Tag Archives: dysfunctional

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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Dismissive Listening

One way people can treat others poorly is by practicing dismissive listening rather than empathic listening.  It is a very common behavior.  It is so common, in fact, that many people don’t even realize that it’s not right.  They may feel badly after someone treats them this way but not necessarily know why, because in addition to being so commonplace, it’s also very subtle.

Dismissive listening can be recognized easily if you know what to look for.  Basically it is like the name says, it is when someone dismisses what you say.  Some common dismissive phrases are:

  • “Don’t be upset/sad/angry!” 
  • “The same thing happened to my friend!  She was fine though.”
  • “At least it’s not…<insert random bad thing here>”
  • “Well it could be worse!”
  • Any sort of toxic positivity phrase like, “cheer up!”, “Positive vibes only!” or “Think only happy thoughts!”

Dismissive phrases like these often try to shut down & even instill shame in the person talking to the dismissive person.  They also are a sign of someone trying to fix another person rather than listen to what they have to say.

While narcissists clearly are pros at dismissive listening, not everyone who talks this way is a narcissist.  Some people simply don’t realize how they are treating others is wrong. 

I urge you to pay attention to how people treat you when you talk.  If someone is quick to dismiss what you have to say, that is a red flag.  They may not be a totally unsafe person, but they may not be comfortable with the subject matter & as a result, want to stop you from talking about it.  Some people simply can’t handle talking about specific topics.  While that is fine, dismissing you if you bring up a specific topic isn’t fine.  The dismissive listening is a red flag that this topic isn’t a safe one to discuss with this person, so you should avoid it.  It also could potentially be a sign the person is dysfunctional or even narcissistic.  The way they behave otherwise will let you know what the case is.

I also want to urge you to pay attention to how you treat others when they are talking.  If you catch yourself being dismissive to others once in a while, it happens.  It’s normal, really.  On a regular basis though, it’s not good.  You can make changes though! 

Remember that being a good listener means you want to hear what someone has to say, & you make that obvious.  You make it clear you are willing to listen to them.  You let the other person speak without interrupting.  You don’t change the subject.  You let them speak without judgment or criticism. 

You also don’t need to offer advice unless the other person asks for it.  Unasked for advice is just rude & presumptuous! Not to mention, many people just need to vent rather than advice. 

Show empathy.  Let the other person know you care by saying things like, “That sounds really hard.”  “Can I do something to help you?”  “I’m here for you.”  & “I care.”  Those little phrases will make a huge difference to someone in need of a comforting friend.

Body language can be important too.  It sends subtle cues to the speaker that you are involved in this conversation.  Touch their hand, look them in the eye, maybe offer a hug.

Dismissive listening may not be the worst thing a person can do to another, but it still needs to be avoided in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

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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

Being The Family Scapegoat

Being the scapegoat in a narcissistic family is an incredibly difficult & painful role. 

Naturally it starts with the abuse from a narcissistic parent, usually an overt one.  This parent is quick with a cruel word, invalidation, mocking or even fury.  This parent may even say they treat their child as they do out of love or they blame their child for making them treat the child as they do.

The other parent is often a covert narcissist.  Compared to the raging, screaming & berating of the overt narcissistic parent, the covert narcissistic parent seems safe & possibly even loving.  Eventually though, that mask slips.  It usually happens as the child is growing up & starting to want some independence.  Covert narcissistic parents also often confide in their children about very inappropriate topics, such as their marital problems.  Overts do this too, but coverts seem to do it more often.  That parent may tell that child that they need protection from the overt narcissistic parent rather than protecting their child, as a functional parent would do. 

Eventually, this child realizes something is wrong with their parents’ behavior.  Maybe they learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or maybe not yet.  Either way, the child starts to set boundaries with their parents for the first time in their life.  This is where the real trouble often begins.

