Tag Archives: emotional

Guilt Or God Working Through You?

Some of you long time readers will remember this story..

In May, 2016, I had a huge argument with my parents.  My mother in-law had just died, & since they read the obituaries in the weekly paper, I knew they would see hers.  I also knew that they wouldn’t acknowledge what I had told them about her that caused me to go no contact with her 14 years prior, but instead would talk about what a great lady she was.  I was mentally prepared for that, so when I saw their number on my caller ID the day after her funeral when the paper came out, I wasn’t surprised.  I asked God to help me get through the call & guide my words.  I thought it was going to be a mostly typical conversation, & I was wrong. 

I was NOT prepared for my parents being angry with me for not telling them about her death so they could attend the funeral.  I also was ill prepared for the intense feeling of betrayal or the rage that I felt.  I ended up yelling at, crying & cussing out my parents.  Not my normal behavior by any means!  When I hung up the phone my first step was to pray.  I told God I was so sorry!  I never should’ve behaved that way.  Somehow I must have missed His guidance & messed up everything.  God spoke to me extremely clearly at that time, & said, “I wanted this to happen.  Your parents needed to see their normally calm & reasonable daughter extremely upset thanks to their behavior.” 

That argument was the last time I spoke to my mother before she died just under three years later.  It was also one of the last times I spoke to my father who died about eighteen months after.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I think that argument was a catalyst for no contact for me, which in turn motivated my parents to turn to God at the end of their lives.  It really did have a purpose!

At that time & for quite a while after, however, in spite of knowing my parents needed to see my reaction, I still felt terrible.  The guilt was intense!   

I think this is normal for most children of narcissistic parents.  Our parents train us early in life to please them at all costs, & to feel intense guilt or even shame when we fail.  Even when we are adults, when we do something that we perceive as wrong, we automatically feel that guilt because it’s a reflex built into us by our parents.

The thing is though that sometimes doing something other people think is wrong is a good thing.  Naturally narcissists would disagree with that, but it’s true.  What one person sees as wrong can be right for someone else. 

While the guilt may make you feel as if you’re doing something bad, it may be inappropriate to the situation.  God may be working through you, & sometimes He works through people in rather unusual ways.  Just look at the argument I had with my parents.  It felt awful at the time, but it turned out to be very beneficial for all three of us.

The next time you automatically feel guilt about something, then please, take a moment to ask God if that guilt is justified or if He is working through you somehow.  You may be very pleasantly surprised to find out He is working through you, & there is no valid reason for you to feel any guilt!

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

10% Off My Print Books

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books until August 5, 2022 when you use code MAKER10 at checkout.

My books can be found at the link below..

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

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A Very Important Life Skill

If you are interested in psychology like me, then I would really like to recommend the Netflix series “Mindhunter”.  It’s a fictional series based on how the science of criminal profiling came into existence.  The FBI team attempts to learn about criminal profiling.  Two male detectives are the main focus of the show.  They interview various serial killers in an attempt to understand why they did the things they did.  The plot is fascinating & the acting is very good!  My husband, who usually isn’t particularly interested in crime shows loves “Mindhunter” as much as me if this tells you just how good it is!

Anyway the reason I’m mentioning this is there was a fantastic quote on the show by Agent Ford, one of the two male detectives I mentioned earlier.  Ford has excellent instincts & listens closely to them.  In one episode, he let someone talk him into something other than listening to his instincts.  It turned out his instincts were right on, as usual.  He was upset, naturally & said the most interesting thing.. “The only mistake I ever made was doubting myself.” 

When a person is subjected to narcissistic abuse, doubting one’s self becomes the norm.  I always had pretty strong instincts, but learned early in life to ignore them due to the narcissistic abuse.  I was sure I was wrong because I believed I was ignorant of so much, too judgmental, & even just plain stupid.  This is so typical of the mentality of victims of narcissistic abuse, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Whatever a narcissist has told you about yourself, I want to encourage you today to question it.  Logically, as if you were an outsider looking at the situation rather than someone directly involved in the situation.  If you do this, chances are excellent that you will realize just how wrong the narcissist was about you.

I also want to encourage you to pay attention to your instincts.  I realize some folks are naturally more in tune with theirs than others due to differences in their personalities, so some of you may not be overly interested in doing this.  Please consider giving it a try though.  I firmly believe the reason instincts are so accurate is because they are the Holy Spirit guiding us.  Doesn’t that make them worth listening to?

To learn to trust your instincts doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen.  Pay attention to what they tell you.  When you feel strongly, do what you feel your instincts are leading you to do.  Early on when doing this, you are going to make some mistakes along the way, but don’t give up!  The more you listen to your instincts, the more in tune with them you will become.  And, the more you do this, the less mistakes you will make.  That means the more you will learn to trust them. 

Being in tune with your instincts is a wonderful thing in many ways.  You can avoid many problems by trusting them.  You also will learn to avoid toxic people by trusting them.  Your instincts pick up on subtle cues to people & situations that the cognizant mind doesn’t notice.  Instincts also put pieces of the puzzle together which help you to learn what you should or shouldn’t do, what is good or bad for you & even what people it is best for you to avoid.  Don’t you think it’s worth investing the time in fine tuning this skill to help you improve your life?

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Some Things (& People!) Are Valuable Even Though Narcissists Disagree

Those of you who know me know I love cars, in particular the classics.  My husband, too.  In fact, our newest vehicle is my late mother’s 2002.

