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My publisher is offering 15% off all of my print books until July 16, 2021. Simply use code SUMMER15 at checkout.
Click the link below to see all of my print books..
Most of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse know about the scapegoat. Scapegoats are often labeled the problem child, spoiled, selfish, disrespectful, rebellious, trouble maker, outcast & more. They are blamed for all problems in the family, even when they have nothing to do with those problems.
One other very common way scapegoats are abused is by minimizing or dismissing anything good about the scapegoat. If you’re the scapegoat, no doubt you have been in this situation. You were excited about getting a promotion at work, winning a contest, or even getting pregnant. In the joy of the moment, you told someone in your family who immediately changed the subject, totally ignored you or compared your situation unfavorably to someone else in a similar one.
Here is one example from my life. Before becoming an author, I did some editing work. I got a job for a local author & was excited. Foolishly, I mentioned the new job to my mother since I didn’t know about narcissism at this time. She changed the subject quickly. A short time later when we were talking she said she was thinking of getting into editing. After all, it’s easy work. Obviously anyone can do it.
It isn’t only accomplishments that are minimized or dismissed. It also can be a talent. If the family scapegoat is a talented cook, others will not praise any food he or she makes, offer suggestions they can do to make the dish better next time or compare the dish unfavorably to someone else’s version of the same dish.
Appearance is another sore spot for those who abuse the family scapegoat. If that scapegoat is attractive in any way, the family will be sure to let that person know how ugly they think the scapegoat is. They will criticize anything & everything about the person’s appearance. If the scapegoat is sensitive about something, that something will be the main source of the family’s criticism. I’ve noticed when the scapegoat is female, weight is often the main source of criticism, no matter the actual figure of the scapegoat.
Along these lines, scapegoating family members also can’t handle when the scapegoat is praised or complemented in their presence. If this happens, the scapegoat WILL be treated especially poorly for quite some time after the complement. I went through this with my mother & her mother, my grandmother. Any time I received a complement in their presence, I cringed because I knew for the remainder of that visit at the very least, they were going to say the most hurtful things they could think of to say to me.
The reasons that scapegoating family members are this way depend on the individuals. Obviously they could be narcissists. Narcissists can’t handle anyone appearing better than them in any way, but especially someone they have deemed so unworthy as the lowly scapegoat.
Another possible reason is any person who engages in scapegoating behavior has absolutely no healthy coping skills. This is why they have a scapegoat in the first place. They refuse to face the truth. They prefer to blame all problems on one convenient target instead. That way, they can be angry at the scapegoat instead of doing the much harder work of handling things in a healthy way.
To make blaming the scapegoat acceptable, they must have a specific image of the scapegoat in mind. It is perfectly acceptable in their minds to scapegoat someone they believe is stupid, a bad person, incompetent & even ugly. To keep that narrative alive, they reject anything good about the scapegoat. As an added bonus, doing so also damages the scapegoat’s self-esteem, which makes him or hear easier to control.
If you’re in this position, please recognize what is going on. What these people are saying or how they are treating you has nothing to do with you. They are trying to make you feel badly so they can make themselves feel better either by gaining narcissistic supply or proving to themselves that you deserve anything said or done to you. They clearly have problems & that is no reflection on you!
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.
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:
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!
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!
In families with narcissistic parents, the person who marries into this family is in for quite the adventure. I learned this from my own experience, but apparently a lot of stories are very similar to mine. Parents decide immediately whether or not they like the person their son brings home. That decision is often based on simply ridiculous, trivial things such as what kind of work does she do or where she grew up. It can be even more ridiculous such as something about her appearance being a problem. If she is too pretty, if she is over or under weight or maybe she is tall when their family is short. It also could be simply a matter of differences in personality. Rather than be polite for the sake of their son, they hate this new woman in his life. They also demand she respect them while not returning respect to her. And, their definition of respect is that she be seen & not heard, only doing what benefits the family. Her needs & wants mean nothing to this family.
In these situations, the family functions as one unit in an “it’s us against her!” manner. As I have said before, they remind me of the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. They all function as one, focused only on what the Collective dictates. In this case, the Collective is usually a narcissistic mother pulling everyone’s strings to make them act according to her whim. One whim the “Collective” usually has is to tell the son & have others in the family tell him as well what a terrible person this new woman is. She isn’t good enough, she stole him from their family, she keeps him from them & similar lies are the most common, but some also will say more drastic things she is unfaithful, steals, uses drugs & more.
It never seems to cross their collective mind that this man could get fed up & walk away. And really, why would it? No doubt he has tolerated all manners of maltreatment & even abuse at the hands of his family. They place demands on him like giving them money or otherwise bailing them out of their problems with no thought to how this could affect him, & he does as he is told. Why wouldn’t he? This is what he has done his entire life. Often siblings in these situations call this one mean spirited nicknames his entire life, even as an adult, as an attempt to let him know that he is still a child in their eyes.
Families like this are entitled beyond belief. They honestly think they are entitled to treat this poor man any way they like. By default, they believe they are also entitled to treat his significant other just as badly. They have groomed this man to take any abuse they dish out without complaint, & expect the same behavior from his wife. If she complains, all hell can break loose.
At this point, families like this don’t consider anything that led up to the complaints. They only see the problem at hand, which is someone is setting boundaries on their abuse. The horrors!!
Sadly, the son in this situation doesn’t often realize how disrespectful & insulting his family is to him.
His family has no respect or love for him if they won’t at least try to be civil to the woman he loves. If they did, they would manage basic civility, unless of course that woman was abusive to him.
Clearly his family also thinks he’s stupid. After all, they expect him not to think for himself, but instead to blindly listen to them regarding his life. As if he doesn’t know what is best for him or isn’t smart enough to choose a good woman to marry! How insulting is that?!