Aside from the obvious horrors of the abuse from their narcissistic parents, they suddenly are faced with even more horrors.  Many reach out to other family members for help, & rather than get the help they need, are shunned, mocked, called awful names like liars, spoiled brats, drama queens or kings, ungrateful & more.  Those who the child expects to help & support them often end up betraying that child & adding more pain.

When narcissistic parents find out their child has revealed the kind of parent they are, they usually release some sort of smear campaign.  Some insult their child, others accuse their child of being mentally ill or addicted to drugs.  Some opt to do the same but from a position of looking concerned.  They may say things like, “I’m worried about her.  She hasn’t been the same since she started hanging around with that guy.  I think he’s making her say these things about me, or maybe she’s on drugs!”  This is even worse, because it makes the child look bad while making the parent appear loving & concerned.  Either way, this child loses loved ones & feels completely alone.

The life of a scapegoat is incredibly hard!  Yet even so, there is hope!

After surviving such horrors, a person develops the ability to handle stress well.  Compared to narcissistic abuse, most crises seem pretty tame. 

After losing friends & family who believe a narcissistic parent’s lies, a person becomes very independent & self-reliant.  In this situation when you are left alone, you can learn you have skills & abilities that you never realized you had.

Losing people in one’s life often makes people turn to God, & that is never a bad thing!  That is the one relationship that will never disappoint or hurt you.  He also can help you to heal from all the damage done by the abusive people in your life.  And, as an added bonus, He can guide the right people into your life.    

If you’re the scapegoat in your narcissistic family, if you recently have been abandoned by foolish people who chose to side with your parents rather than help or support you, then please know it will get better!  You will find new, good, loving people who would never treat you as badly as your family has & who will love you unconditionally.  You will survive this pain & heal.  One day you will look back at all that has happened in your role as your family’s scapegoat & be shocked at how much happier & healthier you are without these people in your life.

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The Value Of Detoxing From Emotionally Incestuous (Enmeshed) Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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One Way To Handle Narcissists

Talking to narcissists is incredibly frustrating at best.  They think they know best on every topic, & aren’t open to hearing other people’s views.  Even more frustrating is when they are abusive, because when confronted on that behavior, narcissists turn things around to where the victim is to blame, over sensitive or overreacting.  They may even deny the incident happened altogether.  So often it’s easier to avoid confrontation & provide no reaction whatsoever, thus depriving the narcissist of their coveted narcissistic supply. 

There is one other way to handle abusive behavior by narcissists I have discovered in my personal experience that can work pretty well.  And, I’ve learned it’s also Biblical! 

When a narcissist says or does something abusive, rather than react, responding is always best.  Reactions are immediate & without thought, which means they can be overly emotional.  Seeing victims overly emotional feeds narcissists, so it’s best to deprive them of that.  Instead, take a moment to inhale deeply & exhale.  This short task helps to calm both the mind & the body, which will help you to formulate a good response.  The best response in these situations I have found is one that is completely logical & void of emotions while asking questions.

As an example, let’s say a narcissist tells their victim they’re stupid.  Rather than the victim reacting & making a bad situation worse, a victim would do best by staying calm & asking logical questions.  “You say I’m stupid?  I don’t understand why you think that let alone say it.  I have a degree in engineering.  You know that.  I just don’t understand why you think that, let alone think it’s an acceptable to say.  Why do you think these things?”  Another example could be something my ex husband used to say often, as many narcissists do.  A narcissist tells their victim they are the only person in the world who would be upset by the narcissist’s behavior.  A great way to respond would be, “Really?  So you’ve really talked to every other person?  I had no idea!  Thanks for telling me!  I guess I should change my beliefs then so I’m not the only person in the entire world who believes this way, shouldn’t I?” 

Responses like this show the narcissist that you recognize what he or she said is foolish, but without calling the narcissist a fool.  It also shows them that you are on to what they are doing, whether that is trying to manipulate you or tear you down.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, & as I said, it’s even Biblical.  Proverbs 26:5 in the Good News Translation says “Give a silly answer to a silly question, and the one who asked it will realize that he’s not as smart as he thinks.”