As a result, so many people have asked me why I drive old cars.  Some are downright rude & tell me I should get rid of my old cars & get something new, even though there is no valid reason to do so. 

The fact is that aside from preferring old cars, they also can be a good investment.  Many classic cars are well loved.  If you don’t believe me, go to a car show or watch an auto auction on TV.  Those so called worthless old cars can sell for thousands more than they were when new.  And that brings me to my point..

Just because someone fails to see the value doesn’t mean something has no value.

This statement isn’t true only about classic cars, but about people as well. 

Narcissists do their level best to convince their victims that they are worthless human beings, they are ugly, stupid, lack any real talents or skills & much more.  The goal is to destroy their victims’ self esteem to make those victims easier to control, to make the victims willing to tolerate any abuse & to make the victims stay in the relationship because they feel unable to find anyone else who would tolerate them.  Narcissists do NOT say these things because they are true.

If you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse, please remember this!  Whatever the narcissist said about you wasn’t said because it’s true.  They say these things to further their own agenda, period.  What they say has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth.  In fact, chances are excellent that the narcissist in your life recognized something good or even special in you, which is another reason that he or she tried to destroy your self-esteem.  You clearly outshined the narcissist, & no narcissist can tolerate that.

Please remind yourself of this often!  Don’t let the narcissist succeed in making you feel as worthless as many people see beat up old cars.  You deserve so much better than believing those terrible lies!  Instead, remind yourself that you aren’t worthless just because the narcissist said you were.  You’re even more valuable than even the most pristine & beautiful classic car.  God made you in His own image & loves you tremendously!  Try to remember that & forget what the narcissist has said to you about yourself.  Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself & your situation, too.  Then listen.  What He has to say may surprise you & it will bless you greatly!

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Showing Your Emotions

It seems to me that many people consider people who are free with showing their emotions weak, “drama queens or kings” or even crazy.  Not showing emotions is often looked on as a sign of strength.  I really disagree with this thinking.  There really is nothing wrong or bad about showing what you feel inside.

Years ago, I remember my mother telling me about her mail carrier.  She hadn’t seen her for a while, then finally saw her one day.  She asked how she was doing & where she had been.  Turned out the lady’s husband committed suicide.  My mother thought her composure in discussing this topic was admirable.  I disagreed!  This lady could have been in a state of shock & was unable to show emotions due to that.  But, she also could have been glad he was gone & didn’t miss him.  Her lack of emotions gave no clue which was how she was feeling about her loss.

Showing emotions is a healthy thing to do.  It helps you to process them in healthy ways.  Did you know many people who don’t process anger often end up with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease & digestive issues?  They also can suffer from depression since sometimes repressed anger manifests as depression.

Showing emotions also helps people to know where they stand with you.  If you weren’t obviously happy that your spouse brought you your favorite coffee as a surprise sometimes, how would he or she know how much you appreciated it?  Or, if you held in disappointment, how would your child know that he or she needed to work harder to get better grades?

The Bible even describes times when Jesus showed His emotions.  When Lazarus died, Jesus knew He would raise him from the dead, but even so, He was emotional & let that show.  John 11: 32-35 says,  32 When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.”  The Gospels also tell the story of Jesus becoming enraged when He saw people buying & selling in the temple.  He drove animals & people out & flipped over tables.  Hardly the actions of someone afraid of showing their emotions.

Showing emotions is truly a courageous thing to do.  It shows you aren’t afraid of the opinions or judgment of other people.  It shows you are brave enough to be vulnerable.  It shows you are in touch with your emotions, which is a very healthy way to be.

What is not courageous is hiding all emotions behind a mask of stoicism.  This often is a trauma response created by those who have been exposed to cruel people who criticize them for how they feel & invalidate their feelings.  If this describes you, please know that you don’t need to be that way anymore.  You are an adult & allowed to feel your feelings & yes, even show them!  That doesn’t make you oversensitive, overreacting, stupid or even crazy.  It makes you human. 

If you’re struggling to get in touch with your emotions, I suggest praying, paying attention to how you feel about everything & journaling about your experiences.  Read over your journal entries periodically too, don’t simply write them & forget them.  They can help you to have insight. 

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

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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Ruminating Thoughts Have A Purpose

If you have C-PTSD, you know all about ruminating thoughts, even if you aren’t aware of what they’re called.

Ruminating thoughts are when something keeps going over & over in your mind.  You either struggle with not thinking about that thing or can’t avoid it.  This can be utterly miserable & depressing!  Not to mention scary too, because not being able to have control over your thoughts is a very scary thing.

Prior to my brain injury, I could control mine to a degree.  They happened, sure, but I could distract myself & stop the rumination.  After the brain injury though, that stopped happening.  Once ruminating thoughts began, they were out of my control.  They stayed until they felt like leaving.  I hated it!  That is, until I realized something.

As miserable as ruminating thoughts can be, they do have a purpose.  Ruminating thoughts help you to process trauma, & make no mistake- trauma needs processing if you want to heal from it.

When you can’t stop thinking about something, you feel the emotions connected to it, whether they are good or bad.  Think back to when you first started dating someone you love.  At first, you couldn’t stop thinking about that person.  Everything reminded you of that person.  And, every time you thought of that person, you thought about how much you love him or her, how attractive he or she is, the good times you were having together & more.  By constantly thinking about this person, or ruminating, you naturally felt all kinds of emotions.

