Tag Archives: emotional
Recently I wrote this post about the time my mother tried to kill me, & the tough time I’m having regarding this incident. I wondered something. Why now? Why this year? Every other November 28 since 1990 when it happened hasn’t been this hard. Difficult sometimes, sure but not like this. So what is going on?!
A thought crossed my mind that answered that question.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband & I went to dinner at this little local bar/restaurant we like. As we ate, someone started playing the juke box. The song “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” by the Kentucky Headhunters came on. It immediately made me think of a story I told in this post last year. The abridged version is this…
The day of my father’s funeral, I asked my Amazon Echo Dot to play music by Wham! since I wanted something light & fun, but instead it mysteriously played Waylon Jennings’ song, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. I just knew in my heart that God & my father wanted me to know that song is kinda how my father felt – trapped & unable to protect me from my mother. I thought about my father’s notes I’d found documenting some of the abuse my mother inflicted on me & terrible things she said about me as I listened to the song. I read them that day & it was pretty overwhelming to say the least.
Anyway… when the song played at the restaurant, immediately I felt transported back to that experience. It triggered a ton of intrusive memories of abuse & naturally a big C-PTSD flare up.
Later, I prayed about it all & asked God what was that about?! He clearly spoke to my heart & said, “This was a gift from your father. He knows you have a lot of anger inside, & rightfully so. He wants you to face it & heal. He knows you’re strong enough to do that. I agree.”
Since then, I’ve been getting very angry about things as they come to mind, & my mother’s attack on me is no exception. I never realized before that I hadn’t been overly angry about it. Why? Because I felt I had to be more concerned with how others were affected.
My father complained about my mother locking him out of the house when he left the night she attacked me. His keys were in his pocket! He could’ve let himself back in at any time!!! But that was what was wrong with the situation, not my mother trying to kill me. Years later, my father complained to me about having to fix the wall my mother threw me into. He expected me to apologize. That did NOT happen & I told him it never would. Not my fault she broke the wall with my back.
When it happened, my ex husband was upset about it, but not because I’d been hurt. It was more because it upset him that she did this, rather than her actions causing me harm, if that makes sense.
Both my father & my ex wanted me to comfort them. As a result, I did (I was only 19 & knew nothing of NPD obviously), & ignored my own anger. That anger is now at the surface after 28 years & it’s time to face it.
I’m seeing more & more how valuable anger can be. Yes, we should forgive, not be full of anger or try to get revenge on people, but at the same time, anger has its place! It is an excellent motivator for change. It is also a big part of the healing process, & should NEVER be ignored! The only way to heal from anger that I know of is to get angry. Feel it. Yell, cry, write hateful letters you never send, or whatever works for you, but feel that anger & get it out of you. Then you can release it fully.
Forgiving too easily or early is an issue, like it was with me. Once I became a Christian in 1996, I heard a lot about forgiveness. I thought I forgave my mother for her attack, but what I really did was just ignore the anger that I felt. I think many victims of narcissistic abuse do the same thing.
I believe one of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to heal from narcissistic abuse is to decide early on that you will forgive your abuser, then face your anger head on. It’s miserable to do, I know, & scary when you’ve never really felt anger before, but you have to do it. Remember that anger is from God like all of our emotions, so that alone proves it is valuable. Feeling it helps you to cope with injustices done to you & motivates you to make appropriate changes. It also helps your self esteem when you get angry about what was done to you because it’s like it shows you that you are valuable! You deserve to be treated right!
When a person grows up surrounded by chaos, that person often ends up comfortable with chaos. Knowing nothing else such as peace & calm, those things feel foreign & even scary. There can be comfort in the midst of chaos simply because it is what you know, it is what is familiar.
Some people who have grown up abused even create their own chaos & drama without realizing it simply because they can’t stand peace & quiet. Even if they hate such stressful situations, the familiarity of them provides a degree of comfort.
Most people gravitate to the familiar, even when it is painful or dysfunctional. This is why a woman who grew up beaten by her drunken father later marries a man who gets drunk & beats her. She doesn’t like being beaten- it’s simply familiar to her & she naturally gravitated to it.
Other people grew up being the “fixers” in their family. They were the ones who calmed down their parents when they were fighting or denied the fact their parents were abusive if anyone questioned them. They kept their dysfunctional parents happy at all personal costs. Being the family fixer means these people feel they have no real purpose unless they are able to fix things. They are comfortable with chaos because it means they have a job to do, & it’s a job they know how to do well.
As dysfunctional as this behavior is, there is hope. The healthier you get & the more you heal from the abuse, the less comfortable you will feel with chaos. It will happen naturally. I’m not sure there is a way to address this issue specifically. I’ve just noticed that it seems to diminish on its own as a person gets healthier. So take care of yourself. Address whatever issues you have as they come up. Pray, ask God to help you to get to the root of the problem so you can deal with it the most effectively. In time, you’ll notice you become more uncomfortable with chaos & much more comfortable with the peace that you deserve.
As children, we’re supposed to figure out what we want to do when we grow up & plan for it accordingly by the time we graduate high school. Many plans change but at least most kids have an idea of what they want to do with their lives.
I didn’t. I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married or not, but I assumed I wouldn’t because my mother told me no man would ever want me. I’ve kind of fallen into things rather than having a plan to get there my entire life.
I’ve thought this was strange since it seemed to me everyone else I knew growing up had some goals. They knew if they wanted to get married, have kids, travel the world, go to college, & what kind of career they wanted.
Recently I realized something. I believe this is because when you grow up with a narcissistic parent (or two), you learn early on that you’re wrong about anything & everything. What you think, feel, like, don’t like, want, believe, etc. is all wrong. So, if you believe you’re wrong, how can you set any goals? The goals will automatically be stupid, bad, wrong, etc. because you set them. Why bother even trying to set goals that are going to be so bad? It’s a waste of time.
Plus, many of us with narcissistic parents were told by that parent that they knew us better than we knew ourselves. Believing this lie would also inhibit us from making goals because obviously we are too stupid to know what we should do & what we want to do.
Even realizing this, I still have trouble setting goals but am improving a bit at it. I have learned I’m not the stupid, ugly, fat, horrible, useless person my mother told me I was growing up. I have also learned she has absolutely no clue who I am, so saying she knows me better than I know myself was an absolute lie. I know me much better than she ever has & ever will. Learning these things have helped me some in this area as well as healing my virtually destroyed self-esteem. Realizing these truths about yourself can help you too. Talk to supportive, loving & safe people. Write in a journal. Those things will help you to discover the real you, the good person that you are as well as what you want to do with your life. They also will help you to see that maybe what your narcissistic parent said you wanted, liked or didn’t like was absolutely wrong, & enable you to figure out what makes you truly happy.
Dear Reader, if you have this same problem with setting goals, know you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy or stupid for not being able to do so. It is simply one more side effect of growing up with a narcissistic parent. Focus on healing your wounded self-esteem, & I believe goals will become more natural & easy to set in time. Ask God for help, too- He will not let you down!
“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
The above saying is so incredibly true when it comes to healing from abuse.
Anyone who has experienced any type of abuse knows that healing from it isn’t easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever do in your life. There will be times you want to give up & just forget everything that happened. Other times, you’ll want to curl up in your bed & never get out again because the pain is overwhelming & so depressing. Yet other times you feel like you can’t think about anything but some traumatic, horrible experiences, even though you would love to think about something, anything, else.
Awful times like this are, unfortunately, a very natural part of the healing process.
When these times come, I want to encourage you to keep pressing on. The results will be worth it when you make progress in your healing. All progress, even baby steps, is good when you’re healing from abuse, after all. Do whatever you know to do to help you heal. Or, if you don’t know what to do, then talk to God. He wants to help you, so let Him!
