deprive them of that.  In other words, don’t tell them personal information.  In conversation, stick to superficial topics like the weather.  If you’re out of ideas for superficial conversation, ask the narcissist about herself.  They love talking about themselves, so you might as well make it work for you.  In difficult situations, you can ask the narcissist about herself & that should divert the attention off of you since most narcissists can’t resist an opportunity to talk about themselves.

Always stay calm, cool & collected around your narcissistic parent.  Narcissists see displays of emotions as weakness, which makes them attack their victim like a hungry lion attacks a weak gazelle.  In their presence, show no emotion.  Always be cold & emotionless.

Keep firm boundaries in place & offer no explanations for them.  You can say NO without explaining yourself further.  If your narcissistic parent demands to know why you say no, change the subject.  If your narcissistic parent hints at wanting to know, ignore the hints.

Keep learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It will help you to keep a healthy perspective of your situation.  It will help you not to take your parents’ abuse so personally & it will help you to figure out effective ways of dealing with them.

And, never forget to pray often & talk to your safe, supportive friends who understand your situation.  A good support network is extremely important in these situations.  Avoid people who tell you what to do.  People who don’t understand why you won’t go no contact or think no contact is wrong are not people you need to deal with, especially as you are trying to go no contact.

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About Harassment & Stalking

I really don’t think there are a lot of people who understand the depths of depravity that it takes for someone to harass & even stalk their victims.  Not so long ago, if a person broke up with their significant other, & that person stalked them, it was thought of as almost romantic.  “See how much that person loves you?  They won’t leave you alone- that is love!”  The same sort of mentality was in place if it’s a friendship that ended.  “That friend must really care about you if s/he won’t take no for an answer!”

 

The truth is though, there is nothing loving & romantic about stalkers & harassers.  They don’t love their victims.  They love having control over their victims & even the narcissistic supply they may get from them, but they do NOT love their victims!

 

People like this are incredibly dangerous, as was proven here in Maryland recently.  By now if you’re in the USA, I’m sure you heard about the shooter at the Capital Gazette newspaper building in Annapolis.  If not, here is one article on the topic:  https://patch.com/maryland/severnapark/s/ggidf/accused-newspaper-gunmans-rampage-was-almost-8-years-making?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_term=police+%26+fire&utm_campaign=autopost&utm_content=severnapark

 

Apparently this person who murdered innocent people in cold blood started out harassing someone.  His behavior escalated & ended up in mass murder.

 

People who stalk & harass victims are NOT mentally stable!  Something clearly must be wrong with them to think that behavior is acceptable in the first place.  Obviously they have narcissistic tendencies at the very least to be so convinced that what they want matters more than the fact they’re terrifying & making their victims miserable, although I’m sure many are malignant narcissists or even sociopaths.

 

If you are in the position of being harassed or even stalked, please, PLEASE be careful!  Never underestimate the person harassing or stalking you.  Granted, most do not go as far as the man in this article did, but some do.  You don’t know for sure that the person abusing you will or won’t become so violent.

 

Being stalked & harassed is terrifying, & you have every right to feel afraid!  I’ve been through it twice & no one thought it was a big deal aside from me.  They couldn’t seem to understand why I lived in terror wondering what was next?  What were these people capable of doing to me?  No doubt you feel the same way.  Do NOT let anyone convince you it’s no big deal, or the person doesn’t mean any harm.  Maybe they don’t mean any harm other than to scare you as revenge for severing ties with them.  However, maybe they do mean to harm you.  You don’t know so don’t trust the person at all!

 

Ignore this person at all costs.  Any acknowledgment you give them, they may take as a sign the relationship is back on.

 

Do not believe them if they say they just want to talk or to apologize.  That is said just to lure you back into their dysfunctional web.

 

Look into laws for harassment & stalking in your state.  Talk to the local police, too.  Make sure you know what laws are in place & what you can do to protect yourself.

 

Use wisdom when & if bringing the law into the situation.  Some people aren’t going to be stopped by a restraining order.  In fact, some may get more vicious or violent.  If you aren’t sure what to do, pray & listen to what God tells you is best in your situation.

 

Document EVERYTHING!  Save voicemail messages, texts, messages & emails.  Save all documentation on a cloud storage service or email them to yourself, saving them on your email server.  Phones & computers die, & you don’t want to lose your evidence!

 

Block every possible means of communication this person can use to contact you.  Change your phone number & change your name on social media.  Chances are, they will find ways around your blocks, so keep blocking them.

 

Tell people in your life what is happening.  Make sure plenty of people know that this person is harassing you & plenty of details about the situation.  It can’t hurt to have other people being able to confirm your story to law enforcement if it comes to that.

 

If the person abusing you comes to your home, a home security system or at least outdoor cameras may be an excellent investment.  Many outdoor cameras connect to your cell phone & record video that is stored on a cloud server.

 

Don’t go out alone if you can help it.  Many stalkers aren’t going to bother you if you aren’t alone.  Also, if you have a pet, don’t let your pet outside alone.  Better safe than sorry!

 

And remember, it may get worse before it gets better.  With any luck, your stalker will get bored that you’ve been ignoring him/her & move on.  Prior to moving on though, they will step up the activity.  You may get even more emails or phone calls.  Keep ignoring them.  Do NOT give this person the time of day!  Remember they are just trying to get your attention.  Refuse to give it to them!  If you do, they will draw you back in & things will be even worse than before you ended the relationship.  Ignore, ignore, ignore!!

 

I pray you’re never in this type of situation, but if you are, Dear Reader, stay safe.  God bless you!  xoxo

 

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Thoughts About Honoring Parents

I recently read an article about Father’s Day. In it, the author gave valid reasons why we should honor our fathers. It was a very good article, but one thing about it bothered me- the author didn’t mention how exactly to honor our fathers. I thought I would discuss it here. Actually, I’ll refer to honoring parents, not only fathers.

When you have good & loving parents, you don’t have to have strict boundaries. Your parents respect them naturally, so boundaries aren’t a concern. However, with narcissistic parents, you have to have & enforce very strict boundaries. This is very honorable, because these boundaries encourage your parent to behave in a healthier manner.