This happens with ruminating thoughts about trauma too.  Obviously it isn’t nearly as pleasant, but even so, it serves a purpose.  This is another way that you can process the trauma & the emotions attached to it.  It will help you to heal. 

The next time you have ruminating thoughts, I would like to urge you to sit with your ruminating thoughts.  Feel the anger, the hurt, the fear, the sadness… whatever emotions you felt at the time of the trauma.  Talk to God as you do this.  Maybe write down what you are experiencing in your journal.  I know it’s hard, but it really is worth it!  It’s worth it when the trauma loses its ability to hurt you so badly.  It’s worth it when you realize you survived something pretty horrific, & now can think of it without feeling utterly devastated.  It’s worth it when you feel more peace & joy in your life because you have healed from this trauma.

As an added bonus, when you do this, the ruminating thoughts on this won’t keep happening.  In fact, chances are slim you will think about it often.  Naturally you won’t forget it, but most likely it only will come to mind quite rarely.  And, when it does, thinking of it won’t consume you like ruminating thoughts can.  I always noticed when I’ve healed from something traumatic, remembering it feels much like remembering a really bad dream.  Unpleasant of course, & something I’d rather not think about, but also not devastating. 

Please remember too, just because you have sat with your ruminating thoughts once doesn’t mean you will be totally healed.  Maybe that will happen, but most likely it’ll take doing this a few times.  That is normal.  Each time you do it though, you are going to become stronger & more healed.

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When Narcissists Violate Boundaries

Narcissists are very concerned with appearances.  They are obsessed really, & will do anything to avoid looking like they have made mistakes, are flawed or as if they are bad in some way.  One way they maintain their perfect appearances is by violating boundaries.  They do this in several ways.

One way is to deny they violated your boundary.  In spite of you being right there, watching them do whatever it was they did, they will say that never happened.  They want to convince you that never happened so the next time it happens, you won’t believe it happened.  When they do this, they may even add on that they never do that thing you accused them of doing.  In fact, they may criticize others who show the same behavior.  For example, my mother would rage & scream at me, yet criticize me for having a bad temper or for yelling.  This projection allows them to be upset about the behavior while accepting no responsibility for their behavior or making changes.

Another way is by minimizing their abusive behavior.  Narcissists do love to minimize their abusive behavior & the effects it has on others as a way to continue behaving as they do.  If they can convince themselves & others that what they do isn’t a big deal & it isn’t really hurting anyone, they can continue to do whatever they like.

Sometimes narcissists will try to deflect by turning the tables on their victims.  Say you confront your narcissistic spouse about how much money he or she spends even knowing money is tight.  You remind this person that times are hard & there isn’t money left over for frivolous purchases.  Rather than admit they have overspent, apologize & start being more responsible, the narcissist may say, “What about you?  You spend way more money than me!  You just spent $100 last week!”  The idea of this behavior is to get the victim so caught up in defending themselves, they forget about the original complaint, & the narcissist can continue their behavior.

If all else fails, narcissists will not hesitate to blame their victims.  We’ve all heard of abusive husbands who beat their wives & blame the wives for making them beat them.  Narcissists do this often.  I’ve told this story before, so pardon the repeat if you know it.  On my seventeenth birthday, my now ex husband gave me a small vase of flowers with two small balloons in it & a teddy bear.  My mother destroyed the vase, flowers & balloons.  She forced me to give him back the bear.  She hated my ex, & was angry he gave me these gifts.  She said though that the reason that she destroyed them was because I was “acting so snotty” about getting them.  My so called snotty behavior was me being very quiet when I couldn’t avoid her seeing the gifts.  I was terrified of the rage I knew was coming, & my natural reaction to that fear was to get quiet. 

When these things happen, please remember that this is typical narcissistic behavior.  It has nothing to do with you & everything to do with their dysfunction.  They also aren’t right!  You saw them do what they do, so don’t believe the lies that they didn’t do it.  You also know how it felt so don’t let them minimize your pain.  Don’t let them change the topic of your conversation or make you feel responsible for “making” them do anything.  You are fine!  They however, are not, which is why they’re playing the stupid games!

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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

Nostalgia After Trauma

The definition of nostalgia is a longing for the past, in particular a time that is associated with good memories.  People who have experienced trauma may have a predilection for having an appreciation for nostalgia more than the average person.

When a person experiences trauma, such as growing up with abusive parents, often times as adults, they long for certain things that take them back to a happy time in their life, in particular in their childhood.  I admit to being one of these people.  I have a small collection of toys from my childhood that I love, & I regularly listen to music from my teen years in the 80’s.  These things bring me a lot of joy. 

Eventually though I thought this was strange behavior on my part.  My childhood wasn’t exactly the best time of my life, so why would I want reminders of it?  Finally I realized why.  The answer is simple.  Security.

Whatever trauma you have experienced, it changed you & your perception of life.  That is how trauma works.  It can make you feel very insecure & skeptical, even cynical.  A natural coping skill after trauma is to want to find some sense of security wherever you can.  Sometimes finding that security manifests as mentally revisiting a time when you felt comfortable & in control. 