It’s a truly sad situation! If you are in this situation, my heart goes out to you! I pray you & your spouse can work together to set healthy boundaries with this Borg-like family. Being clearly a team is the best thing you can do as a couple in this situation.
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.
Narcissists expect everyone to be just like them. Not only do they expect other people to lie, manipulate & project, but they expect other people to share their likes, dislikes, beliefs & more. When others aren’t exactly like them, narcissists shun & try to change those people.
My late mother in-law & two sisters in-law have been great examples of this in my life. My personality is naturally quite different than theirs. We never shared likes, dislikes, beliefs or really anything in common.
The three of them hated how different I was, & tried to make me like things they did. Usually by insulting things I care about, like my mother in-law insulting me for “liking to be all dirty” by helping my husband repair our car. There was also manipulation though. In passing, some time before Christmas one year, I’d mentioned to my mother in-law how I dislike cooking. Apparently she told her daughters, because that Christmas, all three of them gave me cooking paraphernalia. Cookbooks, utensils, food, seasonings & more. I refer to that Christmas as the Christmas of cooking.
They all are much more extroverted than me, too. Naturally I’m pretty quiet but compared to any extrovert, I seem excessively quiet. One sister in-law told my husband that I was a snob, thought I’m so much better than them & treated them all as, “Poor white trash”.
My own family is no better. My parents insulted my writing even before I started writing about narcissism. My mother called it a “waste of time”. My father asked me one day in a skeptical tone, “Does anyone even buy those books you write?” Others have insulted me for writing about the topics I do, in particular my faith. Obviously I’m not a good Christian in their opinion, because of what I write about.
There is nothing abnormal about this at all for narcissists. This is how they all seem to think. If you don’t fit inside their box, that means you’re bad, wrong, stupid & even crazy.
If you have witnessed this sort of behavior, it’s not your imagination. Really, this is how they & their flying monkeys act! You’re not overreacting! Maybe you were on the direct receiving end of the hatefulness. Maybe you have seen it happen to others, for example in an online forum. If you were a witness to this behavior & defended the person that was targeted, chances are you quickly were targeted. Anyone who disagrees with a narcissist is targeted. Their egos can’t handle that someone might think they are wrong about something, so rather than reflect & consider their own perspective, they prefer to attack an innocent person.
If this is your situation please know there is nothing wrong with you. Your flaws are only in the mind of the narcissist. Everyone is different, & that is ok! There is nothing wrong with you for having different likes & perspectives from a narcissist. There is nothing wrong with you for defending someone you think it was unfair of them to attack or at least judge & criticize. In fact, I think defending that person makes you a good person because it shows you won’t be one of those people who does nothing in the face of injustice. That is a rare & wonderful quality!
Just remember, when this happens to you that this isn’t proof that something is deeply wrong with you. It proves that something is deeply wrong with the one behaving in this manner. Healthy, functional people accept that not everyone is the same & even appreciate the differences in others. Only completely dysfunctional, closed minded & foolish people want everyone to be just like them.
My husband & I were watching a true crime TV show not long ago, as we often do. On it, a man shot & killed another. At the time, he was very high on drugs & paranoid. He mistook a simple comment made by the victim as insulting & disrespectful, which infuriated him enough to shoot this man.
I thought about how ridiculous this is. Even if the man had been insulting, who cares?! That was no reason to kill the guy!
Growing up with narcissistic parents, people often go one way or another. Some turn out like what the comedian Christopher Titus referred to as an insult Navy seal. After your parent has said unimaginably cruel things to you & called you dreadful names, no one else’s insults can hurt you. You’ve built up a high tolerance to insults, & it takes a LOT to upset you. Then there are many other people who have gone the other direction. They have a thin skin when it comes to insults, & are easily devastated. You are the folks I am writing this post for.
Nobody likes to be insulted. Pretty sure that is just a given. That doesn’t mean insults need to be devastating though. For one thing, no one can please everyone. You can be a beautiful person, inside & out, highly intelligent, successful in every area of your life, & someone still will have something negative to say no matter how perfect you are simply because no one can please every single person.
For another thing, emotionally healthy people aren’t judgmental or critical. They are usually way too focused on managing themselves, learning, growing & being good people to worry about picking someone else apart. This tells me that the majority of critical people aren’t emotionally healthy, like critical narcissists. Do you really care about the opinion of someone like that?
Many insults are said out of jealousy. For an example, a person struggling in college may be very critical of their friend who appears to be sailing through without any problems.
There is also something called morbid envy. Narcissists are quite prone to this. They envy someone so much that they are excessively cruel to that person. They can be extremely nit picky towards the subject of their envy too, such as criticizing small things like a woman having a broken nail or a man’s hair being slightly disheveled. Another common sign of morbid envy is when a person receives a complement & the narcissist immediately insults either the receiver or giver of the complement or even both. In any case, morbid envy makes a person very insulting towards others!
And don’t forget.. there is a big difference in someone being insulting & offering constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is worded to offer help & be as not offensive as possible. Insults aren’t said to help, but only to hurt.
My point in sharing these thoughts with you is to help you realize that when someone is insulting to you, Dear Reader, it’s not about you. It’s truly about that person.
What they say also has no basis in reality, only in that person’s dysfunction. An insulting person is trying to hurt or control you by any means possible. That doesn’t mean that what they say is true. In fact, most likely it isn’t even close.
If you can remember these points when you come across someone who is insulting & mean to you, it really will help you to avoid being upset by that person’s nastiness. A different perspective can be a truly helpful thing sometimes, in particular when it comes to dealing with very dysfunctional, hateful people.
Not long ago, something crossed my mind. I thought it may help some of you who follow my work.
