Tag Archives: dysfunction

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

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!!

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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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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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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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Lacking A Healthy Perspective About Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

When you have been abused by a narcissist (or several!), you are going to have ongoing issues as a result of their abuse.  This is likely to continue for many years, even long after the abuse has ended or even after the abuser dies.  Today we’ll be discussing one of the lesser discussed yet potentially devastating issues: lacking a healthy perspective about yourself.

Not long ago, in emailing with a friend, I mentioned something traumatic that my mother did to me when I was in my teens.  She was floored, then told me how horrible it was & how badly she felt for me.  I was stunned by her reaction.  Yes I knew it was traumatic but somehow I didn’t think it was all that bad.  This same scenario happened a few times.  Then a few weeks after that first email conversation, during a phone call to a different friend, the scenario happened yet again.  I mentioned a past traumatic experience, & she too was flabbergasted.  And again, I was stunned since I didn’t think of the experience was all that terrible.

Being prone to over thinking everything, these experiences got me thinking.  I didn’t understand why I didn’t think these experiences were so bad, yet other people did.  It isn’t like they haven’t been through the same & worse experiences, & I recognized theirs were pretty terrible. 

Then, I learned something interesting that at first I thought was unrelated.  I’m always tired, & I assumed it was because I can’t get to sleep or stay asleep without medication, & have constant nightmares.  Not long ago I got a smart watch that monitors all kinds of health processes including sleep.  It showed me that I get virtually no deep sleep.  That explained why I’m always tired, but not why I don’t get deep sleep.  I researched this & found PTSD & C-PTSD cause a person not to get the deep sleep they need.  Upon learning this, my first thought was, “wow, I really DO have C-PTSD!”  My second thought was wondering what is wrong with me?!  I’ve had symptoms of it for my entire life!  How could I doubt it?  Suddenly, things began to make sense when I thought not only of this but my interactions with my friends a few weeks prior. 

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, they dictate everything about that relationship as well as about you.  They do this through gaslighting.  After being exposed to this toxic behavior long enough, a person takes on the narcissist’s narrative.  If the narcissist claims you’re stupid enough, you believe you are in spite of having an above average IQ.  They claim you’re fat?  Absolutely believable, even if the scale says you only weigh 110 pounds.  This gaslighting goes much deeper than those superficial issues however.  Narcissists all convince their victims that what they’re doing isn’t so bad, clearly it’s not abusive, it never happened, or if it did then it’s their victim’s fault. 

This gaslighting also branches into the realm of health conditions too.  Narcissists are the only ones who have any sort of health problems, at least according to them.  Also, narcissists aren’t above faking an injury or illness or even making themselves sick, they assume everyone does it.  These two things mean that narcissists don’t care when their victims have any problems.  They assume their victims are just faking as they would do.  Or, if there is undeniable proof of a problem, they minimize it so they don’t have to pretend to care or to help the victim.

This gaslighting is why I was shocked my friends not only saw the events in my life as traumatic, but validated me & cared how I was affected as well.  It also explains why I felt surprised to find proof I really do have C-PTSD, in spite of having the symptoms for so long. 

If this sounds familiar to you, my heart goes out to you.  I wish I could help you fix this right now, but I can’t.  I can tell you some things that I’m finding out that help me though & I think they’ll help you too. 

Prayer certainly helps!  I have asked God to help me have a healthier perspective on myself & talk to Him regularly about this.  Also, when I recognize any minimizing behavior in myself, I tell myself the truth about the situation instead.  Progress has been slow going with me, but it’s still progress & that counts!   

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How People Handle You Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

When people have known you a long time, it can be difficult for some of them to handle your healing. Functional people will respect your healing though, & even encourage you.  They will be so happy to see you growing stronger & healthier, & learning how to live a good life, especially if they knew you during the abuse you endured. 

Dysfunctional people however, won’t be so happy or encouraging.

While not all dysfunctional people are abusive, of course, they still may not be happy about your healing.  Sometimes that is because it makes them feel badly about themselves.  They see you learning, growing & becoming happy, & they resent not doing the same.  The seriously dysfunctional won’t be motivated by feeling this way to work on their healing.

Others are on the side of your abuser, & can’t handle your healing because it is proof that the abusive person wasn’t the wonderful person this flying monkey thought they were.  Rather than face that truth, some especially cowardly people prefer to stay in denial & try to force the victim to maintain the status quo so they can continue to think of the abuser as a wonderful person rather than face the truth.

Whatever the motivation, these dysfunctional people have a goal of putting the victim in their place, so to speak, so they can continue living in their dysfunction.

A common way people accomplish this by refusing to acknowledge the new, healthier you.  They will mentally keep you in their box of what they expect you to be, & treat you accordingly. 

When I was growing up, I was completely submissive to my parents & did only as I was told.  I was a very good doormat.  As an adult who had focused on my healing for quite some time, my family still treated me as the doormat I once was.  Most spoke to me however they wanted, which was usually disrespectful & cruel.  This was especially evident during the time my father was dying. Their level of cruelty & vile words was astounding.  My family daily harassed & tried to bully me into ending no contact to say good bye to him.  Not one person cared about my thoughts or feelings on the matter, only theirs, & clearly they were furious they couldn’t force me to bend to their will.  The way they treated me is very common among narcissistic families. 

As you make small steps in your healing, even if those steps aren’t celebrated, they shouldn’t be diminished or totally disregarded.  Every single person changes over the course of their life, & that is to be expected.  Anyone who refuses to acknowledge changes you make or acts like something is wrong with you for growing clearly has problems. 

When you come across these people, please do NOT give in to whatever it is they want from you.  Be the best you that you can be.  Focus on your healing & never give up on it.  People like that don’t have your best interest at heart.  They only have their best interests at heart, & maybe even those of your abuser.  They aren’t worth trying to please.  Instead, be more concerned with pleasing God, pleasing yourself & pleasing those people you are the closest to, such as your spouse.  The rest really aren’t all that important, especially those who refuse to see you as anything but who you were at your worst. 

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Why Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse Often Hate Themselves

Relatively speaking, very few victims of narcissistic abuse escape the abuse without feeling intense self-hatred.  There are plenty of reasons for this.

The main reason for this of course is narcissists.  They do their best to annihilate their victims’ self-esteem in order to control them.  A person who doubts their intelligence will listen to what others tell them to do.  A person who thinks no one else would put up with them will stay in a relationship, no matter how toxic.  A person who feels worthless will tolerate any treatment because they don’t believe they deserve better.  But, there are other reasons too.

Someone who was involved in either a romantic relationship or a friendship with a narcissist will feel terrible for not seeing the red flags of narcissism or taking too long to leave or for putting up with the abuse for however long they did.  Even understanding that narcissists are phenomenal actors that can fool anyone doesn’t really help a person in this situation feel much better. 

Also, other people who weren’t directly involved with the abuse even can make victims hate themselves.

People who imply or even outright say that the victim is to blame for the abuse can make victims hate themselves.  When you are in the fragile place of recently having escaped an abusive relationship, someone blaming you for picking the wrong partner or friend or for making the abuser abuse you can be devastating.  It makes a person wonder what they possibly could have done any better or differently.  In these relationships, victims give their all & it’s not good enough, yet they still feel like failures for not doing enough. 

It’s also common to feel guilty for constantly upsetting the narcissist to the point of abusing because that is how narcissists make their victims feel.  They never take responsibility for anything but instead, dump all responsibility on their victims.  Having survived this then being reminded of your supposed failures with the relationship by outsiders can be utterly devastating to one’s emotions as well as self esteem.