Consider this.  When growing up with narcissistic parents, you have very little control, especially if your narcissistic parents were the engulfing type who had to control every aspect of your life.  Those few rare moments of having control over your life felt empowering.  For me, my most empowering times of my younger days involved music.  Either listening to the radio while alone in my room as a teen or when I drove my first car while listening to any music I wanted to.  Now that I’m an adult, music still gives me that feeling of empowerment.  I frequently still listen to similar music as I did in my younger days.  I also have added more music to my repertoire that makes me feel that same feeling of empowerment.  And you know something?  There is nothing wrong with that!

There is also a comfort in knowing that not every single thing in your past was terrible, that there were some good times too.  Thinking that there was no good in your life is a dreadful feeling!  It can feel as if your life had no purpose.  Reminding yourself of the good times, even if they were few, is very comforting. 

Not to mention, only thinking of the bad times is simply depressing!  Reminding yourself of good times is much less depressing & conducive to a better mood. 

If you find yourself longing for certain things from your past, please know there is nothing wrong with you.  Even if your past was full of terrible & traumatic events, there is nothing bad about waxing nostalgic for the few good times.  Just enjoy the nostalgia when you can.  Listen to those old songs & remember your first slow dance or sharing songs with your childhood best friend.  If you see a toy at a flea market that you used to enjoy playing with as a child, why not buy it?  When you see it, it might just make you smile, & that is a lovely gift to give yourself.

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Doing Something New

As I mentioned some time back, I decided to abandon making YouTube videos in favor of podcasts since they are much easier for me to make. And thankfully, they have been well received!

Because they have been doing well, I decided to expand where they can be accessed. My podcasts now be found on many platforms. Those links are below. I hope you will check them out!

So far, I’m still figuring this all out as I go. Not entirely sure what I’m doing at the moment, so please just bear with me! Plus, writing is my top priority & has been since God told me many years ago it was my purpose. This means podcasts aren’t going to get as much of my attention. I don’t have any particular schedule with them, so I won’t release new ones faithfully every day, week or even month. I release them a few at a time periodically. I have been pretty lazy about doing this over the last year or so, & I apologize for that. It’s changing, I promise! I just had so much happening in my life in the recent past, my work has fallen too far behind.

So anyway, here is the list of where my podcasts can be found. I hope you find a platform that you like, & will listen to them. Thank you as always for reading & supporting my work! I hope it blesses you as much as you bless me!

Amazon Music:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/636257ca-b20e-4c80-b0c4-76c6da81d4b6/cynthia-bailey-rug

Anchor By Spotify:

https://anchor.fm/cynthiabaileyrug

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cynthia-bailey-rug/id1632080095

Castbox:

https://castbox.fm/channel/id3103069?utm_source=podcaster&utm_medium=dlink&utm_campaign=c_3103069&utm_content=Cynthia%20Bailey-Rug-CastBox_FM

Google Podcasts:

https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8yNWViYmY5OC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

Overcast:

https://overcast.fm/itunes1519449931/cynthia-bailey-rug

Pocketcasts:

https://pca.st/3qvsb30s

RadioPublic:

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The Value Of Detoxing From Emotionally Incestuous (Enmeshed) Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Labeling Victims Of Abuse As Survivors Can Be A Mistake

Many people, even those who have survived narcissistic abuse, look down on anyone who uses the term “victim.”  It seems to offend some people who survived narcissistic abuse to be referred to as a victim, because they prefer to be called a survivor.  Others who haven’t survived narcissistic abuse but still find the term victim offensive seem to look down on anyone who considers herself or himself to be a victim.  They obviously associate the term victim with someone who is weak &/or foolish, as if only weak & foolish people can be abused.  They also seem to think victims are those who wallow in the pain of their trauma, & never move on.  They have PTSD or C-PTSD because they won’t just stop thinking about the trauma.  If they’d just stop thinking about it, they’d be fine!

Whatever the motive, many times victims are pushed & even shamed into referring to themselves as survivors & never victims.  This can be a problem for victims!

There is absolutely no shame in falling prey to an abusive person.  Narcissists are notorious for being phenomenal actors.  They can fool anyone no matter how smart or even how much a person may know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The more you know, naturally the quicker you can catch onto their behavior, but even so, there is a chance you can be fooled briefly.  I have been & I’ve been studying narcissism since 2011!  Anyway there is truly no shame in being abused.  The only shame in any abusive relationship belongs to the abusive person, never their victim.

Also, putting the survivor label on people can make them feel pressured to heal quickly or even get over the abuse entirely (which is unlikely).  Rushing healing never works out well.  Healing has to be done at its own pace & that pace varies greatly from person to person.  Not to mention, most of the time, it’s a life long process.  Very few people completely “get over” abuse, especially when there is a history of it such as growing up with abusive parents then dating or marrying abusive partners.

I think a lot of times people put the survivor label on victims to make themselves more comfortable.  Maybe it makes them feel that since the person survived, the abuse wasn’t that bad.  If it was someone they knew, this can help them feel better about themselves if they did nothing to help the victim.  Or, maybe it is spoken out of simple ignorance.  They intend to be empowering & comforting yet are unsure how to do it. 

As for those who have been abused, I really believe it should be each person’s preference which label they use, so long as each person accepts the fact that they were victims of an abuser & have no shame for that.  Removing yourself from the abuse by calling yourself a survivor can be empowering to some people, & that is wonderful.  Whatever helps is a good thing! 