When Mother’s Day or Father’s Day comes around, if you have good parents, you can be a blessing to them, enjoy yourself & have zero fear of repercussions. You can spend time with them, give them nice cards & gifts. Narcissistic parents? No. Doing those things for your narcissistic parents basically tells them their abuse is OK. You’ll show them love no matter how awfully they treat you. This is why it’s important to give more minimal gifts & rather neutral cards- you are recognizing them as your parents but at the same time, you’re not praising them for their great parenting skills. You never want to reward bad behavior!

Even going no contact can be very honorable when it comes to abusive parents. While many people think that no contact is dishonorable, it really isn’t. By severing ties, you are removing the opportunity for an abusive person to abuse you & commit sinful acts. You are also encouraging that person to change their behavior for the better, because you won’t have them in your life if they are abusive. You’re also removing the temptation from yourself of going off on the abuser.

Dear Reader, there is never, EVER anything honorable about tolerating abuse, & that includes tolerating it from parents. If you still have doubts, read this…

Psalm 101:5 (AMP)

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will silence;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud (arrogant) heart I will not tolerate.”

This verse tells me that God has no patience for narcissism. Since as His children we are called to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4), then we should have no patience for narcissism either, no matter who that narcissist is! If people disapprove of your refusal to tolerate your narcissistic parent’s abuse, well, that is their problem. Your job is to live a life that pleases God, not man…

Jeremiah 17:5

“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (KJV)

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Narcissists & Food

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Realizing How Wrong Abuse Is Can Help You

I realized something recently that has been a big help to me, & I believe it can be to you too.

When remembering some of the traumatic & abusive events I’ve been through in my life recently, suddenly I started seeing just how wrong those things were.  Oddly, doing that small gesture has helped loosen the hold the damage from such events had over me.  I think that happens because I never really questioned these things before.

If you’re reading my blog, chances are you too have experience with narcissists, so you probably know just what I’m talking about.  Narcissists don’t allow you to question anything.  Whatever they say or do, that is the end of the matter.  They’re right, according to them, & you aren’t allowed to think otherwise.  Especially with parents, when this happens often as a child, you learn not to question things, just accept them as fact.  Seeing clearly that they were wrong & accepting that is a big step in breaking the hold this abuse has over you.

I recently had a flashback about something that happened to me in late 1989 when I was 18.  My current ex husband & I were dating, & I hadn’t moved out of my parents’ home at that time.  I forget why, but he wanted to use my car one day, so we swapped cars.  I was off work that day & my mother insisted I go to the grocery store with her.  I said before I went, I wanted to put gas in the car since it was low, as usual.  I’d do that then meet her at the store.  I did, & on my way to the store, I lost control of the car & landed in a ditch around a turn.  It was raining, & the ex’s car had bald tires, so it’s no surprise this happened in spite of me being very careful.  Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, & his car only had minimal damage.  This happened close to my ex’s parents’ house so I went there.  A nice man driving a dump truck took pity on me walking in the rain & gave me a ride.  When I got there, I told the ex’s dad what happened.  He arranged to get the car towed & I called my mother at the grocery store (pre-cell phones, obviously).

You’d think ditching the car was the trauma, but it wasn’t.  When I called my mother, she  yelled at me, telling me she knew when I didn’t show up, I’d been in an accident & it served me right for driving that piece of junk car.  The ex’s father was furious at what happened, blaming me for driving recklessly.  The ex’s mother also blamed me but was at least nicer about it.  The ex, believe it or not, was glad it happened, because it meant his parents would finally buy him the new tires he wanted.  Later that evening, the ex & I visited my (narcissistic) grandmother who wouldn’t have cared less what I had went through that day.

For years, I accepted that this accident was my fault & I deserved what I got.  It simply hadn’t crossed my mind to question that until my recent flashback.  Suddenly it hit me how incredibly wrong this whole event was!  I didn’t know just how bad the tires were- all I heard was they were wearing out so be careful.  I never thought to check for myself.  It wasn’t my car, so why would I, especially when my ex was a mechanic?  Also, this could’ve been avoided if I’d had my own car- it was ridiculous my ex wanted to have mine as often as he did at that time.  Granted, mine was the better of our two cars, but if he wanted better, he should have got his own better car!  My ex’s parents should have replaced the tires, too, since they knew just how bad the tires were.  And lastly my mother.. that is how she treated her own daughter after her first car wreck?!  No “Are you ok?”  or any sign of concern, just yelling at & blaming me.  Considering her mother didn’t care either, it’s obvious where she got her lack of compassion.

For the first time, I finally realized how wrong all of this was.  Every single person in this scenario was wrong except me, the one who got all the blame!  I realized how wrong it is that the only person who was nice to me in that incident was the dump truck driver- a total stranger!  This entire situation was wrong- every single thing about it!

Looking at the situation differently reminded me of turning a kaleidoscope.  One small turn & the scene inside looks entirely different.  At least kaleidoscopes give a pretty picture.  This was far from pretty, but at least it helped me to release the guilt I felt for almost 29 years!

Since this happened, I’ve been looking at other situations in a new light, & having the same type of results.  The slight turn of the kaleidoscope gave me a new perspective, & enabled me to release guilt, shame, & false beliefs while accepting the truth in their place.

Dear Reader, I urge you to try this too.  Think about a specific trauma in your life from a more objective perspective.  Try to look at it as if you’re watching a movie, for example, or as if it’s happening to someone else, so your emotions are not so involved.  Chances are, you’ll see how wrong & unfair it was as I have.  Did it help you to release any guilt or false beliefs you had received as a result of that awful experience?  If not, ask God to tell you the truth about it, & I have no doubt He will help you to release those things!

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The Non Apology

Narcissists are masters of what I call the non apology.

