Tag Archives: emotional

25% Off My Ebooks Until July 31, 2021 & 10% Off My Print Books Until July 23, 2021

The month long sale on my ebooks is still going, but will be ending at the end of this month. Don’t forget to check it out. Click the link below to see all of my ebooks..

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CynthiaBaileyRug

Or, if you prefer print books, you can use code CREATOR10 at checkout until July 23, 2021. Click the link below to see my print books…

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

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15% Off Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 15% off all of my print books until July 16, 2021. Simply use code SUMMER15 at checkout.

Click the link below to see all of my print books..

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

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Acting Normal After Trauma Can Create Shame

I’m a huge fan of the ID channel’s true crime shows, & I watch them often. It fascinates me the things that people are capable of. Not only those who commit heinous crimes, but those who have the strength & wisdom to outwit their attackers & survive brutal attacks.

Recently I was watching one of these shows. In it, a woman’s ex boyfriend kidnapped her under the guise of saying he wanted her to come with him to say good bye to his daughters. He said there was a party in another town, & he would take her to the party where his daughters would be so she could say good bye. On the way there, he threatened her & even tried to choke her. Sadly, when they got inside the house where the party supposedly was, it was empty & abandoned. It’s where he killed her.

What got me about this show was what happened just before they got to that house. The boyfriend told her to behave herself when they arrived at the party, in other words, act like he hadn’t just tried to choke her. It struck me – that is exactly how narcissists act! They can do the most painful, vulgar thing to a victim, & victims aren’t allowed to show others any signs of the trauma they just survived.

Naturally, narcissists do this to hide their horrible behavior so they can continue to do it & to impress whoever they want to impress. However, there is another facet of this behavior. Not allowing someone to act as if they have been through trauma instills shame in them.

Hiding your emotions in such a situation is good for survival, but at the same time, it can make you feel like something is very wrong with you for being upset about the trauma. I wonder if it’s partly because of how narcissists think. Many act like their victim is supposed to be able to do anything. Not because that victim is capable or smart, but because they want the victim to do things. Certain things are just expected of a victim, no matter the victim’s abilities, strengths or weaknesses. Acting normal after trauma is one of those expected things. When you feel as if you can’t act normally or struggle to do so immediately after a traumatic event, you can feel ashamed of your feelings.

Another reason for shame in such situations could be how many people treat victims. So few people are sympathetic to victims. Many people expect victims to “just get over it”, “let go of the past” or “forgive & forget.” Not a lot of people have patience for a victim who still shows signs of having been through trauma & they do their best to get them to act normal. Being around such people can instill a great deal of shame in a victim.

I’ve also experienced shame by being around someone who isn’t affected as strongly as I am by similar traumas. As an example, my husband is someone who can go on no matter what. No trauma slows him down. I’m not sure why he’s that way & trauma hits me much harder. There have been plenty of times I would see him keep going to work, working in the yard & doing other normal things after something traumatic happened. Yet, let something not as traumatic happen to me & I struggle to do things I do every day. This kind of comparison also can instill shame just like being told to act like nothing happened can.

When you experience this type of scenario, & chances are you will at some point, you need to turn to God. Pray about it. Tell Him how you feel & ask for help.

Also think about your situation objectively. It’s not normal to act like nothing happened after trauma. It’s normal to feel certain things & to act differently. If it was 95* outside, it’d be normal to sweat. Would you be angry at yourself for sweating in such hot weather? No, because it’s totally normal & understandable. Similarly, it’s normal & understandable to act differently after trauma. You have no reason to feel shame for acting differently.

Just remember, Dear Reader, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you for being affected by trauma, no matter what the narcissist or insensitive people may think. xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Gratitude Can Be Toxic

Gratitude is a topic that is presented as of the utmost importance in society.  And, gratitude is a wonderful thing.  Life is much happier when you are grateful for the good things in your life.  I feel so much joy when I focus on appreciating little things, like going for a drive with some good music playing in the car.

There are times though that gratitude isn’t the best solution.  It may even be impossible. 

If you have lost a loved one, for example, you will get to the point where you are grateful they’re no longer suffering & that you had them in your life for however long the time was.  To get to that point though, you first will need to go through the grief process.  That is going to take time, & involve some unpleasant emotions like feeling lost & alone, anger & intense depression.  To get to the grateful place is messy, & shouldn’t be skipped over.  Focusing only on gratitude for that person while not properly grieving means you’re ignoring pain that needs your attention in order to heal.  Ignored pain finds alternative ways to get your attention, & those ways aren’t healthy.  It can manifest as unhealthy relationships, addictions, physical & mental health problems.

This is also true when it comes to dealing with abuse in your past. 

There are people who tell victims that they need to be grateful for the trauma because it supposedly made them strong or it made them who they are today.  This can be so harmful for victims!  It’s invalidating & also can create a great deal of shame in a victim who is struggling & unable to feel any gratitude.  It is so cruel to tell someone this & make their struggle even harder than it needs to be!