For myself, I stick with using the term victim.  I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for pity or attention, because truly that’s not the case.  Instead, by using that term, I’m reminding myself that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.  I was innocent & did nothing to deserve the abuse.  This helps me because my abusers blamed me for their bad behavior.  Even years after, I have moments of slipping back into wondering what I did wrong to make them treat me the way they did.  Thankfully, those moments don’t last long, but they do happen.  Referring to myself as a victim is a little reminder every time I say or write it that what they did to me was their fault, not mine.

However you choose to refer to yourself is up to you.  But please, whether you prefer the term victim or survivor, let it be your choice.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into referring to yourself in a way that you don’t feel comfortable with.

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Reminders For Those Who Have Experienced Trauma

Many of us who have experienced trauma have been very deeply affected by it.  We not only develop mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD or C-PTSD, but we also develop some very skewed beliefs.  In this post, I’d like to address some of them & hopefully help you to realize a healthier way to think.

It’s ok to have bad days!  Mental illness is no joke.  It’s incredibly difficult to live with & very serious!  Not all days are going to be days where you can cope well & manage your symptoms.  Some days, you’re going to want to cry all day long, have panic attacks, wake up exhausted from having several nightmares in a row & barely be able to function.  Some days you won’t function at all.  These scenarios, horrible as they are, are also normal.  It doesn’t make you unlovable or unworthy!  It doesn’t mean you have no faith in God or are a phony Christian either!  It means you are struggling with a mental illness.

You’re not a burden, even on your worst days.  I don’t care if all you could do was get out of bed long enough to make a sandwich today, that doesn’t make you a burden.  Would you consider someone a burden that is suffering from cancer & could do virtually nothing?  No?  Then why would you be a burden when you have days you can barely function?

You’re ok.  It seems all of us with mental illness have experienced the same thing- someone thinking we’re weak or attention seeking.  After all, they went through trauma & are fine! (Or so they say..).   It can make you feel as if something is wrong with you for developing the mental illness, but nothing could be further from the truth!  Every situation is different & every person in every situation is different.  There is no indicator who will or won’t develop ongoing mental illness as a result of their trauma.  Those of us who do however, aren’t “less than” those who don’t.  We’re simply different, & different does NOT equal bad!

Nothing that happened was your fault.  Narcissists do love to blame their victims, don’t they?  “You made me do it” is a common gaslighting phrase.  As if that isn’t bad enough, their flying monkeys reinforce this by saying stupid things like, “You should’ve just stayed out of his way when he was in a bad mood.”  “What did you do to make her so angry?”  While such behaviors can make it easy to believe the trauma was your fault, it truly wasn’t.  The only fault in the situation is that of the narcissist for choosing to be abusive!

It’s ok to talk about the trauma.  Narcissists love secrecy & depend on their victims never discussing the abuse.  Talking about it may feel impossible or as if you’re betraying the narcissist somehow.  I get it!  Truly!  Until my parents were gone, I was terrified they’d somehow find out what I wrote about even though I knew it was highly unlikely.  I also felt guilty for betraying them by “outing” them, so to speak by discussing the things they did to me.  The truth though is that I was wrong to feel that way.  When people abuse you, it’s not your job to stay quiet.  You have every right to divulge what they have done to you to whoever you wish.  It’s your life too, not just theirs.  If you want to discuss your situation either with a close friend or therapist or even write books as I have, that is your right!

Your feelings are valid.  I know, narcissists will say otherwise but truly, your feelings are valid!  You are entitled to them!

You owe no one an explanation.  Your life is just that.  Yours.  You owe no one any explanation for how you choose to live it, how you choose to heal, who you choose to have in your life or who you choose to eliminate from it.  What you do is up to you.  So long as you aren’t deliberately hurting others, what business is it of anyone’s how you live your life?

Please remember these points, Dear Reader.  You deserve to take care of yourself, to love yourself, to be treated well & to be respected! xoxo

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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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Don’t Be Ashamed Of Having PTSD Or C-PTSD!

Years ago, I remember reading that a rather well known preacher talking about PTSD.  He made it sound like no true Christian can have this disorder or if you do, just “get rid of it” as if people have a choice to hold onto it or get rid of it.

While not many people will say those exact words, it does appear plenty of people share similar sentiments about PTSD & C-PTSD.  Many clearly think people with these disorders are weak for getting it in the first place, especially if they too have experienced a similar trauma but don’t have it.  What they fail to realize is that developing PTSD & C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness, contrary to what many people seem to think.  It is a sign of surviving something that easily could have destroyed you either mentally or physically or both. 

Other people think they are some made up disorders so people can wallow in the past or use them as an excuse to get out of doing things they don’t want to do, such as holding down a job.  They refuse to see that those of us with one of these disorders would love to be “normal” again.  We would love nothing more than not to think about the past traumas all of the time & be able to do normal things.

There are also those who believe having PTSD or C-PTSD means you lack faith in God.  If you simply trusted Him more or prayed more, you wouldn’t have this disorder, they say.  They have no clue nothing could be further from the truth!

Something people fail to realize is that PTSD & C-PTSD can happen to anyone.  They know no boundaries.  They affect people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, intelligence, financial standings… anyone can develop PTSD or C-PTSD.

Just because you have PTSD or C-PTSD but someone you know who has experienced similar trauma to yours doesn’t have it doesn’t mean there is something very wrong with you for getting it.  Every person is truly unique, right down to our fingerprints & DNA.  What affects one person strongly may not affect someone else as strongly simply due to differences in personality & how people process information.

