Tag Archives: dysfunctional
Living as someone with mental illness yet is high functioning, I can tell you it’s utterly exhausting. Doing things takes more energy than it would for someone without mental illness because I have to focus harder. I also do my best to put the problems in a box when necessary so they don’t affect other people. It takes energy to keep that box closed & on a shelf!! Add in having a brain injury & I spend a lot of time exhausted.
If you too are high functioning with mental illness, I’m sure you can relate to what I said, even if you don’t also have the brain injury. You truly are not alone! This post is to help you to understand that.
It feels like you’re being fake a lot of the time, doesn’t it? The truth is you aren’t being fake. You’re just hiding a part of yourself from others you don’t want to know about that part of you. There is nothing wrong with not being 1000% open with everyone. Sometimes it’s best to keep some information private from some people.
It also feels like people don’t believe you have any illness at all. People seem to think if you have mental illness, you need to be incoherent, hearing voices, attempting suicide, or even not taking care of your basic needs such as showering & changing clothes regularly. If you’re clean, your home is in order, you’re working & maintain relationships, many people don’t think you’re struggling with your mental health. They miss the small, subtle signs such as an increased or decreased appetite, sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty focusing, or feeling tired.
Your good & bad days look very similar to most people. They truly have no idea that on bad days, it took every ounce of willpower to pry yourself out of bed, to bathe, to do whatever you need to do on that day. Chances are, most wouldn’t believe you if you told them because they see no real differences between this bad day & your good days.
Sometimes people may say you’re gloomy or a “Debbie Downer” because sometimes your sadness or negative views show. They don’t realize that is depression talking. Or, maybe sometimes you jump at the slightest move from someone or sound & it irritates people. It happens because you have an anxiety disorder, PTSD or C-PTSD.
Although you may not look like it, you feel you are struggling so much. Mental illness consumes so much energy! Focusing on a simple conversation can take a lot out of you. People don’t often understand why you’re tired, but this is exactly why.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these situations? If so, I hope it comforts you some to know that you’re not alone. Many of us understand because we’re on the same boat.
And please remember, just because you can function & function well, don’t think that means you don’t have a real problem. I know, sometimes it’s easy to think this way when you have a few good days in a row. That being said though, mental illness is just as serious as physical illness & should be treated as such. Sometimes it can be more serious in the sense that some mental disorders can be life threatening by making a person suicidal. Don’t neglect to rest when you need to, take your medication as directed, talk to safe people & let them love & encourage you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself or asking for help. If you broke your leg, you would do those things, wouldn’t you? Then why not do the same thing to take care of your mental health?
Growing up a scapegoat is a nightmare. You can do absolutely nothing right. Any & all family problems are blamed on you, whether or not you actually had any responsibility in them. Doing this allows the abusive family members to maintain their illusion of normalcy because in their eyes, clearly you are the problem. Your family lies to & about you constantly, causing you to have no decent relationships, especially within your own family. You’re on the receiving end of all of your family’s scorn & abuse, yet if you say anything about this, it only gets worse for you.
You hope that once you turn 18 or move out, things will get better. You aren’t living under the same roof as your dysfunctional family or at least you’re able to escape home which is helpful in minimizing exposure to these awful people. That is all it does though, minimize exposure. They still abuse you.
Being a scapegoat can feel like you are in the worst position in the world with no hope of ever experiencing freedom, but believe it or not, there is some good that comes with a scapegoat.
Scapegoats are known for being the black sheep of their family. They’re different in that they want to learn & grow. They don’t want to continue the pattern of dysfunction that runs in their family. Standing out from this crowd is a good thing!
Scapegoats are also known as truth tellers. They are usually the only ones in dysfunctional families who aren’t concerned with their family’s reputation. They are more concerned with the truth. They are incredibly brave, because telling the truth about your dysfunctional family is so hard. Dysfunctional families can’t handle people knowing the truth about them, so if one of them divulges it, that one must be punished. They will attack this person & smear their good name. They will treat the person as if they’re crazy, & none of what they claim happened actually happened. They will abandon the truth teller when they need love & support the most. They do all of this because protecting their family’s reputation & their delusions of having a big, happy family are more important than the scapegoat’s mental health.
Interestingly, the rejection of the scapegoat by his or her family can make the scapegoat intensely appreciative of good relationships. They highly value their friends & romantic partners who aren’t abusive, & don’t hesitate to let them know how loved & appreciated they are. This makes them fantastic friends & spouses.
Due to their experiences, scapegoats also have great empathy. Having known intense suffering, they truly understand what it’s like to suffer, & don’t want others to feel as they have. They want to help others too because they know what it’s like not to have help when in need. They are often some of the kindest people you can meet.
Also due to their experiences, scapegoats often think differently than most people. Their different perspective can be very helpful for them as well as other people. They give unique & often very helpful advice or simply offer a perspective that someone never considered.
As adults, scapegoats also often become advocates for victims of all kinds of abuse. They help to raise awareness, to educate & even offer comfort to other victims.
In telling you these things, I’m not saying that if you were the scapegoat in your family, you should be grateful. I really am not sure such a perspective is healthy. That being said, I do hope that you recognize yourself in these good qualities. You should be proud of the person you’ve become! All of that abuse was meant to destroy you, yet it did nothing of the sort. Instead, you became the wonderful person you are today. Be proud of your strength, courage & wonderfulness!
Those of you young men & women who are still living at home with your abusive parent (or parents), this post is for you today.
You are in a rough place, as you well know. I’ve been there too, & I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Until you can move out, no doubt you could use some advice to help you cope.
I hope those of you reading this share my faith. Knowing God has been the most important part of my life, including helping me to survive the abuse. When I was living with my parents, however, I didn’t believe in God because of the abuse. No doubt many of you feel the same way & your parents also have misused religion as an excuse to abuse you. Please know that God is nothing like what abusive parents say He is! He is loving & kind, & will gladly help you through this! If you’d like to learn more, click this link: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/salvation-through-jesus-christ/
Learn everything you possibly can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The more you understand it, the more it will help you to figure out ways to cope with your parent’s behavior. It also will help you to remember that you are NOT the problem, your narcissistic parent is. While that may seem obvious when you first learn about NPD, narcissists can be very manipulative. Even to the point of making others believe they are the real problem in the relationship. That happened to me with both my parents & my ex husband. I honestly believed I was the problem in spite of them clearly being the abusers. Not only did I feel awful but they used that as another way to control me. Since I thought I was so awful, I trusted them to tell me how to be better. Learn from my mistake! Abusers are always the problem!
When dealing with your parent, try to show as little emotion as possible. The reason being narcissists use people’s emotions against them. Are you happy? The narcissist will try to make you sad. Are you sad or angry? The narcissist will try to make you sadder or angrier, then tell you that you’re crazy because of how you feel. Always remain unemotional around your parent.
Save up money as best you can. Be frugal with your money & save as much as you can, because you are going to need quite a bit to get a car & to move out. Also, stash your money somewhere where your parent can’t get to it. Many narcissistic parents steal from their children, so you need to be careful about where you hide your money.
Move out to somewhere safe as soon as possible. A roommate helps financially, so that may be an option. You’ll need someone who has a steady job & is responsible, as well as someone you get along well with. Some folks rent out rooms in their home, too. Or, maybe a friend or relative would let you move in with them. Consider your options & make plans as best you can. Don’t share your plans with anyone that might tell your parent about them, however.