This post is for people who have hurt such comments about how they need to be grateful for what they have been through.  There is nothing wrong with you for not feeling grateful.  Healing is ugly.  It involves a lot of terrible feeling emotions.  It also is a grief process, because you have to accept that some pretty terrible things were done to you, & that caused you to lose precious time in your life, maybe even your whole childhood if your abuser was your parent.  How can any human feel gratitude during such a process?!  It takes a long time & a lot of healing first before you can feel any gratitude related to your situation.

Rather than try to create a grateful heart at this time, forget that.  Not necessarily forever, but for the near future at least until you are further along in your healing journey.  Focus on your healing instead of gratitude.  Feel all the ugly emotions & process them fully.  Then, maybe you can be grateful for some aspects of your experiences.  There are a few things to be grateful for after all.

You can be grateful the trauma & abuse didn’t destroy you, that you have a lot of inner strength that enabled you to survive it, that the abusers are no longer in your life & that God has found some purpose in your pain such as writing about it to help other people.  You also can be grateful for having the courage to face your struggles, because that courage isn’t something everyone has.  Please remember that gratitude can be a good thing to help a person add joy to their life, but it isn’t a cure all.  It isn’t a healthy alternative to pain.  It isn’t like an ointment that will soothe your pain either.  You can feel gratitude while also facing painful, even traumatic things have happened to you.  Just remember not to try to rush yourself into feeling gratitude.

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

Making A Change

I just thought I would let everyone know I’m thinking of making a change in my writing. Instead of only sharing what I learn about NPD, narcissistic abuse, & C-PTSD, I have decided to expand that a bit into ways to add more joy into your life.

Since I turned 50 in April, I guess you could say I’m having a mid life crisis of sorts. (No, I’m not going to divorce my husband, date a guy who’s half my age & buy a Mazda Miata.. lol) I’ve come to realize how little I’ve enjoyed my life. NPD has taken up so much time & space in it! It’s time to make some changes.

You know how the Bible says that the enemy has come to steal, kill & destroy, & is looking for someone he may devour? Well, I firmly believe he does this, but not always in obvious ways. Sometimes those ways are subtle. Being abused by a narcissist is both obvious & subtle in its devastation to one’s life. The abuse itself is obvious of course, especially when it’s someone raging at you like an overt narcissist does or giving you intense guilt trips like a covert narcissist. But the aftermath is much more subtle. It is so easy to get caught up in obsessing over trying to understand what happened & ways to heal, that you can fail to enjoy your life. That has happened to me & I’m tired of it! I would guess that many of you reading this feel the same way.

At the time I’m writing this, I have about 8 months worth of blog posts written & scheduled to publish. You won’t see many posts on enjoying life for a bit because of that. I may rearrange & reschedule as I go to interject some but I’m not sure yet. That depends on what I feel God wants me to do. More of those posts definitely will be published in the future along with my usual educational type of posts though.

Please just bear with me through this. I’m not entirely sure yet how this is going to play out. I’ve felt God putting it on my heart to write more about enjoying life from a Christian perspective as I learn to, but as of the moment, not many details have been forthcoming.

Thank you for your understanding & patience with me, & always being there! I love all of you! xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism, Writing

Illness & Injury In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently realized something that I’ve been living with for my entire life is most likely a symptom of narcissistic abuse.  It never occurred to me before, so I started researching it & found absolutely nothing on this topic.  All I can share with you is my personal experience, nothing I learned from anyone or anything else.

Many of you who know my work know I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in 2015.  As a result, I live with symptoms of that & a Traumatic Brain Injury from either the oxygen deprivation to my brain during the poisoning or the concussion I most likely got from hitting my head when the poison made me pass out or a combination of both.  I don’t discuss these symptoms much partly because I don’t want to sound like either my mother or mother in-law who used their health problems to gain attention.  I also doubt my problems in spite of the glaring evidence that something is wrong.  Sometimes I think I’m exaggerating or even faking it in order to get attention like them.  And, I don’t want to “bother” anyone with my trivial problems.

I know how ridiculous this sounds.  How can I think that way when I know better than anyone else just how difficult my life is because of the symptoms?  And for attention?!  I minimize them to everyone, including myself.  As far as burdening anyone, I’m not one to ask for help easily so I of all people should know if I want to ask for help, it’s very necessary.  I know all of this, yet these thoughts are still there.  Why?!

Suddenly it hit me.  These thoughts are there because of narcissistic abuse!

Growing up, my illnesses & injuries were taken as an inconvenience.  My mother could be nice to me when I was sick or hurt.  A part of me looked forward to being sick or hurt for that reason. But, she would remind me even years later how much of a burden it was when I was sick.  The older I got, however, the less likely it was she’d be nice to me when those things happened.  In fact, I never missed a single day of high school even though there were days I really should have stayed home. 

When I was 19, as I’ve mentioned before, my mother & I got into a physical fight & she threw me into a wall. I am reasonably sure she wanted to kill me that night.  I lived with awful back pain for 10 years after that.  No doctors believed I was injured & my mother was convinced I was faking it.  Looking back now, I think the pain was due to the emotional trauma rather than any physical injury, because when I get extremely stressed, my back aches in that same location.  At the time however, I didn’t realize this, & thought if even the doctors think I’m faking it, maybe I am. 