Whatever happens during these incredibly trying times, don’t give up, Dear Reader! I know it’s hard & painful, but don’t give up! You can & will get through these times. Be gentle & understanding with yourself. Be especially good to yourself too- do things that make you feel good. Pamper yourself. Splurge on that yummy milkshake or latte. Snuggle up in your favorite blanket or get soft, cozy new pajamas. Watch your favorite movies or tv shows. Self care is always important, but especially so during the hard times. Don’t neglect to take care of yourself! xoxo
2 Thessalonians 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (KJV)
So many of us raised by narcissistic parents grew up believing it was our job to protect our parents from consequences. No matter what our parents did to us, we weren’t supposed to be upset about it or confront them about being abusive. We were supposed to tolerate everything they did with a smile rather than take the chance in upsetting them.
Sadly, this awful belief often is such an ingrained belief, it follows us into adulthood. Our narcissistic parents can continue abusing not only us but our spouse & children as well without fear of consequences.
The fact is that this belief & behavior goes against God’s will. God is a firm believer in consequences. The Scripture at the beginning of this post is evidence of that.
Dear Reader, if you’re suffering at the hands of your narcissistic parents, you are well within your rights to set boundaries & give your parents consequences! Doing so won’t make you a bad person or bad daughter or son. In fact, it means you are following God’s will.
The same is true if you have gone no contact with your narcissistic parents. Although many people will attempt shame you for doing so, going no contact after years of abuse & attempts to improve the relationship is NOT a bad thing. Yes, it’s sad when a relationship comes to such drastic measures, especially when it’s a close relationship such as parent & child, however, it is also often the only resort left for a victim who wishes to be free of abuse. The person in this situation has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about.
Narcissistic parents often expect their children to care for them rather than the normal course of events where parents care for their children. They expect their children to meet their emotional needs, listen to their woes, make them happy when they are sad, fix their problems & more. This is called parentification, parentalizing, emotional incest or covert incest. (For simplicity sake, we’ll use parentification in this article.)
While parentification may not sound all that bad, its effect on children can be devastating. Children feel responsible for their parents, which burdens them with the false belief they are responsible for everyone in their circle as adults. That type of responsibility is incredibly stressful, no matter a person’s age, & as everyone knows, stress can cause a plethora of physical ailments.
It also robs children of their childhood. Parentified children aren’t allowed to hang out with their friends. They have their parents to take care of instead. Basically these children are living an adult life in their childhood.
Parentified children also are depressed. They often feel like failures for not being able to fix their parents’ problems, & narcissistic parents only make this feeling worse by blaming their children for not being able to accomplish the impossible.
These children often carry a great deal of anger inside, too, yet are unable to express it. To be angry at their parents feels so wrong since their parents have made it their job to protect these parents. Since expressing that anger is wrong, as far as the children are concerned, the anger gets stuffed inside & often manifests in very unhealthy ways. It can come out as self destructive ways (such as addictions) or other destructive ways (becoming abusive towards other people).
Parentified children have a right to be angry. They have been subjected to an incredibly cruel & insidious form of abuse by their own parents. And, to make matters worse, unknowing people compound their pain. They tell the children how lucky they are to have such a close relationship with their mother or father. Some people compound the guilt & responsibility on their child by saying things like, “I don’t know what your mom would do without you.” “You have to be strong for your dad- he needs you.” These kinds of things only make a child feel ashamed for having any complaints about the relationship, extra responsible for the parent they shouldn’t be responsible for in the first place & angry that they have been forced into this position.
If this describes you, you are NOT alone! Many people have been the victims of parentification, in particular children of narcissistic parents. I’ve been through it myself & sympathize with your pain. My parents came to me ever since i can remember with complaints about each other & even wanting me to fix their disagreements. I still have moments when I think of it that I get angry. And you know something? It’s ok! Being abused in any way, shape or form isn’t right. It’s ok to be angry about the unfairness of abuse & being forced to live with the painful effects, such as PTSD or C-PTSD.
The best way I’ve learned to cope is to go to God, & tell Him about what I feel. He truly understands & gives me a lot of comfort. I also have friends who have been through the same thing & understand. Sometimes one of the most helpful things for me is when they get angry over something I went through. That can be so validating! What my parents did wasn’t right, but, as a typical child of narcissists, I’ve always felt guilt for being angry with them. Although it’s diminished a great deal, it’s still there a little. Someone else getting angry about what my parents did helps me to understand that it’s ok to be angry about what they did & to realize just how wrong it was.
If you’re still in a relationship with your parent who indulges in parentification, you are not in a good place. Until such time as you decide to end this relationship, if you decide to take that step, you will need to learn ways to cope. Narcissists don’t accept boundaries like normal people, so you will need to get creative. Whatever you do, do NOT tell your parent, “It hurts me when you talk about/do that. Please don’t do it anymore.” Statements like that are like throwing gas on a narcissist fire. They will mock you for being oversensitive or do the behavior more often just to hurt you.
Instead, try changing the subject. Since narcissists love to talk about themselves, you can use that to your advantage. Ask your narcissistic parent something about herself. How is her job going? How did her last doctor visit go? Has she talked to her favorite cousin lately? It’s really not that hard to get a narcissist to talk about themselves. Why not use it in your favor?
Suddenly have to go. You just looked at the time & you have to go. You don’t owe any explanations- you just have to go.
Ask if your parent has talked to someone else who has been through something similar about this situation. After all, that person knows a lot more than you do & no doubt can help your parent more than you can! Let them think that you’re only suggesting this because it helps them in some way, not you.
Whatever your situation with parentification, I truly wish you the best. I pray you find effective ways to cope with your parent or are able to release any false guilt you may feel for no longer being in that situation.
Families that have at least one narcissist in them have some very serious problems. It may not be evident at first glance. Everyone may act like they get along just fine. They may celebrate holidays together every year. Yet, serious problems still exist in this family.
People raised by narcissistic parents have mental health issues. There is no avoiding that. Many struggle with C-PTSD or PTSD at worst, anxiety &/or depression at best. Some even turn out like their narcissistic parent, emulating the awful & abusive behaviors they grew up seeing daily. All have relationship problems to varying degrees.
The problems don’t stop at the children of narcissists, however. If those children grow up to have children, they too will be abused by their narcissistic grandparents.
Other relatives will be drawn into the fray as well. Narcissists love to tell other people how wonderful they are while also telling them just awful their victim is. That way, if the victim ever tells anyone about the abuse, no one will believe the victim. Instead, they will label the victim as crazy, mentally unstable, addicted, selfish, etc. while assuming the narcissist has done nothing wrong.
When this happens in a family situation, it seems that most people are exceptionally willing to blindly believe the narcissist & attack the victim. That’s how my family is. No one wants to believe someone they are related to is abusive & cruel. That is very understandable, of course. However, in families with a narcissist, they often take this to the extreme.
Not only do narcissistic families not want to accept the fact their relative is an abusive narcissist, they will do anything to shut down the person making the accusation. They will ignore the victim, accuse the person of lying, being angry, spoiled, immature or unforgiving, or even personally attack the victim. The particularly aggressive ones may stalk & harass the victim, or inundate the victim with hateful texts, emails or social media messages. If the victim blocks their phone number, email address, etc, they will find other ways to contact the victim- get a new phone number or email, create a fake social media profile or hack someone else’s profile. If the victim is a Christian, you can guarantee their faith will become the subject of attack. The “family” will twist Scripture around to support their warped beliefs &/or claim the victim can’t be a Christian & behave in this manner.
It is a terrible thing finally to summon the courage to open up about the abuse you endured, & when you tell people you think will support you, to be met with disbelief & even cruelty. It is one of the most horrible things a victim can endure- being mocked or shamed for divulging the most painful experiences in their life while watching those they thought would be on their side comfort & support the very person who abused them.
I know there is nothing I can say to make this experience hurt any less. I’m very sorry if you’re going through this. There are some ways you can cope though.