If at all possible, buy what you can to prepare for moving out. If you plan to live with a relative or rent a room, you probably won’t need much. A bedroom set, toiletries, towels.. things like this. If you have a friend or relative that knows your situation, they might be willing to hold these items for you until you need them so your parent doesn’t find out about your plans.
I know all of this must seem overwhelming, but really you got this! You have survived so much up to this point which shows you are strong! You can do it!!
Probably no one wants to create the appearance of a big happy family more than the most dysfunctional families. Holidays give them the opportunity to pretend that is what they have by inviting everyone to some big hoopla & pretending everyone gets along. These families ignore the fact that someone in this family has abused someone else, & they invite both people to their get together.
This big happy family charade forces many people to make an awful choice – be face to face with their abuser or spend holidays alone. Neither is a good solution for the victim. I know, because this was my life for many years.
My in-laws always had huge get togethers on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s day… you name it. I ideally wanted to spend holidays with my husband rather than his family who clearly hated me, maybe at best spending some time with them on another day near the holiday. This wasn’t acceptable, however. Holidays were to be celebrated on the exact day, no exceptions & no excuses for not being there. Until my husband’s parents died, you probably could count on one hand how many holidays we spent together because I quit going. Sadly, spending holidays alone was a better option to me than spending it with the people who treated me like dirt, even though it ultimately resulted in me detesting holidays.
I believe many other people are in this same boat or at least a similar one. You want to spend the holidays with someone but they want invite your abuser to the same gathering, or they refuse to stop attending the gathering that your abuser attends.
You need to know today that your feelings are valid. In essence, this person is choosing your abuser over you, & you have every right to be angry & hurt about that. Accept that your anger & hurt are valid emotions! Cope with them however works for you.
Maybe this person feels it’d be rude not to invite the abusive person or for them not to attend the same gathering. In dysfunctional families, in particular narcissistic ones, it’s all about appearances. No one wants to shun someone even if they are abusive.
Most people also don’t want to face the fact that someone they care about is an abusive monster. For them, it’s easier not to acknowledge your claims of abuse. Out of sight, out of mind, basically.
There also is the possibility that you’re the safe one to make angry & the other person isn’t. Abusive people often get their way because others know that making them angry means they are going to suffer badly. Some people don’t have the inner strength to stand up to people like this. It’s easier for them to give the abuser their way. Sure, you’ll be angry, but your anger isn’t as painful for them as the abuser’s anger. Your anger may be unpleasant but at least it’s not the sheer torture of the abuser’s anger.
By saying these things, I’m not making excuses for those who choose abusers over victims in this manner. I’m just offering some explanations as to why people behave this way. Maybe it will help you not to be as hurt & angry when you see that it’s nothing to do with you. A person who does this is the one with some issues!
As for you, if you opt to avoid these gatherings, try to enjoy your day somehow. Take it as a day off for doing whatever you like. Indulge in a favorite hobby, watch movies, or even clean out the closet. Or, spend it with close friends. Do whatever will help you to enjoy your day in a healthy way, & leave the dysfunction to those who are comfortable with it. xoxo
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff. Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.
I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings. If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that. I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.
Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was. She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did. I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me. Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood. I still dislike fluffy stories.
I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.
So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories. They prefer something real even if it is sad. Many also share my interest in true crime.
Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities. We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick. Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.
Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up. Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse. This often carries into adulthood. We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them. Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored. Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet. Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet. They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.
Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves. This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching. Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself. If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story. Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice. You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t. Instead it’s redirected.
If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost! At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to. That is good. Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet. This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.
Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now? Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal? If it helps, talk to that child. Write letters to him or her. It may help you tremendously.
Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God. He truly understands even when we don’t. He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?
Enmeshment is a term used to describe when boundaries are either very weak or non existent in a relationship, most commonly within a family. Enmeshed families aren’t simply close. Closeness is healthy, but enmeshment is not. It can cause a myriad of problems for the children.
Enmeshed families share very similar traits. The children are expected to think & act like their parents, to work in the line of work their parents want them to & basically live the life their parents want them to live rather than what they want to. Children are also usually the only close “friends” of sorts that the parents have. The parents demand or guilt trip their children spend plenty of time with them rather than create an environment that would make their children want to spend time with them. Children, no matter their age, aren’t supposed to do things they want, such as spending time with people other than their parents. In fact, enmeshed parents don’t want their children to leave home. Many adult children from these families didn’t leave home at an appropriate age. Instead they lived with their parents well into their 20’s, 30’s or maybe never even moved out. These children also feel responsible for their parents, starting at a very young age. This can cause them to put their parents’ needs & wants over their own, & later also over their spouse’s needs & wants. It creates a tremendous amount of stress in a marriage.
Children in enmeshed families frequently grow up feeling out of place when they aren’t with their families. They also lack a real identity beyond who their parents tell them they are. Their self esteem is usually quite low as well. Other common problems include a lack of relationship skills & lack of understanding of healthy boundaries. They also tend to be very distrustful of people who aren’t related to them, yet tolerate any abuse their family members heap on them. Many of these adult children seek out romantic partners who need caring for, which is a pattern they learned in childhood from their needy parents.
In order to end this dysfunctional behavior, the child of enmeshed parents needs first to recognize just how dysfunctional & harmful enmeshment is. It can be very hard to do this after a lifetime of believing the lie that the enmeshment means their family is closer & healthier t han others, but it still must be done.
Next, some distance must be set between parent & child. This is also very hard, I know, especially since most likely the parent will shame the child for wanting some space, but it can be done. Start small, such as not answering their call sometimes. If your parent complains, just say you were busy (which you were.. taking care of yourself) & couldn’t get to the phone. Also don’t spend as much time with your parent as you have. Pull away a bit. Don’t be so readily available to your parent. If they need your help, unless it’s a true emergency, tell them you can’t do what they need now but you can in a few days. These small ways to start setting boundaries will strengthen you & enable you to set bigger & better boundaries in the future.
Learn who you are, too. Pay attention to what you truly want, like, think, feel… you may discover you are much different than what your parents always said you were. Or, you may have some similarities. Either way, get to know the real you & enjoy who you are.
Recognize the false guilt. If your parent does their best to make you feel guilty for not taking their call one day or not visiting them, that is ridiculous. You’re an adult with your own life! Don’t accept that false guilt!
If you have close friends who understand your situation, discuss it with them. Let them support you. And if you don’t, check online for support forums. No doubt you can find one that helps you.
Mostly, turn to God. Pray about your situation & let Him help you to heal. He loves you & will be glad to do that for you!
Narcissists love keeping victims to themselves, & will go to any means necessary to accomplish it. Isolating a victim gives an abuser plenty of advantages…
The victim with no support system without caring friends & family, which often makes a victim easier to control. Supportive friends & family give a person strength & help to raise their self-esteem, which are two qualities no abuser wants in a victim.
If a victim doesn’t even realize the situation he or she is in is abusive, caring people in his or her life will recognize it. They will call the victim’s attention to it & convince the victim that he or she deserves better. They also will do their level best to help the victim to escape. Certainly no narcissist wants this scenario!