During my first marriage, I was so dysfunctional I wasn’t sure exactly why it wasn’t a good marriage, but I still knew something was wrong. My ex said it was fine, but I didn’t buy it. I took my vows very seriously so I spent a lot of time reading marriage books & trying to figure out what I could do to fix these problems that I couldn’t identify. It was always my job to fix things in relationships, as is often the case of those who have narcissistic parents. Plus, it seemed logical at the time that if I was the only one who had a problem, I should be the one to deal with the problem.
After my reading & contemplating things, I came up with a solution that I was certain would fix everything. If I could just ignore any of my own identity, needs, wants, opinions & feelings in favor of his, I just knew that would fix everything.
Obviously, this didn’t work. Although I was successful at doing this for a while, even that wasn’t enough. By the time we got a divorce, I felt like an utter failure & carried the guilt & shame of that for quite some time.
I mentioned this to my best friend recently who admitted she had a very similar experience when married to her ex husband.
If you are married to a narcissist, I would love to help prevent you from going through this pain. Please, listen to the voice of experience when I tell you that although it seems like simply giving in to a narcissist in every way is an “easy” way to keep the peace, it’s not.
Losing yourself in this way is a lifetime job, not something you do once & it’s done. When a narcissist sees you are willing to do this, he or she will expect you to do it over & over, every single day of your relationship. It makes you miserable & erodes you into a shell of your former self. As the saying goes, it’s like a death from a thousand cuts.
Narcissists also are like endless voids when it comes to things that provide them with their narcissistic supply. Nothing is going to fill that void. You simply can’t give a narcissist enough supply. Even when you give everything to a narcissist, it isn’t enough. I was basically a robot that my ex could control, & it still wasn’t enough to please him. He still wanted more even though I had nothing left to give, & was angry when I wouldn’t give it. This is typical!
Also, behaving in this manner enables the narcissist to be the abusive monster that he or she is. There are no consequences when someone tolerates abuse, so abusers naturally see no need to stop. In fact, they often step up the abuse because they know they can do anything they like without fear of repercussions. In the end, this will destroy you. It may not physically destroy you, although the stress of living this way certainly has the potential to create an overabundance of health problems, but at the very least it will emotionally destroy you. By the time my ex & I separated, I lost so much of my identity. I had no idea who I was, what I really liked, wanted, felt, or needed. I was well aware though that I carried a great deal of guilt & shame for being entirely at fault for our failed marriage. If I had any doubt, his friends & family were glad to remind me that everything was my fault.
Dear Reader, if you are in this unenviable situation of being married to someone who wants everything from you while giving nothing in return, please don’t give that person everything! It doesn’t help the marriage & only creates problems! Learn from my mistakes & don’t give in. Instead, take good care of yourself. Question everything your spouse says about you & demands of you. Surround yourself with healthy, functional, caring & supportive people. If your spouse has isolated you from friends & family (as abusers do), there are online support forums full of amazing people who can help you. And most of all, stay close to God. Lean on Him, & let Him help you in this painful situation. I wish you all the best!
During the holiday season, many families get together. They share a good meal & enjoy each other’s company. There is no pressure about these gatherings & everyone genuinely looks forward to them.
Then there are the dysfunctional family gatherings. They are something very different.
On first glance, dysfunctional family gatherings may look the same as their functional counterparts. Family members get together & share a big meal. But, that is often where the similarities end.
With dysfunctional families, the stress is terrible. There is usually intense pressure to show up at the get together no matter what. Sick? Who cares? You aren’t so sick you can’t attend! Car trouble? So what? Figure out how to get there! You would prefer to spend the day at home or with some friends? Clearly something is very wrong with you! No one is as worthy of your time as the dysfunctional family, & the holiday dictator will be highly offended if you even consider spending time with anyone else. You need to attend this gathering & act like you are happy when you’re there, even if you are miserable. Your misery means nothing, after all. This gathering is all about appearances, not about having a good time.
There’s also the dysfunctional clique action. Some people are going to shun other people or at the very least talk badly about them. Maybe the other people didn’t bring a large enough casserole. Maybe their gifts didn’t cost as much as the shunning people think they should have cost. Maybe the other people weren’t wearing the appropriate holiday attire. In any case, something will be found to criticize even when there isn’t anything to criticize.
The truth is that very few people genuinely enjoy this get together. They may dread it but feel no other option is available but to attend & pretend to have a wonderful time.
So why participate in this gathering at all? Wouldn’t it just make more sense to do whatever you enjoy on the holidays & forego the dysfunctional family nightmare hoopla? It would, but few will do that. There are several reasons why.
One reason is no one wants to anger the holiday dictator. Doing so can result in guilt trips, anger, &/or shaming. No one wants this. Many people think it is simply easier to sacrifice a holiday than to deal with the guilt, anger or shaming.
Another reason is that by participating in these get togethers, it gives the delusion that this family actually is a big, happy, functional family. They can pretend that everyone gets along & is a “normal” family because after all, they got together for this holiday gathering. That is a perfectly normal thing to do, so it must prove they are all normal.
When you are aren’t someone who is capable of blindly going along with people’s delusions & denial, these gatherings can be described as nothing less than excruciating. The fakeness of it all is exhausting & repulsive to those who believe in facing the truth.
When you are faced with these dysfunctional family gatherings, you can cope. You have choices.
You can choose not to attend. This decision is a tough one, because those who are in favor of this get together will judge & criticize you harshly for not attending. Even so, it may be worth it.
You can attend, but with strict boundaries in place. You can avoid the critics as much as possible. You also can set a specific time to give to this gathering then leave at the allotted time.