A non apology is when someone says the words “I’m sorry”, yet their actions don’t back up the words.  They accept no responsibility for what they did, make no changes in their behavior, they offer lame excuses or they blame you for making them do whatever it was they did.  Some examples are:

  • I’m sorry you feel that way.
  • I wouldn’t have done what I did if you wouldn’t have done what you did.
  • I’m sorry I said/did that.. I was just upset.
  • I’m sorry if what I said/did upset you.
  • My sponsor/therapist says I have to make amends with you, so I’m sorry.

Some non apologies don’t even involve saying “I’m sorry” at all.  Sometimes narcissists will simply give you space for a little while, then resume contact with you, pretending nothing happened.  My mother did this sometimes.  She would give me the silent treatment, then call me later, acting as if nothing happened.  Her record was an 18 month long silent treatment.  I was stunned when she called after so long, but she acted like we’d just spoken the day before & all was fine between us.

Non apologies are a very common tool used with narcissists.  They let the narcissist apologize to pacify you without making any changes in her behavior.  If you confront a narcissist on something awful they have done & they provide you with a non apology, then later repeat the behavior, they can make you look like the bad guy.  All they have to do is say something like, “I said I was sorry!”  “Nothing I do is ever good enough for you!”   “I apologized & that isn’t even good enough for you!”  Unless you’re aware of the non apology phenomenon, chances are good you’ll shut down & possibly even apologize to the narcissist.  You also won’t say anything the next time the behavior is done.  This is a huge dose of narcissistic supply.  The narcissist gets a free pass to do this behavior again, made you feel bad & even apologize all on top of doing whatever it was that hurt you in the first place.  It’s like a narcissistic supply jackpot!

Due to the supply jackpot factor, chances are excellent you’ll have to deal with a non apology at some point.  There are ways to handle this awkward situation.

First, I really recommend praying when you’re forced to deal with non apologies.  Not only asking God to help you to recognize them when they happen but also to give you wisdom on the best way to deal with them.

You also need to recognize what is happening.  Know the signs of a real apology & a fake one.  You don’t want to mistake a real one for fake or vice versa!  Either way can’t end well.  Real apologies involve remorse, & someone taking responsibility for & changing their behavior.  Even if that is all you remember, it’ll help you to spot non apologies easily.

Also be creative in your response.  Neutral is often the best way to go, especially in situations like a work environment or if you don’t want to deal with any narcissistic conflict or drama.  Something like, “Thanks.”  “Thanks for saying that.”  or “Thanks for taking the time to tell me that.” “I appreciate what you said.” can be useful.  This shows the narcissist their so called apology was accepted & the matter will be dropped.

If you want to let the narcissist know you’re aware this is a non apology, try something like, “Thanks.” “That’s a start.”  “Thanks for trying.”  “Uh huh.”  “Ok.”  “If you say so.”  You also can ask them what exactly they mean by their non apology… “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean exactly.” is a good way to say it.  Asking narcissists to explain their actions in a calm, logical manner throws them for a loop.  They realize they can’t rage at you without looking foolish, so they usually try to drop the topic immediately.  If they try to change the subject, keep going back to it in that calm, logical manner.  They will feel so uncomfortable, they may just decide what they did wasn’t worth feeling this way so they won’t repeat it again.

Non apologies are an annoying part of life, but you can cope with them successfully.

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Boundaries Are Important, & Not Only With Narcissists

Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries.  This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone.  Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused.  Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no.  How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?

Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard.  They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility.  Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility.  Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours.  You do not even need to have an opinion on these things.  If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.

No one can control someone with healthy boundaries.   You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.

By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide.  You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated.  It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.

Boundaries also enforce consequences.  Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems.  Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere.  People need consequences for their actions, good or bad!  How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works?  That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter.  Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer?  This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.

When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it.  They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be.  Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems.  Unsafe people will not.  If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you.  Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.

For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:

• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?

When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.

You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:

• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
• “No.”

Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary.  Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is.  If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.

Remember to respect the boundaries of others too.  You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life.  Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions.  And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others.  People are also allowed to freely express their emotions.  While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them.  If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.

You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this!  Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway!  The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks.  You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.

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Encouragement For The “Weak”

This post is for those of you in the position of being unwilling or unable to go no contact with a narcissist.

Almost every bit of information available for those in a relationship with a narcissist basically say the same thing- “just go no contact.”  The tone of some articles & even some fellow survivors who say the same thing can be downright shaming, as if being unable or unwilling to go no contact means something is very wrong with you or you’re weak.

While it’s certainly true that no contact is almost always the best way to deal with a narcissist, that doesn’t make it an easy solution.  Whoever the narcissist is in your life & no matter how badly that person treats you, it still hurts to end a relationship.  The closer the relationship the more it hurts, too, such as ending a relationship with your parent hurts a thousand times more than ending it with someone with whom you have gone on only a couple of dates.  Due to the nature of narcissists, they usually abuse those closest to them.   This is probably why the most abusive relationships with a narcissist are the closest relationships, such as parents & spouses, & those relationships are very hard to end.

Abusive or not, it still hurts to end a relationship with someone so close to you.  Not wanting to end that relationship doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or you’re weak.  It means you’re normal!

Even if you want to go no contact, it often takes time to work up the inner strength to be able to do it.  Narcissists beat their victims down so badly, they can obliterate their self esteem.  Once you learn what is happening, it takes time to repair your self esteem & to build up enough strength to go no contact.  Or, maybe you know somehow that the timing isn’t right somehow for no contact.. that happened to me with my parents.  I wanted to go no contact with them for well over a year before I felt God was saying it was time.  There is also the common situation of a victim who lives with a narcissist being financially dependent on that narcissist.   It takes time to be able to save enough money to move out, to find a job & a place to live.  None of these situations make a person weak or flawed.  It simply means they’re in difficult situations.

There are also some folks whose narcissist is pretty low on the spectrum.  Yes, that person causes problems but they aren’t over the top in their behavior.  Some people would prefer to learn ways to deal with them than end those relationships.   That is their right to make that choice

For those of you in those situations, I want to encourage you today.

I know it’s terribly hard being in a relationship with a narcissist in any capacity.  Until such time as you are ready & willing to go no contact, there are some things you can do to make your life a little easier.