As an adult, other people haven’t believed me when something was wrong or acted as if my pain was nothing but an inconvenience to them.  My ex husband being the worst of them, but there were others too. 

I believe the years of being accused of faking problems led me to doubt myself, & think that I am faking whatever problems I have, unless there is undeniable proof.  I realized this recently when I learned one problem I have is a common symptom of brain injuries.  It should have simply been eye opening but instead it made me happy because here is proof that something is wrong!  I’m not faking it!

I also realized I hide so much from my husband because I don’t want to burden him, & I don’t feel I have the right to expect his help when I need it.  Pretty ridiculous, really.  He should help me if I need it!  That is what spouses do for each other! 

It occurred to me that if I experience this with my own health problems, then others who have endured narcissistic abuse probably do too.  That is why I wanted to share this with you today.  You’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  I totally understand!

Unfortunately as of yet, I don’t know of any ways to change this dysfunctional thinking, but if I come up with anything, I definitely will talk about it in the future.  In the meanwhile, please know I understand & am praying for you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When People Say Things They Shouldn’t To Abuse Victims

Admitting you were abused or hearing stories by other people of abuse they endured is very uncomfortable & unpleasant.  No one wants to talk about abuse.  I sure don’t!  I’d love to write about more pleasant topics & never think about the abuse I endured ever again.  Yet, I know this is impossible.  Even if I quit writing about it, the aftermath of abuse never goes away.  It’s always there to some degree, so talking about it is normal.  Most people talk about abuse in their past either slightly, a lot like me or mostly somewhere in between.

Anyone who has decided to open up about abuse has learned that not everyone is a willing, compassionate listener.  When you gather your courage to discuss the most painful experiences of your life only to be met with invalidation, it can be incredibly painful.  I hope to help you learn some ways to cope with that in this post by sharing some common comments people make to abuse survivors.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”  Many people who haven’t survived abuse don’t understand why a victim wouldn’t reach out for help.  It’s totally acceptable to educate anyone who asks this question.  Abusers threaten their victims to keep quiet.  They also tell their victims no one will believe them.  They even destroy their victim’s self esteem to the point the victim believes no one would care anyway, so there isn’t a point in telling anyone.

“You shouldn’t talk about this.  It’s not the Christian thing to do, making him/her look bad.”  People who say this are often also survivors of abuse, yet who lack the courage to face their pain.  Others facing their pain makes these folks feel badly, so they try to shut down the open person.  Often, there is no getting through to these people, so it is best not to discuss abuse with them.  It is vital to know though that there is nothing “un-Christian” about discussing your experiences.  You aren’t making the abuser look bad.  The abuser already did that by being abusive.

“Are you really sure that’s what happened?”  This comment is often said by someone who knows both victim & abuser.  This is said by someone who really doesn’t want to accept that someone they care about is capable of such awful behavior.  It also is said by a narcissist’s flying monkey who is trying to instill doubt in the victim so they tolerate more abuse from the narcissist.  Take this comment as a red flag that the person saying it is NOT safe!  Don’t discuss your experiences with this person.  Doing so only will lead to you being hurt, possibly also being the victim of a smear campaign.

“Nobody’s parents are perfect,” “No one gets along perfectly with their parents,” or “Everyone has childhood hurts.”  When a person says these statements, it hurts.  They are lumping vicious abuse in the same category as simple personality differences.  So invalidating!!  Shock value can make a person realize how foolish their words are.  Saying something like, “So my mother berating me to the point of obliterating my self esteem while I was a child is the same as another mother not letting her child wear a certain shirt to school?  That’s what it sounds like you’re saying, & I disagree with you.”

“Stop thinking about it” or “Stop dwelling in the past!”  Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy?!  Again, it’s acceptable to educate whoever asks this question.  Tell them that C-PTSD & PTSD are common after abuse, & are brought on by experiencing such horrific trauma, it literally broke a person’s brain.  A quality these disorders share is constantly reliving the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts.  Not thinking about things is impossible when your brain won’t let you.

“Why would you talk about this now, all this time later?”  When in the midst of suffering abuse, the victim is busy trying to survive.  Talking about it at the time rarely seems important.  Once the victim is safe, survival mode ends & this person can think clearer.  They often try to process what they just escaped by talking about it.  Or, they are triggered by something… a sound, smell, someone that reminds them of their abuser in some way.  Not a lot of people are aware of this, & that may be the case with the person who says this to you.  Tell him or her.

“You’ll get over it,” “It could’ve been so much worse!” or, “Look for the positive in everything!”  Such comments are what I think of as toxic positivity.  While it is good to be positive, too positive is unhealthy.  It’s unrealistic which easily can lead to disappointment.  Comments like this also make a victim feel ashamed for still being affected by the trauma or needing to discuss it in order to heal.  Don’t waste your time talking about past trauma to people like this.  You’ll only end up hurt by their calloused words.