If you attend & the critics start their nastiness, you also can simply say, “Well, isn’t that nice” & walk away. In the southern part of the United States, that comment is known to be a polite way of saying, “I really don’t care.” I have said it many times then walked away. It feels good! It also tells the critics their opinion means nothing to you. Believe it or not, you do have options during the holiday season. Exercise them! It is your right!
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As a black sheep, I have plenty of experience in the role. I hope my thoughts here help my fellow black sheep!
To be a black sheep in your family, you have to be very different from that family. We’re labeled that way because we talk truth rather than denial & we aren’t willing to live in the same dysfunctional patterns as our relatives. Rather than that being a good thing, we’re ruthlessly judged & criticized for not following in our family’s dysfunctional footsteps. Rather than applaud our courage for breaking the cycle, we’re called things like crazy & ungrateful, & treated as if we’re the scourge of the earth for going against “family”.
You also can marry into a family where you’re the black sheep. I’ve done this as have many other women I know. My mother in-law hated me from when we first met, which meant her two daughters did as well. I am very different from all of them. My interests, beliefs & more are different than theirs. These differences were obviously a big problem, among other things. Not submitting to their control was a problem, too. If I just would’ve let them mold me into whatever they wanted me to be, they might have been able to tolerate me.
It’s not easy being a black sheep because of such treatment. Your own flesh & blood being so cruel hurts. Not only their words, but their betrayal too. Or, in the case of in-laws like mine, it’s frustrating because you never had a chance. Nothing you could’ve done or done differently would’ve made any difference.
In these situations, I believe that feeling your emotions is important. It’s ok to be sad or angry that things are as they are with your family &/or in-laws, or that people you thought loved you would turn their back on you. It’s ok to be sad or angry that the family of the person you love has so little love & respect for that person, they can’t manage even basic civility to you, that person’s mate. Any person with even a bit of love in their heart would be emotional about these things!
Accept people. This doesn’t mean you should tolerate abuse, of course. It just means that you accept that these people are in a place of dysfunction & that means you two aren’t going to get along because you want to be healthy. It’s comparable to a former drug addict. That person isn’t going to spend time with his former dealer if he wants to maintain his sobriety! If you want to maintain your functional ways, you’re going to have to avoid dysfunctional people.
Recognize that their mistreatment of you isn’t personal. It’s merely their dysfunction coming out. When my father was dying & my family attacked me for not going to say goodbye, God showed me that it had nothing to do with me or my father. It was about them maintaining their delusions. My not going was proof our family wasn’t perfect, which is a truth they were unable to accept. This seems to be common among family members who shun the black sheep.
If you think about it, do you really want to fit in with people like this? I thought about my family in this context. Almost every person is fake, judgmental, critical, hypocritical, greedy, wicked & more. Not long after my mother died I learned a couple of relatives conned a great deal of money out of her after my father died. How despicable! I have NO desire for anyone like that in my life, family or not. If you think about it, you may feel the same way.
If you’re struggling with your black sheep role, always remember you can talk to your Heavenly Father about it. God will help you to cope & give you comfort. Let Him! He’s more than happy to do that for you.
If you are in a long term relationship or are married to someone & at least one of you has narcissistic parents or family members, there is something you should know. Standing up for your partner to your narcissistic parents is one of the most important things you can do in your relationship.
When a couple makes a commitment to each other, a big part of that commitment is taking care of each other. Part of that involves not tolerating anyone hurting your partner. If you stand up to someone on behalf of your partner, you show your partner that this person’s well being & safety are extremely important to you. You prove that you love that person & will do your best to keep them safe. This is incredibly good for your relationship!
Not tolerating someone hurting your partner also shows the abusive person that you are well aware of their actions, & there are consequences for their behavior. Not doing so only proves to an abuser that they can do anything they want without consequences. This means that they will continue what they have been doing & in time, their behavior will get even worse. And, your partner will be left feeling abandoned & alone, which is potentially relationship ending. No one in a committed relationship should feel that way!
If you struggle with defending your partner to your abusive family members, then please consider a couple of things.
If it is your family that mistreats your partner, this means they are your problem! It is NOT your partner’s job to deal with your family. If your partner confronts your family rather than you, your family will be highly upset. That happens in many families, but especially in narcissistic ones. Chances are they will tell you what a terrible person your partner is, how he or she isn’t good enough to be in your life or other nonsense as a way to deflect your attention from their terrible behavior. If you are the one to confront them, they still may try to deflect & criticize your partner, but there is a better chance of them listening to you than your partner!
Also if anyone in your family mistreats your partner, they have absolutely no love or respect for you. If they had any respect or love for you, they would manage to be civil to your partner no matter how much they disliked this person. If your partner is abusive to you, any children you share or your family, that is a different scenario. They should civilly address their concerns with you, be loyal to you & care more about your safety than civility. However, if the reason they dislike your partner is because of simple differences in personality, your family should manage basic civility at the very least to this person out of love for you. When you love someone, it’s not that hard to be polite to someone they care about even if you can’t stand that person. I have done it & while it can be hard to be polite to someone you really dislike, reminding yourself of the person you care about can make this much easier.
Dear Reader, if you are in this position of having someone in your family mistreat or even abuse someone you love, then please consider what I have said. Protect your loved one! It will protect their mental & physical safety but also help your relationship! In fact, protecting your loved one will increase the bond you both share.
Often, two people who were raised by narcissistic parents marry each other when they grow up. Ideally, they understand each other’s past, offer support & help each other cope if their parents are still a part of their lives. Sadly though, this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes when two adult children of narcissistic parents marry, they learn each person is on a very different page. One is trying to be healthy while the other remains in denial of just how toxic his or her parents are. This is hardly an easy position to be in for either person.
If you are in this painful situation, I hope this post can help you today!
