Tag Archives: dysfunction

You Deserve Compassion & Kindness!

Once someone has been abused, often they quietly & obliviously develop the misguided belief that they are unworthy of compassion & kindness. 

Most likely this comes from their abusers constantly telling them that they are a burden, they’re stupid, do nothing but cause problems & other things that instill a deep root of toxic shame in victims.  That toxic shame tells people that their feelings, needs, wants, pains & every other thing about them aren’t valid. 

Add into this the phrase “victim mentality” & the shame society often inflicts on anyone who says they were a victim.  Clueless & often heartless people say victims should’ve just walked away, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, they should stop living in the past & being so negative.  It makes people feel that they deserved the abuse, & are weak for being abused or even having PTSD or C-PTSD as a result of the abuse, which only adds to the toxic shame.

Even worse than the toxic shame is the fact that being on the receiving end of such treatment makes people doubt the validity of their pain over their experiences.  They may think they weren’t abused so badly since their parent didn’t beat them, or their abusive husband “only” forced her to have sex a few times.  Other people have it so much worse, so their experiences couldn’t be all that bad, right?  WRONG!  They were bad!  In fact, they were worse than bad.  They were atrocious!  Being abused is horrible, no matter how frequently one is abused or whether it was verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual or financial. 

After being on the receiving end of such treatment, is it common for people to think they’re awful people, whining about trivial matters, so they don’t deserve any compassion or kindness.  Today, I want to tell anyone who feels this way that they are ABSOLUTELY WRONG!  I don’t care what your abusers said you were or that other people maybe had it “worse” than you.  Your pain is valid.  Your experiences were terrible.  You did NOT deserve any of it.  And, you deserve compassion and kindness! 

Whether you are comfortable admitting this or not, the truth is you have been through some pretty horrific things.  Those things weren’t your fault.  You did nothing whatsoever to deserve them.  You aren’t a bad person because others said you were & treated you terribly.  Their behavior speaks much more about them than it does you.  And, it doesn’t mean you are undeserving of compassion & kindness.  You are as worthy of compassion & kindness just as much as any other person.  In fact, you are just as worthy as any other person in every possible way, period.

If you haven’t begun to focus on your healing, maybe today is the day to start.  It will benefit you so much to do so!  Admitting the abuse was wrong & painful is an excellent place to start.  Also recognizing that the way your abuser treated you truly had nothing to do with you but with your abusers is powerful for healing.  Get angry about the unfairness & cruelty of what was done to you!  That will help you to see that you didn’t deserve it, & you deserve to be treated so much better.  Pray, write in a journal, seek a counselor that specializes in trauma or whatever helps you to heal.  The more you heal, the more you’ll recognize that you are valuable.  The more you recognize your own value, the less poor treatment from other people you will tolerate.  You also will recognize what you deserve, & that includes to be loved, respected & treated compassionately & kindly. 

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them.  Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness.  Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well.  Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness. 

Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced.  One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things.  This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent.  This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.

Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families.  They often want their children to stay close to them forever.  One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions.  They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things.  This doesn’t stop in adulthood.  When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law.  They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child.  These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family.  They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse.  Their lies are often completely outrageous.  As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this.  Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up. 

When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage.  One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying.  The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies.  Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth.  Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.

If you are the one in this situation, question everything.  Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you.  Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart.  Often family can be the cruelest to their own.  When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind.  Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening?  Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say.  If it helps, write things down.  Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate.  Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective.  Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.  

If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense.  This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all.  If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did.  When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments.  Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible.  If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.

You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.

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Finding Healing From Narcissistic Abuse With Other Survivors

My Facebook group is full of some really wonderful people.  Godly, kind, caring, & very intelligent.  I’ve made some great friends through this group.  One of which & I were talking not long ago about where we have found the most help in understanding narcissists.  She told me that I can quote her, so this is what she said.  She has been to 14 counselors including psychologists, a psychiatrist, pastors, church counselors & an EDMR specialist but none of them gave her the kind of help that I have.  Me, with no formal education in the mental health field, no LCSW or PHD or anything behind my name!

I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying this because what my friend said next made a very good point.  She said I have helped her more than those counselors because I’ve been through so much with narcissists.  I have no formal training, but I have plenty of experience, & sometimes that is just what you need to help you in certain situations.  Narcissistic abuse recovery is one of those situations. 

While I mean no disrespect to mental health professionals, they usually don’t know much about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any of the Cluster B disorders.  I have two counselor friends who told me something very interesting.  They don’t know each other, so naturally they never have spoken.  They are about 15-20 years apart in age & studied at different colleges in different parts of the country.  Yet, both said the exact same thing, that they had only one afternoon’s study about all of the Cluster B personality disorders.  That’s it for FOUR very complex personality disorders!  If both of the counselors I have spoken to have the exact same experience in this area of their education, I would guess it’s common if not the norm. 

Don’t take this as seeing a professional to heal from narcissistic abuse is a waste of time.  It isn’t, so long as you choose the right counselor.  You can’t pick just any counselor to help you with abuse recovery.  You will need to find a counselor that specializes in abuse recovery or trauma focused therapy. 

If you can’t find a counselor with these specialties or can’t or would prefer not to see a counselor, the good thing is healing is still possible!  The friend who inspired me to discuss this topic has made leaps & bounds in her healing journey because she found knowledge & help from others who also have been through a lot at the hands of narcissists.  Their knowledge & experiences have helped her tremendously, & their understanding & compassion validated her, which has enabled her to help other victims as she was helped.  She likened it to a relationship between a recovering alcoholic & an active alcoholic.  No one can understand the struggles of the active one like someone who has been in the same situation.  Would you expect a person who has never drank so much as one beer to understand the struggles of someone who can’t go a day without drinking a fifth of whiskey?  Absolutely not!  So why would narcissistic abuse recovery be any different?

If you are looking for help in your healing journey, & won’t see a counselor for whatever reason, you can heal!  I haven’t seen a counselor in many years either due to my lack of trust after seeing some less than caring ones.  Like my friend though, have learned a great deal from others who have experiences similar to mine as well as studying narcissism.  Consider looking for help elsewhere as she & I have.  Connecting with people who share similar experiences is invaluable!  Many online forums are available.  As I mentioned, I have a wonderful group on Facebook, but there are many others too on Facebook or other websites.  A quick internet search will point you to many of these forums. 

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It’s Still Abuse If..

Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused.  A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her.  A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men.  Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was. 

Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse.  I did it myself.  Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me.  I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.

I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life.  I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it!  Once you face it, you can start to heal.  The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.

It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical.  Abuse comes in many forms.  Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you.  Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.

It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized.  Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again.  For a while, they don’t.  Things are good.  Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns.  An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.

It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you.  Abusers claim to love their victim.  Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.

It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child.  The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior.  Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.

It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness.  There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong.  Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.

It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser.  No relationship is completely abusive.  If so, abusers would be much easier to identify.  Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent.  People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are.  Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative.  Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other.  I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members.  Family members can be the worst abusers of all.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive.  You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior.  Exercise that right!  Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship.  If you don’t know what to do, pray.  Ask God to help you.  Learn all you can about toxic relationships.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books.  Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation. 

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The Toxic Love Languages Of Narcissists

Many people are aware of the wonderful book by Gary Chapman called, “The Five Love Languages.”  It’s all about helping the reader identify what makes him or her feel the most loved, & also identify those acts in others. 

The love languages in the book are as follows: words of affirmation (encouragement, complements, etc), quality time (when someone prioritizes uninterrupted time with you), acts of service (when someone goes out of their way to do nice gestures for you), gifts (when receiving gifts makes you feel loved) & physical touch (holding hands, kissing, cuddling & sex). 

Did you know there are toxic versions of these love languages?  There are!  And narcissists use them every day.  Being aware of them can help you to avoid people who behave this way.

Words of invalidation & criticism is a toxic love language.  Narcissists use their words as a way to tear down their victims & make them easier to control.  Naturally they don’t begin a relationship behaving like this.  They lavish praise on their victims.  Over time however, little negative comments suddenly appear.  Over time, more are added & more.  Suddenly their victim can do nothing right & is criticized for being upset that the narcissist says & does such cruel things to them.

Quality time isn’t a real thing with a narcissist.  One way narcissists make their victims feel inferior is to be distracted during their time together.  They may scroll endlessly through their phone, flip through the channels, or act bored.  This behavior lets their victims know they aren’t worth the narcissist’s time.  If the victim says something, the narcissist gets angry.  They say they care & the victim should know this or they can listen to the victim & do something else at the same time.  They become indignant that the victim doesn’t appreciate the fact the narcissist is spending time with them, even though that time is hardly good quality time.

Acts of service is a toxic love language in the hands of narcissists.  Narcissists have motives for every single thing they do & say.  If they do something for their victim, it will come with strings attached to it.  They won’t hesitate to remind their victim of the great sacrifices they have made for their victim.  Or, they demand their victim do anything they want, claiming if the victim really cares for them, they will do this.  When the victim does this thing, they claim that isn’t what they really wanted or the victim didn’t do it right.

Gifts are also used in toxic ways by narcissists.  Gifts are often used by narcissists early in a relationship as a way to lure victims in, & to make them feel obligated to the narcissist.  Also, if a victim gives a narcissist a gift, that gift won’t be good enough.  The victim will be shamed for their terrible gift & not loving the narcissist enough to give them something they really want.