Lacking that support system also can lead to depression. Depressed people are much easier to control than happy people. They simply don’t care as much about anything, including themselves, so they may go along with all kinds of things. They also won’t talk back or question an abuser like a healthy person would. They don’t think they deserve any better, so they are easy to manipulate which works out very well for abusers.
Also with isolation, this severely limits the information available to a victim. This means a victim is less likely to realize how wrong the abuse is & more likely to tolerate the abuse without question. Isolation also means an abuser can control what information the victim is privy to, which is extremely advantageous to abusers.
Isolation can be accomplished by several different means, & abusers will use any or all of these tactics to get their way.
If a victim already has friends &/or relatives they are close to when the abusive relationship begins, most abusers will sow seeds of doubt in their victims’ minds about those relationships. My ex husband did this. We met just before I turned 17, & even then, he was starting to work on isolating me. It got worse after we were married, though. He began telling me that my best friend wasn’t really a good friend. At the time, her now ex husband was doing the same thing regarding me. As a result, our friendship ended. (Thankfully we got back in touch after our divorces & are now inseparable.) My ex also told me that my grandparents, who I adored, hated me & didn’t believe me that my mother was abusive, so I shouldn’t talk to them anymore. He did it enough that I did sever ties with them for years.
If an abuser isn’t successful at making a victim doubt a person, they have other ways to destroy the relationship. If their victim is with someone, they can call constantly, interrupting that time together & generally being highly annoying. Before getting together with someone, the abuser can create some crisis, forcing the victim to cancel their plans. Bonus for them is if they can make the victim not tell the person they had plans with, to just stand them up, because certainly that person will be angry. Abusers also may keep victims so busy, they simply have no time to spend with anyone but the abuser.
Another way to isolate victims is for an abuser to show their disgust with the victim’s friends or family. Constantly talking about how bad the people the victim cares about are can erode the love the victim feels for them. The victim may begin to see these people as the narcissist does, & the victim ends those relationships voluntarily.
If the victim grows up with an abusive parent, that abuser has a big advantage that a romantic partner lacks. The abusive parent can control the child from birth, & refuse to allow that child to befriend anyone of whom the parent doesn’t approve. The parent can keep the child so close that the child has no opportunity to make friends. A parent can even home school the child or refuse to allow the child to spend time with extended family, & the child must do as he or she is told.
If you’re involved with someone, anyone, who undermines your relationships or tries to separate you from others, it’s a HUGE red flag! If at all possible, don’t let this person isolate you! Maintain your healthy relationships! They are truly invaluable!
Since my mother’s death in April, I have received some written communication from my “family” (using that term VERY loosely). Others have called my mother’s home. I can only assume that is some lame attempt to contact me. I have long since blocked their phone numbers so they can’t reach me, & why else would anyone call that number knowing its owner is dead?
Rather than speaking to these people, I figured since many are nosy enough to read my work, I’ll send a message via my blog. I may even add this as a page to my website since I know they also frequent it, not sure yet.
Anyway… onto what I have to say.
If any of you who are attempting to contact me are looking for some sort of handout, that is NOT going to happen. I will NOT enable your bad behavior (like your greed & poor money management skills), nor will I be anyone’s doormat. Find someone else to use.
If you want something that belonged to either of my parents: you need to realize the nastier, more demanding or manipulative you are to me, the less likely the chances I will give you anything. It doesn’t matter if my mother once told you that you could have some specific item when she died. What matters now is what is written in her will, & specific items aren’t listed. Since she assigned me as her personal representative, this means everything is now mine to do with however I see fit. I am boxing up some items to send to people she was close to. I will send them when I get the time. There is no need to contact me or to rush me. Showing up at my home or my parents’ home will result in me calling the police to have you removed from the property.
If you’re trying to contact me so you can share your opinions on how I am handling this situation, because I didn’t have a funeral for my mother or even because I had no relationship with my parents since 2016, I really don’t care what you think. Your opinions mean nothing whatsoever to me, & I won’t listen to them. Trying to contact me to share them is a waste of your time & energy.
If you harass me, some of you should know, I have saved evidence of your previous harassment. For one relative, I have plenty of documentation of your harassment dating back as far as 2013. I have plenty of evidence from the past, & will save any & all new evidence. I will involve the police if you force my hand.
To that one “special” cousin who showed up uninvited & unwelcome to my mother’s private burial just to give me grief, cause your big scene & refuse to leave, you astound me. You truly have NO class. You clearly also have zero respect. Obviously no respect for me which you’ve already made abundantly clear, but also none for yourself or my mother. You claimed to be at the burial for my mother, yet you yelled at & treated me like dirt AT HER GRAVE. No respect! Count your blessings I have the common decency not to act like trash at a burial, because that is the only reason I behaved as well as I did towards you that day.
I also want to say to my family: leave me alone. I have nothing to say to anyone, nor do I want to hear anything from anyone. All I want is for my so-called family to leave me alone.
No doubt by now some smug, “holier than thou” people are reading this & judging me for being angry. No doubt you also think that makes me bitter, unforgiving, a fake or a “bad Christian” as my family has called me before. It doesn’t. Even Jesus got angry. Several times his anger is documented in the Bible. Maybe if you actually read a Bible instead of twisting the few Scriptures you know to fit your agenda, you’d know this. You really should try reading the Bible sometime. You might learn something.
Narcissists seem to have a “gift” for making their victims feel that they are the problem in the relationship, that they are the ones who are dysfunctional, not the narcissist. Often, they are so talented at doing this, a victim is completely baffled as to how it happened. This post will explain some ways narcissists accomplish this.
Narcissists love gaslighting. Gaslighting is the systematic tearing down of a person’s sanity. Narcissists will deny having done something, deny the incident happened as it did, find a way to blame the victim for the problem & more. Constant gaslighting tears down a person’s ability to trust their own memories, feelings, perceptions & yes, even sanity.
Narcissists either imply or say outright that their victims are crazy. My mother used to tell me often, “You need help.” It was accompanied by a pitying expression. She was implying I was in dire need of psychological help, yet, never got it for me. Why? Because she knew I was sane. I, however, had doubts for most of my life about my sanity. After all, no one would say such a thing to their own child if it wasn’t true, I thought.
Narcissists project their faults onto their victims. Narcissists view others through a very distorted lens. Titus 1:15 says, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to the corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure; both their mind and their conscience are corrupted.” (AMP) One aspect of this is accusing their victims of the very things that they themselves do, even when there is no evidence of the victim doing anything of the sort. They often accuse their victims with such certainty, the victim may believe the accusations are true. There is one good thing about projection. It can be useful in learning what the narcissist is really up to. The narcissistic husband who claims his wife is unfaithful is most likely having an affair. The narcissistic mother who accuses her child of lying is a lair. Listening to what the narcissist accuses you of can give you a great deal of insight into what they are truly like.
Narcissists love the silent treatment as a weapon. In my late teens, my mother & I argued constantly. One of her favorite ways to hurt me was to give me the silent treatment. I would beg her to tell me what was wrong, & she either refused to answer or would say, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” At the time, either scenario was devastating. Saying nothing showed me I wasn’t worth her time or energy to speak to. Saying she wouldn’t tell me if I didn’t know what was wrong made me feel crazy, stupid & ashamed for not knowing what egregious sin I had committed.