To start with, you need to pray. Ask God for any help you need to cope with the situation, whether it be patience, understanding, wisdom or anything. Prayer is always the best place to start in any difficult situation, & situations don’t get much more difficult than this one!
Next, you need to accept that you & your partner are in a different place. Your spouse may never see the truth about their parents. They also may never see the truth about yours, for that matter. You can’t change this, so you need to accept that painful truth.
You also need to accept that you can’t change your partner. As much as you’d like to, you can’t make him or her see the truth. We all have to face the truth as we are able. Forcing someone to see the truth before they’re ready isn’t good for their mental health.
You may need to stop discussing anything about your parents with each other to avoid conflict. I know this is incredibly frustrating because you should be able to discuss any topic with your spouse. In an ideal world, that is how things are. Unfortunately though, when dealing with two fallible human beings, that isn’t always feasible. If discussing anything about parents causes strife, it may be best to find someone else with which to discuss the problems. A close friend or relative, your pastor or even a counselor may be a much better option for you.
If you have issues with your spouse’s narcissistic parent, unfortunately, you can’t expect support from your spouse if he or she doesn’t see that parent is narcissistic. Don’t expect it from him or her. I realize this goes against what is natural & is very painful & hard to accept, but you need to do it anyway. Accepting this painful truth is hard, but it is easier than to be disappointed in your spouse repeatedly.
You also will need to find ways to deal with your narcissistic in-laws on your own, & chances are slim your spouse will approve of how you deal with them. This is tricky. There is no way to avoid your spouse’s anger in this situation. The best you can do is to remain calm when dealing with your awful in-laws & your spouse. Also be logical when your spouse gets angry. If he or she says you’re hurting the narcissistic parent, for example, you can say that parent has hurt you too. Why was that acceptable behavior but you setting a reasonable boundary to protect yourself wasn’t?
Never forget to take care of yourself & your mental health. A spouse in denial can be very good at making the healthier spouse feel as if they are wrong, over sensitive or even crazy. Don’t buy into this gaslighting! You are doing what is right by facing the truth about your narcissistic parents & in-laws. Don’t let anyone, including your spouse, convince you otherwise!
When you’re the family scapegoat, not only do your narcissistic parents abuse you, but other relatives as well. It seems that people think if your own parents abuse you, doing so much be acceptable behavior. It’s a miserable life! It doesn’t have to stay that way though! You can break out of the scapegoat role!
To start, you’re going to need to get to know yourself so you know what you will & won’t tolerate. Pay attention to how you really feel about everything. Question yourself. Do you like or dislike things because that is genuinely your taste or because your parent told you to? Writing things down may be a big help to you.
Look at yourself objectively, & recognize the truth about yourself. The more you do this, the more you’ll learn to reject the terrible things your abusers have told you about yourself & the healthier your self esteem will become. If it helps, write things down. Maybe write down what they have said about you, & what you observed about yourself.
Learn to stop explaining yourself. Your abusers don’t deserve to know why you do or don’t do things. It isn’t their business. If you feel you must offer an explanation, keep the explanation to a minimum, such as comments like, “I already have plans.” The less information narcissists have, the less they can use to hurt or control you.
Learn about boundaries. When you grow up with narcissistic parents, you have absolutely no concept of boundaries. Narcissistic parents & their children often blur together. Their children are merely extensions of their parents. That is terribly unhealthy! Make healthy changes & learn about boundaries. Learn where you end & other’s begin, & what is & is not your responsibility. Narcissists hate boundaries because they make a person much harder to control, so at first the narcissist in your life may fight your new boundaries. Keep learning & growing though! Your mental health will appreciate it!
Learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can’t possibly fully understand it, I don’t think anyone can. You can get a decent grasp as to what motivates narcissists & what they do, however, which will help you to cope with them. You will learn what to expect from them which will help you to figure out ways to deal with the behavior when it happens. And, when you get a revelation on the fact that they have some serious problems, you won’t take their abusive behavior as personally. You will recognize that they act as they do because they have issues. This makes their behavior hurt less, & makes you less easily manipulated.
As a bonus, learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder also helps you when it comes to the narcissist’s flying monkeys. I firmly believe many flying monkeys are narcissists since they display so many narcissistic behaviors. Plus, whether or not they are, when you realize that people are blindly supporting someone as wicked as a narcissist, that also gives you a new perspective on them. You realize their opinions on your life are worthless because anyone who would want you to maintain such a horrible, destructive & dysfunctional relationship clearly doesn’t care about you.
Breaking free of the family scapegoat role can be intimidating at first, but I promise you, it is well worth the effort you put into it! You can’t help abusive people live their lives in a healthy way, but at least you can prevent them from putting their dysfunction & abuse on you!
There are some very clear ways to identify a survivor of child abuse. These symptoms also are detrimental to the mental health of said survivors. If you recognize these behaviors in yourself, then please don’t beat yourself up. We’ve all been there! Try to accept them as nothing more than a sign of having experienced some really terrible things, then find ways to heal from them however work best for you.
If you’re wondering where to start changing these behaviors in you, the best place I know of is what I always recommend. Prayer. Ask God to help you to be healthier & to heal from the trauma you have experienced. He truly will! One thing I do is when something comes up, I ask Him to tell me the truth about it. “Am I right to feel *insert feeling here*? Why or why not?” & listen for His response.
Read about the type of abuse you experienced. Chances are, you’ll find other survivors experience similar things to you. Learning there are others out there going through what you are can be extremely validating. It also will help you to learn how to cope with what you’re experiencing when you see how other people got through it.
Do you keep a journal? If not, now is the time to start! Seeing things in writing can be so validating & clarifying. It also can help you to keep track of the truth. Abusers, narcissists in particular, love to reinvent the past, & lie about the present. Having written documentation helps you to keep track of the truth so you don’t get lost in their lies.