Some people are also naturally more in touch with their logical, or left brain, than their emotional, right brain.  Those people are often a bit disconnected from their emotions simply due to how their personality is.  There are also those who have chosen to deal with pain by disconnecting from it.  Much like our logical friends, these folks don’t feel connected to their emotions.  This means these people naturally won’t be as deeply affected by trauma as those who are more in tune with their emotions will be affected.

There is also the fact that every single person has a mental breaking point.  In other words, everyone has a point in which their mind simply cannot take any more.  This is the point where PTSD can & often does develop.  That point varies from person to person, but there is no avoiding it.  It is much like bones.  Bones too have a breaking point & that varies from person to person too.  Sometimes, people’s bones break easily & other times, they don’t.  There is nothing wrong, weak or even ungodly about the ones whose bones break easily.  This is simply how they are.

If you have PTSD or C-PTSD then please know that you aren’t flawed, crazy, abnormal or anything else.  You are a normal person who has experienced some pretty abnormal things.  Both disorders are awful I know, but having them isn’t something of which you should be ashamed.  Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise!

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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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Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse & Anger

Victims of narcissistic abuse are shamed for being angry.  It seems if we show any signs of being less than happy about the abuse we endured, people tell us that we’re too negative, wallowing in the past, bitter, not letting things go as we should & more.  For Christians who are in this position, we often get added shaming relating to our faith.  We are lectured on how we should forgive, be Christ-like, labeled as a fake or bad Christians & other false & hurtful accusations. 

We also are expected to show undeniable evidence of the abuse we suffered.  When we can’t produce evidence of the soul destroying gaslighting & verbal abuse the narcissist in our lives inflicted upon us, we are accused of being angry with the abuser so we made things up as a way to make that person look bad.

You know something?  Victims of narcissistic abuse ARE angry, & rightfully so!  No one should treat anyone as we have been treated.  No one should push another person so deep into depression that they lose all hope.  No one should destroy another person’s identity, self esteem & sometimes even faith in God.  Yet, we have experienced all of these things & much more at the hands of narcissists.  We also have experienced betrayal & abandonment by people who should have been there for us, seen people we thought loved us support our abuser & more.  So yes, we are angry!

Do you know what doesn’t help this anger?  Being shamed for feeling what any normal human being would feel under the circumstances. 

I know it can be hard but please, do NOT accept the shaming messages!

People who treat victims this way clearly have their own issues.  Normal people have no desire to hurt others.  Even if they don’t understand what you have experienced, they won’t try to shame you for feeling what you do or minimize your trauma.  Anyone who does such things is displaying a lack of empathy, which makes them a very unsafe person.

Some people who do this also have experienced similar trauma, & lack the courage to face it.  Instead of facing it, they try to avoid all reminders of that trauma.  If someone speaks of experiencing something similar to them, they often will say anything as an attempt to shut that person down.  It’s a survival mechanism.  If it hurts the other person, that isn’t their top priority- avoiding their pain is.  The person in question may not be malicious with their intentions, but their behavior certainly is. 

Yet other people are all about being positive, & not in a healthy way.  Often they think it’s ungodly to be anything less than extremely positive.  Being positive certainly isn’t a bad thing at all.  When it is taken too far, however, that is a problem.  There is nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes, things aren’t happy, positive or even good.  Sometimes it’s ok, even healthy, to say things are bad.  Refusing to accept that & claiming everything in life is nothing but rainbows & unicorns isn’t healthy.  Don’t let the toxic positive people make you feel otherwise!

Whatever the reasoning behind someone acting as if your anger about narcissistic abuse is wrong, remember, that is their issue, not yours.  Narcissistic abuse is cruel, devastating & utterly wrong.  Everyone should be angry about it!  Even Jesus got angry about injustices done to people, if you remember.  If we are to be like Him, that means there is nothing wrong with being angry about injustices.  Besides, not feeling anger about narcissistic abuse would normalize it.  Narcissistic abuse would become an acceptable thing if people became numb to their anger about it, & that never should be!    

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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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Hangovers – Not Always What You Think

When people hear the word hangover, they usually associate it with drinking too much alcohol.  Did you know that other things can cause hangovers too?

Migraine headaches can cause a hangover.  I used to get migraines years ago & learned early on about the dreadful migraine hangover.  Once the headache had subsided, I was left feeling tired, drained & generally blah.

Introverts also can experience the socializing hangover.  Introverts need alone time to recharge & reenergize themselves.  Spending too much time socializing can leave them feeling physically hungover.  It sure does me.  Even spending time with people I love can leave me feeling hungover.  I need some alone time to recover from my “extroverting”.

Symptoms of C-PTSD also can lead to hangovers, & in my personal experience, they are the worst of the lot.

If a person has a flashback or nightmare, or if something triggers extreme stress or the trauma responses of fight, flight, freeze or fawn, once the episode is done, that usually leads to a hangover.  Adrenaline was forced into action.  Once it is no longer needed, the body & mind feel hungover because of what adrenaline does to a person.  It makes the body & mind work very hard to get a person through some especially challenging situation.  It’s only natural that once it’s done its job, a person would feel pretty yukky after because their muscles, joints & their mind just worked really hard for a while!  This is an adrenaline hangover.