As long as you stay calm & logical in the situation, without showing any sign of anger or hurt, the narcissist may get angry about what you say, but they also know they can only get so angry without looking completely foolish.  Since they are so focused on appearances, they want to avoid looking foolish at all costs, even if no one is around but you. 

As an added bonus, responses like this do make them back off in this one particular area.  I’ve seen it happen first hand.  I used this tactic with my mother several times.  A close friend of mine mentioned using it with narcissists she knew as well, also with excellent results.

The next time you’re in a challenging situation with a narcissist, try this!  I think you’ll be quite pleased with the results too.

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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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“Healthy” Narcissism

Have you heard the term “healthy narcissism”?  If not, it is a term coined to describe having a positive, healthy view of self, being assertive & also being good with self care.  It first was coined in the 1930’s & is still used today.

I truly mean no offence to the mental health professionals who created the term & those who use it, but that term doesn’t sit well with me.

Those of us who have been abused by narcissists naturally have an aversion to anything with the label “narcissism” attached to it.  We have stared evil in the face & survived what was meant to destroy us.  We learned that evil was known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  We know that the word “narcissism” has no good or healthy aspect to it.  Healthy narcissism often feels like an oxymoron to us, no matter what anyone says. 

It is also offensive to us, because the term healthy narcissism comes across as a very subtle downplaying of true narcissism.  In a way, the term puts healthy people on the same level as narcissists.  It makes narcissism sound not all that bad, like maybe narcissists are just a bit over the top with these normal, healthy behaviors that “healthy narcissists” use.

At the same time, the term can reinforce what narcissists tell their victims, that if they have any boundaries, self esteem or practice self care in any way, they’re selfish.  Having experienced the extreme selfishness of narcissists first hand, not one of their victims wants to be like them in any way.  This means victims will turn from anything that could be perceived as selfish, including healthy things like boundaries & self care.

For anyone reading this who feels this way about this term “healthy narcissism”, I hope you realize that although you may feel this way, please know that there is nothing wrong or bad about having good self esteem, boundaries & practicing self care.  Just because a narcissist told you these things were bad & prevented you from exercising such things doesn’t mean that person was right. 

Many narcissists also claim to be Christian & won’t hesitate to twist God’s word to justify their completely erroneous thinking.  These despicable people often destroy their victims’ faith or they make them believe God isn’t a loving father but instead a heartless dictator who wants victims to do nothing to take care of themselves.  For those of you who have been in this position, I want to let you know something.  1 Corinthians 6:19 in the Amplified Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]?”  Consider how you would treat a beautiful temple.  You certainly wouldn’t allow it treated any old way.  You would protect it & treat it well.  That is exactly how you should treat yourself.  Never forget, your body is a temple.  Treat it accordingly & not like an afterthought. 

Self care is NOT selfish or bad!  It is a good thing, & yes, even a Godly thing.  True self care isn’t narcissistic, so never let anyone convince you otherwise!

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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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When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries.  They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves.  Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors.  Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.

Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons.  When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish.  This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children.  It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what.  They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!

Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.” 

When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive.  Their boundaries become very blurred.  They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep.  They lose their individuality.  They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior.  They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.

When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no.  This fear happens because of many possible reasons.  Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly.  This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly.  They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.

If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone.  This is so common among children of narcissistic parents.  The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.

I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different.  Asking God for help is never a mistake.  Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.

Also start paying attention to how you feel.  Does it bother you when someone expects something from you?  Why does it bother you?  If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!

Start small!  Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that.  The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.

Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries.  Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way.  Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you.  Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries.  Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing.  It shows you who you need to remove from your life.  And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.

Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen.  Just stay with it!  You can do this!

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Another Good Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books when you use code INFLUENCE10 at checkout until May 27, 2022.