Narcissists lack self awareness. Rather than question that maybe, just maybe, they might be the problem in their relationships, they blame all relationship woes on other people. If you aren’t aware of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be quite easy to believe that the narcissist is right, & you are at fault for their problems or the problems in your relationship.
Narcissists are provokers. In other words, narcissists will do whatever it takes to push their victims to the point of rage so they can use that rage to prove to the victim that the victim is crazy, abusive, irrational or anything else. Since the narcissist stays calm while the victim is clearly upset, it’s easy for the victim to believe what the narcissist says at this point.
Narcissists will say that they forgive you, even when you have done nothing wrong. By saying this, they are implying that you are the problem in this situation, & they are very good & kind people to forgive you for the awful things you have done.
Learning about these tactics can help you to protect your mental health, & not fall for the narcissist’s lies that you & you alone are the dysfunctional one in the relationship.
When a relationship ends, the average person is sad for some time. They may fondly remember special times with the other person or great conversations. They miss such things, but in time, they’re ok. They move on & get involved in other relationships. This is a healthy way to cope, because it allows a person to heal.
Nothing like this happens with narcissists.
Narcissists are incapable of truly loving. Because of this, a relationship that has ended doesn’t affect them in the same way as it affects your average person.. They don’t miss the person they love, but instead, they miss their favorite source of narcissistic supply. This is why they act differently than functional people when a relationship ends. Narcissistic supply is like a drug to them. When a relationship ends, they’re losing their “fix”, if you will. That isn’t an easy thing for any addict to handle.
To start with, narcissists don’t usually understand why someone ends a relationship with them. To understand, they would need at least some empathy, which most people know is something that all narcissists lack. They don’t understand why their ex would object to them cheating, why that former friend complained that they took advantage of their good nature, or why their adult child was hurt when they cut their child out of the will for simply telling the parent, “no.” Narcissists are incapable of grasping such concepts. In their minds, they’re entitled to whatever they want. Besides, the behavior didn’t hurt them, so it isn’t important to them. If it had hurt them, they’d change their behavior at the speed of sound. Since it didn’t though, they are left baffled why their partner, friend or child ended the relationship. What the other person wanted or felt wasn’t so much as a blip on their radar. All that matters to a narcissist is what they want, which usually boils down to their precious narcissistic supply. Since the wants of the narcissist & victim are vastly different & the victim’s are not even considered by the narcissist, usually the end of a relationship catches them by surprise. Their victims often warn them for months or even years in advance that they won’t tolerate the abuse forever, yet still, narcissists are shocked when someone ends a relationship with them.
Narcissists also don’t like rejection. No one does, of course, but narcissists are infuriated by it. Rejection is a narcissistic injury. It makes them feel badly about themselves, so the person who rejected them must pay for making them feel that way. Rather than walk away from the failed relationship with some semblance of dignity, most narcissists opt for revenge. Overt narcissists often harass & stalk their victim, & get their flying monkeys in on the process as well. They also will unleash a very impressive smear campaign, lying about the victim being the cause for the failure of the relationship because of being selfish, crazy, controlling & even abusive. This often isolates the victim from friends & even family who believe the lies. Covert narcissists are much less likely to harass & stalk their victim, since they prefer to look like a good person, but some will or have their flying monkeys do their dirty work for them. They also don’t have any trouble creating a smear campaign, but it is much different than their overt counterparts. Rather than say outright their victim is crazy & abusive, they phrase their smear campaign in a way so as not to sound critical, but concerned instead. They may say something along the lines of, “I’m not surprised my ex left me. She got so mean when she took drugs. She just wasn’t herself. I hope she’ll be ok…” See how this smear is? It makes the person saying these things sound concerned & as if he isn’t trying to destroy the reputation of his ex girlfriend. People will believe this type of smear campaign very easily, even if they know the ex in question & know she never took drugs.
There is also the likelihood of the narcissist trying to “hoover” the victim back into the relationship. When this happens, the narcissist may do their best to make the victim believe they have changed. They may make promises that they have no intention of keeping such as they won’t do whatever the victim complained about anymore. Some other empty promises are if the victim would only take the narcissist back, he or she will be faithful, they’ll be less selfish, they’ll think more of their victim’s needs. The narcissist also may shower the victim with expensive gifts or love letters. They may send their flying monkeys to tell the victim how miserable they are without the victim, & how desperately they want to resume the relationship. This is a tough one, I know. When I first broke up with my now ex husband, it seemed like everyone we knew was telling me how sad he was, how miserable he was, how much he missed me & how I really should get back together with him. I felt so incredibly guilty at that time that I agreed not only to return to him but to marry him after only a short time apart.
Sometimes, narcissists fall into depression after a relationship ends, too. They have no coping skills & aren’t fully aware of their emotions, plus they just lost their narcissistic supply. It’s normal they wouldn’t handle any break up well when you consider these facts. This can be so hard for the person who ended the relationship. When people tell you how sad this person is or he says he doesn’t want to live without you, it can be incredibly hard to take. It can make you feel incredibly guilty & responsible, which is truly unfair.
If you experience these things after ending a relationship with a narcissist, I urge you to remember that the narcissist is acting this way not out of a genuine & healthy love for you, but because he or she is a narcissist. They are incredibly dysfunctional people. You stick to no contact, & remind yourself often exactly why you came to that decision. Write things down if it helps, since writing can be an incredibly useful tool. Also remember that person’s emotions aren’t your responsibility. Don’t forget to document everything in case you need to involve the law at some point. Even if you don’t, the documentation will help you a great deal to remember why you’re no contact. It’ll also help you to see the way this person tries to manipulate you. And, if the narcissist creates a smear campaign against you, never, ever react to it. Any reaction would give this person narcissistic supply, so you deprive this person of that supply. In time, he or she will get bored with your lack of reaction & give up the smearing. Lastly, if the narcissist sends the flying monkeys after you, remember that few are truly innocent people who are fooled by the narcissist. Most are also narcissists, I believe. Treat them accordingly. Remember to tell them nothing that you would object to the original narcissist knowing, in particular anything about the original narcissist. Chances are the flying monkey will share everything you say with that person, so give them no material to work with. Most importantly, pray & lean on God to help you get through this. He truly will help you!
When a person grows up surrounded by chaos, that person often ends up comfortable with chaos. Knowing nothing else such as peace & calm, those things feel foreign & even scary. There can be comfort in the midst of chaos simply because it is what you know, it is what is familiar.
Some people who have grown up abused even create their own chaos & drama without realizing it simply because they can’t stand peace & quiet. Even if they hate such stressful situations, the familiarity of them provides a degree of comfort.
Most people gravitate to the familiar, even when it is painful or dysfunctional. This is why a woman who grew up beaten by her drunken father later marries a man who gets drunk & beats her. She doesn’t like being beaten- it’s simply familiar to her & she naturally gravitated to it.
Other people grew up being the “fixers” in their family. They were the ones who calmed down their parents when they were fighting or denied the fact their parents were abusive if anyone questioned them. They kept their dysfunctional parents happy at all personal costs. Being the family fixer means these people feel they have no real purpose unless they are able to fix things. They are comfortable with chaos because it means they have a job to do, & it’s a job they know how to do well.