Always, ALWAYS maintain a close relationship to God. He knows the truth & understands your situation. He will give you comfort & strength. He will show you the best way to handle the situation, too.
Remember, you do NOT need anyone’s validation but your own. Yes, it’s a good thing having people in your life support you & even say things like, “That was awful.. I’m sorry you went through that.” However, you don’t *need* it.
That brings me to my next point- learn to validate yourself. To do this, accept your feelings without judgment. You’re allowed to be hurt & angry your family treats you badly. Be proud of the good person you are & the direction towards healing you’re taking. You have overcome a great deal. If you recently learned about narcissism & began speaking about it, that is a huge step- be proud of yourself for that!
And lastly, never, ever forget that these people who have hurt you so badly have serious problems. Functional people defend victims, not attack them while coddling an abuser. These people may get something from the narcissist, so they won’t go against her & risk losing it. Maybe the narcissist is someone they idolize, so they refuse to listen to anything bad about them. Maybe they’re simply cowardly, & think it’s easier to go along with the narcissist than to stand up for what’s right. In any case, this person’s behavior says nothing about you but plenty about them.
Although I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, you will survive this awful situation, & you will be much stronger for having done so!
I’ve noticed that many people think others should believe as they do. People really can be downright shaming if you don’t share their passions.
Quite a few years ago, I said something to one of my football watching aunts about the fact my husband likes football & I hate it, always have. She verbally jumped me for not trying harder to like it, & she also said I needed to watch games with him so we can enjoy football together. It was surprising to me because I wasn’t complaining or looking for some solution- I just made a simple statement. I also remember thinking, “I love knitting. I don’t see you scolding him & telling him he needs to learn to knit so we can buy yarn or knit together.” I wish I’d said that- it might have helped her to see how ludicrous & over the top her reaction was.
I’ve experienced similar reactions from people who are extremely focused on politics when they learn I’m not. In fact, the topic doesn’t interested me in the slightest. I also don’t have the desire in me to learn enough about candidates to make an informed decision on who to vote for, so I don’t vote. This apparently infuriates some people who are deeply interested in politics, & some have been downright shaming & nasty to me because of this. Not that I would do it, but it makes me want to be equally shaming & nasty to them for not helping to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse or help victims. It’d only be fair, after all, wouldn’t it?
I used to be upset by my aunt & the other people who were equally nasty to me. Then I realized something.
Not every cause can be your cause. People believe differently & have varied interests. That doesn’t mean something is wrong with one person & right with another because they think differently. It simply means they’re different.
There are many valid causes that need support, awareness & activists out there. No one can support them all though! That would leave no time for people to do anything else, like work or sleep. It’s much better to focus on what means the most to you than to spread yourself too thin by supporting many causes.
And, every person is unique, right down to our fingerprints & DNA. It is only natural that the causes we support & things that interest us also would be unique.
If you’re in the position of someone shaming you for not sharing their interests or supporting their causes, ignore them! They aren’t worth your frustration. They have no right to tell you what to think or how to feel. You do what is right for you. You have your own path to walk in life, & the approval of other people is NOT required to do it. What you do & what you believe in is ultimately between you & God, not you & other people.
If you’re actively in this situation, try changing the subject. A reasonable person will be fine with that. If the person isn’t reasonable, then you can tell them you don’t feel comfortable discussing this topic with them & if they continue, you’ll hang up the phone or leave the room. If they ask why, you can tell them the truth- because they are being disrespectful, nasty, etc. on this topic. If the person you’re speaking with is truly being obnoxious, you could try logic. Comments like, “Because you feel/believe that way means I should too? Why? Give me a good reason.” or, “That has never interested me, & I am well aware of that fact. Why should I do something I have zero interest in?” Statements like this can often shut a person down pretty quickly, because they realize how ridiculous their behavior is.
In conclusion, just remember there is nothing wrong with you for having the interests you have or not having the ones you don’t. God made you to be unique, so be unique & enjoy it!
I have a knack for remembering dates, including kinda obscure ones, that even having brain damage hasn’t affected. I graduated high school on May 13, 1989, for example.
Two other dates I remember are August 23, 1990 & November 24, 1990. Those were the dates I met & then broke up with a man I was involved with. He made me feel so guilty for breaking up with him that ever year for many years, I dreaded those dates because I’d feel such guilt. Although he was only in my life briefly, the dysfunctional relationship had quite an impact on me.
January 31, 2014, I learned that he shot & killed his boyfriend & then himself two days before. The news came as a complete shock to me since I had absolutely no clue of his orientation or capacity for murder. Keeping in mind my knack for remembering dates, all those dates bring him to mind & every time, make me sad for him, his family, his victim & his victim’s family.
A few times, I’ve mentioned the date in passing conversation & the person I was speaking with told me, “Just don’t think about it.” It sat very wrong with me, even when I knew the person had good intentions, & I’ll tell you why.
“Just don’t think about it” is invalidating. You’re thinking about something that bothers you & are trying to talk it out, yet the other person shuts you down. That is invalidation. Why they do it doesn’t change that fact.
If you “just don’t think about it”, how are you supposed to heal from the incident? If you want to heal, you have to think about it & process the emotions connected to it. Not thinking about it is no help at all!
Not thinking about it also contributes to mental & physical problems. It can create anxiety, depression, anger, high blood pressure, heart disease, & kidney disease. It also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, leaving you open to sickness.
Obviously, “just don’t think about it” is not good advice & you should NOT follow it!
I’m not saying you should think of nothing but the traumatic event you were told not to think about. Instead, I’m saying work with it. Realize you feel as you do for a reason. Maybe it’s there to let you know now is the time you should face this issue. If so, face it. No, it isn’t easy to face past trauma, but do it anyway! If you face it, it will lose much maybe even all of the negative effect it has over you. It also won’t affect your physical health.
If it’s something you’ve already dealt with like I have dealt with my situation, maybe it’s a reminder to pray for the people involved. I know, praying for a person who has abused you, especially one with no remorse or who has made you out to be the abusive one is tough, but do it anyway. Do it not because this person deserves your prayers, but because God wants you to do it & because it really can help you. Praying for those who use & abuse you is incredibly helpful at releasing the anger & even bitterness you feel towards them. Carrying such things around isn’t good for your health, so why do it? You can maintain boundaries or even no contact while not carrying around anger.
Whatever you feel when something traumatic comes to mind, honor those feelings & know they are there for a valid reason. Accept them without judgement. Face them however you feel you need to do in order to heal. Pray for the abusive person if you can too. Whatever you do though, remember that “just don’t think about it” is terrible advice. Ignore the advice, & take good care of yourself!
Recently I read an article about symptoms of PTSD. I didn’t think much more about it at first, but it kinda bopped around the back of my mind a bit for a few days.
A couple of days later, my husband & I had to go to the doctor for our health insurance. His appointment was first, & we texted periodically. He mentioned the doctor was concerned about his depression. When I saw the doctor, I asked him about it & he said, “I see a lot of people day after day. He has the look many have who have been depressed for years.” I thought it was an interesting statement- he’s very observant!
A couple of days later, something hit me. Our doctor didn’t say a word about my mental health. Not a comment one about me looking like someone who’s been depressed for years, even though I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t depressed. Somehow, my lazy Susan-esque brain connected that with the article I read about PTSD symptoms. In that moment I realized just how much I have been ignoring my C-PTSD symptoms. I’m so good at it that even my observant doctor had no idea I struggle with C-PTSD.
Yes, I’m hyper-vigilant, but you probably wouldn’t know it to look at me. Rather than upset people by startling easy, I am on constant guard, surveying my environment so not much surprises me.
I also get very quiet when I have flashbacks. Naturally I’m quiet anyway so that isn’t a huge red flag My husband has seen me have many flashbacks, but hasn’t noticed a lot of them because of that. I don’t even tell him most of the time when I have flashbacks. I just recover & go on the best I can.
These are just two examples, but there are others.