When other people suggest something is wrong with the victim for not being “over it” by now or taking too long to heal, that too can cause self-hatred.  It makes a person feel like a burden for not being ok rather than safe knowing they are with someone who won’t judge or criticize them.  And feeling like a burden is horrible for the self-esteem!

The minimization & even denial of the abuse also can cause serious blows to one’s self-esteem.  Until a person truly understands just how bad their experience was with an abusive narcissist, they are very susceptible to shaming.  When someone says the abuse wasn’t that bad or flatly denies it happened, that will create unnecessary shame in a victim which naturally devastates their self-esteem.

If you are experiencing self-hatred due to situations like I’ve mentioned, please, PLEASE know this isn’t right!  You don’t deserve to feel that way!  You weren’t abused because there is something wrong with you.  There was something wrong with the narcissist!  If other people are too foolish to see it or unwilling to see it, that is also not a reflection of you.  That is their dysfunction showing.  Don’t ever forget that!  Xoxo

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For Those Who Refuse To Acknowledge The Seriousness Of Narcissistic Abuse

I first learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder in 2011.  The following year, realized I had C-PTSD, or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  My life since these two major events occurred has been interesting to say the least.  It hasn’t been easy but it’s been absolutely worth it.  The support, compassion & concern of those close to me & even from those who read my work have been amazing. 

At the same time, there have been plenty of people who have tried to shame me, stop me from writing about what I write about & even claim I’m bitter, spoiled, exaggerating or outright lying about my experiences as a way to humiliate my abusers.  Mostly these are family members of course, but also some have been people I don’t know.  Usually I simply block & ignore such people since acknowledging them only seems to validate their delusions.  Today though, I felt like it was time to address people who think this way.

What people fail to understand about victims like me is this…

I don’t hate abusers.  I’m not trying to put them in the public eye to humiliate them, nor am I trying to ruin their reputation.  Their behavior does that, not me. Libel & slander are far from any motivation I have.  I tell the truth while protecting the anonymity of my abusers so as NOT to draw attention directly to them.  I’m not vengeful or stupid.  I use my abusers as bad examples because they have given me experiences that caused me to learn things that can help other people.

I’m not trying to force people to choose sides.  People are allowed to think whatever they like.  It’s not my job or my desire to try to force them to think a certain way.  If they choose to side with victims, that’s great.  If they choose to side with abusers, that is certainly their right as well.  If they choose to side with abusers however, I  also have the right to maintain a distance from such people & have no trouble exercising that right.  This shouldn’t be any surprise.

I’m not trying to divide any family, my own or otherwise, by discussing narcissistic abuse.  My goal is to help people like me, suffering due to toxic relationships but unsure what the problem is.  My goal is to teach them about narcissists so they can figure out how best to handle their situation.

Most people seem to think Narcissistic Personality Disorder is some pop psychology term made up by whiny people who only want to trash the reputation of other people due to some petty motives.  They think I label any person who doesn’t treat me as I want to be treated a narcissist, & how dare I put that label on anyone since I’m not a mental health professional.  They fail to realize that mental health professionals have precious little teaching on narcissism & other Cluster B personality disorders.  Many don’t know enough to recognize these toxic people even when meeting them face to face.  Those of us who have experienced abuse at their hands often know more than the professionals, because we have researched & read a lot as we tried to understand what was wrong with these toxic relationships.

People often see people like me as cold, uncaring & unfeeling because we don’t try harder to make relationships with narcissists work.  They fail to see that we have tried very hard, often for many years.  The simple truth is one person can’t fix any relationship.  It takes both parties to make a relationship be healthy.  When it comes to narcissists, the only way to make a relationship work is to be willing to surrender everything about yourself – your identity, your wants, needs, feelings, preferences, etc. – & only do, look like, act like, think & feel what the narcissist wants you to.  Even if you do this, you still are going to fall short of what they want, because they constantly change their desires.  Perfect is STILL not good enough for narcissists. 

If anyone reading this still doesn’t understand what the so called problem is with people like me, people who have been victimized by some of the cruelest, most heartless people ever to exist, then I feel sorry for you.  Clearly, you lack empathy & couldn’t care less about your fellow human beings.

In the meantime, I for one plan to continue writing & speaking about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & recovering from narcissistic abuse.  Anyone who is offended by that, I am more than happy for you to distance yourself from me & my work.

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When Families Are Too Close

Most people consider close knit families to be a good thing.  And they really can be a blessing!  They obviously love & support each other through everything life throws their way, yet everyone still has their own life & a healthy amount of individuality & privacy.  Sometimes however, families become too close.  These families are known as enmeshed, & they are truly toxic.  Families like this have very lax or non existent boundaries, dysfunctional patterns in relationships & they discourage any independence.  Children who grow up with such families end up as dysfunctional adults until they break the chains of enmeshment.

Enmeshed parents are overly dependent on their children.  They rely on their children for emotional support while offering nothing in return.  They also expect their children to share their beliefs, values, to meet their expectations even into adulthood all while ignoring their own & they also expect their children to keep their parents as their top priority during their entire lifetime above anyone else including a spouse, children & even God.  These parents believe their children need nothing from the world beyond their family, & looking to that world is discouraged.  Parents like this also expect their children to maintain the status quo of dysfunction, & are chastised severely if they don’t.  Privacy doesn’t happen between parents & children, meaning any topic is suitable for discussion, any item is considered appropriate for the parents to snoop through (purses, dressers, closets, laundry, etc).  Families like this remind me of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The children are supposed to be concerned of nothing beyond the Collective, in other words the enmeshing parent.  And, if those children opt to marry, their spouse is supposed to be assimilated, also focusing on the Collective.  Any hint of not behaving in this manner is seriously frowned upon & results in shunning, shaming & treating the spouse terribly.

Children who grow up in these dysfunctional enmeshed families have plenty of issues.  They have virtually no knowledge of their own needs, often minimizing or completely ignoring them.  Their goals aren’t their own, but their parents’.  These children never learn how to say no in a healthy way.  They have serious trust issues with other people, & a fear of abandonment in relationships.  They also feel overly responsible, in particular for taking care of their parents.  Possibly the saddest part is children who grow up like this never have the opportunity to make their own choices & mistakes, which are needed to form their own identity.  Without this, these children grow up with low or even non existent self esteem. 

If you recognize yourself in this information, rest assured you can heal from the damage done.  I can’t tell you it will be quick & easy, but I can tell you it is very possible.

I always recommend a close relationship with God because it is of the utmost importance in every area of life.  It is also incredibly helpful with healing from abuse.  (And, make no mistake about it – enmeshment IS abuse!)  Allowing God to help you heal & show you what to do is going to be vital to healing.  He knows best what you need to do & how you need to do it, so let Him show you & give you whatever you need to do these things.

There are some basic things that everyone needs to do to break this enmeshment with family.  You will need to start by setting boundaries.  There is information about this on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com, so you can start there.  Learning what is & is not your responsibility will be extremely helpful for you.  And, start small, such as not answering a text immediately.  Starting small will help you to gain the confidence to set more & more challenging boundaries in time.

Get to know yourself.  Learn who God made you to be, what you truly like & dislike,  & how to identify your feelings over what your enmeshed parent told you to feel.  To do this, start paying attention to how you really feel about things & don’t judge your feelings. 

Accept that there is no shame in not having your parents as your top priority as an adult.  People need to have God as their top priority, period.  If you are married, your spouse should be your second priority, followed by your children, then your parents. 

Your enmeshed parent isn’t going to like these behaviors, & that is your parent’s right.  You also have rights, including doing what you need to do to be a healthy, functional person!  Don’t let your parent’s disapproval take you off that path!