As always, I recommend praying.  Ask God to show you creative & effective ways to cope with the narcissist as well as to help you to go no contact if that is your desired result.

Always remember- narcissists are all about gaining narcissistic supply to prop up their egos.  It’s their primary motivation for everything they do.  Any attention or reaction you give them, good or bad, provides that supply.  Be as boring to the narcissist as possible.  Show them no anger, sadness or even joy.  Be calm & cool in the presence of the narcissist.  Offer simple answers without explanations.  Provide no personal information.  This is known as the Gray Rock method.  Basically, you become as boring to the narcissist as a plain gray rock.

Don’t forget to question things the narcissist says.  They are masters of gaslighting & manipulation, so basically almost everything they say can be a lie.  Ask yourself if what is being said is true or not.  You also can question the narcissist, but if you do so, do it calmly in your gray rock way.  “Oh?  Why do you think that?”  “Explain to me how that makes sense.. I don’t follow you.”  Logical, calmly asked questions like that can throw a narcissist off kilter.  It lets her know that you’re onto her games & won’t be manipulated.

Keep & enforce healthy boundaries.  You have the right to tell the narcissist no & to expect to be treated with respect.  You also don’t need to explain your boundaries.  Or, if you feel you absolutely must, remember to stay gray rock U keep explanations minimal.

Also remember that whatever they are doing isn’t about you.  It’s about them.  Yes, that person is hurting & abusing you, but it’s because it makes her feel better.  You have done nothing to deserve it & nothing that person says about you is true.  Narcissists project their own flaws onto their victims.  It doesn’t mean you actually are whatever the narcissist says you are.

If you are hoping to go no contact in the future, low contact may be an excellent option for you.  It’s as the name describes- you are in low contact with the narcissist.  You don’t take phone calls or visit as often, but only when you feel able.  Low contact can be a really good stepping stone to no contact.

While there are no easy solutions for dealing with narcissists, these tactics can help you.  And, don’t forget- there isn’t anything wrong with you for being unable or unwilling to go no contact.  It’s a big decision, & every person has to do it only when they feel equipped to do so.

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My Newest Book Is Available!

I have just published my newest book, “When A Narcissistic Parent Dies.”  As the title suggests, the book is about when a narcissistic parent dies- what the adult child can expect to experience & feel, ways to cope, flying monkey attacks, & things to think about such as should you be involved in caregiving, should you say good bye or attend the funeral.

 

It’s available in print & ebook form at the following link:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Books-For-Sale.php

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Narcissistic Parents & Food

Many of us who grew up with narcissistic parents ended up with food issues or even full blown eating disorders.  This usually isn’t because we were using some poor coping skills to deal with the abuse.  It’s because many narcissists are obsessed with food, & they put their own issues onto their children

Some narcissists hoard food, not even wanting to share it with their own child.  Some complain incessantly about what their child eats or doesn’t eat.  Some expect & even demand their child like & dislike the same foods the parent likes & dislikes.  When the child has a different opinion, the parent invalidates & criticizes the child.  Some force their child to eat when they’re not hungry, & then complain because they did eat.  Many also criticize their child’s weight extremely harshly, ridiculing the child for being too fat or too skinny, even when the child is a healthy weight.  Some narcissistic parents even withhold food from their child as a punishment.  Growing up in such madness definitely creates food issues for a child.  How could it not?

I grew up hearing how fat I was ever since I can remember.  Looking at childhood pictures though, I don’t see a fat child- I see a normal child.  Well, now I do.  When I was a child, I saw someone incredibly fat & disgusting.  So much so, I went through anorexia at about age 10, then later bulimia in my teens.  My mother also criticized what I ate & how my entire life.  According to her, I either ate way too much or way too little & was wasting her money on food.  She even made me eat when I didn’t want to & called me a hog if I ate the last of something, such as the last cookie in the package.  And, she encouraged emotional eating.  Sad?  Have a snack.  Happy?  Celebrate by having a snack.  Angry?  Eat.. it’ll make you feel better.  I also wasn’t even allowed in my mother’s kitchen growing up.  I wasn’t even allowed to get myself something to eat or drink.  Neither was my father.  The kitchen was my mother’s private domain, & no one was allowed to enter unless they wanted to face her wrath.

I bet many of you can relate to some if not all of my story, can’t you?

I think the reason so many narcissists behave so crazily about food mostly boils down to narcissistic supply.  Food is necessary for life.  Eating is a way to take care of yourself.  Narcissists never want their victims to do anything good for themselves since it might contribute to healthy self esteem- something they refuse to allow victims to have.  Supply is gained if they can tear apart someone’s self esteem or prevent someone from gaining any boost to it.  Plus, parents can control what their children eat, & control is a great way to provide a narcissist with supply.

Projection also can be why narcissistic parents behave this way with food.  If your narcissistic mother has her own food issues, she won’t deal with them as a normal person would.  Instead, she’ll try to put them on you so she can get upset about them while refusing to take any responsibility for them.  This certainly happened with my mother.  She was raised by her own narcissistic mother, & one of her coping skills her mother taught her as a child was to turn to food.  She maintained that skill as an adult & judging by how she’s always been with me, is deeply bothered by it.

Personally, I’m still trying to sort out my own food issues since most of the time, I don’t want to eat, but at least it’s much better than it once was.  It’s a long journey towards healing in this area.  God has truly helped me a great deal with it though.  He has helped me to understand that my mother did wrong in this area (among others) with me, & the things she said to me & accused me of were wrong.  He’s also helped me to understand food better & reject the awful teaching I received about it growing up.  He can do the same for you, Dear Reader.  Turn to God.  Ask Him to help you heal in this area & to teach you whatever it is you need to know.  He loves you so much & will be more than happy to do so!

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Dysfunctional Ways Narcissists Cope- Retroactive Justification

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Differences In Justifying & Understanding Abuse

There is often a great amount of faulty thinking among people that says if you understand why an abuser abuses, that means you’re justifying the abuse.  While that certainly is possible, it isn’t always the case, & it’s also never wise.