Thinking of such things I realized how incredibly unhealthy this is that I ignore so many of my symptoms. On the outside, I look like I’m managing the C-PTSD just fine, but on the inside is a very different story.
In considering all of this, I think this happens simply out of habit. Growing up with narcissistic parents, I learned early never to “bother” my parents with my problems. My purpose was to take care of them, not the other way around. As a result, like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned to hide or even ignore anything that didn’t please them. I ignored emotions, illness, thoughts, wants, & needs. Now here I am, an adult in my 40’s with my own life, still hiding & ignoring important things that I shouldn’t be hiding or ignoring.
No doubt I’m not the only person in this position, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue with you, Dear Reader.
It’s important with PTSD & C-PTSD to manage your symptoms. Ignoring them isn’t the same thing. Managing them means you have some control over your symptoms. Ignoring them means you’re working hard to pretend they don’t exist, which shows they have control over you.
Ignoring symptoms also means the problem won’t get fixed or at least controlled. It also can mean you face health problems because emotions that are ignored can cause stress & we all know stress is terrible for your physical & emotional health.
With both PTSD & C-PTSD, there are some symptoms that are just a part of life but others that can be managed. Flashbacks come to mind. Rather than ignoring them or simply accepting them, why not make them work for you whenever possible? Flashbacks can be a sign of a particular issue that you need to work on. I’ve learned that if I deal with the issue my flashback was about, I don’t have another about that particular issue. The same goes for nightmares. This also can work with anxiety. Figure out what is the root of this anxiety. Ask God to help you if need be. Once you know the root, you can face the problem & eliminate one cause of your anxiety. Chipping away at it one issue at a time can help make it more manageable.
Maybe your symptoms are flaring up because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard lately or it’s near the anniversary of some traumatic event. If that is the case, your brain is trying to tell you to slow down & do some good self care. Listen to the symptoms! They’re trying to get your attention for a reason!
Remember, PTSD & C-PTSD are potentially life threatening disorders. They should be taken very seriously. Ignoring your symptoms isn’t going to help you & can hurt you. Pay attention to your symptoms- your brain is trying to tell you something, so listen to it!
Narcissists love to have power over their victims. To hurt someone either mentally, physically or sexually gives them a feeling of power. Possibly the only thing that makes narcissists feel even more powerful is watching their victim suck up to them.
When a victim is genuinely repentant & will do anything to make it up to their abuser, this is a huge power trip for the narcissist. They know they can make that victim do anything at this point. There also is the added bonus of the victim accepting responsibility for whatever the narcissist did. This means the narcissist doesn’t have to take any blame at all. (Not that they would anyway, but at least in this situation, they don’t have to work to pawn that blame off on someone else).
Narcissists are incredibly good at manipulation & gaslighting- making a person doubt their own thoughts, feelings, perceptions & even sanity. Because of this, it’s no wonder many victims in the midst of narcissistic abuse continually apologize & suck up to their abuser. I certainly have done my fair share of it before learning about narcissism. (If you have too, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I doubt there is one victim of narcissistic abuse that hasn’t apologized to their abuser at least a couple of times.)
If you’re still in a relationship with a narcissist, I’m sure you’re faced with the scenario at least periodically, where the narcissist is angry with you & demands that you apologize. Or maybe she prefers suddenly to stop speaking to you, with no explanation whatsoever, in an attempt to make you rush to her side, begging for her to speak to you again.
Having been there, I learned something. Don’t do it!!!
If you have done something wrong, then by all means, apologize. It’s just the right, mature thing to do. Say you’re sorry, make things right if you can, & move on.
If you haven’t done something wrong, then do NOT apologize! If you do it once, the narcissist will demand you do it again & again. She will use you & wear you down to get you to make it up to her for whatever horrible thing you supposedly did.
If a person can’t behave like a mature adult by trying to work out a problem, then don’t treat them as if they are one. Let that narcissist pout like the bratty child she’s acting like while you ignore her ridiculous display. If she’s trying to make you feel guilty, pretend not to notice. If she hints for an apology, also pretend not to notice. Learn to enjoy the silent treatment if you’re on the receiving end of it. It’s a reprieve from unnecessary drama- why not enjoy it?
Stop trying to make it up to a narcissist who isn’t telling you what you’ve done wrong or who blames you for them abusing you! It only provides them with narcissistic supply, & the more you provide, the more they will demand from you.
Making it up to someone you have hurt is one thing. It should be a normal thing for a person to do as well as the one hurt to expect. However, when someone constantly expects another person to make it up to them without trying to talk things out, or because they abused their victim, something is very, very wrong with this situation.
Lately I’ve noticed something. So many people are just over the top positive. They can find something good in every single situation, no matter what. While that may sound good, I really don’t think it’s entirely good for a person’s mental health.
If you’re very positive, you expect nothing but good things to happen. Since life isn’t always perfect, bad things do happen, & when they do, overly positive people can be devastated. A realistic person hopes for the best, but also prepares for the worst. When something bad happens, they aren’t usually overwhelmed, because they knew it was possible something bad might happen.
Very positive people also can unintentionally invalidate others, which damages their relationships. Look at these typical scenarios:
- You’re recovering from a potentially life threatening illness. The overly positive person says, “At least you’re still alive!” Well, yes, but that comment makes you feel like you don’t have the right to be upset about the fact that you could have died, when in fact you most certainly have that right!
- A soldier with PTSD saved his friends’ lives by killing an enemy soldier who was running at them, guns blazing. A positive person might say something like, “You did a brave thing! Look at the lives you saved!” While that’s true, how about asking how he feels about the incident, or offering him comfort because he had to kill another human being & is having difficulties coming to terms with it?
- You tell the overly positive person of trauma in your life such as your parents’ abusing you, being the victim of a mugging or maybe being in a terrible car wreck. The overly positive person says, “Other people have been through much worse!” Or, even worse, they don’t so much as acknowledge what you said.
- You were adopted as a baby. As an adult, you’re frustrated because you don’t know your family’s history, how many siblings you may or may not have, why you were given up for adoption or even what name your biological mother wanted to give you. Or, maybe your adoptive parents abused you. An overly positive person might tell you how lucky you were & how grateful you should be to be adopted, making you feel guilty for not feeling so lucky or grateful.
I’m not trying to say being positive is all bad. It certainly has its place. It can help you in tough times to focus on the good, such as remembering the good times with your loved one after he or she has passed away. I do believe though that there must be balance.
Being too positive means a person doesn’t deal with their emotions in a healthy way. They ignore the anger, hurt or sadness & put on a happy face. That is never a healthy thing to do! Emotions demand to be felt, so if they aren’t felt in a healthy way, they’ll find a way to manifest in an unhealthy way. This can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure as well as angry outbursts or depression.
It also can lead to deep insecurity. If a person feels bad about themselves for feeling a negative emotion, chances are, that person will shame themselves for what they feel. Their self talk will be awful. They’ll tell themselves things like, “You’re so stupid for being mad/sad about that!” Negative self talk can damage self-esteem, which is never a good thing.
You can be positive yet realistic at the same time, Dear Reader. If something bad happened, there is nothing wrong with admitting that event was bad. As I’ve mentioned before, in 2015, I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Good has come from it- my personality changes have worked well for me. I’m happy to say I no longer have patience for abusive people, I’m better with self care than ever before & I finally will stand up for myself. But, at the same time, I don’t like the fact I get tired so easily, I have constant head, neck & body pain, sometimes my moods swing like crazy, & my memory & comprehension are seriously damaged. See what I mean? I have found the positive, but at the same time, I admit the negative. You can do this too, & I firmly believe when you do, you will be much happier than if you are overly positive.
Most people who were abused as children face lifelong problems as a result of that abuse. The problems can be debilitating at worst, or they can at best be really annoying, but they are there nonetheless. This post is about some of those problems.