As dysfunctional as this behavior is, there is hope. The healthier you get & the more you heal from the abuse, the less comfortable you will feel with chaos. It will happen naturally. I’m not sure there is a way to address this issue specifically. I’ve just noticed that it seems to diminish on its own as a person gets healthier. So take care of yourself. Address whatever issues you have as they come up. Pray, ask God to help you to get to the root of the problem so you can deal with it the most effectively. In time, you’ll notice you become more uncomfortable with chaos & much more comfortable with the peace that you deserve.
Families that have at least one narcissist in them have some very serious problems. It may not be evident at first glance. Everyone may act like they get along just fine. They may celebrate holidays together every year. Yet, serious problems still exist in this family.
People raised by narcissistic parents have mental health issues. There is no avoiding that. Many struggle with C-PTSD or PTSD at worst, anxiety &/or depression at best. Some even turn out like their narcissistic parent, emulating the awful & abusive behaviors they grew up seeing daily. All have relationship problems to varying degrees.
The problems don’t stop at the children of narcissists, however. If those children grow up to have children, they too will be abused by their narcissistic grandparents.
Other relatives will be drawn into the fray as well. Narcissists love to tell other people how wonderful they are while also telling them just awful their victim is. That way, if the victim ever tells anyone about the abuse, no one will believe the victim. Instead, they will label the victim as crazy, mentally unstable, addicted, selfish, etc. while assuming the narcissist has done nothing wrong.
When this happens in a family situation, it seems that most people are exceptionally willing to blindly believe the narcissist & attack the victim. That’s how my family is. No one wants to believe someone they are related to is abusive & cruel. That is very understandable, of course. However, in families with a narcissist, they often take this to the extreme.
Not only do narcissistic families not want to accept the fact their relative is an abusive narcissist, they will do anything to shut down the person making the accusation. They will ignore the victim, accuse the person of lying, being angry, spoiled, immature or unforgiving, or even personally attack the victim. The particularly aggressive ones may stalk & harass the victim, or inundate the victim with hateful texts, emails or social media messages. If the victim blocks their phone number, email address, etc, they will find other ways to contact the victim- get a new phone number or email, create a fake social media profile or hack someone else’s profile. If the victim is a Christian, you can guarantee their faith will become the subject of attack. The “family” will twist Scripture around to support their warped beliefs &/or claim the victim can’t be a Christian & behave in this manner.
It is a terrible thing finally to summon the courage to open up about the abuse you endured, & when you tell people you think will support you, to be met with disbelief & even cruelty. It is one of the most horrible things a victim can endure- being mocked or shamed for divulging the most painful experiences in their life while watching those they thought would be on their side comfort & support the very person who abused them.
I know there is nothing I can say to make this experience hurt any less. I’m very sorry if you’re going through this. There are some ways you can cope though.
Always, ALWAYS maintain a close relationship to God. He knows the truth & understands your situation. He will give you comfort & strength. He will show you the best way to handle the situation, too.
Remember, you do NOT need anyone’s validation but your own. Yes, it’s a good thing having people in your life support you & even say things like, “That was awful.. I’m sorry you went through that.” However, you don’t *need* it.
That brings me to my next point- learn to validate yourself. To do this, accept your feelings without judgment. You’re allowed to be hurt & angry your family treats you badly. Be proud of the good person you are & the direction towards healing you’re taking. You have overcome a great deal. If you recently learned about narcissism & began speaking about it, that is a huge step- be proud of yourself for that!
And lastly, never, ever forget that these people who have hurt you so badly have serious problems. Functional people defend victims, not attack them while coddling an abuser. These people may get something from the narcissist, so they won’t go against her & risk losing it. Maybe the narcissist is someone they idolize, so they refuse to listen to anything bad about them. Maybe they’re simply cowardly, & think it’s easier to go along with the narcissist than to stand up for what’s right. In any case, this person’s behavior says nothing about you but plenty about them.
Although I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, you will survive this awful situation, & you will be much stronger for having done so!
I read a really good article the other day. It gave me another reminder that it’s ok to cut toxic people out of my life, even if they’re so called “family.” I thought I’d pass this excellent reminder along to you, Dear Reader.
Although family is supposed to be a safe haven, that isn’t always the case, as no doubt you are well aware. Many families are downright cruel & abusive to their own family members. When their victims defend themselves, they often are shunned by other relatives (even ones who know how the abusers are), friends & society in general. Why people seem to think you should tolerate abuse from someone because you share some genes & maybe a name is beyond me!
Being related to someone by blood or by marriage does NOT give a person the right to be abusive. In fact, there is NOTHING that gives any person the right to be abusive.
As the victim of an abusive person, you have rights…
- You have every right to protect yourself from all abuse- spiritual, mental, emotional, verbal, financial, physical & sexual.
- You have the right to expect people to treat you with basic respect- be polite, not try to cause you harm or pain, etc.
- You have the right to be upset when you are mistreated or abused.
- You have the right to say no & to have healthy boundaries & to expect them to be respected.
- You have the right not to tolerate guilt trips, manipulation & attempts to control you.
- You have the right to be in a relationship without losing yourself, to maintain your own identity & independence that is pleasing to you.
- You have the right to live your life in a way that is good & healthy for you, even if others disapprove.
- You have the right to end a relationship with an abusive person, even if that person is “family.”
Remember these rights, Dear Reader. If someone in your family is abusive, you absolutely have every right to eliminate that person from your life if you have to do so to protect yourself.
Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries. This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone. Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused. Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no. How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?
Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard. They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility. Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility. Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours. You do not even need to have an opinion on these things. If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.
No one can control someone with healthy boundaries. You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.
By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide. You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated. It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.
Boundaries also enforce consequences. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems. Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere. People need consequences for their actions, good or bad! How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works? That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter. Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer? This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.
When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it. They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be. Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems. Unsafe people will not. If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you. Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.
For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:
• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?
When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.
You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:
• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary. Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is. If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.
Remember to respect the boundaries of others too. You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life. Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions. And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others. People are also allowed to freely express their emotions. While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them. If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.
You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this! Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway! The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks. You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.
Since I first learned about the Myers Briggs personality test a few years ago, I’ve become fascinated with it, in particular my type (INFJ) & my husband’s (INTJ). It’s been very helpful in getting to know us both better.
Recently I learned about some of the signs of an unhealthy INFJ. I realized I have too many of these qualities! Since I know some of you who read my work are also INFJs, I thought you might want to learn this information too so you can work on getting healthier like I am.
Unhealthy INFJs excuse toxic behavior. “He didn’t mean it- he was just tired.” “She really cares, but isn’t necessarily good with words.” Sound familiar? I’ve noticed that I do this mostly when I’m under a great deal of stress. I think it’s a coping skill- there is so much to deal with, I can’t cope with dealing with one more toxic person, so I excuse the behavior. Since INFJs can be logical, not only emotional, it’s a good idea to look at situations logically. It helps you to see toxicity when it’s there.
Being over the top perfectionistic. It’s a good thing to do things to the best of your ability. But, being too much of a perfectionist can steal your joy. It’s OK to make mistakes sometimes! Everyone does. Don’t let your self-esteem be too tied to what you do. You are more than your accomplishments!
Always putting others’ needs ahead of yours. It’s great to be selfless, but when other people come before you & your needs constantly, that is unhealthy! It can lead to resentment, anger & burn out. It’s ok to say no! Your needs are just as valid as anyone else’s- treat them accordingly. Remember to set & enforce healthy boundaries.