“At least he/she didn’t hit you!”  A common belief is that the only type of abuse is physical.  Anyone subjected to narcissistic abuse knows this is utter nonsense.  Emotional, mental, sexual, financial & spiritual abuse are all horrific forms of abuse.  They simply don’t leave the clearly visible scars that physical abuse does.  The uneducated need to be aware of this, including the person who says this to you..  You can also tell them that PTSD & C-PTSD are physical damage done to the brain by exposure to abuse & trauma.

“What did you do to make him/her treat you that way?”  This invalidating & shaming statement is so common!  It makes victims feel responsible for the terrible things their abuser did to them, & that is utterly wrong!  No one can make another person abuse them, period, no matter what they do or don’t do.  Did Jack the Ripper’s victims do anything to make him kill them?  What about Ted Bundy’s victims?  No.  These men saw an opportunity & took advantage of it.  Their victims did nothing to deserve what these killers did to them.  This is a point which you can bring up to the person who says such a disgusting statement.

“You should be more patient with him/her!”  No.  Just no.  The more patient you are with an abuser, the more they will abuse you because they see that you will tolerate a lot.  It could help to ask this person why should anyone be understanding with someone who repeatedly hurts them & shows no desire to improve their behavior?

“You should be more careful when picking your romantic partners!”  This statement is nothing but victim blaming.  What the heartless person saying this fails to realize yet needs to know is abusers can come across any way they like – very charming, kind, compassionate, romantic, successful.  They rarely are abusive monsters 24/7.  If they were, no one would get involved with them because it would be clear what they were really like.  They lure victims in by appearing to be much better people than they truly are.  While this seems like common sense, unfortunately it isn’t.  The person who says this statement to you needs to be educated!  Tell them this!

Unfortunately, there always will be people who don’t understand what it’s like to survive abuse.  There also will be people who want to silence victims, no matter how much or little they discuss their experiences.  The more you heal, the less these people will bother you, I’m happy to say.  I also hope this post has helped you to learn some ways to deal with these people!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

About Anger After Trauma

Often people who are very forgiveness centered seem to think that to forgive someone means that whatever they did to you no longer triggers any negative feelings. You will be completely immune to any upset on that topic.  For example, if your narcissistic mother constantly told you that you were fat, & someone else calls you fat, if you have truly forgiven your mother, some people think that means that this other person’s words won’t bother you in the slightest. 

I really don’t believe that is true.  You can forgive someone yet still be angered by certain behaviors.

Forgiving someone doesn’t always mean you have forgiven & forgotten what they did, & everything is now unicorns & rainbows.  Forgiveness can mean that you release any expectations on them of apologizing & trying to make it up to you for wronging you.  While doing this is a good thing, it doesn’t automatically release the anger or hurt you feel that their actions caused.

Even if you have managed to release all anger & hurt you feel at the person who has hurt or even abused you, their actions still can be very upsetting.  Let’s say for example you were robbed at knifepoint.  You have recovered from any physical injuries & have forgiven the robber.  Maybe you even learned he was out of work at the time & trying to get money to feed his starving children, so you felt some compassion for him with his plight.  Do you really think that all of this would make you ok with anyone robbing anyone at knifepoint?  No!  It definitely wouldn’t, because you know this behavior is wrong, no matter what the story behind it is.  You also know how it feels to be in that position, the terror & anger it stirs up in you, & wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  If you were in this situation & heard of someone else being through what you have, you naturally would be upset, no matter how much or little anger you feel towards the person who hurt you.

Honestly, I think it is not only normal to be upset by reminders but healthy.

Not being bothered by reminders of your trauma would mean you are desensitized to it.  How is being desensitized to trauma good?  It doesn’t help you, & may in fact hurt you.  If you’re numb to the trauma you experienced, that probably means that you have ignored it for a very long time rather than process it.  That is not even close to mentally healthy!   

Being desensitized to trauma doesn’t help others who have experienced trauma either.  If you think what they say was a traumatic experience wasn’t a big deal, & you tell them that, it will instill shame in them.  They will become ashamed of being so affected by something so “trivial”.  They will wonder what is wrong with them, why they were so traumatized by something that other people wouldn’t be bothered by.  They could begin to shut down & ignore their pain rather than deal with it.  Doing this could lead to a plethora of problems such as physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or digestive disorders.  It also could make them turn to substance abuse, shopping addiction or promiscuity rather than face the fact that they are hurting.

Dear Reader, please know that no matter how much you have forgiven your abuser, things that they have done will continue to upset & even anger you, & that is totally normal!  In fact, let the emotions motivate you!  Become an advocate against the type of abuse or trauma you experienced.  Talk about it, so people know that these things are wrong.  If you feel bold, write a blog or a book.  See what you can to do get laws changed so other abusers like yours will go to jail.  Good truly can come from those feelings, & remember, they aren’t proof that you are unforgiving or bitter.  Far from it.  They prove you’re a person with a wise & compassionate heart. 