I truly wish you the best, Dear Reader. Facing pain & changing dysfunctional behavior isn’t easy. However, it is worth it when you’re healthier, happier & behaving in a much more functional way.
When someone mentions the black sheep of their family, the common mental image people get is someone who is very different from the rest of the family. Maybe the black sheep is the one person in the family who is in trouble with the law or is a surly type.
More often than you would think, this isn’t the case though. Instead, the black sheep is nothing like their bad reputation. The only thing they are guilty of is not being like the rest of their family, aka the White Sheep. In these cases, this is usually a very good thing!
As I’ve mentioned before, I think of dysfunctional families much like the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The Borg were all alike & only focused on what was best for the Collective. Individuality was not tolerated. This is exactly like a dysfunctional family. Individuality is discouraged & all that matters is the Collective, aka the family.
Dysfunctional families are the same way, so when a member is different, they aren’t pleased. They are even less pleased if there is abuse in the family & someone discusses the abuse openly. It is a guarantee that person will be labeled the Black Sheep, referred to as mentally unstable, oversensitive & more. Their traumatic experiences will be invalidated or even denied.
This has been my experience as a black sheep in my family & my in-law family. The good part though is although it hurt at first, it taught me a lot.
People who treat someone who has been abused this way are cowardly. They have no integrity either, because they would rather do nothing than stand up for what is right. I’m glad not to be like them! I’d rather be a person of integrity who is willing to help others than be a coward! If being labeled the black sheep means I’m someone with integrity, I’m absolutely fine with the label!
When you consider your situation, chances are good you’ll realize that the opinions of the White Sheep really aren’t important as I did. Why should you care what they think of you? Just because they’re family? That isn’t a good reason! The only people whose opinions should matter to you are those who genuinely love you & want what is best for you, whether or not those people are related to you. People who want you to fit inside their little box of what they think you should be, like the Borg, don’t love you God’s way, nor do they want what is best for you. Why should their opinion of you matter? Being weighed down by the opinions of other people is exhausting, especially when their opinions of you are so restrictive! It’s truly a blessing & freeing not to have to worry about such things.
White Sheep family members often think the Black Sheep of their family has nothing in common with them. They often are right about that! That being said though, it doesn’t mean they’re right & you’re wrong. You’re simply different from them. Different does NOT equal bad! That is a very important thing to realize! Different can be a wonderful thing. People who think differently invented all kinds of great things, heal others mentally & physically & more. Besides, the world would be incredibly dull if we all thought the same!
The things that make you unique also could be something that makes the White Sheep envy you. Did you ever think of that? They could be labeling you out of simple envy. Many people do this rather than try to improve themselves.
Or, they could be too afraid to face their own issues & are trying to shut you down because you facing yours makes them feel badly. This is something God told me that my own family has done to me. It’s better in their mind to shut me down than to face their demons.
Whatever the case, I want to encourage you to embrace your Black Sheep label. Being a Black Sheep requires courage & strength. Be proud of yourself for possessing such wonderful qualities, & don’t try to please the White Sheep. You get this one life to live.. you should live it in a way that pleases you, not others.
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Living as someone with mental illness yet is high functioning, I can tell you it’s utterly exhausting. Doing things takes more energy than it would for someone without mental illness because I have to focus harder. I also do my best to put the problems in a box when necessary so they don’t affect other people. It takes energy to keep that box closed & on a shelf!! Add in having a brain injury & I spend a lot of time exhausted.
If you too are high functioning with mental illness, I’m sure you can relate to what I said, even if you don’t also have the brain injury. You truly are not alone! This post is to help you to understand that.
It feels like you’re being fake a lot of the time, doesn’t it? The truth is you aren’t being fake. You’re just hiding a part of yourself from others you don’t want to know about that part of you. There is nothing wrong with not being 1000% open with everyone. Sometimes it’s best to keep some information private from some people.
It also feels like people don’t believe you have any illness at all. People seem to think if you have mental illness, you need to be incoherent, hearing voices, attempting suicide, or even not taking care of your basic needs such as showering & changing clothes regularly. If you’re clean, your home is in order, you’re working & maintain relationships, many people don’t think you’re struggling with your mental health. They miss the small, subtle signs such as an increased or decreased appetite, sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty focusing, or feeling tired.
Your good & bad days look very similar to most people. They truly have no idea that on bad days, it took every ounce of willpower to pry yourself out of bed, to bathe, to do whatever you need to do on that day. Chances are, most wouldn’t believe you if you told them because they see no real differences between this bad day & your good days.
Sometimes people may say you’re gloomy or a “Debbie Downer” because sometimes your sadness or negative views show. They don’t realize that is depression talking. Or, maybe sometimes you jump at the slightest move from someone or sound & it irritates people. It happens because you have an anxiety disorder, PTSD or C-PTSD.
Although you may not look like it, you feel you are struggling so much. Mental illness consumes so much energy! Focusing on a simple conversation can take a lot out of you. People don’t often understand why you’re tired, but this is exactly why.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these situations? If so, I hope it comforts you some to know that you’re not alone. Many of us understand because we’re on the same boat.
And please remember, just because you can function & function well, don’t think that means you don’t have a real problem. I know, sometimes it’s easy to think this way when you have a few good days in a row. That being said though, mental illness is just as serious as physical illness & should be treated as such. Sometimes it can be more serious in the sense that some mental disorders can be life threatening by making a person suicidal. Don’t neglect to rest when you need to, take your medication as directed, talk to safe people & let them love & encourage you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or asking for help. If you broke your leg, you would do those things, wouldn’t you? Then why not do the same thing to take care of your mental health?