Physical touch is only used for manipulation.  Narcissists love to use sex as a weapon.  Often early in their relationships, they are very passionate with their victims.  Then suddenly, that stops, leaving the victim confused.  They deny any problem, often claiming the victim is imagining things.  The victim knows that something is indeed wrong, so he or she tries harder to please & woo the narcissist.  Narcissists love this because it gives them a feeling of power & control.  They often use this time to get their victims to perform sexual acts that degrade the victim.  Victims in this place are vulnerable & willing to do about anything, so often narcissists get their way.

Being aware of these toxic versions of the five love languages can be very helpful in recognizing narcissists, so please remember them.

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How Surviving An Abusive Childhood Manifests In Relationships

When you come from an abusive childhood, that can create a lot of dysfunction in your life, but in particular in your relationships.  Today, I want to discuss some of the ways that dysfunction plays out.  Recognizing the dysfunctional behaviors may be painful at first, but it will help you by showing where you need healing.  That is valuable knowledge!

Many abused children struggle with having relationships with any genuine intimacy.  Even with those they are closest to, they aren’t comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts, feelings. desires & dreams.   They may listen to the innermost thoughts, feelings, desires & dreams of those they love, but they still won’t share their own.  They also may change the subject or deny any negative feelings they have if questioned because they are terrified of being this vulnerable with anyone.  This behavior comes from having a parent or two who ignored, mocked or rejected their emotional feelings.  When the most important person in your life who is supposed to love you unconditionally ignores, mocks or rejects something about you, it’s only natural to be afraid other people will do the same.  It takes time, prayer & good, loving, safe people in your life to overcome this behavior.  It also helps to remember that any parent who would do this to their own child clearly was the problem, not the child!

Many abused children have an intense fear of abandonment.  When a child grows up with parents whose behavior was inconsistent & unpredictable, they become afraid they would be abandoned at any moment.  They also assume other people are the same way as their parent.  This fear manifests as a person being clingy with the people in their life, even to the level of being co-dependent.  It also can manifest as being controlling of others with whom they are in a relationship.  My mother was like this.  Her parents divorced when she was very young, & her mother was a narcissist who kept her from her father.  I believe that left her with a deep fear of abandonment that manifested as being very controlling of my father & I.  Conquering this fear of abandonment isn’t easy but it is possible.  The more a person heals & becomes more functional, the healthier their self esteem becomes naturally.  As a result, a part of that is a person becomes more willing to end toxic relationships even if that means they are lonely for a season.  They also begin to attract healthier people who won’t hurt or abandon them, which helps to heal that fear of abandonment.

When parents show their children that their love is conditional, based on the child’s behavior & accomplishments, those children become people pleasers.  Children in this situation assume that unconditional love doesn’t exist, & to be loved, they must earn love.  It’s as if it doesn’t occur to them that the other person in the relationship should earn love though – only they must be the one to earn love.  Unlearning people pleasing behavior is TOUGH!  I’ve been there.  I did find that the more I healed, the less prone to it I was.  I’ve also found that slowing down & asking yourself why you are saying “yes” when you want to say no, or volunteering to do something you want no parts of to be helpful. 

Most abused children have dysfunctional relationships with abusers.  Friends, coworkers & even romantic interests often use & abuse these children until they reach a point in their lives where they start to focus on their own healing.  Possibly the most difficult part of breaking this pattern of behavior is to stop beating yourself up for getting involved with such toxic people, in particular, if you married one of them.  Just remember, you did the best you could with what you knew at that time.  If you didn’t know to do better, how could you expect yourself to do better?  That would make as much sense as expecting a toddler to know how to replace a car’s engine! 

If you find yourself in these situations I have described, it’s ok!  There is hope for you!  Focus on your healing, & the healthier you get, the healthier your relationships naturally will get as well.  I have found God to be vital to my healing.  Psalm 23:4 says that God walks with us through “the valley of the shadow of death” & I firmly believe that to be true!  He will be there for you during the hard, painful times of healing as He was with me. You’re not alone.  Lean on Him & let Him help you to heal!

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

So many times over the years, I’ve gotten comments on my blog or by email from people who recognize they had an abusive parent.  They discuss how cruel that parent was, often explaining terrible tales of brutality that no child should have to face.  At some point, they mention their other parent.  From their description, you would think that parent borders on sainthood.  They say things like, “Mom knew Dad was a monster, but she gave me pointers on how to stay out of his way & not make him angry.”  “Dad was such a good guy.  He wouldn’t see the bad in anyone, even Mom.  He dealt with things by telling me that’s just how Mom is, she can’t help it, & encouraged me to forgive & forget what she did to me.”

Stories like this just break my heart.  These people truly believe what they say, & don’t realize that a passive parent is just as bad as an abusive parent.  Long ago, I was one of these people.

My mother was an overt narcissist.  Her abuse was undeniable.  It was loud, obvious & cruel, especially when I was in my late teen years.  I cried on my father’s shoulder about it many times.  The majority of those times, he turned the situation around to how painful it was for him & how helpless he was to stop the abuse.  Those times ended with me trying to comfort him.  Other times, he simply didn’t care.  I remember one time he gave me a pat on the knee & walked off.  He didn’t say anything but his attitude was one of “Wow.. glad I’m not you!”

For years, I thought this behavior was ok.  Normal even.  He was a great guy, & simply a victim of my mother like me, which is why he couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) help me.  In fact, I felt it was my duty to care for & protect him.  Yes, I am serious.  I honestly believed that it was my duty, as his child, to take care of & protect my father while not expecting him to care for & protect me.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Sadly, many other adult children with abusive parents grew up believing the same things I did, which explains the many comments I’ve heard from adults who believe the same faulty way I once did.

The problem is this thinking is incredibly dysfunctional.  It’s not facing the truth, & the truth really will set us free!

Believing that one parent is good while the other abusive in these situations creates distrust & confusion about love & loyalty in children.  They think love & loyalty involve sacrificing not only your identity & beliefs, but even your children if need be.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you must not love that person.  This sets the stage for very dysfunctional & even abusive relationships in that child’s life. 

It also makes a child question themselves.  It’s normal for that child to grow up excessively angry at the overtly abusive parent because they simply don’t have the courage to be angry with the passively abusive parent.  One day when they realize this, they wonder what is wrong with them for not being able to accept both parents were abusive.

This type of thinking also happens a lot with people who can accept that their fathers were abusive, but not their mothers.  Admitting a father is abusive is easier than a mother.  Many mothers in such situations play up the appearance of being helpless victims who need their children to protect & coddle them.  Their children get so caught up in taking care of them, they seem to forget that it isn’t their job.  It’s their mother’s job to protect & care for them instead.

The first step to healthier thinking is to recognize both the good & bad aspects of both of your parents.  Writing these things out may be especially beneficial since written words have the ability to bring clarity that the spoken word often lacks.  Seeing your parents realistically is a healthy thing to do, & sets the stage for your healing.  This isn’t “wallowing in the past” or “blaming parents for everything.”  It is a legitimate & healthy step to take towards healing.

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Being In A Relationship With Someone Who Is Extremely Independent

Being extremely independent is looked upon as a good thing by most people.  There are times when it can be a very good thing, like when it comes from a position of faith that God will help you to do anything you need to do rather than putting faith in people.  Sadly, it also can be a problematic trauma response.  I know this since this is why I tend to be overly independent in many ways.

When someone grows up with an abusive parent or two, they learn very early in life that people can’t be trusted.  After all, if someone who was supposed to love, care for & protect you is untrustworthy, how can anyone be trusted?  That logic absolutely makes sense.  Yet at the same time, it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

A problem with this quality of extreme independence is that it can cause a person to find safety within his or her self & withdraw from other people, even the safe ones.  It pushes people away, whether or not that is the intention. 

Growing up accustomed to being let down by those who are supposed to love us most causes us to realize we don’t need anyone.  We’ll always say that we don’t need help.  We can do this thing without any help.  Even if we truly need help, admitting that fact is very unlikely to happen, which naturally is a problem in so many ways.  Refusing help when it is needed causes a person to make mistakes or even fail at whatever project they are doing.  It also pushes people away, which can damage or even destroy their relationships.

This extreme independence leads to thinking about romantic relationships like, “I don’t need you.  I want you.”  That naturally can be a good thing in some ways, but when you’re married to someone, you need to need your spouse.  God created people to need each other, but in particular their spouse.  That is why when people marry, they should share many qualities, but also be better in some areas than their spouse, & their spouse should be better in other areas than they are.  This kind of couple makes an amazing team with many talents.  They are so much better together than they were independently. 

Another problem of being in a romantic relationship with someone extremely independent is that if you give this person a reason to leave, they will, & the reason doesn’t always have to be a good one.  It can be something simple such as you forgot that you were supposed to go to dinner together one evening.  It isn’t necessarily that the person was looking for an easy way out of the relationship.  It’s more because they are afraid of being let down & hurt yet again.

A person who wants to be in a relationship of any sort, in particular romantic, with someone like this must make their actions align with their words.  After a lifetime of being disappointed by people, if actions don’t continually line up with words, an extremely independent person will leave rather than risk being disappointed frequently yet again.

Being in a relationship with a very independent person can be incredibly challenging, & truly isn’t for everyone.  However, the person who is willing to be understanding, patient & sincere stands a great chance of breaking through the barrier of extreme independence & finding a very loving & loyal partner. Winning the trust of someone extremely independent isn’t easy, & it won’t be taken for granted!

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For Those Who Blindly Support Parents Whose Children Severed Ties With Them

Severing ties with one’s parents is becoming a more common activity.  Sadly, many people abuse do this because of very valid reasons such as their parents are abusive.  Even more sadly though is it seems the parents in these situations get so much more love & support than their children.