 

Anyone who’s been subjected to narcissistic abuse knows narcissists love gaslighting.  Any time they can mess with your perception, feelings & sanity, they are going to jump at that chance.  This even happens when it comes to  their abuse.  They often deny it happened, say it didn’t happen the way you remember or even blame you for making them do whatever it is they did.  As a result of all the gaslighting, it can be very difficult to know & understand the truth.  In fact, it becomes so difficult, many victims do take on the blame for being abused.

 

I was one of those victims who believed being abused was my responsibility.  If I would just be a better daughter, get better grades, obey my mother even more, etc. my mother wouldn’t have needed to spend so much time screaming at me & telling me what a horrible person I was.  Maybe too, my father might try to protect me from her.  I later carried that behavior into my first marriage & my current marriage as well, believing all of the problems in my marriage or with the in-laws were 100% my fault.  In fact, it’s only been in the last probably 10 years or so I’ve been seeing how wrong that is.

 

One thing that helped me to see that I wasn’t always to blame is to understand the people who blamed me.  I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then later that there are overt & covert narcissists.  I learned how these people behave, & how they abuse.  I also learned about their motivation always being procuring narcissistic supply.  The more I learned, the more I understood my abusers.  Things finally started to make sense.  And, the more I realized those who blamed me when they were the abusers were really messed up!  After a lifetime of hearing that I was the problem, I can’t tell you how freeing it was to learn beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was NOT the real problem!

 

A lot of people will say understanding your abuser is a waste of time.  They’re evil, why bother?  Maybe that works for them, which is great of course, but for me, it was an integral part of my healing.

 

But, this could have ended poorly just as easily.  If I hadn’t questioned the “disorder” in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I probably would have bought into  the false believe that narcissists can’t help how they behave, because it’s a disorder.  Even seeing all the narcissists in my life control their abusive behavior very well, I wouldn’t have trusted my own instincts about it being something they can indeed control thanks to years of gaslighting.  I could have justified their abuse because they have a “disorder” which means they can’t control their behavior.  It’s not their fault they act the way they do.  Who can control a disorder, after all?!

 

I believe this sort of thinking happens with some folks who learn about NPD.  They hear it’s a disorder, & are willing to absolve the narcissist of responsibility for their behavior.

 

Maybe other people justify narcissist’s behavior because the narcissist had an abusive or neglectful childhood.  While certainly that can create issues in a person, narcissism is a choice.  Narcissists choose to behave the way they do, & they do it because it gets them what they want.

 

Many people justify their behavior because narcissists are not abusive all of the time.  They throw in some nice behavior sometimes.  This confuses victims.  They know the narcissist is capable of being kind & hope she’ll return to being that way.  They fail to realize this is only to lure a victim back into the narcissist’s web, so they make excuses for the bad behavior.  They say things like, “She’s under a lot of stress lately” or, “He was just drunk- it’s not his fault.”  Nice behavior done by a narcissist is never done out of love, but as a way to manipulate & control.

 

Justifying narcissistic abuse in any way is NOT healthy!  It damages your mental health!  It makes you believe you are to blame for what the narcissist does.  It makes you apologize to the narcissist when she abuses you.  It makes you tell yourself incredibly damaging things like you don’t matter.

 

Always remember, there is a huge difference between understanding your abuser & justifying her behavior.  And, only one (understanding your abuser) has the ability to help you.

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Never Justify Or Excuse Narcissistic Abuse

If you’re in the unenviable position of having a narcissist in your life on a regular basis, you have to do all you can to protect your mental health.  Narcissists do their level best to obliterate a person’s self-esteem & sometimes even their sanity.

 

One important way you can protect your mental health is not to make excuses for their bad behavior.

 

It might just be human nature, but people often want to justify someone’s bad behavior.  In many cases, that’s fine.  When someone cuts you off in traffic, maybe he didn’t mean to be a jerk, he was just in a hurry.  When your best friend snaps at you, it’s probably because her stressful job is getting to her- she didn’t mean to hurt you.  Small things like this it’s easy to forgive & forget.  They aren’t a big deal because the chances that person meant to upset or hurt you are virtually non existent.

 

With narcissists however, this isn’t the case.  Their entire existence revolves around getting narcissistic supply in any way they can.  If people are hurt in the process, so be it.  That doesn’t matter to a narcissist.

 

I used to make excuses for the behavior narcissists in my life.  As a child, I told myself my narcissistic mother was simply overprotective, not manipulative & controlling to an extreme.  When my father did nothing to protect me from her abuse, I told myself he just couldn’t do anything.  It’s not his fault.

 

It took me a long time, but I’ve finally accepted the truth- that there is no excuse for narcissists to behave as they do.  They know what they’re doing & if they didn’t, they wouldn’t work so hard to hide their behavior.  They also know the difference between right & wrong- they just don’t care.  Yes, these are some ugly truths, but they are also truths you need to accept about narcissists.

 

Making excuses for a narcissist’s behavior only benefits the narcissist, never a victim.  Excuses show the narcissist that you will tolerate their abuse without complaint & excuse it away.  This basically gives them the green light to do whatever awful things to you they want to do.

 

Excuses also imprint in your mind that you don’t have the right to speak up, that you must tolerate abuse, because the narcissist has a good reason for behaving that way.  This is absolutely NOT the truth, & you do NOT need to believe that it is!

 

Excusing a narcissist’s behavior is basically gaslighting yourself.  You’re lying to yourself, telling yourself the behavior is normal or understandable when it’s anything but.  You get enough gaslighting from the narcissist- don’t add to it by excusing her behavior.

 

Remember, Dear Reader, narcissists abuse for one simple reason- themselves.  They want narcissistic supply.  There is no excuse for that.  Don’t tell yourself otherwise!

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Unusual Ways Anxiety Can Affect You

Many adult children of narcissistic parents have trouble with anxiety.  Those of us who live with it know the awful feelings of blind fear that anxiety can bring or the misery of a panic attack.  But, did you know anxiety can bring other seemingly unrelated symptoms as well?