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Bringing More Joy Into Your Life

Those of us with C-PTSD are all too aware of the bad triggers.  They remind us of traumatic & painful events, sometimes even to the point of having flashbacks.  They can be a good thing in the sense they show what areas need more healing, but they sure don’t feel so good when they happen!

There is another kind of trigger too, which is much more pleasant & much less talked about.  Good triggers are just as important, yet sadly there isn’t much information available on them.

Good triggers are things that can trigger joy, comfort, pleasant memories or nostalgia.  For me, the smell of Old Spice cologne always reminds me of my Granddad, who I adored.  The song “You’re My Best Friend” by the band Queen always reminds me of my husband since that is our song.  The scent of a fireplace burning on a cool autumn day reminds me of my favorite time of year & triggers a sense of coziness.

Please think about what good triggers you have, & write them down.  If you are unsure, I can offer you some ideas…

  • Some things that can trigger joy might be being kind to someone else, spending time with someone you love, or accomplishing a task you’ve been postponing.
  • Some things that can trigger comfort might be enjoying clean sheets on your bed, wearing an especially soft pair of pajamas or lighting your favorite scented candle.
  • Some things that can trigger pleasant memories or nostalgia could be listening to music you enjoyed at a particularly good time of your life, baking something your favorite relative baked or journaling about some good experience such as when you first fell in love with your spouse. 

Another thing I am in the process of learning about to bring joy into my life is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).  Hygge is about creating a cozy, comfortable & relaxed lifestyle that leaves you with a feeling of well being & contentment. 

There are no hard & fast rules to living this lifestyle, other than what makes you feel cozy & comfortable.  I have come to realize that less stuff is an important aspect of hygge to me.  Less stuff means less to clean & maintain, & less clutter in my home, all of which help me to be more relaxed.  This also means my home is easier to clean, because of having less stuff which also helps to contribute to a more relaxed state.

Learning about hygge also inspired me to simplify every aspect of my life.  For example, each week I have most of our bills paid automatically by going on a credit card that gives cash back.  I pay this credit card bill weekly, so it doesn’t get out of control, & sometimes I also use the cash back to help pay the balance. 

Focusing on your good triggers, creating new ones as well as living a more relaxed & comfortable lifestyle are all very good for bringing more joy into your life.  I hope you are inspired to make some healthy changes in your life!

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Are Dreams From God?

Unfortunately, I don’t think many people realize just how beneficial dreams are.  That is understandable considering how strange dreams can be.  Who hasn’t had a dream of losing all their teeth or falling?  Dreams like that are bizarre & seem to have no meaning & can be upsetting. 

Dreams really can be beneficial though!  In the past few years, I have started paying more attention to my dreams.  They have taught me a great deal about the state of my mental health, helped me to figure out causes of my anxiety & work through trauma.

When I first started paying more attention to my dreams, I wondered if I was doing something wrong.  Many so called psychics have claimed to have dreams about upcoming events or clues for solving crimes.  Being a Christian, I didn’t want to engage in any behavior that would go against God’s word, & I believe that any dabbling in the occult does just that.  To figure this out, I prayed & looked into the Bible for answers.  What I learned was very interesting!

There are a lot of Scriptures about dreams in the Bible!  In the book of Matthew, God speaks to Joseph in dreams.  In the first chapter, Joseph has a dream where he is told that his fiancée Mary, is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  In the second chapter of Matthew, God uses a dream to tell Joseph to take Jesus & his mother away to Egypt.  Later, he had another dream telling him it was safe to take them back to Israel.

There are also many examples in the Old Testament of God speaking to people in dreams.  Daniel had dreams & Joseph interpreted dreams.  In Numbers 12:6, God said that He speaks to prophets in dreams.

I’m pretty sure all this means dreams have value & shouldn’t be ignored!

If you are interested in learning from your dreams, then I encourage you to do it!

To do this, start paying attention to your dreams.  Remember everything you can about them.  What you were doing, who was in the dream, colors, objects, locations… everything can be important so it’s smart to remember every detail you can.  These things may symbolize something important or be vital pieces to a puzzle.

It often helps to write things down, too.  Writing can bring clarity that considering or talking about things doesn’t, so why not utilize that?

Find a good dream dictionary, too.  I like dreammoods.com, but there are other websites & countless books available.  No doubt you can find a dictionary that you really like either in print or online.

Remember that dreams aren’t always significant, so you probably won’t remember every dream you have.  The brain is constantly processing information, no matter if the information is good, bad or indifferent.  If you don’t remember a dream, then chances are it had no real significance for you at this time.  It is simply your brain processing some type of information.

The most important thing I have found to do to help understand dreams is to pray.  God will help you to understand & get the most benefit from your dreams.  When they are nightmares rather than dreams, He will comfort you as well as teach you what they mean.  Let Him help you!

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

Validating Yourself

Everyone needs validation. It’s simply a built in human need that God gave us all.

For those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, invalidation was a way of life, so it’s only natural that we crave validation more than the average person. We want to be heard & understood for a change! The problem with this is so many people don’t offer us the validation we crave. Instead, they make excuses for the narcissist, don’t want to listen to our stories or tell us things like we’re just angry, we need to let it go or other similar heartless comments.