Print versions of my books can be found at the link below..

Cynthia Bailey-Rug’s spotlight on Lulu

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Forgiveness After Abuse

Many people who have survived an abusive relationship, whether the abuser is a family member or spouse, have been told they must forgive their abuser if they truly want to heal.  It is often said like forgiveness is a magic wand – once you decide to forgive, you do, all damage caused by the abuse is gone, the abuser has an epiphany about their horrible behavior & abuser & victim live happily ever after.  Sadly, this is absolutely NOT the case!

Forgiveness can be an absolutely wonderful thing.  Unfortunately though the topic is misunderstood by so many, & the people who believe wrongly seem to be the loudest about the value of forgiveness.

To start with, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgive & forget.  There are many Scriptures that mention forgiveness in the Bible, but nowhere is “forgive & forget” mentioned.  In fact, I consider it to be a very un-biblical concept.  Jesus says we are to be as wise as serpents yet innocent as doves in Matthew 10:16.  Forgiving & forgetting to me seems completely unwise.  If someone is abusive, then their victim forgives & forgets abusive incidents, the abuser readily will repeat their abusive behavior because they know there will be no consequences.  However, if you give them consequences for their behavior, there is a much better chance of them changing.  Clearly that isn’t always the case but it creates a much more likely scenario than forgiving & forgetting, & allowing them to abuse you repeatedly.

Many people think that forgiveness & reconciliation are the same thing, but clearly they are not! Luke 17:3-4 in the Amplified Bible say, “Pay attention and always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him.  14 Even if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him [that is, give up resentment and consider the offense recalled and annulled].”  Notice how it states that the offending person repents, you are to forgive him.  It doesn’t say you must forgive no matter what.

Many people who misunderstand Godly forgiveness are also quick to quote the part of Ephesians 4:26 that says not to let the sun go down on your anger.  They quote only a small portion of the verse.  In reality, it says, “Ephesians 4:26  “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down.”  According to this verse, anger is acceptable as long as you don’t allow it to motivate you to doing something shameful or sinful such as doing something vengeful to hurt the person who hurt you.

Another interesting point to consider about Ephesians 4:26.  It shows what actions are acceptable reasons for feeling anger.  Sin, immorality, injustice & ungodly behavior.  There should never be a point in a person’s life that such things don’t make them angry!  Feeling neutral about them or accepting them would normalize some pretty terrible behavior that should not be normal under any circumstances.  You can forgive a person while still being furious about the wicked & cruel things they have done to you.  I can tell you that I have forgiven my parents, but I still despise the cruel things they did to me in my lifetime.

If someone tells you that you need to hurry up & forgive your abuser or even “forgive & forget,” then please disregard what they say.  Forgive God’s way when you are ready to take that step.  Don’t let anyone make you feel as if you aren’t forgiving fast enough, as doing that can slow down the healing process.  Take the step when you feel ready to do so & only then.  And, never forget that you are always going to feel some anger at what was done to you because it was wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that way!  It’s a healthy way to feel & yes, even a Christian way to feel!

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15% Off All Print Books!

My publisher is offering a sale.. 15% off all print books when you use code SELFLOVE15 at checkout until May 20, 2022

My books can be found at the link below..

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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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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Encouragement For Those Who Went No Contact With Their Narcissistic Parents

I don’t know how many nasty comments I have heard people say when it comes to severing ties with narcissistic parents.  I’ve heard no contact with a narcissistic parent is taking the easy way out.  Relationships take work, & walking away is cowardly & lazy.  Blood is thicker than water, so just put up with whatever they do.  Every time I hear this sort of nonsense, I just want to scream.

If someone has told you something similar, I want to encourage you today to ignore their idiocy!  Rather than feel badly for severing ties with your abusive parents, consider some points…

Most of us who have gone no contact agonized over the decision for a long time.  It wasn’t done thoughtlessly.  Quite the opposite!  It took me at least a couple of years before going no contact.