Abusive parents in these situations are often very loud with their feelings, anger, lies, justifications but not the truth.  The closest they come to the truth is stating half truths, such as their child severing ties with them.  They fail to share the reasons why their adult child severed ties, only that they did.  That half truth combined with their lies & false accusations mean people listen to them & support them, often blindly.  They pity these poor people who are now getting older, & their own children won’t even help them out.  How selfish & entitled their adult children are, they say.

These same devoted supporters offer not one iota of concern or care for the adult children in these situations.  In a way that makes sense since they believe that the adult children in question are such horrid people as to abandon their own parents for no reason whatsoever.  It makes you wonder if these people have any desire to know the truth about what really has happened.

I want to ask these devoted supporters some questions today.

Did it ever occur to you that there are other sides to this story beyond the side you heard from the abandoned parent?  You have heard ONE side to this story only.  Why is that acceptable to you? 

Do you realize that abusive people create a false persona that they show to other people & only their victims see their abusive, evil side?  It’s true.  Look at well known serial killers.  Ted Bundy was described as charming, Jeffrey Dahmer as quiet & John Wayne Gacy as a pillar of the community. 

Did you ever take two seconds to question why any child, no matter their age, would abandon their parent?  While it’s true, some people abandon people in their lives for no valid reason, they are in the vast minority.  The majority of people have valid reasons for ending relationships, in particular those closest to them.

Did it ever occur to you that someone ending a relationship, in particular such a close one as the parent/child relationship, almost never does so on a whim?  When people end relationships of any sort, thought goes into it.  The closer the relationship, the more thought is going to go into ending that relationship.  The adult child who goes no contact with a parent may have done so in a way that appears sudden, but rest assured, PLENTY of thought went into that action prior to following through with it.  Sometimes what triggers no contact isn’t the worst act the abusive parent has done.  Instead, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If the parent in this situation is so upset about their child “abandoning” them, why did they not treat that child better in the first place in the hopes of preventing this from happening one day?

Do you realize that no contact is different than the silent treatment?  Someone who gives the silent treatment will speak to that person they swore never to speak to again, then stop speaking to them, then start speaking to them, & stop, & the cycle repeats.  No contact is as its name states – no contact.  When someone truly goes no contact, they block all access to someone & refuse to interact with them on a permanent basis.  This is done to protect themselves.  The silent treatment is so wishy washy because it is all about manipulation.  It is done to punish someone, & when they have begged & pleaded enough, they will be allowed to return to the person’s life until their next transgression.  If you look at the person’s behavior that has stopped speaking to their parent, you can tell the difference very easily.  No contact is a healthy & even Godly option, unlike the silent treatment.

Where is your concern for real victims?  Do you have any?  It would do you well to spent less time trying to shame victims into returning to an abusive situation & more time showing them compassion & love.

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When Narcissistic In-Laws Say “You Stole My Son Or Daughter!”

In the years I’ve been writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’ve talked to lots of people.  As if my own experience didn’t teach me enough, I’ve learned a lot more from the wonderful people who shared their stories with me.

One of the things I’ve learned about people with narcissistic in-laws is what I want to talk to you about today.

Narcissistic in-laws often are cruel to the spouse of their adult child in countless ways.  One of them is shaming that person for having complete control over their adult child.  This often manifests for others in the same way it did for me.  Like many others with narcissistic in-laws, I was accused of “stealing” my husband & keeping him from his family. 

For the sake of simplicity & also because it’s just fun to say it this way, I will refer to the accusers as “in-laws” & those of us who supposedly steal someone from their family as “outlaws.” 

Narcissistic in-laws must have things their way in every area, including in their children’s lives.  Many would prefer that child not marry, so that way, there is no interference in the control they have over their adult children.  If he or she does marry however, they need to marry someone of which the in-laws approve.  Marrying someone who doesn’t meet up to the in-laws’ standards means things will get ugly, in particular for the outlaw. 

In addition to the frequent scathing criticisms, excluding & shunning the outlaw, & a thousand other ways they let the outlaw know they are not good enough for this family. One thing almost all narcissistic parent in-laws or narcissistic siblings will say is that the outlaw stole the victim from his or her family.  Outlaws like me who are accused of this are almost always shocked since they are hardly controlling people, let alone manipulative enough to control their spouse.  Yet, the accusation is said anyway.

Chances are, when this outlaw talks to their spouse, the victim of the in-laws, he or she will defend the in-laws, minimize their behavior or even deny it entirely.  Naturally this causes a lot of problems in the marriage.

If you are in this situation of being an outlaw as I have been, I know it’s hard.  You definitely will need some ways to cope while minimizing the chances of the in-laws getting their way & destroying your marriage.

When you & your spouse discuss the in-laws, maintain a calm demeanor as much as you possibly can.  Showing your anger will make your spouse feel he or she must defend & protect the in-laws.  Staying calm minimizes the possibility of that happening so you can have an actual discussion about the problem.

Use logic & ask questions when your spouse defends the in-laws.  It is totally reasonable to ask why your spouse thinks it’s acceptable for your in-laws to do what they do to you both.  Ask why he or she doesn’t consider their behavior disrespectful to you, your spouse & your marriage.  Ask for examples of the bad behavior they accuse you of doing.  Expect answers, & don’t let your spouse avoid giving them.  Being forced to think about these things will hurt, so he or she most likely won’t want to give them, but it is vital.  He or she needs to see the truth of the situation in order to deal with it correctly.

If your spouse refuses to see the truth, you may be forced to sever all ties with the in-laws.  It won’t make your spouse happy, but you must protect your mental health & avoid these toxic people.  If you must do this, stick to your convictions & refuse to talk to them at all while not telling your spouse that they must choose you or their family.  The person who gives the ultimatum on these situations almost always ends up abandonded, which is why I say that. 

Most of all, pray, pray, pray!  In such a delicate situation, you need God’s wisdom & for Him to guide your timing & words.  Leaning on Him is the smartest thing you can do in this situation.

I truly wish you all the best in your situation, & am praying for you!

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When Your Family Refuses To See You As Anything But A Dysfunctional Child

When you grew up in a dysfunctional family, one of the most frustrating parts of it is that your family never sees you as a mature, independent adult.  If you have done your best to escape the dysfunction & live in a healthier way &/or have decided to live your life for Jesus, this is especially common & frustrating.  The dysfunctional family never will see you as a healthy, God fearing adult.  Instead they only see you as the dysfunctional child you once were.

This is so incredibly frustrating!  Even when you know that they’re content remaining in their dysfunction, it seems like they could at least acknowledge that you have changed.  Even if they disagree with your changes, that doesn’t seem like to much to ask, yet sadly it really is for the most dysfunctional of people. 

People who are content living their dysfunctional lives hate those who are a threat to it in any way.  Anyone who doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction obviously is a problem.  Anyone who is a part of this toxic family & doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction is especially problematic for such people.

A member of such a family who dares to live their life in such a way as to be different from the family or the family’s expectations for them is absolutely a problem for these people.  That behavior is seen as being rebellious or even betraying the family.  It’s as if they think, how dare someone be so arrogant & think that they’re so much better than the family as to live life on their own terms rather than fit onto the mold the family has made for them!

Even Jesus faced this problem.  His own family didn’t take Him or His work seriously.  Imagine that.  The family of Jesus didn’t take Him seriously!  Isn’t that amazing?!  In Matthew 13:57-58 in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, “And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief.”

If you’re from a dysfunctional family & they treat you as they always have in spite of you growing up, getting healthier & even turning to God, then you are truly not alone!  Even Jesus experienced this.

I know it hurts when your own family treats you so poorly.  It can seem like the best choice would be to return to your old, dysfunctional ways so they stop mistreating you, but I promise you, that isn’t best!  I have been in this position since my family never saw me as anyone but the dysfunctional, blindly obedient & foolish child I once was.  Returning to those behaviors may have made them tolerate me, but I would have been miserable!  What is best is to keep walking the path that you know God has for you.

It also helps to remember that when people treat you in such a manner, it isn’t personal.  It literally has nothing to do with you, even though it certainly feels personal.  It has everything to do with the person behaving this way, their toxicity & their desire to avoid becoming healthier at all costs.  They are so truly toxic that they have zero problem with hurting another person if that will protect their dysfunctional ways & help them to avoid facing what made them this way.  That is pretty terrible!  There is no shame in being dysfunctional of course, so long as you are willing to work on it & improve yourself!  Being determined to live that way forever, no matter how much pain it causes other people, however, is absolutely toxic.

If at all possible, your best bet it to avoid such people.  If that isn’t possible, then do your best to minimize contact with them, stay true to yourself & your beliefs, & never forget to ask God to help you find creative & effective ways of dealing with such people.

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Baiting Tactics And Ways To Cope

Some people thrive on getting attention, whether it is positive or negative.  Love them or hate them, either is great as far as they are concerned, just don’t ignore them!  In fact, that need for attention is one of the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

One way they get this attention is by something called baiting.  Baiting is anything said or done to provoke a strong emotional reaction.  Behaving this way gives a baiting person a feeling of strength, because they possess such control over another person as to provoke them into very strong reactions.