You also can’t count on gaining validation from your abuser. It is the very rare abusive person who goes to a victim, admits that what they did was wrong, ask for forgiveness & makes appropriate changes in their behavior. Sure, some do apologize at some point, but their failure to change their behavior & either accept full responsibility or failure to stop blaming others for their behavior proves that they aren’t being genuine. The abusive behavior will continue & they don’t care about the pain & suffering they caused victims. They only apologize as an attempt to pacify a victim, not because they want to improve the relationship.

Situations like these are a very good reminder that you can’t rely on getting all the validation you need from outside sources. People are flawed, & they will fail to give you the validation you want & need sometimes. You have to learn to validate yourself instead of relying on others, which is where your healing truly begins.

As always I recommend starting this with prayer. Ask God to help you to learn how to validate yourself, rely less on validation from outside sources & even to give you validation.

You also need to accept the fact people won’t always give you the validation you need. Remind yourself often that people aren’t perfect, & they will fail you sometimes. It’s just a part of life. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care or they don’t love you. They are simply flawed human beings like every single other human being.

You also need to accept that your abuser won’t accept responsibility for the pain he or she caused you either. That type of validation most likely never will happen. You know what happened, & that truly is good enough. Even if no one else believes you, it really can be enough when you know the truth.

What people often refer to as feeling sorry for yourself is what I think of as showing yourself compassion, & it’s something you need to do. You have been through some pretty bad things, & it’s ok to admit that both to others & to yourself. Stop minimizing your experiences & your pain! You’re only invalidating yourself by doing that!

Never compare your situation to others. Doing so often leads to thoughts like, “Well that person had it way worse than me. I shouldn’t complain.” That is so wrong & also very self invalidating! Don’t do it! Trauma is trauma. So what if someone went through worse things than you did? You went through much worse than someone else did, too. Does any of that make any difference? You need to focus on your situation & ways to heal, not whether it’s better or worse than other people’s situations.

Stop judging your feelings, too. After abuse, it’s only natural to be angry or sad sometimes. It’s natural to have ruminating thoughts about certain especially painful situations or to wonder why the abuser did what they did to you. Don’t criticize yourself for thinking these things. Accept that they’re just a normal part of the healing journey.

With a little time & practice, you can learn to be your own best “validator.” You won’t regret learning this skill. In fact, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did! xoxo

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How Narcissists Make Victims Lose Themselves

When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you lose yourself.  You often feel as if you’re being fake.  Sadly, the truth is you are being fake, but not because of some flaw in you.

Narcissists do their best to mold their victims into whatever they want them to be.  To do this, they start by destroying their victim’s personality.  They convince victims that they don’t like the things they do like, & they like things they don’t like.  They also convince victims that they feel a certain way about things that is completely untrue. 

Gaslighting is a very effective way to accomplish this.  By repeatedly swearing that a victim has said or hasn’t said something & even getting angry about it, a victim often starts to believe that the narcissist is telling the truth.  Denial & making a person question their memories

Invalidation is also helpful in forwarding a narcissist’s agenda.  Convincing someone that they have some deep flaws for feeling as they do will change their mind about their feelings.  No one wants to be labeled as intensely flawed or even crazy, so they change their mind.

Narcissists also make their victims feel as if they are a disappointment, & the narcissist deserves better than that.  This guilt makes victims work harder to please the narcissist, yet they can’t do it.  The narcissist continually changes what they want & makes the goals loftier & unattainable. 

Gaslighting, invalidation & this disappointment all work together to make victims feel shame.  They feel ashamed of themselves, of who they are, of their beliefs, of what they want, think & feel… of everything about themselves.  Once this toxic shame takes root in a person, they become very easy to manipulate & control, which is why narcissists work so hard to accomplish this.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone!  I have been there too.  First my mother tried to mold me into what she wanted from me, then my ex husband did.  By the time I was in my mid 20’s, I had no idea who I really was or what I really liked, didn’t like, believed… it was a nightmare!  It took time but I finally got to know the real me, & you know something?  That person is ok! 

If you’re reading this now, I want you to know that the real you is ok too!  I also want you to know that you need to get to know this person that God made you to be, without the input of the narcissist. 

Start questioning everything.  Ask yourself how you genuinely feel about things.  For example, do you like the kind of music you do because the narcissist told you that you liked it, or is it truly your taste?  What about the kind of work you do- do you enjoy it or did your narcissistic parent tell you that you needed to get into this line of work?

If the narcissist is still in your life, question everything he or she tells you, especially about how you feel about things.  While the narcissist most likely claims to know you better than you know yourself, this is nothing but a lie.  You know you better & if you get to know yourself well, then nothing the narcissist says can cause you to doubt yourself or change yourself into someone you’re not ever again!