Many people who experienced abuse in their childhood develop PTSD or C-PTSD. It makes a lot of sense this happens considering that abused children are exposed to at least a couple of life altering traumas in their life, usually many more. In case you don’t know this, PTSD & C-PTSD happen when trauma is severe enough to “break” the brain. Physical changes actually happen in the brain that cause PTSD & C-PTSD. Neither are mood disorders or the result of thinking negatively like many people seem to think. Medication &/or therapy can help you to manage the life disrupting symptoms.
Even if an adult survivor of child abuse doesn’t develop PTSD or C-PTSD, chances are good that person will suffer anxiety &/or panic attacks &/or fears, even phobias. When you’re raised by someone whose behavior is violent & unpredictable, you naturally become anxious. That anxiety can stay even long after the abuse has ended. Ending the relationship with an abusive parent is naturally a smart thing to do, but that doesn’t mean all problems are solved. While it removes further abuse from happening, it doesn’t stop the anxiety that the abuse created. It takes a lot of time for that to diminish. It may never stop entirely. Learning ways to calm yourself such as through deep breathing can help calm you when anxiety gets bad. Prayer is also very helpful. Medication can help as well. Also, learn to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Take tiny steps at first, then once you’re comfortable with the small steps, push yourself a bit further. It’ll help you to be more confident in yourself & less anxious when you see what you can handle.
Lacking good coping skills is common as well. When you’re subjected to daily abuse, you simply don’t have time to process one trauma when another happens. It’s overwhelming! It also leads to a pattern of not knowing how to cope because you haven’t been able to do so. You will need to learn coping skills, such as how to slow down & look at the situation objectively so you can find ways to cope.
Many adult survivors of child abuse also are willing to settle. They don’t want to be in the same or a similar situation to what they’ve been through, so rather than take a risk, they settle. Pushing yourself out of that comfort zone can be scary, but it needs to be done. Start with small things. As you get more comfortable, push yourself to do bigger things.
Talk to people you feel safe with, & let them help you as you heal. It can be super easy to become a total recluse, because it feels like no one else has been through the things you have. As you open up to safe people, you may realize that others have been through similar situations. Sharing these experiences can help you to become closer & also to help each other heal.
Many victims also hold in their anger. As a child of an abusive parent, it’s a useful survival skill. Abusive parents can’t & won’t deal with their child’s anger, so it’s safer for the child to hold it in. As an adult though, it’s no longer a good skill. Instead it becomes unhealthy both physically & mentally. You have to learn how to release your anger in healthy ways, such as in prayer, writing in a journal or talking things out with a safe person.
Almost all victims of child abuse avoid confrontation as adults. Growing up with abusive parents, we learned early in life that confrontation involves rage, name calling, possibly even physical violence. The truth though is that isn’t always the case anymore! Not everyone is like our parents. You need to learn that it’s ok, even loving (believe it or not) to confront someone who is mistreating you.
Adult victims of abusive parents also have issues with boundaries. Abusive parents don’t let their children have boundaries, & perhaps out of simple habit, those children grow into adults with no boundaries. You will need to realize that you have every right to have & enforce healthy boundaries, as well as learn ways to develop those boundaries. I highly recommend reading “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life” by Dr.s Henry Cloud & John Townsend. The book changed my life! I even created a free online class based on the book. It’s available at my website at this link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Boundaries-Book-Study.php
Lastly, most adults abused as children also end up in unhealthy relationships. They replay the abuse they experienced as children in friendships & romantic relationships because it’s familiar. While this is normal, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You need to recognize unhealthy people & avoid them as much as you can. You can do this by learning about people like your abusive parent. For example, if your parent is a narcissist, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so you can recognize the signs easily.
Surviving consequences of abuse is never easy, but it can be managed. You can & learn to enjoy your life & thrive in spite of your traumatic experiences.
While no contact is often the best solution for a person with narcissistic parents, sometimes it isn’t an option or at least isn’t an option in the near future. This post is for those of you in that position.
I understand how difficult it is to be in that situation. I wanted to sever ties with my parents for over a year before the timing felt right. I did learn some things during that time though, & I hope what I learned can help you.
I think it is a good idea first to get to the root of why no contact isn’t an option & eliminate the problem if at all possible. Are you financially dependent? Then try to find other means of supporting yourself. Are you afraid of being alone? It is better to be alone than to have abusive people in your life! God can send you new friends who genuinely love you & become like family. Are you afraid of what may happen if you go no contact such as relatives attacking you? I know that can be pretty intimidating, but think about it- what can they really do to you? If all they can do is tell you what a terrible person you are, that is something you can handle. After all, didn’t your narcissistic parents tell you that often growing up? My mother did. Although it bothered me when the flying monkeys told me the same things, I realized their words only upset me because they reminded me of when my own mother said worse to me. Once your own mother has called you horrific names, you develop a sort of armor to that verbal abuse. Do you somehow know that the timing isn’t right like I did? Then keep praying & follow God’s promptings. When the timing is right, you will know it & He will enable you to follow through with going no contact.
If you are unable to go no contact at this time but want to, then try for low contact. Limit your exposure to your narcissistic parent as much as possible. Don’t be available every time they call. Don’t visit or invite them to your home often. Follow your heart & deal with them only when you feel you are able to. I used to pray before answering my parents’ calls. I’d ask God if I should take it or not & if I felt His answer was yes, I’d ask Him to guide my words & enable me to handle the situation in the best possible way.
When you must deal with your narcissistic parents, there are some helpful skills you can use.
Always remember that your parents are narcissists. You aren’t dealing with normal, stable, healthy people. You can’t expect them to behave as such. Get rid of any expectations for them to behave normally or show love to you.
Also remember- with narcissists, everything boils down to how can they get narcissistic supply? You’re best off depriving them of that supply, but in ways that can’t trigger their narcissistic rage. To do this, the Gray Rock method is best.
I think of Gray Rock as becoming boring to narcissists. What interests them? Deprive them of that. In other words, don’t tell them personal information. In conversation, stick to superficial topics like the weather. If you’re out of ideas for superficial conversation, ask the narcissist about herself. They love talking about themselves, so you might as well make it work for you. In difficult situations, you can ask the narcissist about herself & that should divert the attention off of you since most narcissists can’t resist an opportunity to talk about themselves.
Always stay calm, cool & collected around your narcissistic parent. Narcissists see displays of emotions as weakness, which makes them attack their victim like a hungry lion attacks a weak gazelle. In their presence, show no emotion. Always be cold & emotionless.
Keep firm boundaries in place & offer no explanations for them. You can say NO without explaining yourself further. If your narcissistic parent demands to know why you say no, change the subject. If your narcissistic parent hints at wanting to know, ignore the hints.
Keep learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It will help you to keep a healthy perspective of your situation. It will help you not to take your parents’ abuse so personally & it will help you to figure out effective ways of dealing with them.
And, never forget to pray often & talk to your safe, supportive friends who understand your situation. A good support network is extremely important in these situations. Avoid people who tell you what to do. People who don’t understand why you won’t go no contact or think no contact is wrong are not people you need to deal with, especially as you are trying to go no contact.
I really don’t think there are a lot of people who understand the depths of depravity that it takes for someone to harass & even stalk their victims. Not so long ago, if a person broke up with their significant other, & that person stalked them, it was thought of as almost romantic. “See how much that person loves you? They won’t leave you alone- that is love!” The same sort of mentality was in place if it’s a friendship that ended. “That friend must really care about you if s/he won’t take no for an answer!”
The truth is though, there is nothing loving & romantic about stalkers & harassers. They don’t love their victims. They love having control over their victims & even the narcissistic supply they may get from them, but they do NOT love their victims!