Baiting is most commonly used by either covert narcissists or elderly narcissists.  It is effective, easy for them to do, subtle & offers plausible deniability to the baiting person.  They often claim they had no idea what they said would upset their victim or the victim took it wrong.  It also can be a useful way for the baiting person to make their victim look bad to other people.  These people quietly will say something cruel to upset their victim when others are around, so when the victim gets noticeably upset, others see the victim as irrational or yelling at the baiting person while that baiting person remains quiet & calm.  To those who don’t know what was said, the victim looks like the problem, ill tempered or even crazy while the baiting person appears to be the rational one.

There are many ways baiting is accomplished, & some of those tactics are as follows:

The baiting person may accuse their victim of something that is completely out of character & offensive to them, such as illegal behavior, cheating on their spouse or abusing their pets or children.  The shock value combined with the offensive nature of the insults easily can trigger someone into reacting badly & the baiting person may at this point accuse their victim of being mentally unbalanced. 

The baiting person also may “accidentally” damage something important to their victim.  Maybe they drop a treasured & fragile family heirloom or park beside their victim’s classic car & when they open the door, hit the victim’s car with their door.  Anyone in this situation naturally would be absolutely furious, yet the baiting person appears innocent because what they did didn’t look intentional.

A baiting person also will love insulting something their victim loves.  I have the most experience with this one.  Both my mother & mother in-law loved to insult my cats & my cars, both of which always have been very important to me.  My mother usually said her cruel comments very quietly & calmly so when I got upset, I looked irrational to anyone around us.  My mother in-law preferred no witnesses, so if I told anyone what she said, no one believed me because they never saw her treat me that way.

Another tactic of a baiting person is to hint that they have something to tell you that will hurt your feelings, & say they don’t want to upset you by telling you that thing.  Basically they make their victim feel obligated to say, “It’s ok.  You can tell me.”  They then dump that pain on their victim, & then enjoy that person’s pain, comfortable that the victim brought it on themselves.  After all, they think, the baiting person warned the victim, so they aren’t to blame for his or her pain.

Baiting triggers a person’s adrenaline & fight or flight responses to kick in, which is why it can be so challenging.  You can handle it though!  Immediately, inhale deeply, then exhale to give your mind & body a moment to calm down.  In that moment, ask God for help, too.  My simple prayers of “HELP!” proved surprisingly helpful plenty of times.

Remember what is happening.  Someone is trying to upset you as a way to make them feel better about themselves.  Don’t give that person the satisfaction.  Do NOT react.  Stay calm.  The less you react, the less likely it is this person will use this tactic again with you.  Once away from this person though, vent however helps you to feel better.  Holding in such negative emotions for a long period of time is unhealthy.

If at all possible, leave this person or hang up the phone immediately.  Say you just remembered something you have to do & go.  This isn’t a lie – you just remembered that you have to protect yourself from such volatility!

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

No family is perfect, but some families are less perfect than others.  Many of those “less perfect” families are downright dysfunctional & even abusive.  Today I’m sharing signs of the dysfunctional & abusive family.

Parentification is a big indicator of a dysfunctional & abusive family situation.  This is when the parent & child roles are reversed, & the child is supposed to care for the parent.  Children in this position are supposed to do things no child should have to do, such as being their parent’s emotional caregiver including such inappropriate things as listening to their parent’s woes about their marital problems or sex life, nurse them back to health after a hangover or overdose, or even care for younger siblings as a parent should do.  Parentified children are often described as growing up so fast because their role has forced them to behave as adults rather than allowing them to be children.  They also lack healthy boundaries, tolerate one sided relationships & continue to keep their parents as their top priority over their spouse, children & even themselves.  When they are growing up, people on the outside often think these children & their parents are close, & praise this relationship.  This leads the child to feel confused & even ashamed that they are unhappy with this role.

Unmet needs are another sign of a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.  Children have a lot of needs that go beyond the basic food, clothing & shelter such as nurturing, teaching & caring for their emotional health.  Many abusive parents meet those basic needs, yet neglect those other important needs.  Children who grow up this way have trouble with being inappropriately clingy in relationships & overly dependent or they go the opposite way & become very cold & aloof.  Either way causes problems in their relationships.

Unrealistic expectations definitely point to a dysfunctional & abusive family.  Some parents hold their children to higher standards than adults.  Those children are never allowed to be in a bad mood or fail a test, yet their parents are allowed to yell or even hit the child just because they had a bad day at work or someone cut them off in traffic.  This puts incredible stress on the child who feels they must be perfect as a way to earn their parent’s love.

Parents who often fight in front of their child are creating a very dysfunctional & abusive situation.  I grew up this way, & can tell you from experience it is a horrible way to grow up!  I felt so insecure when my parents fought & also like I should do something to help them stop fighting.  This is so typical of how children in this situation feel.  It leads to these children feeling intense anxiety at any hint of conflict & also feeling overly responsible for the other people in their lives, as if they must take care of those people.

People who grow up in such environments grow into dysfunctional adults with a lot of relationship troubles.  They may become controlling people who will do anything or hurt anyone they deem necessary to avoid further pain.  More commonly though, they also may go the exact opposite way & become extremely submissive.  They become people pleasers who will do anything for anyone even at the expense of themselves. 

If any of this describes you, please remember some things.

You are only responsible for yourself.  You are not responsible for meeting the needs of other people.  Yes, you can help them, but doing so to the extent of harming yourself is dysfunctional. 

There is nothing wrong or bad about caring for yourself & having reasonable boundaries.  You need to take care of yourself just as much as & even more than you are willing to do for other people.

Family shouldn’t demand all of your time, energy, finances, etc.

Healthy relationships are a two way street.  Toxic relationships are not.  They take while giving nothing or almost nothing back.

Love should be unconditional, never conditional.  In other words, someone should love you based on who you are, not what you do for them.  Conditional love is one of the hallmarks of abusers.

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Feeling Burdened By Others After Growing Up With An Emotionally Incestuous/Enmeshed/Parentalizing Parent

Growing up with a parent who treats you more as their romantic partner rather than their child is extremely traumatic.  It is referred to as emotional incest, enmeshment, covert incest, parentalizing & parentification, & it’s a form of sexual abuse whether or not sexual contact is a part of this abuse.  It creates a LOT of serious problems in the lives of victims.  Today, we will focus on only one of those problems – feeling burdened by other people.

The person who grows up with an emotionally incestuous parent has spent their entire life focused on their parent.  Their parent is their top priority in childhood, & even into adulthood until they recognize this is a problem.  They listen to their parent’s woes (in particular about their marriage or relationship), they try to cheer them up when they are sad, fix their problems, protect them if the other parent is abusive, & basically anything else their parent wants them to do no matter the personal cost.  After a lifetime of this dysfunctional caregiving, it is natural to feel burned out on doing for other people.  The problem is that natural or not, it is damaging to other relationships.

No one wants to be in a relationship with another person that is totally one sided.  Whatever type of relationship this is, whether it is romantic, family or friendship, this type of relationship is miserable & dysfunctional.  Doing with receiving nothing in return is fine once in a while, but when it is the norm, it is depressing, will lead to a lot of resentment & most likely the relationship will end.

Similarly, no one wants to be married to someone knowing that their parent always will be more important to them, that the demanding parent’s needs always come first, that they are looked at as an intruder & feeling like anything they want from their spouse is a huge burden while anything the parent wants is done without complaint.  It is a miserable way to live, & the majority of people will divorce a spouse like this.

If you are a victim of emotional incest, please know that by continuing to tolerate this abuse from your parent, this is what you are doing to those people in relationships with you.  I am not telling you this to hurt you, only to open your eyes of the damage being done & the unfairness of it all.  People who love you don’t deserve to feel this way.  It’s not fair to them.  It also is not fair to you for your parent to treat you so badly & for that parent to do so much harm to you that you are damaging relationships with people you love. 

And, if you are still in this situation with your parent, please do your best to put an end to it.  Start setting limits & boundaries on what you will & won’t tolerate from your parent.  It can be intimidating to do this at first so start small.  Don’t take their call or reply to their text right away.  It’s a baby step that helps you to take back some of your power.  Do more & bigger things as you feel able to do them.  It may take some time, but you will become able to stop tolerating their behavior.  The more you do this, the less burdened you will feel in general, which means the more you will be able to give back in your relationships.

Get to know yourself better.  Chances are, you didn’t have much time for that because caring for your parent took up too much of your time.  It’s long overdue.  Get to know the real you, not the person your parent wants you to be.  It’ll help you in many ways, including learning what you are willing & unwilling to tolerate in the relationship with your parent.

Get angry about what your parent has done to you.  You have every reason to be angry, because treating anyone this way is simply cruel & wrong!  You never deserved it!  Allow yourself to feel that anger & vent it in healthy ways like prayer, talking to someone close to you, journaling, or even talking to a therapist.

And never forget that you do have one loving parent.  God is the most loving parent you could hope to have.  Talk to Him about what is going on.  Lean on him to help you heal, figure out the best way to handle this relationship with your abusive parent, & to help heal damaged relationships.  He absolutely will do it.

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When People Are Overly Defensive

Sometimes people can be very defensive.  The least little comment can be taken completely out of context, leaving the commenter baffled, wondering what just happened & how what they said could be taken so differently than how it was meant.  Defensiveness obviously is very damaging in relationships, yet it happens all the time.

Defensiveness comes in many forms.  It can appear as avoiding discussing a matter, denying what has been said, verbal attacks, lying or gaslighting.  To sum it up, defensive behaviors send the message that the person confronting is wrong, is the problem, or behaving in an inappropriate manner.