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How Best To Help Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Having experienced narcissistic abuse, I have learned that when you first tell people about it, they seldom know what to say.  Rather than admit that, they say some things that come across as invalidating or uncaring.  To help people avoid coming across the wrong way with victims, I thought I would share some things to say instead.  If you are a victim of narcissistic abuse & struggling to ask those close to you for what you need, feel free to share this post with them.

If you have no experience with narcissistic abuse, it’s understandable you can’t comprehend the bizarre things narcissists do.  Even when a person has experienced it first hand, the abuse is still hard for them to understand.  That being said, don’t assume the person you’re speaking with is exaggerating or even making up everything.  Most people aren’t creative enough to make up such things.  Even if you struggle to believe what this person is telling you, if you know the person is honest, then trust what they say!  Your validation will help!

Unless the person asks you for advice, don’t give it.  For many victims of narcissistic abuse, we need to talk about it.  A lot.  It doesn’t necessarily mean we are looking for advice.  Talking about it helps us to process what happened & come up with ways to cope. 

Don’t assume that the narcissist is just your average jerk or is just selfish.  Narcissists are so much more than that!  They have absolutely no empathy & enjoy inflicting pain on their victims.  Normal ways that a person deals with the average jerk don’t work with narcissists.

Don’t say things like, “You need to let this go.”  All victims of narcissistic abuse know that.  The problem is that it can cause PTSD or Complex PTSD, & once you have one of those disorders, there is no letting go no matter how much a person wants to do so.  The disorders make letting go of trauma impossible.  Managing the symptoms is the best a person with PTSD or C-PTSD can hope for.

Don’t push forgiveness.  Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing.  Yes, it’s in the Bible.  However, to really & truly forgive takes time when horrific & traumatic acts were committed against a person.  Shaming a person for continuing to feel anger towards their abuser does no good, & only adds to their problems. 

Don’t say things like, “It takes two to tango” or, “There are two sides to every story.”  By doing this, you’re telling the victim that they are equally responsible for the abuse as their abuser.  That is wrong, unfair & nothing but victim blaming!  While no one is perfect, no one can force another to abuse them.  All responsibility for abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers.  Period!

Don’t trivialize the abusive & traumatic events.  One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured from my parents as “childhood hurts”.  That may have been the most hurtful thing anyone ever told me.  Trivializing trauma stirs up hurt & anger like you won’t believe.  If you love this person, don’t do it!  Even if events they describe as traumatic sound pretty harmless to you, remember that everyone experiences things differently.  Just because that might not have been traumatic to you doesn’t mean it wasn’t traumatic to them.  Don’t judge their definition of trauma. 

Ask the victim what you can do to help.  Chances are, there really isn’t much but knowing that someone cares & is willing to help means so much! 

Offer to pray with & for the victim.  Prayer is so comforting & knowing that someone is willing to take the time to pray for them will comfort the victim greatly. 

Remind the victim how strong he or she is to have survived the abuse.  Victims often feel weak & the reminder of their true strength is incredibly encouraging!

Always be non-judgmental, supportive & kind.  These three traits can go a very long way with anyone who has endured narcissistic abuse.

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Executive Dysfunction After Narcissistic Abuse

Have you ever heard of executive dysfunction?  As the name describes, this is when executive functions don’t work properly.  Executive functions are cognitive & mental abilities that enable us to accomplish things.  They help us by directing & controlling our behavior, planning, prioritizing as well as giving motivation.

Executive functioning is higher level cognitive functioning.  Some examples are:

  • Emotional regulation, such as working through anxiety.
  • Impulse control.
  • Attention, such as directing attention where it is necessary to accomplish things.
  • Planning such as creating & following a schedule.
  • Self assessment, such as making sure you’re taking a reasonable amount of time on the task at hand.
  • Using working memory, such as following directions or reading.

Anyone can experience executive dysfunction periodically, in particular when overly stressed or tired.  That is entirely normal.  It becomes abnormal when executive dysfunction interferes with daily life.  Difficulty with decision making, concentrating, organization & low motivation are some examples.

Executive dysfunction is often caused by brain damage.  Traumatic brain injuries, dementia & Alzheimer’s disease are known causes, but mental illness can cause it as well.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are known to cause it as well. 

PTSD is another mental illness that can cause executive dysfunction, & that is the reason I felt it necessary to discuss executive dysfunction.

May of us who struggle with PTSD or C-PTSD also struggle with executive dysfunction, yet are unaware that was what our problem is.  It doesn’t help that those in our lives call us lazy, tell us we need to get out more often or offer other equally useless & unsolicited advice.  Useless or unsolicited, it still can take a toll on the self esteem especially since it’s already been so damaged thanks to the narcissists in our lives.

Those of you who have been down this road, I want to let you know today that you aren’t lazy!  There is something wrong with you & it’s not your fault that you have this problem!  Your brain has been broken due to the trauma or traumas you have experienced.  Brain damage in any capacity is no joke!  It’s a horrible thing! 

Brain damage is also not something you can fix easily, like a broken bone.  Brain damage may heal completely or it may not heal at all, no matter what you do or don’t do.  The brain is a very unique organ & very unpredictable in how it responds to injury, trauma & even healing.  I’m not telling you this to make you lose hope.  I’m telling you this so you can be realistic in what to expect.