Walls are firmly built. While it’s just smart to protect yourself, an unhealthy INFJ can build walls around themselves that are impossible for anyone to penetrate, even those close to us. This can happen when we don’t resolve an issue. An argument with my husband, even a minor one, that wasn’t resolved well can result in me building concrete walls around myself until it is resolved. Walls also can happen when an INFJ is especially anxious or overworked. Learn to recognize those walls, & why they’re in place, then deal with what made you build them.
Feeling responsible for everyone else’s feelings. As INFJs, naturally we want to see other’s happy. We want to cheer up our best friend when she’s sad or our husband after a bad day at work. This is a wonderful trait, but when taken to the extreme, it is also extremely unhealthy. Caring so much for others leaves no room to care for one’s self. Remember that everyone is responsible for their own feelings. It isn’t your job to take care of everyone’s emotional needs.
INFJs can be too passive. Most INFJs are pretty laid back, content with letting others have their way most of the time. While this isn’t a bad thing, when taken to the extreme, it can lead to the INFJ being taken advantage of. Remember that it’s OK to ask people for things & to have your own way sometimes.
While learning you behave in these unhealthy ways can be discouraging, please don’t be discouraged. The healthier you become & the more you heal emotionally, the more your behavior will change naturally. You may not even work on these behaviors specifically, but one day realize you are no longer that way.
Anyone who has made the decision to go no contact has no doubt thought about resuming that relationship at some point. This is especially common when a person ends a familial relationship.
I really think this is because God made people to need relationships, in particular those with our families. Ending a familial relationship is abnormal, no matter how valid the reasons. It goes against nature so it’s very painful to do & also to live with. As a result, it’s only natural to reconsider the decision to go no contact with family. When parents are involved, that decision is doubted even more often.
If you’re reconsidering your decision to go no contact, first of all, please know you aren’t abnormal, a glutton for punishment or anything else bad you may be feeling right now. You’re normal. In spite of the tremendous amount of prayer & consideration that goes into going no contact, I seriously don’t think there is one person who doesn’t have doubts about it at some point. I certainly haven’t talked with anyone who hasn’t doubted their choice. I can honestly say every single person has, including myself.
If you end a relationship with a family member, chances are slim that person will be out of your life entirely. You may see each other at family parties, reunions, weddings & even funerals. Even if you haven’t spoken to each other in a long time, you still share relatives & they will mention that person at some point. They may mention what is new in that person’s life or that they saw that person recently. If that person develops health problems, you are guaranteed to hear all about it, whether you want to or not.
When you see that person after a long time or when a mutual friend or relative mentions that person is having health problems, those are likely times for you to consider reconnecting. Before you do that, please pray & think long & hard before you do anything.
When you pray about it, listen to what God has to say. He probably won’t give direct orders by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord….” Instead, you may feel a “knowing” about what you need to do. Listen to that! I firmly believe those “knowings” are from God.
Think long & hard about what this person you’re considering reconnecting with is doing. When your mutual friend or relative talks about that person, do you see old familiar patterns in that person’s behavior? Is that person still controlling? Critical? Abusive? If so, reconnecting is a terrible idea!
Another thing to watch for- if that person has told someone to tell you that they are sorry, do that person’s actions back up the words? Has the person accepted responsibility for their abusive actions? Did she mention specific acts that she was apologizing for or did she say non apologies like “I’m sorry you feel I was mean to you” or “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did wrong”? Non apologies are NOT real apologies! They are said to lure you back into the relationship thinking all is OK now.
Also watch the person’s behavior. Does that person respect the fact you wish to stay no contact or try to contact you even years later? Safe people don’t like when someone ends a relationship with them, but they at least respect that person’s decision. They don’t inundate them with phone calls, texts, emails, posts on social media, etc. They stay out of the life of the person who ended contact with them. Unsafe people are much different. If they don’t want to end a relationship, they will fight hard not to let it end. They often harass, stalk, & bully. My mother & I stopped speaking to each other in 2016, & all was fine.. until my father was dying in October, 2017. Suddenly she called & sent me notes in the mail often & the flying monkeys attacked me constantly. Two months to the day after he died, & also two days before Christmas, I received a letter from her lawyer in the mail trying to force me to talk to her. This behavior shows me that nothing has changed with her. She still believes what she wants is what matters.
So Dear Reader, if you are considering ending no contact with someone, then please consider what I said. Pay attention to what you hear & observe about the person before allowing that person back into your life. And most of all pray! God will NOT lead you wrong!
For many people, the holiday season is a glorious time of year. The time to enjoy friends, family & celebrations. For others like me who have survived demanding, controlling, entitled or even narcissistic parents &/or in-laws however, the mere thought of the holidays brings about a feeling of dread.
My first & current mothers in-law both always demanded my husband’s & my presence every Thanksgiving & Christmas, no matter what. Divorcing my ex & cutting my current in-laws out of my life in 2002 naturally ended their demands for me at least but the damage was done. The enjoyment I once felt for the holidays was gone. Years of spending holidays with people who obviously hated me or alone while my husband spent the day with his family destroyed all pleasure I’d once had in holidays.
I know that my story isn’t all that unusual. So many others have been through very similar situations that I thought sharing some thoughts I’ve had on this topic might help you, Dear Reader.
When you develop this holiday bitterness, people aren’t always understanding. Most people seem to want everyone to look forward to holidays with enthusiasm & joy, & if you don’t, they can be shaming. Many others I know & I have been scolded for not trying to enjoy holidays, told they need to just focus on the joy of the day, everyone loves holidays, etc etc. What these people fail to realize is this holiday bitterness didn’t happen over night. We have tried to enjoy the holidays repeatedly, but demanding people ruined it by commanding us to do what they want us to do & treating us badly when we didn’t do it (well, often worse than usual since bad treatment is the norm with narcissists). It came about when in-laws demand we ignore our own family in favor of them, & treated us badly & acted like something is wrong with us for not wanting to spend a holiday with them. They also shame us for wanting to spend a holiday with our immediate family- our spouse & kids- rather than with them. These people think shaming us & ordering us around is OK. Really, how does that make any sense?
I’m not saying holiday bitterness is a good thing. Frankly, it stinks! I miss looking forward to the holidays & hate how I dread what was once a time of year I looked forward to. What I am saying though is that there is no shame if you feel differently about holidays than the average person does.
Sometimes, too many bad seeds have been sown to overcome. Something unpleasant is the only possible harvest when that happens. Of course it’s a good idea to try to counteract the bad feelings, but if nothing works, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re a bad person. If you can’t conquer holiday bitterness, it just means that some really bad things have been done that caused you to feel this way.
Dear Reader, I’m sorry you feel this nasty holiday bitterness. I hope you can conquer it by starting your own traditions, avoiding negative people around the holidays, suggesting holiday gatherings with extended family on a different day near the actual holiday while you spend the holiday with your immediate family, etc. If you can’t however, then at the very least, please don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s simply a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, & it happens more often than you might think.
Children need to believe that their parents love them. Normally, this is a very good thing, since most parents do love their children. When the child’s parent is a narcissist, however, this is NOT a good thing!
Because of this need, abused children will make excuses for their parent abusing them. I did – I told myself my mother loved me which is why she was “overprotective” rather than admitting she controlled my every move.