People like this are incredibly dangerous, as was proven here in Maryland recently. By now if you’re in the USA, I’m sure you heard about the shooter at the Capital Gazette newspaper building in Annapolis. If not, here is one article on the topic: https://patch.com/maryland/severnapark/s/ggidf/accused-newspaper-gunmans-rampage-was-almost-8-years-making?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_term=police+%26+fire&utm_campaign=autopost&utm_content=severnapark
Apparently this person who murdered innocent people in cold blood started out harassing someone. His behavior escalated & ended up in mass murder.
People who stalk & harass victims are NOT mentally stable! Something clearly must be wrong with them to think that behavior is acceptable in the first place. Obviously they have narcissistic tendencies at the very least to be so convinced that what they want matters more than the fact they’re terrifying & making their victims miserable, although I’m sure many are malignant narcissists or even sociopaths.
If you are in the position of being harassed or even stalked, please, PLEASE be careful! Never underestimate the person harassing or stalking you. Granted, most do not go as far as the man in this article did, but some do. You don’t know for sure that the person abusing you will or won’t become so violent.
Being stalked & harassed is terrifying, & you have every right to feel afraid! I’ve been through it twice & no one thought it was a big deal aside from me. They couldn’t seem to understand why I lived in terror wondering what was next? What were these people capable of doing to me? No doubt you feel the same way. Do NOT let anyone convince you it’s no big deal, or the person doesn’t mean any harm. Maybe they don’t mean any harm other than to scare you as revenge for severing ties with them. However, maybe they do mean to harm you. You don’t know so don’t trust the person at all!
Ignore this person at all costs. Any acknowledgment you give them, they may take as a sign the relationship is back on.
Do not believe them if they say they just want to talk or to apologize. That is said just to lure you back into their dysfunctional web.
Look into laws for harassment & stalking in your state. Talk to the local police, too. Make sure you know what laws are in place & what you can do to protect yourself.
Use wisdom when & if bringing the law into the situation. Some people aren’t going to be stopped by a restraining order. In fact, some may get more vicious or violent. If you aren’t sure what to do, pray & listen to what God tells you is best in your situation.
Document EVERYTHING! Save voicemail messages, texts, messages & emails. Save all documentation on a cloud storage service or email them to yourself, saving them on your email server. Phones & computers die, & you don’t want to lose your evidence!
Block every possible means of communication this person can use to contact you. Change your phone number & change your name on social media. Chances are, they will find ways around your blocks, so keep blocking them.
Tell people in your life what is happening. Make sure plenty of people know that this person is harassing you & plenty of details about the situation. It can’t hurt to have other people being able to confirm your story to law enforcement if it comes to that.
If the person abusing you comes to your home, a home security system or at least outdoor cameras may be an excellent investment. Many outdoor cameras connect to your cell phone & record video that is stored on a cloud server.
Don’t go out alone if you can help it. Many stalkers aren’t going to bother you if you aren’t alone. Also, if you have a pet, don’t let your pet outside alone. Better safe than sorry!
And remember, it may get worse before it gets better. With any luck, your stalker will get bored that you’ve been ignoring him/her & move on. Prior to moving on though, they will step up the activity. You may get even more emails or phone calls. Keep ignoring them. Do NOT give this person the time of day! Remember they are just trying to get your attention. Refuse to give it to them! If you do, they will draw you back in & things will be even worse than before you ended the relationship. Ignore, ignore, ignore!!
I pray you’re never in this type of situation, but if you are, Dear Reader, stay safe. God bless you! xoxo
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We try to discuss some about our traumatic situations with a narcissist only to be met with someone trying to shut us down. They clearly don’t want to hear about it & say things to invalidate your pain such as “Just get over it already,” “Lots of people were abused by their parents but you don’t hear them talking about it,” or (possibly the stupidest one yet) “But that’s your MOTHER/FATHER!!”
When this happens, it can make you feel bad in many ways. It can make you ashamed of “whining”, it can make you feel like you’re petty or overreacting to things that weren’t a big deal, or it can make you feel like a bad son/daughter or even Christian for being upset about your parents abusing you.
Dear Reader, I want to tell you today, please do NOT feel bad when someone treats you this way! The truth is, their wanting to shut you down is about them, NOT you! These people have their reasons for wanting to shut you down, They aren’t good reasons, but they also have nothing to do with you.
The person may be gaining something from supporting/enabling your narcissistic parent or partner. What that is can be anything- maybe they get money, things or even just the narcissist’s praise. If this person is also a narcissist as many flying monkeys are, that praise is extremely important to them after all. This person obviously is not willing to jeopardize losing whatever it is he or she is gaining, so it is more beneficial for them to shut you down than to listen to what you have to say.
The person also may have their own issues, & you facing yours reminds them of theirs. That can make them want to shut you down quickly, because you make them feel uncomfortable by reminding them of their similar situations.
What if a person has codependency issues? If that person is raised in an emotionally incestuous/parentalizing environment, that person is going to believe it is a child’s job to take care of & cater to their parent forever. At least until such time as they learn how unhealthy this situation is. But, if a person doesn’t realize how unhealthy it is, they think everyone should do as they do, & cater to & care for their parents no matter what. They may even think it’s loving & “Godly” to tolerate whatever abuse their parents dish out. If you’re standing up for yourself, setting boundaries or even *gasp* saying your parents are less than perfect, to this person, you are committing a terrible sin in this person’s eyes. They want to shut you down so they don’t have to hear about it. They think everyone should do as they do. That is their reality & it makes them uncomfortable if you threaten it in any way.
There are two other possibilities that God spoke to me when my father was dying in October, 2017. As I wrote about before, at the time, people continually harassed & tried to bully me into visiting my father. I mean, not only daily but often multiple times in a day. I eventually asked God why were they so cruel to me? He told me two things…
They were in denial about my father. They wanted to believe he was a good guy, & me refusing to speak to him threatened that denial. They wanted me to go to him so they could remain in denial. After all, if I went, it would be proof to them that all was fine. People in denial will do about anything to protect their delusions.
God also said to me that they don’t know me now. They remembered me as that scared of everything little kid I once was, that was also blindly obedient to my parents. By that person being strong enough to face her own issues, it makes them feel weak for not facing theirs. They wanted to push me back into being like I used to be so they didn’t have to feel weak. If the person in your situation knew you when you were being abused, they knew a different version of you. They knew the beat down victim that we all have been at some point. It’s very possible that they may want you to stay that way so they don’t have to feel badly for not dealing with their own issues.
Just remember, Dear Reader, when people invalidate you or try to shut you down, it’s not your fault. It’s not about you. It’s about them & their own issues.
No doubt you have heard about passive/aggressive behavior, but do you know what it is? You need to know, because many narcissists behave in this way.
Passive/aggressive behavior is very sneaky. It makes you wonder if the person acting that way is mad at you or not. The worst part may be that when you confront the passive/aggressive person, they have a plausible sounding explanation for their behavior. This makes you doubt your perception of the situation. Plausible deniability is always a part of passive/aggression, as is the desire to punish another person.
Passive/aggressive behavior is deliberately inefficient, quiet in that the person refuses to discuss their needs & avoids responsibility. Some examples of it are….
Not doing things well. A passive/aggressive spouse may put the laundry in the washer but fail to put them in the dryer for hours claiming he thought you would do that. Or, she may leave your car with virtually no gas in it after using it after you argue. Usually whatever is done poorly is something that has happened countless times before, & rather than argue about it, you just fix the problem quietly.
Running late. Some people are always running behind due to poor time management skills, being forgetful or another reasonable excuse. Passive/aggressive people, however, are not that way. If they have a punctual partner, you can guarantee that they will run late periodically solely for the purpose of irritating that partner. They may say they forgot that special event was in an hour, so they will take their time getting ready & you end up leaving two minutes before the event is due to start.
The silent treatment. Passive/aggressive people love the silent treatment. Rather than saying,, “I was upset when you did something.. can we work it out?” they simply stop talking to you. If you try to ask what is wrong, they refuse to admit anything is wrong or get angry at you for not knowing what is wrong. The silent treatment is designed to make you come crawling to the person & work hard to gain their forgiveness. Don’t fall for it!