This sort of behavior shows that defensive people have control issues & believe that anyone confronting them is a threat.  They are clearly uncomfortable with emotions, & that means they are uncomfortable not only with their own but those of other people.  This makes them very impulsive & fast with their reactions.  They don’t think things through in a balanced way & they tend to avoid too much emotional closeness with others.

When someone gets defensive, survival instincts can kick in, which is why they behave as they do.  The defensive person is acting this way in the hopes of avoiding accountability & to make the person that is confronting them back down to protect their ego.

Please don’t misunderstand me at this point.  I’m not saying that defending yourself is always wrong or a product of dysfunctional thinking.  Far from it.  It is reasonable to defend yourself sometimes.  What is NOT reasonable is to jump on someone who confronts you the moment they say something you don’t like.  A functional person weighs what is being said & if the other person is right, admits it then makes appropriate changes in their behavior.  Or if the other person is wrong, a functional person defends their behavior.  If the other person is using criticism as a means of control, a functional person may not defend themselves but instead limit or end the relationship.

Back to the original topic..

If you are in a situation with someone who is being overly defensive, if at all possible take a moment to inhale deeply then exhale slowly.  This action calms your mind &

body which allows you to respond rather than react.  It also gives you a moment to pray for guidance on how to handle the situation.  If you feel yourself still feeling unable to handle the situation in a calm manner, then try getting away from this situation for a few moments.  You can say something like, “I need a couple of minutes.  I’ll be right back”.

Also, don’t tell the defensive person that they are being defensive.  This only makes such a person more hot headed, most likely because they have heard this comment before.  Hearing it again triggers their anger at someone who sees through their behavior for what it is.  Remain calm & as emotionless as possible.  Remember the Gray Rock method that helps dealing with narcissists?  That also is appropriate in this situation, whether or not the defensive person is a narcissist.  If you are calm & unemotional, the defensive person may feel less threatened & calm down as well.  If the defensive person is a narcissist, they may become more agitated.  Their reaction will help you to determine the best way to deal with this person & also whether or not to continue this relationship.

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When People Blame Others For The Trauma They Experience

Extremely dysfunctional people often have a very bad habit.  They find ways to blame the innocent for cruelty or even abuse others inflict on them.  These are the people who ask someone what they said to make their spouse hit them, criticize a woman’s choice of clothing on the day someone raped her, or say things like, “I don’t know why you two just can’t get along” in a shaming tone when someone says their elderly parent is abusive.  They also may minimize the trauma, invalidate the person’s feelings about it or even deny it happened altogether.

This bad habit isn’t simply dysfunctional for the person who behaves this way.  It’s also exceedingly cruel to the people they say such comments to & treat so poorly.  Saying such things is shaming, & it implies someone deserves whatever trauma has happened to them, brought the abuse on themselves & are to blame for not turning an abusive relationship into a good one.  Of course, such words aren’t spoken directly, but the implications are still there.  To someone who has suffered trauma & is in the vulnerable position of admitting that to someone else, this behavior can make a person feel ashamed for suffering, not preventing the trauma or even bringing it on themselves.  Minimizing, invalidating & denying trauma also are cruel, because they make a person feel ashamed of themselves for feeling as they do.  They feel they are wrong, flawed or even crazy when subjected to someone who minimizes, invalidates & denies the trauma. 

When a dysfunctional person treats an innocent person this way, they have their own reasons for doing so, & those reasons are never healthy.

This person may be on good terms with the abuser, & doesn’t want to think they could be so close to someone who is so cruel.  Admitting someone you think highly of is in reality a toxic monster isn’t exactly pleasant of course.  Blaming someone for making the person they care about behave badly is much easier for people like this to handle.

Some are simply cowardly.  To support victims, you have to do things.  You offer them compassion, caring, kindness, & support.  You listen to their horror stories because it helps them to talk about it.  Blaming an innocent person makes what happened to them something they deserved, & in that case, they don’t deserve any of the things that victims deserve.  It’s much easier than supporting someone who has been traumatized.

Some of these extremely dysfunctional people have experienced their own trauma, & you facing your trauma offends them.  It reminds them of pain they want to forget, which makes them extremely uncomfortable.  Or, they see you facing your pain & feel cowardly for not facing their own.  They don’t take this as a sign that it’s time to start facing their pain.  Instead they try to shut down the victim.  That is why they say such cruel things.  Their goal is to stop this person from making them feel things that they have worked very hard to avoid feeling.  Shaming someone is a very quick & effective way to accomplish that.

If you have experienced being treated this way, my heart goes out to you.  It’s not fair or right in any way.  Please never forget though that it has absolutely nothing to do with you.  There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to discuss what happened to you.  There is, however, something very wrong with someone who is willing to treat someone who has been traumatized so poorly.  Don’t let their dysfunction determine how you feel about what happened to you.  You know the truth about the situation.  You were there.  You lived through that & are living with the aftermath of it.  The cruel person who treated you so badly wasn’t.  This means they don’t know nearly as much as they think they do, so why would you seriously consider anything they have to say on the matter?  There is no good reason to!

Rather than taking their cruelty to heart, ignore them.  Focus on taking good care of yourself & your healing, & leave the dysfunctional to their dysfunction.

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Boundaries Are Good For Everyone!

Dysfunctional people, especially narcissists, often believe that giving someone everything they want & doing anything they want is what it means to love & honor someone. They even claim it’s not Godly to say no.

This couldn’t be more wrong though!

Romans 15:2 in the Amplified Bible says, “Let each one of us [make it a practice to] please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually..”

Did you notice what that verse says?  It says we should please our neighbor “for his good.”  That alone proves that not everything that can be done for someone is for their own good.  But, even if you don’t believe the Scripture, simply observing those who have gotten their way about nearly everything shows you that isn’t good.  People who are very accustomed to getting their own way are very arrogant & entitled.  They can be extremely demanding of others & have virtually no respect for the time & needs of others.  Worst of all, they also can be narcissists.  It’s very good for people not to get their own way all of the time. 

It’s also good for people not to do for others all of the time, because those who are catered to will come to expect that.  They can become very entitled & demanding rather than appreciating all someone does for them or returning the favor.

For victims of narcissistic abuse, saying no creates a great deal of shame.  Narcissists train their victims to do whatever they want with no regard to the victim’s own needs, wants or feelings. They also make sure their victims know how selfish & terrible they are if they consider their needs, wants or feelings rather than only the narcissist’s.  After being berated for being so terrible enough times, any normal person in this situation learns to avoid having any boundaries, & simply do whatever the narcissist wants in order to avoid trouble.  It seems to be the easier alternative to being shamed for having boundaries.  

After years or even a lifetime of being forced to go along with whatever the narcissist wants, setting boundaries seems almost impossible, & I don’t mean only with the narcissist.  It can seem impossible to have boundaries with anyone.  It can be done though!

As always, I recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you learn how to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  Ask Him for strength & wisdom & anything else you need in this area.

Start small.  Don’t be available every single time someone wants to speak to you.  Let the phone ring sometimes.  Don’t answer that email or text immediately.  If you must get together with someone, suggest a different time or even day than they want.  These tiny steps can help you to gain confidence & set bigger boundaries. 

Remind yourself often that it isn’t your job to please other people.  It is your job to please other people according to what is good for them, according to Romans 15:2.  Sometimes what is good for someone is doing things for them & being a blessing, but other times what is good for someone is saying no or forcing them to handle something without your assistance.

Don’t let other people make you feel as if you’re a terrible person for having boundaries & telling them “no” sometimes!  That is certainly NOT the case!

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Highly Functional Versus Highly Dysfunctional

Many people have heard the term “highly functional.”  Highly functional can happen in all kinds of ways.  Someone with high functioning anxiety or depression battles their disorder, yet is also able to hold down a job & have relationships.  Someone who is high functioning with a physical condition similarly performs at a higher level than others with the exact same condition.

Interestingly, recently when I was praying, God taught me the term “highly dysfunctional.”  I assumed this would mean someone who is very dysfunctional, but it isn’t exactly what He meant.  Highly dysfunctional means someone who is intensely dysfunctional, continues to avoid facing their own issues, hurts others & himself or herself because of it, yet lives a rather normal life.

An example of a highly dysfunctional person can be that coworker who everyone likes because she is always willing to go over & above, take on extra shifts, & cover for coworkers who need last minute time off while rarely taking time off for herself.  Another example can be the guy whose family treats him poorly, yet he defends them fanatically to his wife when she objects to their treatment of him. 

People like this aren’t the type to cause other people pain deliberately, yet they hurt themselves & other people all the time.  That coworker I used as an example can spend so much time focusing on her job that she has no time or energy left for herself or those who love her.  She ends up resentful & exhausted, possibly also with physical & mental health problems because she hasn’t achieved balance between work & her personal life.  The other example?  That man causes his wife tremendous pain because although it isn’t intentional, his behavior continually proves to her that his family is much more important to him than their marriage. 

Highly dysfunctional people usually have no idea that what they are doing is such a problem until they are faced with undeniable proof of the problem, such as her health problems or his divorce.  And sadly, by then, the damage is often irreparable. 

They also usually don’t understand why anyone complains about their behavior since usually, it doesn’t look bad.  Consider my examples again.  The woman in the example could be seen has having a good work ethic & the man could be seen as a loving son to his aging parents.  The highly dysfunctional don’t recognize that the truth is that the woman was raised to be a doormat by her abusive parents, or that the man in the example is a grown man who is still trying to gain the approval of his narcissistic parents that have made him believe he is only worthy of their love when he does what they want him to do.