Children also will come up with reasons why the abuse was their fault, not the parent’s, taking all the blame while the parent gets away with abusing the child. The child will think that she needs to get better grades in school, be better behaved, etc. to please the parent, so the parent doesn’t have to abuse her anymore. Children don’t realize that narcissists are impossible to please, & will abuse their child even if the child is 100% perfect.
Some parents are actively abusive – they mentally, physically &/or sexually abuse their child – while others are more passive in their abuse, standing by quietly while the other parent obviously abuses the child. Passive abusers also do not care about the child’s pain, & often will turn the active abuser onto the child if that person is mad at the passive abuser, simply to distract them. If a child has one actively abusive parent & one passively abusive one, the need to believe that her parents love her will cloud her discernment greatly. Even if she comes to realize that the actively abusive parent is abusive, it will take much longer to realize the passively abusive one is equally abusive. The desperation to believe that at least one parent loves her will make the child think that the passive abusive parent loves her because at least that parent isn’t verbally, physically or sexually abusing her. The child also may make excuses for that parent, saying that parent just didn’t know what to do or had no power to stop the abuse. In fact, the child may feel pity for that parent, offering comfort after the child has been abused. This happened with my father. My mother would abuse me, & my father would tell me how he couldn’t do anything to stop it, & how hard it was for him knowing how mean she was to me. I would comfort him rather than him comforting & protecting me.
This need to believe parents love their children can cause many problems for adult children of narcissists, as you can see. So I urge you today, Dear Reader, to look at your situation. Are you harboring any beliefs that stem from that need? Are you making excuses for your parent(s) because you think it’s easier than admitting your narcissistic parent never loved you? If so, you’re only hurting yourself.
John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV) This Scripture is absolutely true! As difficult as facing the truth about your parents is, it is worth it. Clinging to the childish belief that your parent loves you only hurts you. It’s a domino effect of dysfunction, really. You make more & more excuses for your parent’s abuse because you want to believe she loves you. This only serves to keep you tolerating more & more abuse. Facing the truth is the only thing that will set you free.
Admitting that your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you & never has is painful. I understand this all too well. It causes you to grieve your loss of not having a loving parent. However, doing so will enable you to see things much more clearly & objectively, which helps you to find ways to become healthier. You’ll be able to think more about ways to set & enforce healthy boundaries instead of tolerating abuse so you don’t hurt your parent’s feelings. You may limit your contact with your parent or go full no contact with that parent because you realize that your parent only wants you in her life to provide her with narcissistic supply, & you deserve better than that.
I know admitting your parent doesn’t love you is painful, but I can promise you that it is well worth the pain. And, it’s much less painful than clinging to that false belief!
Since writing my newest book, I have been feeling more of a pull to help those who don’t know why certain people in their lives treat them so badly.
I used to wonder why my mother treated me so poorly. I felt as if I was a bother & huge disappointment to her, & like I should stay invisible until she needed me for something. My ex husband said she treated me badly, but once we were married he treated me the same way. Both wanted to control me- how I looked, what work I did, who I spent time with, even what kind of car I owned.
I never thought of this as abusive. Not right, sure, but abuse left bruises. If they didn’t leave bruises or broken bones, it couldn’t be abuse, right? Wrong.
Abuse comes in many forms. Most everyone knows about physical abuse- when someone causes physical harm to another person. But, did you know physical abuse doesn’t have to cause injuries? It is also physical abuse to be threatening (such as punching walls), refusing to allow someone to leave, or driving recklessly.
There is also sexual abuse. Forcing intercourse while threatening with a weapon isn’t the only way a person can be raped or sexually abused. Saying things like, “If you loved me, you would do this for me” is sexual abuse. Disregard for a partner’s physical or emotional pain & forcing want you want on them through physical means or guilt is sexual abuse. These are very common examples of sexual abuse that most people do not consider abusive, yet they are. Behaviors like these leave victims very anxious or depressed, feeling ashamed, guilty & often thinking things like they are being silly since this request isn’t so bad, they should just do what their partner wants & ignore their own needs/feelings/wants or even that there is something deeply wrong with them for not wanting to go along with their partner’s request. Others who have not experienced this type of abuse don’t understand the damage it can do. Many people don’t think a husband can rape his wife, so when she tells people that he did, she is treated as if she is crazy. Sexual abuse is extremely damaging in so many ways.
If you have read much of my work, you know I discuss narcissistic abuse a great deal. That is because it is extremely common. Many psychologically abusive people are narcissists. (psychological abuse includes mental/verbal/emotional abuse). People who manipulate others, put their needs/wants/feelings/etc. above those of others, who are extremely critical either overtly or more subtly, tell others how to feel, or invalidate you are often narcissistic. You can read more about narcissistic abuse on my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Because these kinds of abuse leave no bruises, many victims are told get over it, that it’s no big deal or even doubt that what the victim claims is true. This leaves victims alone, depressed, & often feeling as if they’re going crazy. Abuse also can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are in one of these situations, please know you’re not alone! You also aren’t crazy! If you feel something is wrong, then it is wrong. Trust your instincts! Also, pray. God will show you the truth. He will show you what is wrong in the situation as well as what you need to do to escape it & to heal.
If you are looking for safe people to talk to, I have a Facebook group. The members are kind, caring, supportive & wise. You’re very welcome to join us if you like. 🙂
After a conversation with a dear friend in early July, she inspired me to write a new book. It is designed for a slightly different audience than usual. Normally I write for those of us who know at least some about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This book, however, is written for those who know something is wrong with a person in their life who is extremely selfish & manipulative, but they just aren’t sure what it is yet.
“It’s Not You, It’s Them: When People Are More Than Selfish” helps these people to understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder, deal with the behaviors if they opt to stay in a relationship with the narcissist, & ways they can help themselves heal.
I’ve learned so much about NPD in recent months & have felt such a strong desire to help victims of narcissistic abuse & raise awareness, I believe this book had to be written. Admittedly, I’ve never written a book so quickly before, but I believe it must be for a reason. I pray God is going to use it mightily.
If you’d like to check out the new book, the timing is good- my publisher is offering a sale on all print books. 15% off with free mail shipping until August 14. Simply use code AUGSHIP16 at checkout
Links are below..
Narcissists simply do NOT care about anyone but themselves.
- When I got into therapy at age 17, my mother cared more about what I was telling the therapist than the fact I felt so badly I sought therapy.
- When I told my parents I was divorcing my ex husband, my father’s first words were, “Can he & I still be friends?”
- My cousin once confronted our narcissistic grandmother (my maternal grandmother) about many lies she had told & other hurtful things she had done. As my cousin was sitting there, crying openly, our grandmother ignored her tears. She instead demanded that my cousin tell her who would say such things about her (aka, the truth).
Do scenarios like this sound somewhat familiar to you?
If so, please know that you are not alone. This is typical narcissistic behavior, caring more about themselves than you, even if you are hurt or going through something devastating. It truly is no reflection on you or anything you have done.
If you can accept that this awful behavior is typical & it’s really not about you, it can help you a great deal. It takes much of the pain out of the awful things the narcissist in your life has said & done to you. Instead of taking their abuse personally, you understand that they have problems, & are attempting to put those problems on you. You have done nothing wrong & you are OK! The narcissist, however, is dysfunctional, & unfortunately, you were chosen to be a casualty of that dysfunction.