Do what you need to do to break free of this enmeshment.  It won’t be easy but it absolutely will be worth it!

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When People Try To Shut Down Other People’s Anger

Many people can’t handle anger in people other than themselves.  As a result, they try to stop people from displaying their anger by invalidating them, dismissing them or even shaming them for being angry.  Clearly that is wrong in many ways.  While anger isn’t pleasant, it also isn’t a bad thing when handled properly.  People should be allowed to express it in reasonable ways without fear of being invalidated, dismissed or shamed.  And, no one should be so horrified by reasonable displays of anger that they try to stop them

I’m sure there are countless reasons people try to shut down healthy displays of anger.  Rather than try to guess them all, I’ll only deal with a few here today.

Narcissists can’t handle any emotions in people, but anger in particular bothers them.  Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has seen this first hand.  They will do whatever it takes to stop someone who is angry, in particular angry with them.  If they can prevent someone from feeling anger, their chances of getting away with abuse are much greater.

Many people were raised with angry parents.  Their parents did everything to display their anger in unhealthy ways such as guilt trips, invalidating, dismissing, screaming, & hitting.  Even years after the last abusive episode, these people are still terrified by anger in anyone.  They will do anything to avoid it, including trying anything they can to shut down someone who is angry in their presence. 

There are others who are excessively positive, & can’t handle any negativity whatsoever.  Rather than allow someone to feel valid, even righteous anger, they try to get that person to “cheer up” so they don’t have to deal with their “negativity”.

There are also people who naturally internalize their feelings.  It’s just a part of their personality.  Logical type personalities often do this.  They may come across as cold & unfeeling, but the simple fact is they don’t need to verbalize any feelings to process them.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t feel emotions, even anger.  They just don’t often feel the need to show those feelings to other people. They may look down on someone who is comfortable with expressing their feelings, especially anger, because they feel that is something that should be kept to oneself.

Some people are also very insecure & dysfunctional.  People like this try to make themselves into what they think other people would like them to be.  They seem to lack respect for people who don’t do the same, & people who show their anger clearly don’t do the same.  They are more concerned with authenticity than other people liking them.

There are also others who misunderstand what the Bible says about anger, & think it is always bad or sinful instead of realizing it is the behavior based on anger that can be bad.  They will try to shut down someone who is angry in an attempt to help them to stop “sinning”. 

When you understand reasons why someone could try to shut you down when you’re angry, it can be helpful because it shows you that there isn’t something wrong with you.  Every normal person feels anger sometimes & there is nothing wrong with showing that anger in a healthy way.

If someone clearly can’t handle your anger, it’s best if you don’t let them see your anger.  Venting to someone like this only will add to your anger because of their behavior.  Or, if they are the reason for your anger, them trying to get you to stop being angry at them will make things worse.  It’s far better to vent to someone who can handle all of your emotions, not only the good ones.  

If you do opt to talk to this person about why they insist on trying to shut you down when you’re angry, do so when you’re calmer.  State your case calmly & logically.  Statements like, “I feel like you can’t tolerate when I get angry, even when it’s not directed at you.  Why is that?”  “What do you think is going to happen when I get angry?”  Get the other person thinking & identifying their feelings.  It truly will help both of you to find a solution to this situation.  Obviously if the person in question is a narcissist, this won’t help, because they don’t want to change or have a healthy relationship.  Instead, try not to show the narcissist when you’re angry & when you do, don’t let them make you believe something is wrong with you for what you feel!

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Why Some People Treat Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse So Badly

I use an online diary.  It sends me periodic emails saying things like, “Last year on this date, you wrote…” then includes a link to that entry.  Recently it showed me an entry I made in February, 2020.

That day, I wrote about how I had joined Instagram to follow someone who shares information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I hadn’t even set anything up on my account when I got an email saying someone was following me.  It turned out it was one of my cousins who was so awful to me when my father was dying.  I blocked her at first, then immediately decided that wasn’t good enough.  I deleted my Instagram account, & haven’t gone to the site since.

I prayed about this, asking God why would this person follow me?  She hates me & has made the very clear for a long time.  He told me something that I thought may help other victims of narcissistic abuse, so I want to share that with you today.

“She’s insanely, obsessively, morbidly envious.  She thinks you’ve had this easy, charmed life.  When she sees you “whining” about your childhood, it justifies her hatred of you in her mind.  She felt her parents didn’t really care about her.  She saw yours shelter you.  That’s where the envy began.”

“She had to lie to herself about her parents’ loving her & being close to your aunt.  She thinks you’re lying about yours & being a spoiled brat.  She thinks you’re petty & weren’t really abused.  She also can’t accept that her uncle would be abusive or marry someone who was.”

“She thinks abuse is only physical or sexual.  Verbal abuse doesn’t count to her.  She thinks NPD is a made up thing you use to justify talking about your parents as you do.”

“The devil feeds her delusions.  He makes her think the things she does, & feeds her rage & disgust of you.”

Pretty disturbing isn’t it?  Sadly though, many people abuse victims of narcissistic abuse & I would guess many have very similar motivations behind their behavior.

My mother was definitely the engulfing type of narcissistic mother, so to the outside world, she looked attentive, caring, & somewhat over protective.  My father went along with her behavior.  Also, I never complained because this is what abused kids learn to do to survive.  To anyone not intimately involved with my parents & I, we looked like a tight knit family.

Consider my cousin I mentioned earlier.  She came from a very dysfunctional & abusive childhood.  It’s no wonder she thought my childhood was so happy & care free.  She only saw what she was allowed to see, & never knew what went on behind closed doors.  Her observations combined with the devil validating her feelings turned her into someone who is very envious for no good reason.  Her way to cope with it was to treat me badly. 

What about those in your life who have treated you similarly?  Could this fit them as well?  If so, there is only a small amount of advice I have on dealing with such people, but I believe it will help you as it has me.

Remember that their behavior stems from their dysfunction & lack of relationship with God.  It isn’t really about you, although they will make it sound that way.  Don’t accept whatever they say about you because it is wrong! 

If at all possible, end the relationship.  People like this are very convicted in their wrong beliefs.  You won’t be able to change their mind, so don’t waste your time trying.  Sever ties & block all ways they can reach you.

Lastly, pray for them.  The Bible says we are to pray for our enemies, so pray for this person to see the truth & for evil spirits to leave them alone.  Doing this helps them as well as you because over time, it helps you to release the anger you naturally feel towards them. 

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When Broken People Are Toxic

Every single person is broken in some way.  That simple fact by itself doesn’t make a person toxic at all.  What does make a person toxic is when a person is broken & refuses to change.

This type of person is dangerous to the mental health of other people.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, he or she often will try to bring other people down to their level.  Doing so makes this person feel better about themselves.  If they see other people behaving in ways that they behave, it normalizes their behavior which gives them a false sense of assurance that they are just fine.  Seeing others behave even worse than them also gives them a false sense of assurance.  This time, it’s that they aren’t so bad by comparison. 

These people also try to force other people into their box as a way to prove that a situation isn’t the dysfunctional one it truly is.  This often happens in dysfunctional families.  One person stands up & says, “This isn’t right!” & the toxic broken people will react.  They try to convince the one who stood up that it is right, they should continue the status quo & stop making waves.  The person who said this is wrong clearly is the real problem, not the dysfunction, according to these people.  This is a very common scenario in narcissistic families in particular.  It happened in mine when my father was dying.  I had relatives treat me terribly because I refused to say good bye to him at the hospital.  When I prayed about this, God clearly told me not to go, & also why they treated me this way.  It wasn’t that they loved my father & wanted to do something that would please him.  It was to protect their delusions that he was a great guy & I was the one with the problem.  If they could continue their delusions, there would be no need to face the fact there were any problems in our family.  They preferred to remain in their denial & treat me terribly than face the truth & realize how broken not only they but other relatives were. 