Growing up a scapegoat is a nightmare. You can do absolutely nothing right. Any & all family problems are blamed on you, whether or not you actually had any responsibility in them. Doing this allows the abusive family members to maintain their illusion of normalcy because in their eyes, clearly you are the problem. Your family lies to & about you constantly, causing you to have no decent relationships, especially within your own family. You’re on the receiving end of all of your family’s scorn & abuse, yet if you say anything about this, it only gets worse for you.
You hope that once you turn 18 or move out, things will get better. You aren’t living under the same roof as your dysfunctional family or at least you’re able to escape home which is helpful in minimizing exposure to these awful people. That is all it does though, minimize exposure. They still abuse you.
Being a scapegoat can feel like you are in the worst position in the world with no hope of ever experiencing freedom, but believe it or not, there is some good that comes with a scapegoat.
Scapegoats are known for being the black sheep of their family. They’re different in that they want to learn & grow. They don’t want to continue the pattern of dysfunction that runs in their family. Standing out from this crowd is a good thing!
Scapegoats are also known as truth tellers. They are usually the only ones in dysfunctional families who aren’t concerned with their family’s reputation. They are more concerned with the truth. They are incredibly brave, because telling the truth about your dysfunctional family is so hard. Dysfunctional families can’t handle people knowing the truth about them, so if one of them divulges it, that one must be punished. They will attack this person & smear their good name. They will treat the person as if they’re crazy, & none of what they claim happened actually happened. They will abandon the truth teller when they need love & support the most. They do all of this because protecting their family’s reputation & their delusions of having a big, happy family are more important than the scapegoat’s mental health.
Interestingly, the rejection of the scapegoat by his or her family can make the scapegoat intensely appreciative of good relationships. They highly value their friends & romantic partners who aren’t abusive, & don’t hesitate to let them know how loved & appreciated they are. This makes them fantastic friends & spouses.
Due to their experiences, scapegoats also have great empathy. Having known intense suffering, they truly understand what it’s like to suffer, & don’t want others to feel as they have. They want to help others too because they know what it’s like not to have help when in need. They are often some of the kindest people you can meet.
Also due to their experiences, scapegoats often think differently than most people. Their different perspective can be very helpful for them as well as other people. They give unique & often very helpful advice or simply offer a perspective that someone never considered.
As adults, scapegoats also often become advocates for victims of all kinds of abuse. They help to raise awareness, to educate & even offer comfort to other victims.
In telling you these things, I’m not saying that if you were the scapegoat in your family, you should be grateful. I really am not sure such a perspective is healthy. That being said, I do hope that you recognize yourself in these good qualities. You should be proud of the person you’ve become! All of that abuse was meant to destroy you, yet it did nothing of the sort. Instead, you became the wonderful person you are today. Be proud of your strength, courage & wonderfulness!
Those of you young men & women who are still living at home with your abusive parent (or parents), this post is for you today.
You are in a rough place, as you well know. I’ve been there too, & I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Until you can move out, no doubt you could use some advice to help you cope.
I hope those of you reading this share my faith. Knowing God has been the most important part of my life, including helping me to survive the abuse. When I was living with my parents, however, I didn’t believe in God because of the abuse. No doubt many of you feel the same way & your parents also have misused religion as an excuse to abuse you. Please know that God is nothing like what abusive parents say He is! He is loving & kind, & will gladly help you through this! If you’d like to learn more, click this link: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/salvation-through-jesus-christ/
Learn everything you possibly can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The more you understand it, the more it will help you to figure out ways to cope with your parent’s behavior. It also will help you to remember that you are NOT the problem, your narcissistic parent is. While that may seem obvious when you first learn about NPD, narcissists can be very manipulative. Even to the point of making others believe they are the real problem in the relationship. That happened to me with both my parents & my ex husband. I honestly believed I was the problem in spite of them clearly being the abusers. Not only did I feel awful but they used that as another way to control me. Since I thought I was so awful, I trusted them to tell me how to be better. Learn from my mistake! Abusers are always the problem!
When dealing with your parent, try to show as little emotion as possible. The reason being narcissists use people’s emotions against them. Are you happy? The narcissist will try to make you sad. Are you sad or angry? The narcissist will try to make you sadder or angrier, then tell you that you’re crazy because of how you feel. Always remain unemotional around your parent.
Save up money as best you can. Be frugal with your money & save as much as you can, because you are going to need quite a bit to get a car & to move out. Also, stash your money somewhere where your parent can’t get to it. Many narcissistic parents steal from their children, so you need to be careful about where you hide your money.
Move out to somewhere safe as soon as possible. A roommate helps financially, so that may be an option. You’ll need someone who has a steady job & is responsible, as well as someone you get along well with. Some folks rent out rooms in their home, too. Or, maybe a friend or relative would let you move in with them. Consider your options & make plans as best you can. Don’t share your plans with anyone that might tell your parent about them, however.
If at all possible, buy what you can to prepare for moving out. If you plan to live with a relative or rent a room, you probably won’t need much. A bedroom set, toiletries, towels.. things like this. If you have a friend or relative that knows your situation, they might be willing to hold these items for you until you need them so your parent doesn’t find out about your plans.
I know all of this must seem overwhelming, but really you got this! You have survived so much up to this point which shows you are strong! You can do it!!
Probably no one wants to create the appearance of a big happy family more than the most dysfunctional families. Holidays give them the opportunity to pretend that is what they have by inviting everyone to some big hoopla & pretending everyone gets along. These families ignore the fact that someone in this family has abused someone else, & they invite both people to their get together.
This big happy family charade forces many people to make an awful choice – be face to face with their abuser or spend holidays alone. Neither is a good solution for the victim. I know, because this was my life for many years.