 

Are you clumsy?  That can be related to anxiety.  If you are preoccupied as many people with anxiety are, you can miss seeing that hole in the sidewalk that makes you twist your ankle or not pay enough attention to the item you’re holding so you drop it.

 

Forgetful?  Also anxiety related.  Being distracted by anxiety, you are less likely to concentrate on other things, so you may forget things easily.

 

Do you have unusual dreams?  That also may be related to anxiety.  The brain constantly processes information- good, bad or indifferent- even when we’re sleeping.  Anxiety can make you overthink things, thus opening the door to unusual or even bad dreams.

 

Changes in how your voice sounds?  Stuttering?  That also can be related to anxiety.  A person’s voice may change when exposed to higher levels of anxiety.  Their voice may get shaky or higher pitched.

 

Difficulty finding the right words?  Anxiety again, especially when in difficult situations.  If you’re in a situation that reminds you of a traumatic experience in particular, finding the right words can be difficult because of the intrusive thoughts of the traumatic experiences.

 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you aren’t crazy!  You’re anxious.  Don’t panic!  Easier said than done, I know, but try not to panic at least.  Anxiety is a nasty problem but it can be managed.

 

As anxiety kicks in, try to relax the best you can.  Slow down.  Pray.  Tell God what you feel & ask for help.  Write in your journal.  Talk to yourself- ask what are you so afraid of?  Can things happening really hurt you right now?  Breathe deeply & slowly.  Hold something that offers you comfort, such as a soft blanket.  Smell a scent that comforts you- lavender isn’t only a pleasant scent but it offers anti-anxiety properties.  Tactics like this may help you to get through the intense moments.

 

There are medications available for those with anxiety disorders.  Talk to your general practitioner for more information, or for a referral to a psychiatrist.  If you prefer the natural, herbal route, there are alternatives.  Valerian root, lemon balm & kava kava are plants that have anti-anxiety properties.  I take valerian root supplements & drink lemon balm tea at night often as it helps me to sleep.  In fact, I grow lemon balm plants in my yard- it’s easy to grow & to dry the leaves for making tea.  It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before taking herbal remedies though to make sure they won’t interact with any medications you may be taking.

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Physical Problems Can Change You

Those of you who have been reading my work for some time know that on February 27, 2015, I nearly died.  My fireplace’s flue had a problem & it caused carbon monoxide to enter my home.  It caused me to pass out, hitting my head on the logs beside the fireplace which gave me a concussion.  I easily could’ve died that day, but I didn’t.  I live with symptoms daily from the experience but my thinking has been especially odd to me.

 

My emotions & ways of thinking are different now than they were prior to my accident.  I have become much more self-centered in my thinking.  I firmly believe this is a side effect of the concussion, as many people I’ve seen who have experienced brain injuries become extremely selfish, some even narcissistic.  Thankfully I’m aware of it & do my best not to let it get out of hand.  I am also triggered VERY easily now.  Seeing a happy parent & child together saddens me, for example, because my relationship with my parents is so unhappy & downright toxic.  It’s very odd since I never thought that way before.  I also don’t lose my temper often, but when I do it is very ugly.  Even after 2 years, I’m still getting used to all of this.

 

I finally recently asked God about what is going on with me.  I’m hoping what He said will help some of you as well if you’ve experienced changes after a health scare.

 

Some health issues can change a person.  The chemical or physical changes caused by some illnesses or injuries can cause a person to respond differently than they once did.  Traumatic brain injuries & carbon monoxide are known for changing a person, but other illnesses & injuries can as well.  Many people experience depression after surgery, for example.  The changes you experience due to your physical problems may influence how your brain processes information.  In my case, my brain was already injured due to C-PTSD, & the concussion was just one more injury & one more trauma.  No wonder I’m triggered more easily now.

 

Becoming more selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.  As long as it’s kept in check, it’s actually a good thing.  So many of us raised by narcissists learned early to put other people ahead of ourselves no matter what.  We need to become a bit more selfish & start taking care of us & without feeling guilty for it!

 

Everyone has a point where enough is enough.  When a person faces a serious health scare or near death experience, that may push the “enough is enough” point way up.  Something about coming close to death makes a person realize just how fleeting life is & how quickly it can end.  Often, that realization means patience for abusers vanishes & sometimes that filter that keeps you speaking nice things doesn’t always work.  You may not get mean, but you may become more blunt.  The realization also can make a person more determined to enjoy every possible moment of their life.

 

 

If you come from a narcissistic family, facing health problems means you have an additional complication to your health concerns.  Do you tell them?  If so, you know they won’t be there to help you if need be.. will they even care?  Can you deal with whatever cruelty they dish out to you on top of being sick?  Being faced with having to hide your problems or hear from your narcissistic parents about how much worse of *insert name here* has it than you are NOT nice prospects!  In fact, they hurt a great deal & they make you angry.

 

If you’re experiencing changes in your personality after illness or injury, talk to your doctors.  If nothing is physically wrong, then maybe you’re experiences are simply similar to mine.  Why not try to embrace the changes the best you can?  Maybe once you get to know the new you, you’ll think you’re pretty cool!  And maybe  too, the changes are for the best.  Losing patience for abusers is a good thing- you won’t be a doormat anymore!  Being more determined to enjoy life is a wonderful thing too.  You’ll  waste less time on fruitless things & spend more time on the things you enjoy & that are important to you.  I know it can be hard to find the good in health problems, but some things like I’ve mentioned in this article can be good.  They may be hard to get used to at first, but they really can be a good thing!

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Do You Have High Functioning Anxiety?

Most people who live with anxiety are all too aware of the fact.  It’s hard to deny when panic or anxiety attacks strike.  Not everyone with anxiety has the obvious signs, however.  Some people experience a high functioning anxiety, which causes different things to happen.

 

People with high functioning anxiety can appear perfectly calm, but their minds are constantly racing with anxious thoughts.