If you are a highly dysfunctional person, there is truly hope for you!  You are going to have to face the truth about your life & what has made you dysfunctional.  I know this is hard, but it really is possible!  I believe a close relationship with God to be vital in all areas, but in particular with emotional healing.  Ask Him to help you to be strong & courageous enough to face whatever you must, to show you what areas you need healing & how to work on that healing.  Also look to Him for validation, not other people, & ask Him to help you to learn to validate yourself.  Doing these things will help you to become so much healthier & happier!

People in relationships with highly dysfunctional people also need to take care of themselves, especially if the highly dysfunctional person doesn’t recognize their dysfunction.  Highly dysfunctional people may not do it intentionally, but they still gaslight their loved ones by normalizing their behavior & criticizing healthy behavior.  You need to have a firm grip on what you know is healthy, right & true so as not to fall for their gaslighting.  They are very convicted in what they think, & it can be hard not to believe what they say, especially if that person is someone close to you like a spouse.  

It’s also important to remind yourself often that it is their right to function out of their dysfunction.  You can’t force them to get healthier.  That being said, you don’t have to validate it or tolerate what hurts you.  Have healthy boundaries & cling to the truth.  Give this person consequences rather than excuse their dysfunctional behavior.  Excuses won’t help anyone.  Consequences encourage change without being controlling.  And never forget to pray about how best to handle your situation & ask God for any help you need.  He will be glad to help you.

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Admitting Your Relationship Is Abusive

People often struggle with admitting a relationship they are in is abusive.  They may say they don’t get along with someone, or that person is difficult, but the word “abusive” may be too hard for them to say. 

Although it may sound strange, I certainly understand it.  Admitting something makes it more real in the mind, & sometimes that thing is so painful, you don’t want it to be real.  When my granddad died, for a year after his death, I couldn’t say the words that he had died.  It hurt too much, & I didn’t want that to be real.  I wanted things as they had been, when we had such a loving & close relationship.  Losing what had been hurt tremendously, & felt like it was too painful to face.  Admitting a relationship you are in is abusive is very similar.  You want things to be like they once were, when things were good.  It hurts so much to admit that now, things aren’t like that anymore & in fact, they are really bad. 

I want you to know today that it’s ok to admit you are in an abusive relationship.  In fact, it is a good thing.  It is your first step to freedom from the abuse.

Being in an abusive relationship or even several abusive relationships doesn’t mean there is something terribly wrong with you.  Many other people have been in abusive relationships in their life.  It’s perfectly ok to admit that someone you love abuses you.  It is not a bad reflection on you!

Abusive people are known for making themselves irresistible to those they lure into romantic relationships.  They can appear charming, kind, & caring.  They can appear to share your beliefs, morals, likes & dislikes.  They claim their chosen victim is the one they’ve been waiting for their entire life, they have never met anyone as wonderful as their victim, & generally sweep their victim off their feet quickly, leaving them little or no time to recognize signs pointing to how toxic they truly are.  They are extremely skilled at just how to make themselves the most appealing to their victims & hiding their true selves.  By the time the abuser reveals his or her true self to the victim, the victim is head over heals in love with the abuser.  The victim doesn’t want to see that horrible true self or admit their abuser is truly abusive rather than the wonderful person he or she was at first.  Feeling that way is completely normal.  It still doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with or bad about admitting this relationship you are in is abusive, though.

Abusers also are extremely skilled at convincing their victims that they are the true problem in the relationship, not the abuser.  Abusers work very hard to get their victims to believe this so they can continue being abusive & their victims won’t protest.  Victims often believe that this is the case, that somehow they make the abuser hurt them.  That is never true however!  No one can force anyone to abuse them.  The choice to abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers, never on victims.  Since you have nothing to be ashamed of, this means it’s perfectly ok to admit your relationship is abusive.

If you are in a bad relationship that you are hesitant to admit is abusive in spite of evidence of abuse, I want you to know it’s ok to admit it is abusive.  I know it will hurt by making that fact seem more real, but it will be worth it.  Once you accept that reality, you can decide what to do about the relationship from there & begin to heal.  The truth really does set us free in so many ways, & this is one of those ways.  Set yourself free & admit that your relationship is abusive. 

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Habits Of People With Anxiety

Living with anxiety is so incredibly difficult for many reasons.  Following are some of those reasons that most of us don’t usually think about.

Feeling relaxed makes anxiety worse.  When you are accustomed to living in a state of hyper-vigilance, feeling relaxed is very abnormal.  It can make you feel so abnormal that you immediately return to your anxious state.  If at all possible when this happens, remind yourself that there is no reason to be anxious at this time.  Take a few deep breaths & focus on how they make your body feel.  This calms the mind & body.  If you can, enjoy feeling relaxed as much as you possibly can.

External validation is of the utmost importance.  Everyone needs validation.  That’s simply how God made people.  Anxious people crave it like oxygen, because we don’t trust our decisions & have such an incredible amount of self doubt.  However people, being imperfect beings, will fail to give you all of the validation that you need.  Learning to validate yourself is so important!  Doing so requires a great deal of leaning on God & questioning yourself to decide if your beliefs are truly yours or those of some dysfunctional, abusive person. 

You are an expert at hiding your anxiety.  People with anxiety know how awkward & uncomfortable we can make other people feel.  Rather than do that, we learn to hide our anxiety to the best of our ability.  Some of us become so skilled at this, others have no idea we live with anxiety.  This isn’t always a bad thing, since some situations are made worse when someone recognizes another’s anxiety.  There are also times when it will behoove you to let someone safe know that you are struggling & ask them for help.

Along those same lines, we also hide our emotions.  Hiding emotions seems to be a natural side bar of hiding anxiety.  People may think we are naturally happy or even confident.  They see what we portray ourselves as, not the bundle of negative emotions that we truly are inside.  Similar to hiding anxiety, this can be beneficial in some situations but there also is nothing wrong with showing them to safe people & asking for help if needed.

Overthinking is normal to people with anxiety.  Overthinking can be beneficial.  When you’re packing for a trip, it helps to pack if you consider every possible scenario in that trip.  You’ll think of bringing things with you that you might not have considered otherwise.  But, overthinking in day to day life?  Not always so beneficial.  It only adds to anxiety that is already there.  When it happens, if at all possible, it’s best to take a little time to yourself.  Breathe slowly & deeply in & out a few times.  This slows down the mind & heart rate, which allows you to think more logically about the situation.  Often, it shows you that what you’re overthinking doesn’t require nearly so much thought.  Or it helps you to get a grasp on the fact that something is completely beyond your control, so there is no point in worrying about it.

Lastly, some folks with anxiety depend on certain inanimate objects to feel comforted & safe.  Remember as a child how you felt safest when you had that special teddy bear, blanket or baby doll?  That happen in adulthood now too, except now, it’s ear buds, cell phone, purse, wallet or something else.  I don’t know why this is exactly, because logically you know they won’t protect you.  Yet somehow, leaving home without this security item can lead to downright panic.  I barely even use my cell phone but if I leave home without it, I feel absolutely lost. 

If you exhibit any of these behaviors, know you’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  You simply are showing signs of having anxiety.  Work on them as you feel able to & pray for God’s help in healing.  They can improve in time!  I promise!

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When Abused Children Trust People Too Easily

When a child is abused by their parents, that child naturally grows up with plenty of issues.  They lack a healthy foundation as well as good teaching, so this is understandable.

One area in which abused children tend to struggle greatly is when it comes to trusting people.

Many abused children grow up distrustful of others, in particular adults.  Considering the only adults in their lives have caused them pain & suffering, it’s totally understandable.  It’s also a very common occurrence. 

What is less common is when abused children go the exact opposite but equally dysfunctional direction, & they trust people very easily.  The constant gaslighting, being told everything you believe, think & feel is wrong will do this to a person.  The burdens narcissistic parents put on their children of feeling like your purpose in life is to do for others & be responsible for their happiness adds to this problem.  I know, because this is how I grew up.

This abuse convinced me that any instincts I had were wrong.  If I felt someone wasn’t a good person or simply disliked a person, my mother would tell me I was wrong.  On the opposite side of the same coin, if I liked someone she didn’t, I was also wrong because she clearly knew better than me.  If I had a falling out with a friend, she told me, “to have a friend, you have to be one.”  Basically that translated to, “You’re always wrong!  You need to let people treat you however they like without complaint or protest.”  This taught me that my instincts were always wrong, that other people were always right, it was my job to blindly obey them, & tolerate any treatment, even abuse, without complaint.  So as a result, for years, I blindly trusted people. 

One former friend of mine said, upon first meeting, “We’re going to be best friends!”  I accepted that, & we were close for quite some time.  I did like her, but our personalities were very different.  She also was a rather needy friend.  Too needy for my introverted self, but I hung in there for years because I felt obligated to do so.

A few months before marrying my ex husband, I broke up with him.  People told me how miserable he was without me & that I should get back together with him.  He would call me at work & tell me the same thing.  I relented, & married him in spite of not being in love with him, & wanting to marry someone else.

Do my scenarios sound at all similar to situations in your life?  If they do, then I want you to rest assured, there is hope!

Prayer truly is the best place to start. Talk to God about whatever you feel, & ask Him to guide you.  Ask Him for healthy relationships & to spot red flags quickly so you don’t waste time with toxic people.

Start listening to your gut feelings.  If something feels off about someone, pay attention to that!  Observe this person & in time, you will understand what triggered this feeling. 