Even a particularly nasty depressive episode can leave a person feeling hungover.  Feeling nothing but negative feelings wears a person down.  Having no hope wears a person down too.  Being suicidal absolutely wears a person down.  After such an episode ends, there is a terrible hangover.  How could there not be?  Depression is known to trigger aches & pains without a physical cause.  Also, I always feel like my muscles get very tight during depressive episodes.  Once they relax, they are going to ache from being in that state for a while.

Yet, the only hangover that is acknowledged regularly is the one that comes from over indulging in alcohol.  While that one is physically painful, the others are not only physically painful but emotionally painful as well.  They deserve to be acknowledged.

If you are in the position of having these miserable hangovers that stem from C-PTSD, I hope you realize that your hangovers are a normal part of this disorder.  They may make you feel like you are crazy, but really, you aren’t.  They are just one more facet of C-PTSD.

When you experience them, don’t judge or criticize yourself.  Just accept it for what it is & work with it the best you can.  Much like how having a cold has to run its course, that is how these hangovers work.  Process your emotions.  Also treat yourself gently & let yourself recover, like you would if you were physically sick.  The hangover will pass.

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How Cunning Narcissists Can Be

I have my blog comments set up so I have to approve comments from anyone who hasn’t commented before.  It’s been a useful feature for protecting it from the narcissists in my life as well as weeding out spam.  Thankfully most comments don’t meet that criteria, so rarely is there a comment I don’t approve.  Recently though I had one.  I didn’t approve the comment primarily because I didn’t want anyone new to learning about narcissism to read it & fall for the manipulation in it.  I was simply going to ignore it but I realized it could be an excellent teaching tool.

I won’t share the comment word for word, only parts of it that can be useful for educational purposes.

It started out saying that my article was “insightful.”  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  But, in true narcissist form, it was an attempt to gain my trust.  Narcissists aren’t ones to complement others to be nice.  Consider love bombing.  It involves lots of complements which lures victims in.  Even if the relationship isn’t romantic, narcissists are very complimentary at first since it helps gain their victims’ trust & create a bond between them.

From there, the commenter said that a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder suffers more than their victims because they have C-PTSD from childhood which lead to them developing NPD.  Then this person explained the disorder.  This is clearly an attempt to appear superior to me by being much more knowledgeable than me on this topic.  The topic I’ve been writing about since about 2011, by the way.  I’m not saying I know everything about narcissism of course, because I definitely don’t.  But, look at this situation for a moment.  Why would anyone talk condescendingly to someone who clearly has plenty of experience & knowledge on a topic?  It’s not as if this person said they have studied it for years, are in the mental health field or even mentioned a past relationship with a narcissist.  No evidence of anything like that was given.  I was just supposed to take them at their word, believing they know much more than me.  That is typical narcissist behavior – they expect to be believed & even revered simply because they are them. 

The person then went on to defend narcissists, saying they are simply unaware of the suffering their behavior causes due to physical issues with their brain, & if I understand at all what goes on in their minds, I will agree.  Rather snarky, right?  The mask was coming off at this point.

They then went on to say that anger is normal, but sometimes anger “can turn you & your actions evil.”  This comment is interesting because it’s trying to lure me back in while insulting me all in one sentence!  Talk about crazy making!  The person validated my anger at narcissists then called me evil.  They didn’t say anger can turn “a person” or “a person’s actions” evil.  They said “you,” which seemed aimed directly at me, not talking about people in general, yet there is plausible deniability in that sentence.  Maybe this person aimed it at me, or maybe they were simply saying any person’s anger can do this to them.  Narcissists love plausible deniability, because it allows them to be hateful while appearing innocent, & if their target says anything, they look petty or even crazy.  Looking at the context of this particular situation though, I tend to believe it was aimed at me. 

They also went on to say I need to understand the intricacies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, how the narcissist (not sure which one in my life they are referring to) was a victim of child abuse & how doing so will set me free from the resentment I obviously feel.  Why would any person have such sympathy for one person for being a victim of abuse who went on to abuse others yet have so little sympathy for another who also was abused yet did NOT go on to abuse others?  That is very typical narcissist logic.  Normal people see just how intensely wrong that is, but narcissists don’t.  They are always right, victims are always wrong.

The commenter ended by saying I’m in a losing situation followed by a laughing emoji.  In fact, on a hunch I googled this emoji.  It’s called “face with tears of joy” & is used to show someone laughing so hard they have tears in their eyes.  Pretty disturbing when you think about it.  Someone who says they think I am in such a bad way would find it so funny they would not only laugh but to the point of tears.  I think that sums up narcissists beautifully.  They are more than happy, they are simply elated when their victims suffer. 

Just for the record, not only did I not approve the comment, I blocked the commenter from accessing my blog.

I hope this helps give you some insight into just how subtle & wicked narcissists can be.  The more you know, the better prepared you can be when you have to deal with these people. 

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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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Sneaky Insults

Everyone with any experience with narcissists knows one of their favorite pastimes is insulting people.  If they dislike a person’s new hair style, car, home, career, personality or anything about someone, that someone will know all about it!

That being said though, not all narcissists directly say what they are thinking.  They often phrase their insults in such a way as to seem innocuous.  For example, my ex husband never said I was fat, but I had no doubt he thought I was disgustingly obese even when I was too thin. I always had my own issues about my weight, so if I said anything about being overweight, he quickly agreed with me.  He would give me tips on losing weight, even though he never had been on a diet in his life.  If I said anything about him thinking I was fat, he would say that he never said that.  Which was true – he never said the word “fat.”  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t insulting me, however.