Sadly, there are a LOT of people like this!  They prefer their broken state over facing truth & healing.  In a way, it’s understandable.  The truth hurts sometimes.  It’s incredibly painful to admit that someone you loved didn’t love you & in fact enjoyed causing you great pain.  That being said though, remaining broken & not trying to heal clearly can make someone incredibly toxic.

When you come across someone like this, remember, you can’t force them to face their brokenness.  They may do so but only in their time & when they realize they want better for themselves.  There is nothing you can do to change their mind about that.  The best thing you can do for them is to pray.  One of my most frequently prayed prayers is asking Got to help someone to see the truth & to enable them to handle that truth.

It’s also important to remember to have no expectations of someone like this suddenly wanting to face the truth.  Hopefully they will one day, & sooner rather than later.  But, putting that expectation on them won’t help.  In fact, it may make them more determined to remain as they are. You also will be disappointed over & over when they don’t change.

Lastly, never forget that allowing someone like this to mistreat or even abuse you isn’t going to help them or you.  It isn’t a good, helpful or even Godly thing to do for either you or them.  Nothing good comes of that.  Your best bet is to walk away if at all possible.  If that is impossible for whatever reason, you will need to have firm boundaries in place to protect yourself.

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For Those Who Lack Joy During The Holidays & Are Judged For It

Many people struggle through the holiday season for a range of very valid reasons.  Dysfunctional families causing unnecessary drama & misery, suffering loss through failed relationships or deaths of loved ones & financial struggles are some of the most common reasons, but there are many more.  Yet in spite of the validity of these reasons, many people are quick to shame these poor people, making their pain even worse.

My heart goes out to such people.  As I’ve written about plenty of times, I struggle through the holidays as well.  And, as many others have experienced, I’ve been shamed for that as well.  I’ve heard the usual comments like, “Focus on the positive!”  “It’s the most wonderful time of year!”  “Everyone is so happy.  Why can’t you be happy too?”  “Don’t be so negative.  It’s Christmas!!”  It’s no surprise, but comments don’t help. 

What people who make comments like this fail to realize is saying such things doesn’t make a person automatically feel better.  In fact, they only make a person feel worse.  It’s much like how saying, “cheer up” doesn’t cure depression or, “stop worrying!” doesn’t cure anxiety.

When you are faced with these overly judgmental people, it will be upsetting.  There is no avoiding that.  It does help to remember that some people simply aren’t very understanding others.  They either can’t or won’t try to understand the position of another person & unfortunately, they are everywhere.  This is how they are & they have no desire to change that about themselves. It has nothing about you that makes them act this way. 

There is also the fact that so many people have their own issues that they refuse to face.  Some people have come from their own dysfunctional, abusive pasts & rather than admit that fact & face their demons, they prefer to think only of happy things.  Traditionally, holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, so they are a great time to justifiably be focused on only happy things.  Or maybe holidays were the only time of joy they had in their childhood, so as adults, they cling to them to bring them joy as they once did.  Holidays also allow dysfunctional families to gather together & pretend that they are functional & happy.  Those from these families may enjoy this charade because even if only briefly, they can believe that they have a happy family.

One final thing to consider.  Colossians 2:16 in the New Living Translation of the Bible says, “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.”  Notice that even the Bible even states that people aren’t to judge others for how they celebrate special days.  Celebrating certain ways & certain days is traditional, but it isn’t necessary for anyone, even professing Christians.  God gives people free will to do as they please, & that includes how they celebrate special days.  If He won’t judge you for what you do or don’t do during the holiday season, then there is no reason to accept the judgment of human beings.  Do what makes you comfortable, & ignore the petty criticisms of people who don’t know your situation. 

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Narcissistic In-Laws

For simplicity sake, I’m going to refer to the victim in this article as he & the spouse as she, but the roles easily could be reversed.

When you are married to someone with narcissistic family members, your life is full of challenges.  Narcissistic families expect their chosen victim to do as they want, which includes marrying only someone of whom they approve.  When that doesn’t happen, that victim & spouse’s life becomes incredibly challenging.

One common problem in these situations is when the victim doesn’t recognize the level of dysfunction in the family.  He may recognize that his family can be difficult or bossy, but doesn’t see them as the cruel or manipulative people they truly are.  She however, recognizes the depths of the situation.  When she tries to say anything about his family, he becomes defensive.  She gets frustrated, he gets frustrated, an argument happens & nothing gets resolved. 

This scenario is very common, & easily can result in divorce if handled the wrong way.

As tempting as it can be for you if you see the situation clearly, asking your spouse to choice you or his family is never a good idea!  The one who gives the ultimatum usually ends up on the losing end.  The person receiving the ultimatum feels unfairly pressured & manipulated.  On the rare chance the one receiving it goes along with it, he will end up feeling resentful in time.

When you feel you must mention the situation, do so calmly & as non-accusatory as humanly possible.  Anger will make your spouse defensive because he’ll feel as if you’re attacking him & his family.  Try to remain calm & leave emotion out of the situation as much as possible.  Men respond better to logic than emotions, & in this case may feel as if the emotions are less about emotions & more of an attempt at manipulation.  Women in these situations may respond to calmly expressed emotions, however, such as, “I feel like your mom tries to interfere too much in our marriage.  It makes me really uncomfortable.”

Have your own boundaries firmly in place as much as possible with your in-laws.  Don’t let them manipulate you or push you around.  Remain calm when setting those boundaries, so if your spouse sees this happen, he can’t say you were mean or unreasonable.  Your narcissistic in-law will be angry however, & your spouse will see their irrational behavior as you remain calm.

There may be a time when you have to go no contact with your narcissistic in-laws.  This can cause problems in your marriage.  A person still under the spell of their narcissistic family may not understand your reasoning.  If you firmly believe no contact is the best solution in your situation, calmly explain to your spouse that this isn’t you trying to manipulate him or come between him & his family.  Instead, this is what you feel is best for you to do.

Always remember not to have expectations of your spouse where his family is concerned.  Expectations put pressure on him & make his situation even more difficult.  Also, he may resent them, no matter how reasonable they are, which means he will resent you.  This will push him closer to his family & make him pull away from you.

Try to be patient & understanding of the situation.  This is hard, I know, but if you too had a narcissistic family, you understand how hard it is to be under their influence before recognizing what they really are.    

At some point, he is going to get frustrated or angry with his family & need to talk about it.  When this happens, do NOT say anything like, “I told you so!” or, “I always knew she was like that.”  Listen quietly while offering your support.  You can gently state the truth in a matter of fact way. If he asks for advice, give it without being critical. 

Don’t forget to take care of yourself in this situation, too.  Pray.  Write in your journal.  Talk to supportive friends or family who understand your situation for what it really is. 

Last but certainly not least, never ever forget to pray about your situation!  Let God show you how best to handle things with your spouse & toxic in-laws as well as how to take care of your own mental health.  His help is truly invaluable & He will show you the right way to handle the situation!

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About Perspective Of Good & Bad Experiences

I love watching the old public tv show, “The Joy Of Painting” with Bob Ross.  He was an incredibly talented painter, & there is something so calming about watching him create his beautiful works of art.  I also especially enjoy the bits of wisdom he shared through each episode.  Not only bits of wisdom about painting, but about life in general. 