 

They are often extremely busy, constantly doing something, even unimportant tasks.  “Busy work”.  Yet, they may ignore important tasks, allowing them to get backed up rather than admitting they need help.

 

These people hate to be left alone with their own thoughts.  They keep busy or surround themselves with people.  They also may get lost in TV shows often.

 

So how do you deal with this type of anxiety?

 

You learn to ask for help.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to do it anyway.  No one can do it all by themselves.  Everyone needs help sometimes!  There’s no shame in asking for help.

 

Get proper rest.  Functioning on not enough sleep is bad for your health as well as anxiety levels.  Being tired makes you even more susceptible to bad anxiety.

 

Take breaks often so you don’t get exhausted.

 

Remind yourself that having anxiety doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It means you’re human.  It isn’t something of which you need to be ashamed.

 

You also aren’t a failure if you need medication to manage your anxiety.  You wouldn’t feel bad if you needed to take insulin to manage diabetes would you?  Then why feel bad for needing anti anxiety medication?  Illness often requires medication, whether the illness is physical or mental.

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Is Narcissism Really A Disorder?

We all know the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it doesn’t take long witnessing someone with it to wonder if it is truly a disorder.  The word “disorder” implies their behavior is beyond their control, such as in the case of someone with schizophrenia.

 

This term also makes victims of narcissistic abuse feel as if they can’t do anything to protect themselves or even be angry about what is done to them, because the narcissist’s behavior is beyond their control.

 

None of this really sits right with most victims, because we have seen the narcissist in our lives go from screaming lunatic to nice person when the “right” person came along.  I witnessed it with my mother growing up.  She could be screaming at me, telling me how worthless I was, until the phone rang.  She was normal on the phone, then after she hung up, could resume screaming at me.  Although she no longer screams at me, she still controls her behavior just as well.  She can say something incredibly hurtful to me then smile at the person who enters the room a moment later as if nothing happened.

 

Calling behavior like this, so clearly controlled & planned, a disorder always left a bad taste in my mouth.  It was great to finally have a name for what was being done to me, but disorder?

 

Thankfully I found an answer a while back in reading Dr. Karyl McBride’s facebook page.  (In case you don’t know, she wrote an incredible book on narcissistic mothers entitled, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?”  I highly recommend it- it’s chock full of wisdom!)  She said that personality disorders are different than other mental disorders in that they describe a means of behavior rather than an actual physical illness.  For example, someone with PTSD has brain damage caused by trauma whereas someone with NPD is behaving in a dysfunctional way.  This means people with personality disorders can change their behavior if they desire to do so & learn healthier ways to behave, whereas someone with PTSD can’t change their behavior so easily (if at all) because their brains is physically damaged.

 

Interesting, no?

 

In a way, I found this information to be very freeing.  It means that my narcissistic mother’s behavior isn’t beyond her control & I really do have every right to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  It was also a bit discouraging learning that she could change if she wanted to, but she doesn’t want to.

 

The best way I have found to deal with this knowledge & the conflicting feelings that follow is this: I am grateful that the awful behavior has a name, because it means it isn’t my fault!  I didn’t make my mother abuse me, as she claimed.  I also didn’t force my ex husband to punch walls when he got mad at me.  These people have issues, & that isn’t my fault!  As for knowing they can change but refuse?  Well, that is their right.  Everyone has the right to live as they see fit, & some people make very bad choices in how they live.  Having that boundary in place will help you accept the fact that your narcissist may never change, while still hoping for it.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.  Certainly pray they change & hope for it, as it does happen (albeit very rarely), while accepting the fact it may not.

 

And, never forget- you also have the right to protect yourself from abusive behavior however you believe is right for you to do.  Just as someone has the right to be abusive, you have the right to protect yourself.

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Ways To Respond To Someone Who Doesn’t Understand Mental Illness

Not many people have a good grasp on how to treat people with mental illness.  Depression, anxiety, PTSD & C-PTSD in particular seem to be targets for those with little to no  compassion.

 

Following are some examples of bad things people often say to people suffering with mental illness.  One thing that seems to diffuse people from further insensitive, invalidating comments is a calm, logical response.  Some examples of ways to use that logic follow the examples.

 

“It’s all in your mind.”  This one tells me the person saying it thinks you’re crazy & has no patience for you.  Not exactly something to make you feel all warm & fuzzy, is it?  A good response could be, “Well, yes it is.  It’s a mental illness after all.  Where else would it be?”

 

“Think happy thoughts.”  Well, gee, why didn’t I think of that?!  *facepalm* Depression, anxiety, PTSD & C-PTSD can come with intrusive thoughts that may be impossible to control.  Depression steals your hope, anxiety fills you with often irrational fears, PTSD & C-PTSD steal your hope, fill you with fear in addition to reminding you of all of the horrible, traumatic things you’ve been through.  A possible response could be, “You seem to forget- my brain doesn’t work like yours.  It’s physically broken.  It’s not that easy for me to just think happy thoughts.”

 

“You should just…”  Unasked for advice is never fun.  It’s even worse when the person giving it has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. This one really gets under my skin, especially when it’s wrapped in fake concern.  “I mean this in love, but you need to get over that…” for example.  I’ve responded with, “Thank you but I didn’t ask for your advice on this subject.”  The person who did this with me stopped speaking to me for months after saying that, but I don’t know if that is a typical response or not.  She’s the only one I said that to so far.

 

“I know how you feel.”  No.  No you don’t.  You aren’t me.  You don’t live with the mental illness that I do.  We are two very different people.  So no, you don’t know how I feel.  <– I believe that is a good response.  I admit, I get snarky when told this.  My responses aren’t usually this nice.  Mine have been “You spent most of your life suicidal too?  You have C-PTSD too?  Aren’t those flashbacks terrible?  Oh, you don’t have them.. then I guess you really don’t know how I feel.”  Not nice, but it tends to get people’s attention when nicer comments don’t.