My in-laws always had huge get togethers on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day… you name it. I ideally wanted to spend holidays with my husband rather than his family who clearly hated me, maybe at best spending some time with them on another day near the holiday. This wasn’t acceptable, however. Holidays were to be celebrated on the exact day, no exceptions & no excuses for not being there. Until my husband’s parents died, you probably could count on one hand how many holidays we spent together because I quit going. Sadly, spending holidays alone was a better option to me than spending it with the people who treated me like dirt, even though it ultimately resulted in me detesting holidays.
I believe many other people are in this same boat or at least a similar one. You want to spend the holidays with someone but they want invite your abuser to the same gathering, or they refuse to stop attending the gathering that your abuser attends.
You need to know today that your feelings are valid. In essence, this person is choosing your abuser over you, & you have every right to be angry & hurt about that. Accept that your anger & hurt are valid emotions! Cope with them however works for you.
Maybe this person feels it’d be rude not to invite the abusive person or for them not to attend the same gathering. In dysfunctional families, in particular narcissistic ones, it’s all about appearances. No one wants to shun someone even if they are abusive.
Most people also don’t want to face the fact that someone they care about is an abusive monster. For them, it’s easier not to acknowledge your claims of abuse. Out of sight, out of mind, basically.
There also is the possibility that you’re the safe one to make angry & the other person isn’t. Abusive people often get their way because others know that making them angry means they are going to suffer badly. Some people don’t have the inner strength to stand up to people like this. It’s easier for them to give the abuser their way. Sure, you’ll be angry, but your anger isn’t as painful for them as the abuser’s anger. Your anger may be unpleasant but at least it’s not the sheer torture of the abuser’s anger.
By saying these things, I’m not making excuses for those who choose abusers over victims in this manner. I’m just offering some explanations as to why people behave this way. Maybe it will help you not to be as hurt & angry when you see that it’s nothing to do with you. A person who does this is the one with some issues!
As for you, if you opt to avoid these gatherings, try to enjoy your day somehow. Take it as a day off for doing whatever you like. Indulge in a favorite hobby, watch movies, or even clean out the closet. Or, spend it with close friends. Do whatever will help you to enjoy your day in a healthy way, & leave the dysfunction to those who are comfortable with it. xoxo
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff. Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.
I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings. If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that. I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.
Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was. She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did. I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me. Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood. I still dislike fluffy stories.
I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.
So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories. They prefer something real even if it is sad. Many also share my interest in true crime.
Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities. We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick. Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.
Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up. Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse. This often carries into adulthood. We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them. Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored. Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet. Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet. They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.
Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves. This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching. Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself. If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story. Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice. You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t. Instead it’s redirected.
If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost! At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to. That is good. Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet. This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.
Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now? Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal? If it helps, talk to that child. Write letters to him or her. It may help you tremendously.
Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God. He truly understands even when we don’t. He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?
Enmeshment is a term used to describe when boundaries are either very weak or non existent in a relationship, most commonly within a family. Enmeshed families aren’t simply close. Closeness is healthy, but enmeshment is not. It can cause a myriad of problems for the children.
Enmeshed families share very similar traits. The children are expected to think & act like their parents, to work in the line of work their parents want them to & basically live the life their parents want them to live rather than what they want to. Children are also usually the only close “friends” of sorts that the parents have. The parents demand or guilt trip their children spend plenty of time with them rather than create an environment that would make their children want to spend time with them. Children, no matter their age, aren’t supposed to do things they want, such as spending time with people other than their parents. In fact, enmeshed parents don’t want their children to leave home. Many adult children from these families didn’t leave home at an appropriate age. Instead they lived with their parents well into their 20’s, 30’s or maybe never even moved out. These children also feel responsible for their parents, starting at a very young age. This can cause them to put their parents’ needs & wants over their own, & later also over their spouse’s needs & wants. It creates a tremendous amount of stress in a marriage.
Children in enmeshed families frequently grow up feeling out of place when they aren’t with their families. They also lack a real identity beyond who their parents tell them they are. Their self esteem is usually quite low as well. Other common problems include a lack of relationship skills & lack of understanding of healthy boundaries. They also tend to be very distrustful of people who aren’t related to them, yet tolerate any abuse their family members heap on them. Many of these adult children seek out romantic partners who need caring for, which is a pattern they learned in childhood from their needy parents.
In order to end this dysfunctional behavior, the child of enmeshed parents needs first to recognize just how dysfunctional & harmful enmeshment is. It can be very hard to do this after a lifetime of believing the lie that the enmeshment means their family is closer & healthier t han others, but it still must be done.
Next, some distance must be set between parent & child. This is also very hard, I know, especially since most likely the parent will shame the child for wanting some space, but it can be done. Start small, such as not answering their call sometimes. If your parent complains, just say you were busy (which you were.. taking care of yourself) & couldn’t get to the phone. Also don’t spend as much time with your parent as you have. Pull away a bit. Don’t be so readily available to your parent. If they need your help, unless it’s a true emergency, tell them you can’t do what they need now but you can in a few days. These small ways to start setting boundaries will strengthen you & enable you to set bigger & better boundaries in the future.
Learn who you are, too. Pay attention to what you truly want, like, think, feel… you may discover you are much different than what your parents always said you were. Or, you may have some similarities. Either way, get to know the real you & enjoy who you are.
Recognize the false guilt. If your parent does their best to make you feel guilty for not taking their call one day or not visiting them, that is ridiculous. You’re an adult with your own life! Don’t accept that false guilt!
If you have close friends who understand your situation, discuss it with them. Let them support you. And if you don’t, check online for support forums. No doubt you can find one that helps you.
Mostly, turn to God. Pray about your situation & let Him help you to heal. He loves you & will be glad to do that for you!