I was watching his show recently & he was painting a beautiful mountain scene in the fall.  During the course of painting, Mr. Ross said some interesting things.

The first thing he mentioned was as he was painting a lake.  To create dimension, he used dark & light colors together.  He said something like, “Don’t conceal all your dark areas or the painting will become flat.”  Immediately it made me think of the overly positive people of the world.  I don’t mean the average person who tries to be positive, but the ones who refuse to say anything negative or see anything but the good in people.  When people don’t admit that sometimes things are less than perfect & happy, they often are much the same way- flat.  They express only one mood- happy.  Honestly, I find this incredibly annoying to be around.  Not that I want to be around people who are always miserable either.  Somewhere in the middle is so much more comfortable & I think also healthy.  People who are real & honest are the most interesting people, in my opinion anyway, probably because they have many different aspects to their personalities & different moods.  They’re also more comfortable to be around, because you know they won’t judge you if you are anything less than completely positive & happy.  Many overly positive people also can come across very invalidating & shaming.  For example, if you’re laid up with a broken leg, it’s ok to be upset about that.  The unhealthy, overly positive type of person will say something like you should be glad it happened because now you have the time off to catch up on whatever hobbies you enjoy.  That comment can make you feel badly for being upset that you are in a miserable situation, even though you have every right to be upset.

Another interesting thing he mentioned was that you need darkness to show the light.  How true is that!  If you think of it in the natural realm, if you light up an average light bulb, it will look very different in the dark than it will on a sunny day.  In the dark, even a very dim bulb can look extremely bright.  Yet, in the sunlight, even the brightest bulb will appear pretty dim.  The contrast of dark & light always makes light appear brighter.

The same things happen with good & bad things in life.  The bad, or darker, things that happen make you appreciate the good, or lighter, things.  If you have only good things happen, you can count on not appreciating anything good that happens to you simply because that is the norm for you.  There is nothing to compare your experiences to that will make them appear worth appreciating.  If there is a balance of both good & bad things, however, the bad things truly will make you appreciate the good things.  The good things will look so much better in contrast to the bad, just like that dim light bulb will look especially bright in a very dark room.

It was kinda strange, realizing these things from watching a man paint a pretty landscape, but I hope you found them interesting like I did.  And, his show can be found on YouTube & I think it was Pluto TV where I found it.  Very worth checking out if you have the chance!

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

Special Days & Narcissists

Narcissists are well known for being intensely selfish.  One of the ways that selfishness manifests is by them ruining special days for their victims.  Those special days simply must revolve around the narcissist.  If those special days revolve around you or are special to you, that is totally unacceptable to a narcissist!  That must be obliterated so all attention can be turned back to the narcissist in question!  How does a narcissist do this?  They have so many tactics, & I will address a few here.

It’s your wedding anniversary falls in early April?  What a coincidence!  Tax day is just around the corner!  A narcissist might demand you or your spouse (whoever is best with financial matters) complete their taxes on this day so they can file their taxes without being late. 

Your birthday is in the near future?  Another coincidence!  It’s also time for the narcissist to have that medical procedure.  After all, that elective procedure is way more important than the birthday you have every year, so forget enjoying your birthday. 

It’s December.  Merry Christmas!  Oh wait.. you really thought you could celebrate Christmas without focusing on your narcissistic parent or sibling?!  Not likely!  Instead, know that you MUST celebrate the day however the narcissist dictates & on the exact day the narcissist dictates.  It’s not really Christmas unless it’s celebrated when & however the narcissist demands it be celebrated.

A common tactic narcissists use to turn the attention of special days back to themselves is to invent a crisis on or close to a special day.  One Christmas, my husband & his siblings decided to spend Christmas day with their immediate families rather than with their parents.  Rather than accept this or reschedule the annual Christmas celebration for a different day, their diabetic mother stopped taking insulin.  She ended up in the hospital right around Christmas day.  Her adult children rallied to her side.  When asked why she stopped taking insulin, she said she was simply too busy making everyone Christmas cookies to bother taking her insulin.  It was quite the martyr act!

Guilt is another common tactic.  If you can’t or won’t spend a special day with a narcissist, they often will say things that make you feel obligated to them like, “That’s ok.. I’m used to being alone anyway…” or, “You promised you’d be there!  You have to come!!”

Those of us who recognize the manipulation regarding special days & refuse to accept the manipulation are often shamed for being cold or selfish because we don’t go along with whateverthe narcissist wants.  Narcissists act like there is something wrong with us for not enjoying special days as they think we should, & sharing them with the narcissist in our lives.  Those on the outside are often quick to criticize us for being “too negative” & act like something is very wrong with us for not thoroughly enjoying special days.  As if they would feel differently after being subjected to the mind games of a narcissist.  How ridiculous!

If you feel this way, I want to tell you today that there is nothing wrong with you. 

If you have become angry about a narcissist ruining your joy over special days, that is totally understandable.

If you decided not to celebrate any special days because a narcissist ruined them for you, that is totally understandable.

If you have decided to create your own traditions & avoid all narcissists on special days, that is also totally understandable.

If you opt to take each special day as it comes & follow what your heart dictates on each special day, that also truly is understandable.

You have been through some pretty awful treatment & certainly you have earned the right to celebrate or not celebrate these days however works best for you!

Don’t let anyone dictate how you spend special days.  You enjoy holidays in whatever way works for you.  Ignore them, treat them as any other day, or go over the top with celebrating them your own way.  You do you & don’t let anyone convince you that you are wrong!

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Perspective On Personal Problems After Narcissistic Abuse

When you have been subjected to abuse at the hands of a narcissist, whether that person was a parent or romantic partner, obviously it does a lot of damage.  Most everyone knows about the depression, anxiety, C-PTSD, low or non existent self esteem, inability to make decisions & difficulty trusting other people.  One thing that is almost never mentioned though is how greatly your perspective about your problems is damaged.

What I mean is this.  I mentioned a problem in passing to a friend recently & didn’t really think anything of it.  Her reaction was shock that this had happened.  I had offered no clues anything was wrong, let alone I was going through something so difficult. 

Later I thought about this & realized I’m pretty messed up!!  First, the problem was serious & I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have.  I brushed off my feelings about it as not important, & me overreacting rather than recognizing there is a problem that needs attention.  Second, in coping with said problem, talking about it never crossed my mind.  I’ve always been the one to talk to, not one who talks about my problems.  Not to mention the bad experiences I’ve had when I finally do open up.  Often when you aren’t one to talk about problems, people assume you’re stronger than you are.  When you finally do open up, some people invalidate & minimize because they think you should just handle things & leave them out of it.  That is a topic for another post though.

In contemplating all of this, I realized that the reason I am messed up in this area is due to narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists constantly make sure their victims feel unimportant & are all too aware that the narcissist is the only person in the relationship that matters at all.  Naturally, if they are the only important person, then their problems are important too.  By default, this means their “unimportant” victim’s problems are also unimportant.  After being exposed to this treatment, over time, it affects a person.  Eventually, you too believe that your problems are unimportant. 

Narcissists also convince their victims that they are oversensitive or overreacting, which also gets inside a person over time.  I haven’t been around a narcissist in years, but my automatic reaction was still to assume I was overreacting to my problem.

Narcissists also value secrecy.  They forbid their victims to discuss the abuse.  If they do, the victim will pay dearly.  This secrecy becomes a way of life in time.  Discussing things like personal problems isn’t something a victim may consider an option.  For me, it’s such a deeply ingrained habit not to discuss them, it seldom crosses my mind that I have people in my life I can talk to.