 

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”  I think people forget that we are all different.  What doesn’t sound so bad to one person can devastate another.  My high school guidance counselor told me this phrase after telling her my mother would scream at me & tell me how horrible I was.  It made me feel wrong for being traumatized.  I was young & didn’t know about narcissism then, so I didn’t respond.  Now?  I think I would say something like, “Maybe it doesn’t sound so bad to you, but you weren’t there.  You weren’t the one going through the trauma.”

 

“You can’t have PTSD.  You weren’t in the military.”  Unfortunately, because there has been attention on PTSD in soldiers, the rest of us with it resulting from non-military trauma have been disregarded.  It reminds me of when AIDS was first coming into the public eye in the 80’s, & people thought it was a “gay disease.”  AIDS isn’t a “gay disease”  & PTSD isn’t a “military problem”.  It’s a trauma problem.  And, reminding someone who says you can’t have it because you weren’t in the military is a very good response.

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“You Can’t Blame Her Forever!”

So many  who grew up in happy homes tell those of us who didn’t that we can’t blame our abusive parents forever.  We have to take responsibility for ourselves one of these days!

 

While this sounds good, I have an issue with it.

 

Parents are responsible for raising their children.  Some do a wonderful job, putting a great deal of time & effort into making sure their children grow up happy, healthy & loved.  Other parents aren’t so good.  They tear down their child rather than build her up.   They expect their child to take care of them, rather than taking care of her as God intended.  They are so self-absorbed that they have no time or energy to devote to their child.  Some may not even meet the child’s basic needs such as food, clothing or shelter.  Others may use their child to meet their needs, & take their anger out on the child or sexually abuse her.  When parents behave in such ways, that child will grow up scarred, either physically or emotionally or both.

 

Abused children grow up with problems.  Some have lifelong injuries because of the physical or sexual abuse they survived at the hand of their parents.  Some have addictions due to their desire to escape the pain inside caused by their upbringing.  And often, many have PTSD or C-PTSD.

 

How can you not blame your abusive parent as long as you have such problems because of that abusive parent, especially when those problems interfere with your daily life even years later?!

 

I firmly believe that the abusive parent deserves 100% of the blame for the problems that he or she caused.  No one can do anything to deserve being abused!  Abusing is the responsibility of the abuser, never the victim.

 

That being said, the victim does have some responsibility.

 

It is the victim’s responsibility to heal as best she can from the abuse she endured.  It is up to the victim to seek help, to research or do whatever she needs to heal.  While some problems may be lifelong such as PTSD or C-PTSD, she certainly can learn ways to manage her symptoms.

 

It is also the victim’s responsibility to be sure that she doesn’t repeat the familiar patterns of abuse.  Sometimes those who were abused as children become abusers.  I don’t understand how this works exactly, but it is a pretty common phenomenon.  It is up to the victim not to allow this to happen!

 

It is up to the victim to learn & grow as a person, rather than stay the stifled person she was raised to be.  It is her responsibility to become the person God wants her to be, even when it clashes with what her abusive parents wanted her to become.

 

It is also the victim’s responsibility to forgive her abuser.   Mark 11:25 says,  “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  (ESV)  I know it is hard to forgive others, especially when they deliberately hurt you.  I know they don’t deserve your forgiveness.  However, I also know that you deserve better than to carry around bitterness & anger inside of you!  Don’t get me wrong- I don’t mean you need to forgive & forget.  That only sets you up for further abuse.  I am saying that you can, in time & with God’s help, release the anger you feel inside.  You will be so much happier for it!  Your health will benefit too, as repressed anger can create a myriad of physical & emotional health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, heart problems, kidney problems & more.

 

Lastly, I believe it is also the victim’s responsibility to educate others & help to raise awareness.  For example, many people have heard the term narcissistic abuse, but do they really know what it means?  Probably not, so why not start a blog on the topic?  Write about your experiences or what you are learning as you heal.  If you wish, do so using a false name.  Writing the truth using your real name can be a scary prospect since you wonder if the abuser will learn about your writing.  I know- it honestly makes me very anxious sometimes that my parents will learn what I write about (as it is, they don’t have a computer, but they do have flying monkey relatives who do).  If you don’t feel confident in writing a blog, then what about checking into laws on the kind of abuse you endured?  Do you see where the laws need changing?  Then look into changing those laws!  Start petitions or create a website on the topic.  There are plenty of ways you can make your painful experiences count for something!

 

 

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A Frequent Problem Among Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Recently I learned something very interesting & also useful for those of us affected by narcissistic abuse.  We are very prone to Cluster C personality disorders.

 

Cluster C personality disorders involve OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Avoidant Personality Disorder & Dependent Personality Disorder:

 

  • OCD involves obsessive, perfectionistic type thoughts.  We need consistency, organization & routine.
  • APD means we are so socially anxious, we avoid social interaction as much as possible.  We are deathly afraid of ridicule or criticism.  We also have very low self esteem.
  • DPD involves indecisiveness, the need for reassurance, clingy behavior, & a fear of being alone.

 

If this describes you, please know you are not alone.  After reading this information, I realized these disorders describe me very well.  I would feel very safe in assuming it’s not just me.  These traits describe so many of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse that I have talked to.

 

There is also one positive note in that personality disorders describe behavior, which means they can be changed.  Personality disorders describe a behavior rather than physical brain damage, so that means they can be changed.

 

So how do you change these dysfunctional & unhealthy behaviors?  In all honesty, I’m not really sure.  Since I just learned about Cluster C disorders, I really don’t know much about them just yet.  I do know, though, that God is the best place to start dealing with any problem.  Since I just learned this information earlier today, I plan to spend some time in prayer later today when I have some uninterrupted private time to try to figure out where to start.  I’m going out on a limb here to say I think God will want me to start with asking Him to tell me the truth.  “Do I really need to be so anxious around other people?  Is it right for me to be so perfectionisitic, so hard on myself?  What is the real truth in these situations?”  (as an example).  That is always a great place to start, listening to God tell you the truth.  He will, & His words are full of healing power.

 

I’m sorry I don’t have more information to share at this moment, but I will share as I learn.    Hopefully it will benefit you as well as me, Dear Readers!  xoxo

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