This is typical narcissistic behavior.  Not only do they love to insult their victims, but to do so in a way as to create plausible deniability.  This means if the victim confronts the narcissist about the insult, the narcissist can deny being insulting, just as my ex did with me.  This makes the victim doubt their perceptions, which is gaslighting behavior.  It also makes the victim tolerate more humiliation, because they believe that the narcissist didn’t mean what they said to be hurtful.

Sneaky insults come in various forms.  One form is moving the goal line.  The narcissist wants something from their victim, & the victim does it.  Rather than being pleased, the narcissist immediately wants something else without even saying “Thank you,” or says that the thing that was done wasn’t what they really wanted.  They wanted something more difficult.

Another sneaky insult is bringing the attention back to them when the victim has done something well.  Let’s say the victim just got a promotion at work.  Rather than simply congratulate the victim, a narcissist could say something like, “I did that job for a while a few years ago.  It was boring though so I found another job.”

Being unimpressed is another way narcissists sneakily insult their victims.  If a victim just published their first book, for example, a narcissist might respond with, “Oh.  Well I guess that’s a big deal if you care about that sort of thing.  Good for you.”

Minimizing another’s accomplishments is another sneaky insult tactic narcissists often use.  Years ago, I did some editing work for a local author before I became an author myself.  I enjoyed the work & the lady was a pleasure to work with.  I mentioned the job to my mother, naively thinking she would be happy for me.  She barely said anything when I told her about the job.  However, a few days later, she mentioned she was thinking of getting into editing books.  She said, “It’s such easy money!  Obviously anyone can do it!”

Another sneaky insult tactic is finding the down side no matter how good something is.  If the victim experiences or accomplishes something good, a narcissist will find something negative about it.  Getting married?  A narcissist will tell the victim that now they’ll have no freedom.  Having a baby?  A narcissist will regale the victim with pregnancy & birth horror stories.  Graduating college?  A narcissist will remind the victim of the thousands & thousands of dollars in college loans the victim owes.

When these things happen, remind yourself of what is happening.  This is simply a narcissist being a narcissist.  If they deny being insulting, make no mistake, they were being insulting!  And, even though it feels personal, it truly isn’t.  It’s their dysfunction coming out.  It doesn’t mean they believe what they say.  Probably they don’t, in fact.  They’re only saying such things as an attempt to hurt & gaslight you.

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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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Shame Over Past Behavior In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Victims of narcissist abuse are no strangers to shame.  Narcissists use it as a weapon very simply because it is such an effective weapon.  A person who feels tremendous shame is very easy to manipulate because they believe they are flawed, stupid, awful, selfish & more beyond repair, so they must listen to someone who isn’t a terrible person like they are.  It’s just common sense that someone out to manipulate & control another person would be thrilled with a victim who thinks this way.

Even when an abuse victim realizes this, that doesn’t make the shame go away.  That shame can hang around for a long time.  Thankfully, much of the shame instilled in victims by the narcissists in their lives diminishes & even disappears fairly fast when they realize that what they feel & believe was deliberately put their by a narcissist.  Other shame however tends to hang around way too long!  That is the shame we will address today.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often feel intense shame about their behavior when they were in a relationship with a narcissist.  I truly understand this since I have experienced the same myself.  In fact, my behavior made me wonder if I was a narcissist since I did some of the same things.  The truth however is no, I am not nor was I a narcissist.  And, if you have similar feelings, I’m sure you aren’t either.

Victims of narcissistic abuse must lie when in relationship with a narcissist.  One key to surviving a narcissistic relationship is to please the narcissist at all times.  Obviously common sense says no one can please any person at all times, in particular someone who is notoriously impossible to please.  However, in the midst of the relationship, that isn’t common sense.  Victims are conditioned to think they must please the narcissist & not doing so is a huge flaw on their part, deserving whatever abuse the narcissist wishes to dish out.  Rather than face that abuse, victims often lie.  It’s a survival skill.  Unfortunately this survival skill can come with a lot of shame attached after the relationship is over.  Instead, try extending mercy & understanding to yourself because it was a necessary evil at the time.

Manipulation is bad, there is no disputing that.  Yet like lying, it too is a necessary evil when in the throes of a relationship with a narcissist.  Anything to please the narcissist is what is important & if that requires manipulation, so be it.  Once the relationship is over, however, looking back on being manipulative in any capacity is shame inducing.  It even can make a person wonder if they are a narcissist as well.  If you are wondering the same, no you are not!!  The fact you wonder & are willing to research it to find out says you aren’t a narcissist.  They don’t do self reflection, & if they somehow stumble upon something stating anything negative about them, they reject it immediately.  So no, you aren’t a narcissist.  You are someone who did something that narcissists do but you only did so in order to survive a toxic environment.

Maybe you were married to a narcissist & did things sexually you aren’t proud of having done.  Again, you did this as a way to survive.  That doesn’t make you a bad person!

If you have experienced such things then please keep in mind although you feel ashamed of what you have done in the past, you aren’t a narcissist nor are you a bad person.  You did what you needed to do at the time to survive.  That is all.  If you had been in a normal relationship, you wouldn’t have done such things.  It’s ok to release that shame about your former behavior!  When you struggle with this, ask God to help you.  He will so let Him do it!  You don’t deserve to live under such a dark cloud of shame!

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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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