Backhanded complements. We’ve all heard these at some point. Passive/aggressive people use them often. Comments like, “Nice hair cut. It really helps hide all that gray hair.” or, “I used to have an outfit just like that! I stopped wearing it after high school though.” are just two examples of backhanded complements. If a passive/aggressive person says such a comment to you, chances are he or she feels threatened by you in some way. Maybe that person thinks you look more attractive than they do, you’re smarter or more talented. Sometimes backhanded complements can be hard to spot, so just notice how you feel when someone gives you a complement. Genuine complements leave you wanting to thank the person & feeling good. Backhanded complements leave you feeling offended & even confused wondering what the person who said it meant by their words.
Fake concern. Closely related to the backhanded complements are the fake concern comments. When a passive/aggressive persons says, “I don’t mean to sound judgmental/insensitive, but…” you can guarantee the next words out of that person’s mouth will be judgmental &/or insensitive. This is their way of saying nasty things to you while appearing to be helpful. If you say anything about how judgmental or insensitive the person is at this point, you are going to look like a jerk to anyone who doesn’t realize what is happening. That is a bonus for a passive/aggressive person- making you look bad on top of insulting you.
Destruction & sabotage. Sometimes passive/aggressive people will “accidentally” destroy something important to you when they’re upset with you. That could be something like “accidentally” spilling red wine on your favorite white shirt or a coworker “forgetting” to tell you that the project you’ve been working hard on is no longer due next week, but in two days.
So, how can a person deal with the obnoxious passive/aggressive behavior? First, be aware of it. Learn what you can about recognizing the signs.
Second, set & enforce good boundaries. If your friend is always late, stop waiting on her. Meet her at the restaurant & order without her. Or, stop hanging out with her at all.
Third, never forget to stay calm at all times. Pretend not to be flustered by their actions. If you show that you are upset, they will do it again & again.
Forth, never forget to pray. God will help you to identify & deal with this awful behavior in the most effective ways possible. All you have to do is ask Him to.
I realized something recently that has been a big help to me, & I believe it can be to you too.
When remembering some of the traumatic & abusive events I’ve been through in my life recently, suddenly I started seeing just how wrong those things were. Oddly, doing that small gesture has helped loosen the hold the damage from such events had over me. I think that happens because I never really questioned these things before.
If you’re reading my blog, chances are you too have experience with narcissists, so you probably know just what I’m talking about. Narcissists don’t allow you to question anything. Whatever they say or do, that is the end of the matter. They’re right, according to them, & you aren’t allowed to think otherwise. Especially with parents, when this happens often as a child, you learn not to question things, just accept them as fact. Seeing clearly that they were wrong & accepting that is a big step in breaking the hold this abuse has over you.
I recently had a flashback about something that happened to me in late 1989 when I was 18. My current ex husband & I were dating, & I hadn’t moved out of my parents’ home at that time. I forget why, but he wanted to use my car one day, so we swapped cars. I was off work that day & my mother insisted I go to the grocery store with her. I said before I went, I wanted to put gas in the car since it was low, as usual. I’d do that then meet her at the store. I did, & on my way to the store, I lost control of the car & landed in a ditch around a turn. It was raining, & the ex’s car had bald tires, so it’s no surprise this happened in spite of me being very careful. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt, & his car only had minimal damage. This happened close to my ex’s parents’ house so I went there. A nice man driving a dump truck took pity on me walking in the rain & gave me a ride. When I got there, I told the ex’s dad what happened. He arranged to get the car towed & I called my mother at the grocery store (pre-cell phones, obviously).
You’d think ditching the car was the trauma, but it wasn’t. When I called my mother, she yelled at me, telling me she knew when I didn’t show up, I’d been in an accident & it served me right for driving that piece of junk car. The ex’s father was furious at what happened, blaming me for driving recklessly. The ex’s mother also blamed me but was at least nicer about it. The ex, believe it or not, was glad it happened, because it meant his parents would finally buy him the new tires he wanted. Later that evening, the ex & I visited my (narcissistic) grandmother who wouldn’t have cared less what I had went through that day.
For years, I accepted that this accident was my fault & I deserved what I got. It simply hadn’t crossed my mind to question that until my recent flashback. Suddenly it hit me how incredibly wrong this whole event was! I didn’t know just how bad the tires were- all I heard was they were wearing out so be careful. I never thought to check for myself. It wasn’t my car, so why would I, especially when my ex was a mechanic? Also, this could’ve been avoided if I’d had my own car- it was ridiculous my ex wanted to have mine as often as he did at that time. Granted, mine was the better of our two cars, but if he wanted better, he should have got his own better car! My ex’s parents should have replaced the tires, too, since they knew just how bad the tires were. And lastly my mother.. that is how she treated her own daughter after her first car wreck?! No “Are you ok?” or any sign of concern, just yelling at & blaming me. Considering her mother didn’t care either, it’s obvious where she got her lack of compassion.
For the first time, I finally realized how wrong all of this was. Every single person in this scenario was wrong except me, the one who got all the blame! I realized how wrong it is that the only person who was nice to me in that incident was the dump truck driver- a total stranger! This entire situation was wrong- every single thing about it!
Looking at the situation differently reminded me of turning a kaleidoscope. One small turn & the scene inside looks entirely different. At least kaleidoscopes give a pretty picture. This was far from pretty, but at least it helped me to release the guilt I felt for almost 29 years!
Since this happened, I’ve been looking at other situations in a new light, & having the same type of results. The slight turn of the kaleidoscope gave me a new perspective, & enabled me to release guilt, shame, & false beliefs while accepting the truth in their place.
Dear Reader, I urge you to try this too. Think about a specific trauma in your life from a more objective perspective. Try to look at it as if you’re watching a movie, for example, or as if it’s happening to someone else, so your emotions are not so involved. Chances are, you’ll see how wrong & unfair it was as I have. Did it help you to release any guilt or false beliefs you had received as a result of that awful experience? If not, ask God to tell you the truth about it, & I have no doubt He will help you to release those things!
Narcissists are masters of what I call the non apology.
A non apology is when someone says the words “I’m sorry”, yet their actions don’t back up the words. They accept no responsibility for what they did, make no changes in their behavior, they offer lame excuses or they blame you for making them do whatever it was they did. Some examples are:
- I’m sorry you feel that way.
- I wouldn’t have done what I did if you wouldn’t have done what you did.
- I’m sorry I said/did that.. I was just upset.
- I’m sorry if what I said/did upset you.
- My sponsor/therapist says I have to make amends with you, so I’m sorry.
Some non apologies don’t even involve saying “I’m sorry” at all. Sometimes narcissists will simply give you space for a little while, then resume contact with you, pretending nothing happened. My mother did this sometimes. She would give me the silent treatment, then call me later, acting as if nothing happened. Her record was an 18 month long silent treatment. I was stunned when she called after so long, but she acted like we’d just spoken the day before & all was fine between us.
Non apologies are a very common tool used with narcissists. They let the narcissist apologize to pacify you without making any changes in her behavior. If you confront a narcissist on something awful they have done & they provide you with a non apology, then later repeat the behavior, they can make you look like the bad guy. All they have to do is say something like, “I said I was sorry!” “Nothing I do is ever good enough for you!” “I apologized & that isn’t even good enough for you!” Unless you’re aware of the non apology phenomenon, chances are good you’ll shut down & possibly even apologize to the narcissist. You also won’t say anything the next time the behavior is done. This is a huge dose of narcissistic supply. The narcissist gets a free pass to do this behavior again, made you feel bad & even apologize all on top of doing whatever it was that hurt you in the first place. It’s like a narcissistic supply jackpot!
Due to the supply jackpot factor, chances are excellent you’ll have to deal with a non apology at some point. There are ways to handle this awkward situation.