A lot of pain & suffering led up to the decision to go no contact.  Years upon years of abuse led to it.  This decision wasn’t reached because of one small disagreement!  It was reached only after suffering years of constant emotional & mental abuse.  Often other forms of abuse were present as well such as spiritual, physical, sexual & financial.  There is absolutely NO reason to tolerate that from anyone!  It’s only right to protect yourself!

No contact isn’t easy.  Not only the decision to sever ties with a parent.  The aftermath can be incredibly difficult. 

Many narcissists engage in horrific smear campaigns that turn a person’s entire family & many friends against them.  So many people who go no contact with their narcissistic parents lose any family they have as well, because the family blindly sides with the narcissist.  The ones who go no contact are labeled as selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, evil, un-Godly & more.  This happened to me, & I can tell you that it is incredibly painful when people you think care about you turn on you & side with the people who have caused you such intense pain. 

Other narcissists refuse to take no contact as an answer.  They harass & stalk their victims mercilessly.  They show up places where the victim frequents often.  They inundate their victim with constant phone calls, voicemail messages, text messages, emails & social media messages.  The sheer volume can be utterly staggering!  And, they will have others harass you too.  I have been in this situation & I really can’t describe how terrifying it is.  To think that someone has the ability to manipulate others into harassing you & can devote so much time to harassing you makes you wonder what else exactly are they capable of doing?  It’s also terrifying when you block one means of accessing you they have then suddenly they show up via another means.  One of my abusers was so vicious that I blocked her access to my website, because she began contacting me through it after I’d blocked her ip address by usingother computers.  One of her messages simply said “boo!”  To me, that clearly was her way of saying, “You can’t stop me!”  So disturbing!

Even if you are fortunate enough not to experience those scenarios, that doesn’t mean no contact is easy.  Once you’re away from the constant abuse, you’d think you could relax & begin to enjoy life, but that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes, once your brain realizes it can stop functioning in survival mode, it seems to want to force you to face all of the problems that were on the back burner because you had to focus on survival.  That can be very overwhelming at first, & it takes time to make your mind behave in a more manageable way.

There is also a grief process that happens after no contact with narcissistic parents.  You grieve the parents you never had but wanted.  You grieve your stolen childhood.  You grieve the family & friends you lost only because you were trying to protect yourself.  You realize your parents & family never loved you, & grieve that loss. 

No contact isn’t easy by any means.  To follow through with it takes an incredible amount of courage & strength.  Never, ever let anyone make you feel as if something is wrong with you for severing ties with your narcissistic parents.  Instead be proud of yourself  because you had the fortitude to do one of the most difficult things a person can do!

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Losing A Narcissistic Parent

When someone’s parent dies, if they had a good relationship with that parent, or at least the relationship looked good to outsiders, chances are good they will get plenty of support.  People will tell them how sorry they were for their loss, bake casseroles & say things like, “If there’s anything I can do, call me.” 

When a narcissistic parent dies, however, the scenario is much different.  The usual signs of support & love aren’t common.  Quite the opposite in many cases.  Often, flying monkeys come out of the woodwork to shame the adult child at this time for being such a terrible son or daughter.  To add insult to injury, people often don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a narcissistic parent.  They seem to think since the adult child wasn’t close to the parent or maybe hadn’t even seen them in quite some time prior to their death, their death doesn’t affect the adult child at all.  They may say a brief, “sorry to hear about your parent” & then act as if nothing has happened. 

When my parents died, this was my experience. My father died in October, 2017, & I hadn’t spoken to my father in several months, then almost eighteen months later when my mother died, we hadn’t spoken in almost exactly three years.  My father was the first of my parents to die.  His death was surrounded by flying monkey attacks.  They happened frequently for a few months prior to his death, then daily for his final three weeks.  When my mother died, it also was an incredibly hard time for me.  Thankfully there weren’t many flying monkey attacks, but it was still very difficult.  The circumstances surrounding her death & her final few months were tragic, leaving me feeling incredibly guilty for being no contact when she clearly needed help.