And, if something feels especially good about someone, the same thing goes.  Observe.  Their actions will tell you why that feeling was there. 

The more you learn to observe others & listen to your instincts, the healthier your relationships will be & the more wise you will be when it comes to trusting people.

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Getting Back Your Zest For Life After Narcissistic Abuse

Like so many other victims of narcissistic abuse, I spent most of my life trying to be less me to please other people.  I think of it like I was trying to shrink myself to please other people.  I became less opinionated.  I turned away from things that I liked that they didn’t approve of in favor of things they thought I should.  I tried changing my appearance too, dressing differently, coloring my hair & losing weight. 

Eventually I realized just how ridiculous this was.  Changing to please people who demand you change never works.  The one demanding the changes is never pleased, & the one doing the changing is miserable because they aren’t being true to themselves.  I could see no good reason to continue this behavior, so I stopped it.  I figured let people be mad at me for it.  They would be anyway!  This was a good decision of course, but it also was only half the battle for me.  I knew who I wasn’t, but I didn’t know who I was.

Over the years I did get to know myself, but still something was lacking.  I wasn’t sure what that something was.  It finally hit me.  I lost my passion, my zest for life.  I certainly can’t be the only person in this position, so I thought sharing what I have learned would be a good idea.

After enduring narcissistic abuse, it can be overwhelming to realize just how much damage has been done to you.  Healing is absolutely possible, but it takes a lot of work & time.  Often, I think it’s a life long process.  It can be easy to get caught up in healing work & not even notice you haven’t got that zest for life you once had.  Or maybe you never had it.  Either way, this should change.  You deserve to enjoy life!

As vital as healing is, it’s also a lot of work!  You need to take time frequent breaks.  They are good for your mental health.  Thinking too much about such intense topics can wear you down, & that is never good.  Take times where you flatly refuse to think about the abuse or focus on your healing.  Instead, do things you enjoy. 

Remember times in your life when you had that zest for life.  Think about them in as much detail as you can.  What were you doing?  What was so enjoyable about the situation?  How exactly did you feel?  Meditate on those times.  Remind yourself that this was you!  You were capable of being that person before, so you can be like that again. 

Consider things that ignite your zest for life & indulge in them often.  If it’s reading a certain genre of books, read all you can find.  If it’s a certain type of music, listen to it often & dance around your home.  If it’s supporting a certain cause, give your best to supporting it in every way you can.

Get creative.  I believe creative outlets to be absolutely vital to enjoying life.  Whatever you enjoy doing, make time to do it often.  I have learned if I don’t set aside time in the evenings to knit, crochet or cross stitch, it doesn’t take long before I become anxious & irritable.  Participating in these creative hobbies I love helps me to enjoy life more while helping my mental health.

The most helpful thing I have found though is the value of maintaining a close relationship to God.  Psalm 16:11 says that in His presence is fullness of joy, & this is so true!  Pray often & remember, God isn’t just God but your father as well.  You can talk to Him familiarly.  I know when your earthly father isn’t good it can be hard to relate to God in this way but it is possible.  Ask Him to help you & remember, He is nothing like your earthly father at all.  He is so much better!

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The Real Truth About Denial

Today’s post admittedly sounds different than my usual posts. I hope you’ll continue reading anyway, because I believe the message is important.

I woke up recently from a nightmare, as I often do.  In it, I was driving a young girl somewhere while she used my phone to call one of my relatives.  As a funny aside, I know in the dream I blocked my number from showing up on the relative’s phone when she called.. just as I would do in real life.  Anyway the phone was on speaker, so I could hear the conversation.  It sounded innocent enough.  I was fairly guarded anyway, because although I haven’t had any negative interactions with this relative, I also haven’t had any positive ones either.  I wasn’t sure if this person was safe or unsafe.  This relative asked to speak to me, & the girl looked at me before answering.  I quietly said, “maybe tomorrow” & she said that to the other person.   Suddenly this person’s demeanor went from normal to viciously trashing me.  She said I was selfish to the core, a spoiled brat & many more awful things that my family has said to & about me.  I grabbed the phone to hang up as I drove & that is the point I woke up. 

It triggered a nasty emotional flashback as I woke up.  It emotionally took me right back to the time when my father was dying, when my family attacked me constantly & daily for his final almost three weeks because I didn’t say goodbye to him.  When I was able to physically calm down a bit, I began to pray, as I often do when I have nightmares.  This turned out to be very interesting.   God not only comforted me as usual, but He also told me some things.

God reminded me of that awful time when my family was attacking me, & how He told me then that they did so partly out of denial.  They wanted to believe my father was a great guy, our family was great & I was the problem.  Me not saying goodbye threatened their denial, which is mostly why they were so cruel to me at that time.

He also told me about facing truth opposed to living in denial.  He said denial isn’t simply a poor coping skill.  It comes straight from the devil himself.  Denial is about lying to yourself rather than facing the truth.  Since the enemy hates truth, of course something coming from him would embrace lies & reject truth.  John 8:44 in the Living Bible says, “For you are the children of your father the devil and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and a hater of truth—there is not an iota of truth in him. When he lies, it is perfectly normal; for he is the father of liars..” 

People who are deeply entrenched in denial hate anyone who is a threat to it, & will do anything to protect it.  The reason being, God said, is that they become “entwined” with the enemy.  I found that choice of words interesting, so I looked it up to be sure of exactly what it meant.  According to Cambridge dictionary’s website, the definition of entwined is “closely connected or unable to be separated.” 

A person gets into this entwined state so subtly, they fail to recognize it.  It starts out as learning something painful.  Anyone’s natural reaction to pain, physical or emotional, is to pull away from it.  The devil uses this reaction to his advantage.  He convinces people just don’t think about the pain & it won’t hurt anymore.  Simple, subtle & very effective.  This happens repeatedly with other painful things, & the more it happens, the more entwined someone becomes with the enemy.

When a person is deeply entwined with the enemy, they can’t see their bad behavior as bad.  They are so entangled with him that they will not see truth.  They almost never see how their denial hurts other people.  On the rare occasion that they do see it, they are so deceived that they see any person who tries telling the truth as a real problem.  That means they think hurting anyone who tells the truth is acceptable & sometimes even a good thing to do.  With my situation that I mentioned earlier, God showed me at that time that my family truly thought they were doing the right & even Godly thing by trying to harass, bully & shame me into saying goodbye to my father.

Being involved this way with the enemy doesn’t mean they aren’t entwined with him in other areas as well.  Since he found one access point into a person’s life, he certainly can find others just as easily.

I know that all of this may sound hard to believe.  I get that.  However, I firmly believe this to be accurate since it can be backed up by Scripture.  Consider Ephesians 6:12 also from the Living Bible.  It says, “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the devil & his minions stopped attacking people.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Psalm 55:3, Psalm 38:20, Psalm 64:1, Psalm 69:4, Ephesians 6:11 & 2 Timothy 4:18 are just a few examples.

Please seriously consider what I have said here today.  Pray about it for yourself, & ask God to show you the truth if you have doubts.

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The Value Of Detoxing From Emotionally Incestuous (Enmeshed) Family

When someone grows up in an enmeshed, emotionally incestuous family, they naturally have many issues stemming from this.  One of those many issues is that they need time away from their toxic family to detox.

One example of this that comes to mind is a good friend of mine.  Around me, he’s usually kind, caring, fun loving & laid back.  I always can tell when he has dealt with his toxic immediate family in the recent past however, because that great guy disappears.  The person who replaces him is impatient, irritable, & quick to judge & criticize.  In other words, nothing like who he usually is.  It takes some time away from them for the hard to deal with person to go away & the good guy he usually is to come back.  I’ve started referring to this as his detox.

Sadly, this need to detox after being around an emotionally incestuous family is normal for the adult who grew up in this situation.  Also sadly, it makes sense if you think about it.

Someone who doesn’t understand the extreme toxicity that is emotional incest wants to fit in with their family, even if they hate the dynamic.  They will behave however they need to in order to fit in.  On some level however, they know this isn’t normal so they are dealing with cognitive dissonance.  In other words, they grew up thinking this is normal & anything that threatens that belief makes them extremely uncomfortable & confused.  Time away from their toxic family is their detox, & it relieves them of that uncomfortable feeling, at least until the next time they deal with their family.

Even if someone is aware of what is happening & just how dysfunctional their family is, being around such people can bring old habits back to the surface disturbingly easily.  It’s a lot like drug addicts.  They can stay clean much easier when they avoid people who are still addicts & are around people who don’t do drugs.  Getting around those who are still actively addicted makes it very hard for them to stay on their healthier path.  When they backslide, they may get clean again but they are NOT going to be happy with themselves for backsliding.  The same goes for those with emotionally incestuous families.  If a person has worked hard to get healthier, then slides back into old habits, they are going to be pretty upset with themselves when they recognize their bad behavior.  They need time away from their family so they can detox to get back on the right path.

Another problem is the emotionally incestuous family encourages the dysfunctional behavior.  They reward bad behavior, throwing some breadcrumbs of affection or praise to their family members who follow the rules of the family & don’t try to make any healthy changes.  No matter how much someone may want to break free of this to live in a healthier way, the pressure to “behave” & get those crumbs of affection can be very great, which also can account for the need to detox after leaving.  Distance from these highly dysfunctional people helps them to recognize what is happening, & to get back on the right path.