First, I really recommend praying when you’re forced to deal with non apologies. Not only asking God to help you to recognize them when they happen but also to give you wisdom on the best way to deal with them.
You also need to recognize what is happening. Know the signs of a real apology & a fake one. You don’t want to mistake a real one for fake or vice versa! Either way can’t end well. Real apologies involve remorse, & someone taking responsibility for & changing their behavior. Even if that is all you remember, it’ll help you to spot non apologies easily.
Also be creative in your response. Neutral is often the best way to go, especially in situations like a work environment or if you don’t want to deal with any narcissistic conflict or drama. Something like, “Thanks.” “Thanks for saying that.” or “Thanks for taking the time to tell me that.” “I appreciate what you said.” can be useful. This shows the narcissist their so called apology was accepted & the matter will be dropped.
If you want to let the narcissist know you’re aware this is a non apology, try something like, “Thanks.” “That’s a start.” “Thanks for trying.” “Uh huh.” “Ok.” “If you say so.” You also can ask them what exactly they mean by their non apology… “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean exactly.” is a good way to say it. Asking narcissists to explain their actions in a calm, logical manner throws them for a loop. They realize they can’t rage at you without looking foolish, so they usually try to drop the topic immediately. If they try to change the subject, keep going back to it in that calm, logical manner. They will feel so uncomfortable, they may just decide what they did wasn’t worth feeling this way so they won’t repeat it again.
Non apologies are an annoying part of life, but you can cope with them successfully.
Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, I suddenly felt as if a ton of bricks landed on me. I have had one very hard, painful year & currently have quite a bit going on. The intensity of it all hit at once. I really felt overwhelmed for a while & couldn’t stop crying.
Eventually I did though, & realized what was happening. I hadn’t really dealt with things very well. In fact, I avoided thinking about some things, stuffing my emotions like I always used to do. Old habits die hard, & apparently that one resurrected briefly without me realizing it. I think my old habit returned because I had so much happening at once. I didn’t have time to cope with one thing when three more bad things happened.
Upon realizing all of this, I have formed a plan. I will take things one issue at a time. When I first realized I had problems stemming from my childhood, I thought I could deal with everything at once. Forgive my parents, accept the fact they were abusive, face being depressed & anxious, think positive, & all would be fine. Naive? Oh yes.. but truthfully, I didn’t realize how deep my issues went or have any grip on this emotional healing stuff. Now I know better, & I have learned that a lot of times, it’s best to face one issue at a time, as it arises.
What I mean is this…
As an example from my life, part of my issue is the fact that when my father was dying, so called “family” came out of the woodwork to tell me what I needed to do regarding my parents,what a horrible person I was for not obeying them or “forgiving & forgetting” & not “honoring” my parents. Mind you, this is on top of the death of my father. Instead of lumping this all into one thing to deal with, I’m dissecting it, & dealing with each issue as I am able. Here are the issues:
- My father died.
- I was attacked by many people at that time over a few months, but in particular my father’s final month of life.
- Some people were strangers, so dealing with their nonsense isn’t too hard. I don’t know them so they don’t mean anything to me.
- Others were family & those relatives fall into 2 categories:
- Family I once had been close to & felt betrayed they treated me this way.
- Other family I never was close to so the fact they attacked me was a big shock in addition to the pain of the things they said & did.
I think it’s healthier to deal with things this way because the events of that time are very distinct & complex, not to mention overwhelming to face all at once. Even just the one part with family is difficult because there were two very different dynamics at play. My relationships with these people were very different, so naturally that means I must deal with the situations differently. Plus, doing this also gives me smaller things to cope with rather than trying to tackle one huge issue. Smaller bits will be easier to cope with, which is especially important since I have C-PTSD. Having the disorder means my brain is broken. I have to treat myself gentler than a person without C-PTSD treats themselves.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, Dear Reader, I’m sorry. It happens sometimes & it’s rough, I know. Just try to remember to approach the situation in small doses, especially if you too have C-PTSD. Break it down into manageable parts, & deal with those however works best for you rather than tackling the big picture all at once. The little things will add up to form the big picture. Also remember, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (KJV) Sometimes when you’re facing your pain, it feels like you are all alone. People don’t understand, & may avoid or even abandon you during your darkest hours. God isn’t that way though. He loves you & is with you no matter how bad things may be. xoxo
Hoovering is when a narcissist doesn’t want to accept the fact you have ended the relationship, & they try to lure you back. If you’re not aware of hoovering tactics, it can be easy to be lured into a false sense of believing the narcissist has truly changed, & the relationship will be better this time only to be sadly disappointed when finding out the narcissist really hasn’t changed. To prevent this from happening, this post will address some hoovering tactics narcissists use.
Love bombing is very common. It involves the narcissist confessing their undying love for you, doing nice things for you, showering you with gifts &/or plenty of attention. It can be hard not to believe a narcissist really cares since they can be very convincing. It also can be hard to resist. It’s important to remember that these displays of the narcissist’s love are NOT real! They’re only designed to lure you back into the toxic relationship.
Narcissists also will use family & friends, aka flying monkeys, to talk “sense” into you. This is a very tough one. When someone you think highly of tells you that you should resume a relationship with someone else, it can make you doubt yourself. Instead, think about what this person is saying. Does this person make sense? How much do they know of the situation? Do they believe you when you say the narcissist has been abusive to you? Do they want to hear what you have to say or do they cut you off or tell you that you’re wrong? Your honest answers to these questions will determine if you should listen to what that person has to say.
Another hoovering tactic is using or faking illness or injury to reconnect with you. Most people want to help a sick or hurt person, especially if it’s someone they love. If this happens, remember- when you went no contact, it was for excellent reasons. It also was permanent, not until the narcissist got sick or injured. Maybe that sounds cold, but truly, it isn’t. It’s a person reaping what they have sown. A person who abuses another can’t expect that victim to be there for them indefinitely. Everyone has limits.
Sending cards, letters or calling on special days like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays is another common hoovering tactic. It feels wrong to spend special days not acknowledging the narcissist. For those with narcissistic parents, birthdays in particular can be difficult. And, for those with narcissistic exes, anniversaries can be especially difficult. It’s normal, but even so, remember all they are trying to do is hoover you back into the toxic relationship by using the special day.
Some narcissists give their victims months or even years of no contact when suddenly they call or write. It seems that they figure after some time has passed, the victim has forgotten just how bad the relationship was, & will be open to resuming it. If this happens, remind yourself of exactly why you ended the relationship in the first place. The chance of that behavior improving is very, very slim. Is it really worth taking a chance on resuming the relationship?
Some narcissists don’t go the route of trying to convince you that they love you or are thinking of you. They opt to get cruel.
Smear campaigns can get really nasty to provoke a response out of you & also to discredit a victim so people won’t believe them but instead they’ll believe the narcissist. You may learn that people are saying you’re crazy, stupid, spoiled, abusive to the narcissist or even a bad Christian. As hard as it can be, do NOT respond to these ridiculous accusations! Doing so only convinces people that you are the terrible person the narcissist says you are. And, if you confront the narcissist about the lies, it only gives that narcissist narcissistic supply. The narcissist can look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways.
Many narcissists who can’t win a victim back will resort to attempting to bully the victim to return to the relationship by stalking & harassing them. They’ll inundate victims with countless phone calls, emails, texts, & letters. They may show up at places the victim frequents or drive by the victim’s home frequently. Especially devious ones send others to drive by the victim’s home so if the victim says anything about the narcissist stalking them, they look paranoid or even crazy. The best things to do is block all access the narcissist uses to get to you, & document EVERYTHING. If you decide to press charges, documentation will work in your favor, even if the narcissist didn’t break the law. Documentation of bad behavior, even when legal, can only help your case.
Remember, Dear Reader, never allow the narcissist to hoover you back into the relationship. It only ends badly! The behavior is usually much worse after hoovering than it was in the first place.