The scenarios I described earlier is exactly how things worked for my husband & I.  When his parents were getting sicker & frailer, he spent a lot of time with them.  He was the only one to take them to the hospital & help them out when no one else would.  People showered him with concern & love when they passed away.  My husband got through the situation quite well, keeping to himself as is his nature, but no doubt several folks would have been more than happy to listen if he wanted to talk or if he’d needed help. When my parents died, things were very different. Those closest to me were very supportive but those not as close to me weren’t.  It was clear they didn’t know what to say or do, so in most cases, they said & did nothing, even acting as if nothing unusual had happened in my life.

Since so many of you who follow my work are in positions more like mine, & you are on my heart to talk to today.

When your narcissistic parent dies, it’s going to be hard.  The lack of support & understanding from those in your life may make it harder.  And, it really hurts!

I learned something.  It’s perfectly normal to feel as I did.  If you feel the same way, you’re ok!

For one thing, it’s a shock.  Narcissistic parents seem to take up all the space in the relationship.  They can feel bigger than life.  That means it’s impossible to imagine life without them.  It even can feel like them dying is impossible – they’ll always be there.  The fact they aren’t anymore is a strange & difficult thing to face.

There’s also the fact that losing a parent is different than losing anyone else.  You never lived one single day without your parent.  You may not have seen them daily or called often, but even so, the only world you know involved your parents being in it.  They were always a part of your reality.  That alone makes it seem impossible to make sense of a world without them. 

Lastly, whatever the relationship, if you’re drastically affected by your parent’s death it’s because you loved your parent.  That is totally normal.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That is just as normal as feeling virtually nothing when your narcissistic parent dies because you grieved them enough when they were alive. 

Losing a narcissistic parent is a very strange thing to face.  Don’t judge yourself for how you feel about it.  Just focus on taking care of yourself, & grieving however you need to.

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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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Feeling Like You Must Forget Yourself To Focus On Others In Relationships

When I was growing up, I remember feeling like my entire purpose in life was only to serve people no matter any personal cost, never burden anyone, never inconvenience anyone in any way or even cost anyone anything.  This continued into adulthood where it was reinforced by the extremely toxic narcissists I have known. 

The result of this was me believing some pretty dysfunctional things.  One of those things was that if a relationship I was in was to succeed, I “only” had to forget all of my feelings, wants & needs, & focus completely on the other person.

While this may sound utterly impossible to believe, I assure you it is quite true.  I also can assure you that such dysfunctional beliefs are ingrained in many victims of narcissistic abuse. 

If you are someone who has thought this way, I am speaking to you today.

Whatever any narcissist told you that ingrained such beliefs in you is utterly WRONG!  You aren’t responsible for other people.  Of course, doing for others is good but not to the extent you hurt yourself.  By doing too much for other people, you are distracting them from God & focusing their attention on you.  When they have a need, rather than pray, they’ll simply expect you to meet that need, which in a way makes you a god in their life.  This is NOT good!!

It also isn’t healthy to be so completely self reliant.  That is a trauma response that stems from being hurt too much by other people.  I know – I struggle with this myself on a very regular basis, so I have a lot of experience in this area.  God made human beings to need relationships, to need other people.  A relationship with Him should be first & foremost, of course, but also we should have healthy relationships with other people.  Healthy relationships involve two people being there & doing for each other.

There is nothing wrong with accepting help from someone.  Whether the help is someone giving you money, doing something for you or helping you to do something, none of this is bad at all!  As I said, God made people to need relationships. 

You aren’t burdening anyone or even inconveniencing them.  You are NOT a problem in any way!  Don’t believe this lie that the narcissist told you!