If you are like me in this area, I would like to let you know what I am telling myself.  It is perfectly OK to question things.  If something bad is happening, don’t automatically minimize your feelings.  They are valid!  Consider the situation & ask yourself why do you feel this way?  Maybe you are being overly sensitive, but that is fine!  That simply shows an area where you need more healing.  Or, maybe you aren’t.  Maybe you have been wronged & are upset for a very good reason.  If you need to deal with this challenging situation, your emotions can help motivate you to do that.

If you are unsure, then one thing that can help is stepping out of your comfort zone & talking to someone.  You are allowed to do that!  No one can tell you what you can & can’t discuss.  Talk to someone safe & non judgmental.  That person’s reaction will tell you plenty.  Remember my friend being shocked at my situation?  I honestly didn’t realize my circumstances were so bad until she reacted that way.  That was very eye opening to not only that particular situation but my incredibly dysfunctional way of handling problems. 


While God created people to rely first on Him, there is nothing bad about looking to friends for help sometimes.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 in the Amplified Bible has this to say about friends, “Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; 10 for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

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A Way To Cope With Dysfunctional People

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world with flawed people.  Many of those flawed people are very dysfunctional & they refuse to change.  There is no escaping them, so we all need to find ways to cope with them.

One way I have found to deal with such people is by accepting these people where they are.  Please don’t think I am saying people have the right to treat you any way they want & you should accept it.  That isn’t what I mean at all.  I mean recognizing that some people are comfortable operating in their own dysfunction & that is their right.  You have every right to protect yourself from such people, of course.  You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries.  You also have the right to distance from such people to protect yourself. 

Here is an example from my life of what I’m talking about.

For quite some time, my mother went through a phase of often telling me how good a mother she was.  She regaled me with stories of how she took such good care of me.  The stories were strange to say the least.  While there was some truth in many of them, she twisted some facts around to make herself look good.  Other times, she denied any wrong doing towards me at all.

When she first began to do this, I felt like she was invalidating the pain she caused me yet again.  First, by doing the things she did that caused the pain, then later by acting as if such things never happened or spinning the stories around to make herself look good.  And, to add insult to injury, she clearly wanted me to validate her delusions. 

Naturally, I was incredibly hurt & angry when this happened.  I literally could feel my blood pressure rise when she would start telling her tales, or if not then, when she wanted me to agree to her stories.  In time, I realized something though.  This was how she coped. 

I realized that my mother felt badly for doing abusive things to me.  Not like a normal person would though.  She didn’t feel badly for causing pain.  Instead, her actions were so embarrassing to her that she simply couldn’t bear the thought of anyone knowing what she had done.  That is why she started to reinvent the past.  She worked very hard to convince herself, others & even me that she didn’t do the horrible things she did or the events didn’t happen that way I remembered.  She spun facts around in some way to make her look good.  The fact it hurt me didn’t seem to cross her mind.  Often when she said or did things to hurt me, she looked pleased with herself, but that didn’t happen with her stories.  I think she was simply so focused on helping herself feel better, how it affected me simply didn’t occur to her. 

When these things happened, I prayed & God showed me what I told you just now.  This was how my mother coped.  Many people do this exact same thing, narcissist or not.  It is incredibly dysfunctional for sure, but it also is a person’s right to live as functionally or dysfunctionally as they want to do. Naturally I wanted better for her than this for my sake as well as hers, but there was nothing I could do to make my mother operate in a healthier way.  This was her choice & even her right to behave this way.

When I realized that, it helped me to accept my mother’s behavior for what it was.  Dysfunctional but also her right. I kept that in mind when she started sharing her stories, & I was no longer so negatively affected by them. 

I also realized that just because she wants to drag me into this behavior doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it.  While it’s true people have the right to behave badly, that doesn’t mean you have to participate in it.  I never validated my mother’s stories like she wanted me to.  Instead, I changed the subject or ended the phone call.  You too have the right to protect yourself from the awful behavior of other people. 

Accepting people where they are while not encouraging their dysfunctional behavior can make coping with them so much easier!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

How Dysfunctional People Respond To Genuine People

I’ve noticed that people respond very passionately to genuine people, either positively or negatively. 

I realized something else about this phenomenon.  The healthier a person is, the more positively they will respond to genuine people.  The more dysfunctional, the more negatively they will respond to genuine people.  This makes sense when you think about it….

Healthy people are genuine.  If they’re having a bad day, they won’t deny it.  They will say, “Today hasn’t been a good one” rather than pretend all is right in their world.  Not to say they’re negative, of course, they’re just being real & admitting the truth.  They also have no trouble admitting they make mistakes or have flaws.  They don’t judge others for their mistakes or flaws either. 

Dysfunctional people are very different.  They value the appearance of good over what is real.  I learned this when my father was dying, & various relatives attacked me for not going to say goodbye to him.  Their daily influx of abuse was intense to say the least.  One day, I asked God why they acted this way.  He showed me that they were operating out of their own dysfunction.  One of the reasons behind their behavior was they didn’t want to face bad or traumatic things.  They clearly never dealt with their own traumatic experiences.  They instead created this illusion that all was right in their world & everyone in our family was good.  Me not being there for my father at the end of his life threatened this delusion by showing that things were so bad, I opted not to say good bye to my father at the end of his life.  Rather than face the fact that maybe this delusion isn’t a good thing, they tried to force me to go along with their delusion so it could be reinforced.  If I had gone, they would have had proof everything was good, & could continue in their dysfunction as they had before. 


My situation with these dysfunctional people wasn’t terribly unique.  Many of my readers have said they experienced something similar with their family.  Sometimes it was when a narcissistic relative was dying, but not always.  It also happened when some severed ties with a narcissist.  They were attacked by their own family, those who should have been there to support & love them. 

To sum it up, it seems to me dysfunctional people often treat genuine people like the scapegoat.  They act like genuine people are the ones with problems, who are lying & nothing but troublemakers.

The more you heal from narcissistic abuse, the more genuine you will become.  It just seems to be a natural event.  Unfortunately, this can mean the dysfunctional people around you will be cruel to you for it. 

My hope is that you will see the situation for what it is & not change your ways!  Being genuine is a wonderful thing!  It’s so refreshing in a fake world!  Don’t try to change to please these people who are too dysfunctional to appreciate the real you.  Instead, you just do what is right.  Be genuine & if others don’t like that, remember that is not your problem.  They are functioning in their own dysfunction.  Their negativity or even abuse isn’t personal.  It’s simply a reflection of their dysfunction rather than a reflection of you.  They’re allowed to be dysfunctional if that is what they want to do.  It’s certainly not a good choice but it is their right.  And, you also have rights. You’re allowed to be functional & protect yourself from their toxicity.

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When Healthy People Vent vs When Toxic People “Vent”

I have had more people come to me with their problems during my lifetime than I can remember.  It just seems to be a fact of my life.  Most of the time, I find people usually just want someone to validate them & say things like, “I understand” or, “I’m sorry that happened to you!”  It can be draining, but I can handle that. 

Then there are the emotional vampires like narcissists who only want a listening ear.  Unlike other more functional people, they don’t want validation.  They don’t want advice.  They want to treat someone as their emotional trash can, dumping all of their negativity onto that person in order to make themselves feel better with no regard to that person’s feelings.

For a long time, I didn’t realize one of these two types of people was just using me & being toxic.  Eventually I figured out some ways to tell the difference & I hope sharing them will help you.

If someone needs to vent, often they have respect for your time.  They will ask if you have a few minutes because they need to vent.  You are free to say not now & their feelings won’t be hurt.  The more toxic the person, the less likely they will do this & the more likely they also will take up a LOT of your time.  As an added “bonus”- they won’t apologize for taking up your time when they realize they have been talking for hours.