This probably sounds strange, but it really has worked for me. It’s been a very helpful coping technique when dealing with my mother in particular. It has helped me release a lot of the hurt I’ve felt when she has put herself ahead of me. Yes, this behavior proves she doesn’t care about me which hurts, but it also proves how incredibly dysfunctional she is. It also reaffirms that she is narcissistic, which means she is incapable of caring for anyone- it isn’t something wrong with me, but instead with her.
Not that accepting this behavior is typical makes it OK. Nothing makes it OK. It’s hurtful & dysfunctional, never doubt that! You also do not need to tolerate it, & are well within your rights to tell the narcissist they are hurting you if you think that will help your situation. My only point in discussing this topic with you today is to help you: to help you to release the hurt over times this has happened & to not be so hurt when it happens again if you are still in a relationship with the narcissist.
Recently, I wrote this post about being angry at all of the things I feel have been stolen from me due to having C-PTSD. The anger that was simmering kicked back into overdrive briefly on Tuesday night.
I had to speak with my mother that evening. I ended up pretty angry with her by the time I hung up. Shortly after I got the wonderful call from my vet that I mentioned in this post. In spite of the incredibly good news, I was angry. Although my mother didn’t do it on purpose, I felt like, as usual, she’s interfering in my life & stealing my joy- making me angry at a time when I should’ve been completely happy. I felt in my heart I needed to make a decision at that time..Either continue to be angry or to thank God for & enjoy the wonderful news I had just gotten. I decided to focus on the good news for the night, & deal with my anger at my mother later on. Oddly, this turned out to be a good thing for me in a way..
I feel like I took back some of my power!
I think by being able basically to put my mother aside for a while was helpful for me. It showed me that my mother & her narcissistic ways haven’t stolen everything for me, as it so often feels like. She isn’t in control anymore, & I am more powerful than I feel. Instead of being angry with her & failing to enjoy the miraculous news I’d just received, I was able to refocus my mind onto the good. I had an entire evening of basking in joy, then dealt with the anger the following day.
Have you ever tried anything like this?
In all honesty, I can’t say I’m sure this type of thing is a good thing to do on a regular basis, but doing it once was a good experience for me. It may be for you too. I would encourage you to ask God about it, if you’re in a similar situation. It may help you as well. But, if God advises you against it, please listen to Him & don’t try it!
One of my readers made an interesting point. She read my post about The Silent Treatment that I wrote a couple of days ago, & mentioned how she gives her mother what she calls the silent treatment. Hers is a bit different than her narcissistic mother’s silent treatment- she doesn’t try to punish her narcissistic mother with it (as narcissists do). Instead she only speaks to her mother on her terms (when she is able to talk with her), & is very careful with the limited information she shares. This is also what Dr. Karyl McBride, author of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” calls the civil connection.
I’ve done this with my mother & mother in-law. Both are narcissists, my mother being the overt type, mother in-law the covert. Both have responded very differently to it. My mother used to get very frustrated, but it didn’t take her long to get to the point where she gives up quickly on me. I’m more stubborn than her, & she knows that, so I assume she realizes there’s no point in trying to get something “juicy” from me once I’ve made up my mind not to give anything up. My mother in-law, however, was a different story. She would become visibly flustered, & try any tactic she could to force me to talk. It became just plain funny to me after a while! Watching her get angrier & angrier, yet unable to say or do anything about it for fear of looking bad, became very entertaining to me.
Have you tried this with your narcissistic mother? If not, you have to try it!! If nothing else, it’ll amuse you!
I like to give one word (or close to it) answers. For example…
Mother: “How are you?”
Mother: “What have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Not much.” (she already thinks I’m lazy, so she’ll believe I haven’t done much)
See how that works? It’s really easy.
Chances are, your narcissistic mother will start to push for more information from you when you give her such curt responses. She will hint around, trying to get you to talk, as she won’t ask outright for fear of looking unreasonable, bad, or whatever. Refuse to respond! Ignore the hints. I’m telling you, it will fluster her, & if you’re lucky, she’ll give up trying to get news from you.
Once, I had a doctor’s appointment on a day when my mother in-law thought I should do something for her (which is amazing in itself- she’s hated me from the day we met, so why would she think I would be willing to help her in any way?!). I told her I couldn’t do it- I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. I should have said “prior obligation” instead of admitting what I was doing, but it slipped out. It turned out to be hilarious for me though! She said things like, “Well, if you’re seeing the doctor, it must be serious. I understand why you can’t do this for me…” (I simply said “Thanks” in response), “If you can’t reschedule it, that isn’t a good sign. I’m so worried about you!” (yea, right! She didn’t care- she just wanted information, so I simply told her I was fine.), “Why are you seeing the doctor?” (the only direct question she asked, & I ignored her question, as I was listening to my husband & his father talk- I pretended I didn’t hear her over them), or “I guess you can’t do this for me since you HAVE to see the doctor on that day & no other…I don’t understand why it has to be THAT day..” (to which I responded with, “Nope, I can’t do it.”) By the time my husband & I left her home shortly after, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! I barely made it to the car before I started laughing!
If you haven’t tried this type of interaction with your narcissistic mother, please consider doing so! Not only will it entertain you, it will give her less opportunities to hurt you. You will speak to her only as you are able to do so, & by limiting your conversation as well as your exposure to her, you will give her less to criticize about you. It really will make your interactions with her much easier for you! Also, it’s not disrespectful, so if you are concerned about not honoring your mother, as many Christian daughters of narcissistic mothers are, please don’t worry!
Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing. It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out this gift, spend the time to wrap it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things. The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for picking out.
Unfortunately with narcissists, this isn’t the case.
For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts. To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself. You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants. You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer. Narcissists can’t be bothered with such “trivial” matters, so they will choose what they like or what they think you need instead.
Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be. Clothing in a color or style that they think you should wear instead of clothing you like, or a CD from a band they like instead of from a band you like. Probably fifteen years ago or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned the fact I don’t like to cook. I do it of course, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me a lot of cooking paraphernalia. I got spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen in my life (I did find a good use for it eventually. When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol)
And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving. Giving makes them feel like they are good people. See how caring they are? They gave someone a gift! Yay for the narcissist!! My mother gives me things constantly, often things she has gotten as gifts but didn’t like, clothes she wants rid of, clothes she will buy for me because she likes the color/style (not that I like them), or things she has received in return for donating to a charity. For the longest time, I felt like I should hold onto these things, I think because on some level, I thought these gifts meant she actually cared for me. Once I realized that she was giving me things not to bless me, but to serve her own agenda or clean out her own junk, I didn’t feel that need any longer to hold onto her gifts. Some, yes, but not many.
There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist. They may want something from you. They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?” My in-laws are like that. Gifts come with strings attached. They give my husband birthday & Christmas cards with money, & in return, he is to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous. (Not that he shouldn’t help out his aging parents of course, but when they call him to take one of them to the emergency room rather than 911 in an emergency, something is very wrong!) Have they ever spelled this out? No. It is an unspoken rule, as many narcissistic families have.
Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people. This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist somehow.
If you receive a gift from a narcissist, just be forewarned- the gift probably has some pretty hefty strings attached to it!