In fact, the fact the narcissist has told you this is proof that there is something pretty wonderful about you.  Narcissists don’t choose average or even below average people to abuse.  They choose those who they see as attractive, loving, intelligent, talented or successful.  People who they believe will make them look good, in other words.  The narcissist saw something special in you, which is why he or she chose you to abuse. 

If your parent is the abusive narcissist in your life, you may think that doesn’t apply to you but it still does.  Yes, you were a convenient target, but your parent also thought there was something special about you. 

When you have moments where dysfunctional thoughts like I have mentioned come to mind, then please remind yourself that these thoughts are wrong.  They were planted there by someone who only did so for self serving reasons, not because these things are true.  You have all the same rights that other people have, no more or less.  You are worthy of expecting to be treated with love & respect.  You aren’t a burden to anyone, & anyone who truly loves you appreciates the special person that you are!

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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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20% Off ALL Print Books!

My publisher turns 20 this year, & as a way to celebrate, they’re offering 20% off print book purchases until February 11, 2022. All you have to do to take advantage is use code 20FOR20 at checkout.

My books can be found at this link:

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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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15% Off ALL My Print Books!

My publisher is having a 15% off sale until January 28, 2022. Simply enter code IMAGINE15 at checkout.

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After The Relationship With A Narcissist

Ending a relationship with a narcissist is very difficult.  Whether they end it with you or you end it with them, it is an incredibly challenging time.

If they end the relationship with you, chances are you will feel like an utter failure for disappointing them.  You will wonder what you could have done better, how did you fail this person so badly & other painful thoughts.  If the narcissist in question is your parent, you may feel excessive guilt for disappointing your parent so badly they felt they had to cut you out of their life. 

If you end the relationship with them, chances are you will be racked with guilt & even shame for hurting this person so badly.  I remember when I ended my engagement to my now ex husband, I felt so free… until he & his friends started telling me how miserable he was without me, how I should resume the relationship & more.  The guilt was more than I could take, which is why I went against my better judgment & married him.

If you’re feeling anything like I have described or more that I haven’t after a relationship with the narcissist in your life has ended, I want to talk to you today.

You have zero reason to feel badly, & this is why…

If you ended it, you did so to protect your mental & physical health.  That is NOT a bad thing!  Everyone has to take care of themselves!  God has entrusted us with this one mind & body, so why shouldn’t we take good care of them?!

If you think you should have been more patient or understanding, stop that right now.  Patience & understanding are great, but they can enable bad behavior.  Healthy boundaries don’t mean you lack these qualities, but that you won’t tolerate being abused even if you understand why the person is abusive.

If you feel that you didn’t do enough, again, stop!  People who have been in any relationship with a narcissist, whether that person is a friend, relative, spouse or whatever, tend to go above & beyond.  The real problem isn’t that you didn’t do enough.  It’s that narcissists want too much.  Nothing is ever enough as far as they’re concerned.  You could work at pleasing them until you are almost dead & they still would say you didn’t do enough.  No human being could please a narcissist for more than the occasional rare moment.

If the narcissist ended it with you, this doesn’t mean you have failed in any way.  Narcissists have exceedingly high & unrealistic expectations.  They expect more than any human can give.  As I just mentioned, no human being can please any narcissist for more than a fleeting moment.

Narcissists don’t understand what it is like to love in a real, healthy, Godly way.  They claim to love some people, but sadly their version of love is nothing like what love is supposed to be.  They “love” people that they can manipulate & use to provide them with narcissistic supply. 

If you doubt what I am saying, consider how the narcissist has acted since your relationship with you ended.  Chances are, they have acted much like a child who either has lost their favorite toy or lost interest in that toy.  They either act heartbroken & like that “toy” has done them wrong, or they act like they don’t care about the toy because it was defective anyway & they’re better off without it.

Whether you ended the relationship with the narcissist or they ended it with you, you are going to be fine.  It may not feel like it now, but it is true!  In time, you will realize how much better off you are without that person in your life.

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