Someone who is venting wants a solution.  If there isn’t one, they are frustrated about that fact.  A person who is toxic has no desire for a solution.  Instead, they simply ramble on & on about their issue, & every time a possible solution is offered, they offer reasons why that solution won’t work. 

Similarly, the toxic person also isn’t open to constructive criticism.  If they have done something wrong in the scenario they are discussing, they don’t want to hear about it.  They get defensive or make up excuses as to why what they did was ok & the other person was all wrong.  Healthy people are open to constructive criticism & will own up to any mistakes they have made.

If you are the listener & you try to show the speaker in this situation the perspective of someone else, a healthy person is willing to consider that.  A toxic person isn’t.  They don’t care about the other person’s perspective in the slightest, only about their own.

When the speaking person was clearly wronged, you can see the difference easily between a toxic person & a healthy one.  The toxic person will not only be upset about what happened, but will play the victim.  In other words, they will accept no responsibility for any wrong they have contributed to the situation, they will claim life is so hard & unfair for them, claim they had no other option but to be in this painful situation & more.

Toxic people in these situations also are notorious for dumping a barrage of issues at once on their listeners.  They don’t seem to notice that the listener has become overwhelmed, either.  They just keep on talking.  Healthy people don’t do this.  They vent about one issue, sometimes two, but that is all.  They also notice if their listener is feeling overwhelmed.

If you have the misfortune of one of these toxic types treating you as their trash can, my heart goes out to you!  Just remember, you have every right to set boundaries.  You can leave the room or hang up the phone.  You can refuse to take their calls if they call you often.  And yes, you even have the right to end the relationship.  Protect your mental health!

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15% Off Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 15% off all of my print books until July 16, 2021. Simply use code SUMMER15 at checkout.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Animals, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Illness & Injury In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently realized something that I’ve been living with for my entire life is most likely a symptom of narcissistic abuse.  It never occurred to me before, so I started researching it & found absolutely nothing on this topic.  All I can share with you is my personal experience, nothing I learned from anyone or anything else.

Many of you who know my work know I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in 2015.  As a result, I live with symptoms of that & a Traumatic Brain Injury from either the oxygen deprivation to my brain during the poisoning or the concussion I most likely got from hitting my head when the poison made me pass out or a combination of both.  I don’t discuss these symptoms much partly because I don’t want to sound like either my mother or mother in-law who used their health problems to gain attention.  I also doubt my problems in spite of the glaring evidence that something is wrong.  Sometimes I think I’m exaggerating or even faking it in order to get attention like them.  And, I don’t want to “bother” anyone with my trivial problems.

I know how ridiculous this sounds.  How can I think that way when I know better than anyone else just how difficult my life is because of the symptoms?  And for attention?!  I minimize them to everyone, including myself.  As far as burdening anyone, I’m not one to ask for help easily so I of all people should know if I want to ask for help, it’s very necessary.  I know all of this, yet these thoughts are still there.  Why?!

Suddenly it hit me.  These thoughts are there because of narcissistic abuse!

Growing up, my illnesses & injuries were taken as an inconvenience.  My mother could be nice to me when I was sick or hurt.  A part of me looked forward to being sick or hurt for that reason. But, she would remind me even years later how much of a burden it was when I was sick.  The older I got, however, the less likely it was she’d be nice to me when those things happened.  In fact, I never missed a single day of high school even though there were days I really should have stayed home. 

When I was 19, as I’ve mentioned before, my mother & I got into a physical fight & she threw me into a wall. I am reasonably sure she wanted to kill me that night.  I lived with awful back pain for 10 years after that.  No doctors believed I was injured & my mother was convinced I was faking it.  Looking back now, I think the pain was due to the emotional trauma rather than any physical injury, because when I get extremely stressed, my back aches in that same location.  At the time however, I didn’t realize this, & thought if even the doctors think I’m faking it, maybe I am. 

As an adult, other people haven’t believed me when something was wrong or acted as if my pain was nothing but an inconvenience to them.  My ex husband being the worst of them, but there were others too. 

I believe the years of being accused of faking problems led me to doubt myself, & think that I am faking whatever problems I have, unless there is undeniable proof.  I realized this recently when I learned one problem I have is a common symptom of brain injuries.  It should have simply been eye opening but instead it made me happy because here is proof that something is wrong!  I’m not faking it!

I also realized I hide so much from my husband because I don’t want to burden him, & I don’t feel I have the right to expect his help when I need it.  Pretty ridiculous, really.  He should help me if I need it!  That is what spouses do for each other! 

It occurred to me that if I experience this with my own health problems, then others who have endured narcissistic abuse probably do too.  That is why I wanted to share this with you today.  You’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  I totally understand!

Unfortunately as of yet, I don’t know of any ways to change this dysfunctional thinking, but if I come up with anything, I definitely will talk about it in the future.  In the meanwhile, please know I understand & am praying for you!

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Regarding Those Who Justify Narcissistic Behavior While Blaming Victims

Proverbs 17:15 states, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (KJV)  All verses in the Bible are important of course, but this one strikes me as being especially important in these days where Narcissistic Personality Disorder is so prevalent.

So many people have similar reactions when someone tells them that they were abused at the hands of a narcissist.  They often defend the narcissist, saying something along the lines of he or she probably didn’t mean what was said THAT way.  They excuse the abuse because the narcissist was abused as a child or some other equally lame excuse.  They also may minimize or even deny the abuse ever happened.  One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured at the hands of my parents as “childhood hurts”, & told me I needed to get over them. 

As bad as such behaviors are, a person condemning a victim is even worse in my opinion.

According to Merriam- Webster’s online dictionary, to condemn someone means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation/ to pronounce guilty.”  Telling someone who has been subjected to horrific cruelty that they are wrong or evil for the abuse that they had to endure is simply reprehensible!  Subjecting such a person to harsh judgment or blaming the victim for “making” their abuser hurt them are also reprehensible behaviors!

Treating someone in these ways can create a great deal of unnecessary toxic shame in them, adding to the already large amount that the narcissist in their life created.  Anyone who does this, in my opinion, is a sorry excuse for a human being.  However, my opinion isn’t really what matters here.  God also has some very strong feelings on this behavior.

Also according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the word abomination means, “a thing that causes disgust or hatred.”

Can you imagine God, the loving, compassionate, kind & gracious God who created the universe & everything in it, feeling that way towards a person He has created?  It seems impossible, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t impossible!  It happens & probably more often than we care to admit. 

As much as God loves His entire creation, even He has limits & no tolerance for certain things.  The next time you are subjected to someone either defending or excusing the narcissist who has abused you, or blaming you for the abuse, I urge you to remember Proverbs 17:15.  When you do, remember, that people like this need prayer though so if you feel able to do that, then please pray for them & guard your heart against their toxicity getting inside of you.  Remember, what they say is WRONG, so protect yourself against their lies taking root in your heart & mind.

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Executive Dysfunction After Narcissistic Abuse

Have you ever heard of executive dysfunction?  As the name describes, this is when executive functions don’t work properly.  Executive functions are cognitive & mental abilities that enable us to accomplish things.  They help us by directing & controlling our behavior, planning, prioritizing as well as giving motivation.

Executive functioning is higher level cognitive functioning.  Some examples are:

  • Emotional regulation, such as working through anxiety.
  • Impulse control.
  • Attention, such as directing attention where it is necessary to accomplish things.
  • Planning such as creating & following a schedule.
  • Self assessment, such as making sure you’re taking a reasonable amount of time on the task at hand.
  • Using working memory, such as following directions or reading.