Emotionally incestuous family members also despise anyone who doesn’t enable & encourage their toxic behavior.  They will talk badly about anyone who encourages someone in the emotionally incestuous family to distance themselves from the toxicity.  If someone in such a family has a friend or spouse that speaks against this behavior, the family is not going to tolerate this quietly.  They will tell everyone just how awful that person is, how they’re trying to tear apart the family or even steal their family member away from the family.  If someone hears this enough from their family, they may believe it in time, & return to the dysfunctional fold.  Time away from them, time to detox from the dysfunction, can clear their head.

If your family is emotionally incestuous, then please, do yourself a huge favor & take the time to detox from them as frequently as you can!  It will be good for your mental health!  Or, if someone you know is in such a situation, encourage them to do the same.  Be willing to listen to them without judgment & speak the truth to them about what their family is really like (gently of course!). 

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25% Off Sale On All Of My Ebooks & 15% Off Sale On All Of My Print Books!!

My ebooks are going on sale for the entire month of July! From July 1-31, 2022, all of my ebooks will be 25% off! The discount is applied automatically at checkout, so there are no coupon codes necessary. If you have wanted any of my books, this is a great time to grab them cheap!

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Best Friends

“Best friends” is a term that is used pretty freely & often without much thought.  I don’t do that, however.  I have a best friend that is incredibly special to me.  We met just before our senior year of high school in August, 1988, & in the years since, she has taught me so much about the real meaning of best friend.  I believe that others can benefit from what I have learned, so I want to share it today.

True best friends have healthy boundaries & they respect yours.  They know what you are ok with & what you aren’t, & they respect such things.  They don’t use you or are NOT ok with anyone else using you either.  They will remind you that no one has the right to mistreat or abuse you, especially when you doubt it.

True best friends are honest.  They won’t lie to you just because it’s easier for them.  They will be honest & if that means it hurts your feelings a bit to get you to a better place, they will be honest.  They will be as gentle as they can in their honesty so as to minimize the hurt because they love you, but they still will tell you the truth.  They know honesty is best & they want what is best for you.

True best friends stand the test of time.  Close friendships are somewhat like a marriage.  You love & support each other.  You have fun with each other & also are there during the hard times.  You work through disagreements & can agree to disagree.  You don’t just run at the first sign of problems.  You do your best by your friend & they do their best by you.  A wonderful friendship like this lasts for more than a few months.  It can last a lifetime.

True best friends are there for you, period, even when it isn’t easy for them to be.  I called my best friend as soon as I had a moment after receiving my mother’s death notification, & she was there for me from that moment on.  She even attended the burial & was at my side even when one of my cousins raged at me during the burial.  She listened when I was dealing with estate matters & overwhelmed.  None of that was pleasant or easy for her, but she was there for me anyway.  That is what a best friend does.  They are there for you even when it’s incredibly difficult for them.

True best friendships aren’t one sided.  There is a mutual give & take in the relationship.  There will be trying times you are needier & your best friend is there for you, but there are also times when the reverse is true, & you are there for your needy best friend.  As a whole though, your friendship is very balanced.  You both love & support each other as needed rather than one person being the only one to offer love & support.

True best friends know you very well & accept you without judgment, yet still encourage your personal growth.  Your best friend should accept you as you are because they understand why you are as you are, but they also encourage you to improve yourself.  They share things they have learned that can help you.

True best friends are a gift straight from God, & if you have a wonderful one in your life as I do, you truly are blessed!  Never forget to tell your best friend how much you appreciate them being a part of your life & that you love them.  Never let them feel you take them for granted!

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Filed under Enjoying Life, Mental Health

People Who Don’t Have Any Friends & Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I have a habit that I believe is shared by others who have suffered narcissistic abuse.  I gravitate to those who don’t have any friends.  Not that this is always a bad thing, but it can be.  Sometimes these people are detrimental to your mental health.

People who don’t have friends may be in this position for valid reasons.  They may be extremely introverted, preferring very little socialization since it drains them quickly.  Maybe they just recently moved to the area & haven’t had time to meet new people.  Or maybe they recently escaped an abusive relationship, & while in it, their abuser isolated them from friends & family.  Once away from that person, they may not feel ready to trust new people in any capacity just yet.  There are plenty of valid reasons like this a person has for not having friends.  These people are not the ones I am referring to in this post.

The people I’m referring to are the ones who have no friends for years on end.  They may discuss former friends, & always in a negative light.  Those friends weren’t there for them when they went through hard times, they wouldn’t help them financially or in other ways or they say their friends just stopped speaking to them without any reason or warning.  Everyone has friendships that weren’t good or ended badly, but when someone says such things about the majority of friendships they have had, it’s a big red flag.  The average person’s friendships usually aren’t intensely negative experiences.  Their friends may not be there for them every single time, but they will be there at least most of the time.  Also, if people continue walking away from someone, there is a good reason for that.

Years ago, I felt so badly for these people.  I naively thought it was so sad that life had treated them so badly, leaving them without good friends!  I treasure my closest friends & can’t imagine not having them!  Knowing these people weren’t able to share this kind of friendship made me feel sorry for them, so I would befriend them.  It usually didn’t take long before I realized this was a mistake. 

People like this are friendless for legitimate reasons!  Some are covert narcissists, portraying themselves as innocent victims to unfair life circumstances & needing someone to take care of them.  Even ones I knew that weren’t, were still highly dysfunctional at the very least.  These friendships started out full of flattery & kind gestures, which made me want to be there for them.  Much like love bombing behavior narcissists are known for doing in romantic relationships.  Before long, they would monopolize my time whenever possible.  They would call me often, keeping me on the phone for hours listening to them drone on & on about their problems & not listening when I said I had to go.  At that time, sometimes they would ask what was happening in my life, then after a couple of minutes, turn the conversation back to them.  They never wanted my advice, even when they asked for it.  They just wanted me to pity them.  They also wanted to get together on a constant basis, even when knowing I had other things going on in my life that needed my attention.  Once in a while, they would feign interest in something in my life, but it never lasted long.  They would become minimizing or invalidating quickly, letting me know whatever I said wasn’t a big deal, & certainly not as big a deal as what was going on in their life.  Simply put, these people were emotional vampires, draining my energy to feed their dysfunction. 

There are so many people out there like this, who love gaining the friendship of victims of narcissistic abuse.  They know that victims are often very giving, understanding & patient, glad to help others.  Don’t fall for it as I have!  If someone you meet says they don’t have any friends, learn why.  If there isn’t a valid reason such as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, stay away from this person.  They may come across as naïve & a bit needy, but they are nothing so innocent.  Given time, they will use you for everything they can, & if you set boundaries with them, they’ll cry victim to anyone who will listen. 

Like so many things in life, the more you heal from the abuse, the less frequently you will interact with such people.  People like this are repelled by functional, healthy people with good boundaries who don’t tolerate their manipulation.

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

Pay Attention To Your Dreams

Dreams are much more important than I believe most people realize.  They help the brain to process everything that happens to us, both good & bad, which helps to keep our sanity in tact.  Sometimes they also are a good problem solving technique, because you can dream about some scenario you never considered before about a problem you face in your waking life.  They also are a fantastic gauge for our mental health, which is what I want to focus on today. 

For many years, I had a recurring nightmare.  The details would change slightly but the theme was always the same.  I was an adult, but needed to repeat high school.  I also needed to rely on my mother to get me there, but she was running late &/or screaming at me, much as she did during my final year & a half of high school.  In the early days of the nightmare, I was in a blind panic because I was going to be late & had no choice.  I also would get to school to find out I had a test on something I hadn’t studied, couldn’t find my locker or some other unsettling scenario.  I also was embarrassed to be the only adult in high school classes.  I often woke up in a terrible panic from these nightmares.

As time went on, I began to work on my emotional healing, & as I did that, the dream changed.  Sometimes I wouldn’t care that I was running late, or I could find my locker.  Eventually I started to realize I had my own car & didn’t need to rely on anyone to take me to school.  Once that change took place, it wasn’t long before I realized I had already been through high school & had no need to repeat it.  Finally, the nightmares stopped altogether. 

At the time of this recurring nightmare, I started to work on my emotional healing.  I also learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & how to deal with my C-PTSD.  The more I learned & healed, the more the nightmare changed.  It also became much less frequent.  Eventually, the nightmare stopped altogether.  I don’t remember the last time I had it, but I do know it’s been years. 

As it was changing, I realized that it was a reflection of where I was in my healing journey.  The healthier I became, the more power I took back in my nightmare & the less upset I was when I woke up. 

Not everyone has recurring dreams or nightmares.  If you do, they are absolutely worth paying attention to.  I firmly believe they repeat because there is an important message in them.  Just look at mine as an example.  It showed me the state of my mental health.

Even if you don’t have recurring dreams or nightmares, the ones you do have are still important.  It’s wise to pay attention to them.  I sometimes know what my dreams are trying to tell me right away, but if not, I pray & ask God to show me.  I also look up everything I can think of in a dream dictionary, such as people, places, colors, objects, or numbers.  Any detail at all can be very helpful, no matter how small.  There are plenty of free dream dictionary websites online.  Usually after prayer, once I start looking things up in a dream dictionary, things start to make sense & I can figure out what the dream meant.

Also, there are plenty of dreams you will know you had, yet you don’t remember any details at all.  It may be just a vague feeling that you dreamed something about a particular subject.  Don’t worry about that.  Those dreams are normal.  They are simply the brain processing something.  It isn’t important enough for you to remember the details, so you don’t. 

A dream journal is also a really good idea.  At least write your dreams that you feel are important in your usual journal along with the date.  Looking back over your dreams can be an interesting & educational experience.

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