Anyone can experience executive dysfunction periodically, in particular when overly stressed or tired.  That is entirely normal.  It becomes abnormal when executive dysfunction interferes with daily life.  Difficulty with decision making, concentrating, organization & low motivation are some examples.

Executive dysfunction is often caused by brain damage.  Traumatic brain injuries, dementia & Alzheimer’s disease are known causes, but mental illness can cause it as well.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are known to cause it as well. 

PTSD is another mental illness that can cause executive dysfunction, & that is the reason I felt it necessary to discuss executive dysfunction.

May of us who struggle with PTSD or C-PTSD also struggle with executive dysfunction, yet are unaware that was what our problem is.  It doesn’t help that those in our lives call us lazy, tell us we need to get out more often or offer other equally useless & unsolicited advice.  Useless or unsolicited, it still can take a toll on the self esteem especially since it’s already been so damaged thanks to the narcissists in our lives.

Those of you who have been down this road, I want to let you know today that you aren’t lazy!  There is something wrong with you & it’s not your fault that you have this problem!  Your brain has been broken due to the trauma or traumas you have experienced.  Brain damage in any capacity is no joke!  It’s a horrible thing! 

Brain damage is also not something you can fix easily, like a broken bone.  Brain damage may heal completely or it may not heal at all, no matter what you do or don’t do.  The brain is a very unique organ & very unpredictable in how it responds to injury, trauma & even healing.  I’m not telling you this to make you lose hope.  I’m telling you this so you can be realistic in what to expect.

With the symptoms of executive dysfunction, you can learn ways to work with your symptoms. 

Set up a routine & stick to it.  Not so much you become rigid about it because there will be times you need to change it.  Even so, having a set schedule takes some pressure off because you know what you need to do each day.  It becomes a habit, so it’s easy to remember over time, too.

Use a calendar app on your phone to help you remember appointments & tasks that are out of the ordinary.  One with alarms is especially helpful.

Utilize sticky notes & to do lists to help you to stay organized. 

When motivation strikes, use it!  There tend to be more days without it than with, so when it happens, use it to the best of your ability.

Executive dysfunction isn’t easy to live with I know, but you can learn ways to cope!

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Abusive People Side With Narcissists & Shun Victims

Several years ago, I posted something on my personal Facebook page that turned into a disaster.

The date was May 31, which is the day that my Granddad passed away in 2003. Each year in May, I get depressed because it’s been so difficult losing such a wonderful man. Some years I discuss it, some I don’t. One year, I mentioned it on Facebook & shared a few pictures of him. This simple act caused one of my relatives to be very angry with me. She left a nasty comment on my post for sharing this because she felt I was disrespecting my grandmother by not mentioning her, & only mentioning Granddad.

Think about this for a moment. It was the anniversary of my granddad’s passing. Doesn’t logic dictate that he was the center of my focus on that particular post rather than my grandmother? I adore her, but May 31 was more about Granddad in my mind & that seemed only logical under the circumstances to me. Besides, I mentioned her on her birthday, the date of her passing & my grandparents’ anniversary, so it’s not like she was ignored!

As if this relative’s reaction to my post wasn’t inane enough, it got worse.

The following May 31, I said nothing since I didn’t want to be attacked again. I didn’t think much about this until another one of my relatives (who happens to be a very malicious covert narcissist) mentioned it being the anniversary of my Granddad’s passing. This relative even shared the exact same pictures I had!! She also said similar things in her post as I had in mine the prior year! Her wording was almost word for word the same as mine. And yes, I compared our posts because I was reasonably sure she had copied mine! It was very shocking to me how she so obviously copied me, but what was even more shocking is the relative who the year prior chewed me out for being so “disrespectful” praised this person for doing the exact same thing as I had! She told this person how incredibly kind & thoughtful it was of her to remember Granddad & how much she loved her.

Frankly, the whole scene made me nauseous.

This type of scenario is very common in narcissistic families. The one who is honest about narcissistic abuse is shunned in so many ways by their own family for not conforming, for not being like the rest of the family & for being open about the family’s secrets. However, the narcissists in the family are treated so much differently! They are showered with love, support & encouragement.

If this is happening in your family, you aren’t imagining it. You aren’t over reacting. You aren’t being over sensitive for being angry about the insanity & unfairness of it. You are a person with a normal reaction to this dysfunctional situation. Unfortunately, for dysfunctional families with a narcissist (or more), their behavior is also pretty normal. Many people don’t have the courage to face the fact that someone in their family is an abusive monster or stand up for what is right. Instead, they side with the abuser. Standing up for what is right means actively doing things, like offering support to the victim & calling an abuser out on their actions. It is easier for cowardly people to side with the abuser. Besides, chances are good they will gain something from their allegiance to the narcissist. It could be favor with the narcissist or gifts or anything really.

All of this means that there is nothing wrong with you! It also is nothing personal, even though it feels that way. The problem lies with not only the abusive narcissist, but his or her flying monkeys as well. You are fine, they are not! Please try to remember that, & keep on telling your story!

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

Willful Ignorance

Many people realize the truth will set you free.  They know that even the ugly, painful truth is always better than a pretty lie, & no matter how much it may hurt, always aim for truth in their lives.

Then there are other people who are nothing like that.  They prefer pretty lies any day.  They excuse the bad behavior of others readily & deny those people have done anything wrong.  These people are practicing something called willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is a legal term which basically means a person has made a poor decision to circumvent information as a way for people to avoid making uncomfortable decisions.  On a more personal note, it is the avoidance of information or evidence that would force a person to face something unpleasant.

One of the best examples of this came from my personal life.  As I’ve written about before, at the time my father was dying, I had been no contact with him for several months.  My family attacked me via any means possible daily, trying to force me to go say goodbye to him.  Every time I would block one means, they’d find another.  I finally asked God why.  One of the things He said was that me staying away meant I was proving that not everything was ok.  If I would have gone, that would have shown them that my father was the great guy they wanted to believe he was.  I was threatening their willful ignorance. 

This also happens in cases where a person is abused by their parent, spouse, in-laws, etc. & other people refuse to believe it rather than get involved & try to protect the victim.

While it is certainly understandable to avoid painful things, willful ignorance is incredibly dysfunctional.  It sets people up for disappointment & unnecessary suffering because they refuse to acknowledge the warning signs most people see.  It hurts those closest to those who engage in this behavior because they are helpless to help the person they love.  These people are so devoted to their dysfunction that they will ignore what the person who loves them says, & will fight with them to protect their denial.

It is so hard being in this situation, whether you are the one practicing willful ignorance or the one who loves someone who practices it.

If you are the one practicing it, please stop!  I know the truth can be scary & painful, but by avoiding facing that, you’re hurting yourself, not helping yourself.  You need to know that God loves you & will help you to face whatever needs facing.  If you have trouble with that due to having an abusive parent figure in your life, He understand that too!  Be honest & tell Him just how you feel.  It’s ok!  I can promise you, He won’t cast you into hell or strike you down with a lightening bolt.  He will gently help you to see you can trust Him which will help you to start facing the painful things you must face.

And, if you are someone who loves a person who is willfully ignorant, I want you to know that God understands your pain & frustration.  Ask Him to show you how to support our loved one in a healthy way.  He will!  Don’t get sucked into the dysfunction either.  Stick to the truth & don’t let this person convince you of their false beliefs.  Keep your boundaries in place & protect yourself from the dysfunction of this situation.  This person has the right to engage in their dysfunction to their heart’s content, but you also have the right to engage in healthier ways.  Part of that means protecting yourself & not getting involved in their dysfunction.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health