With the symptoms of executive dysfunction, you can learn ways to work with your symptoms. 

Set up a routine & stick to it.  Not so much you become rigid about it because there will be times you need to change it.  Even so, having a set schedule takes some pressure off because you know what you need to do each day.  It becomes a habit, so it’s easy to remember over time, too.

Use a calendar app on your phone to help you remember appointments & tasks that are out of the ordinary.  One with alarms is especially helpful.

Utilize sticky notes & to do lists to help you to stay organized. 

When motivation strikes, use it!  There tend to be more days without it than with, so when it happens, use it to the best of your ability.

Executive dysfunction isn’t easy to live with I know, but you can learn ways to cope!

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10% Off All My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 10% off all print books until May 28. Simply use code SELLDIRECT10 at checkout.

My books can be found at the following link:

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

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Some Information About Toxic Shame

Victims of narcissistic abuse struggle with shame, even when they don’t recognize that is the root of their struggle.  There are two main reasons for this…

Reason #1- Shame is an incredibly effective weapon which is why narcissists use it so freely.  It can reduce even the strongest of person to a mere shadow of their former self, which makes that person easy to manipulate.

Reason #2- Shame is also rather easy to put on someone.  Repeating the same message can drill it into someone’s mind.  Saying that message with certainty as overt narcissists do or with great disappointment as covert narcissists do helps drive the point home even faster.  During the shaming, victims seldom realize what is happening or later that shame is at the root of many of their problems.

If you have been in the position of having a narcissist put toxic shame on you, you’re not alone!  Not alone by a long shot!  And, for more good news, you can heal.  It will take some effort & time, but you can heal. 

As always, I recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to show you what to do, to help you to heal & anything else that comes to mind.  He will be glad to help you however you need.

You need to acknowledge areas where you feel shame.  Write them down if it helps you.  I have comprised a list to help you get started.  You never need to carry shame for…

  • Someone else’s actions.
  • Things that were done to you.
  • For having different likes, dislikes, values, ideas, feelings than someone else.
  • Prejudices against you due to your race, gender, religious beliefs, etc.
  • For things your family members have done.
  • For having needs or wants.
  • For having boundaries.
  • For needing help or support.
  • For struggling.

Once you identify the areas where you carry shame, they need to be addressed.  One thing that helps me to do this is to think logically & unemotionally about the problem.  I look at it objectively & ask myself if I have anything to be ashamed of in this particular situation.  If not, then why do I feel shame for it?  Looking at it this way helps me to see the toxic shame that has been put on me for what it is.  That makes it easier to release.

I find it also helps to ask God what the truth is in the situation.  Do I deserve to feel the way I do?  Have I done anything that warrants me feeling this way?  What is the truth in this situation?  His words speak life so His answers are incredibly freeing & eye opening!

Another thing that has helped me heal from shame is to identify who precisely put the shame on me, then to envision giving it back to them.  I know this sounds odd at best, but it can be surprisingly helpful.  I have envisioned myself holding a box containing all the toxic shame that has been put on me.  The box is ugly & even moving, so it’s pretty disturbing.. just like toxic shame.  I hand that box to the person who put the shame on me & tell them this is yours.  I refuse to carry it for a moment longer.  Narcissists refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions, so even when I imagine this scenario, they avoid touching the box.  I say that is fine, then put the box at that person’s feet & walk away.  When I have mentioned this to other people, some have said they have done something similar. Some have imagined putting the box at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified instead.

Toxic shame is a terrible thing, I know, & no one should have to live with it.  I pray that what I have said can help you to heal from the damaging effects.  God bless you!

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15% Off My Print Books Until May 7, 2021

If you have been interested in getting the print version of any of my books, now is a good time! My publisher is offering 15% off when using code SPRING15 at checkout until May 7, 2021.

My print books can be found at the link below…

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

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Being Over Sensitive To Criticism

I’ve noticed recently that I am way more sensitive to criticism than I used to be.  It’s not that I care what people think, but I care that people feel they must share their negative opinions with me when I didn’t ask for their opinions.

When I first realized this, I chalked it up to getting older & crankier.  In time though, I realized it’s not only those things.  I firmly believe it is because of having experienced narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists are most likely the most judgmental & critical of all people.  They must share any & all opinions of their victims they have at all times.  They favor negative ones in particular as a way to chip away at their victims’ self esteem since low self esteem makes a person easy to control & abuse. 

If by some chance narcissists think something positive about their victims, they won’t offer any praise.  They prefer to do much crueler things.  The best option is they simply withhold praise, but that seldom happens.  Instead, they prefer to claim responsibility for that good thing such as by claiming if they hadn’t pushed the victim, he or she never would have gotten that promotion at work.  Narcissistic parents also claim that their victim/child got whatever talent they have from that parent.  This means that when their child gets praise for something, the parent often says something along the lines of, “She got that talent from me.”

Another common scenario with narcissists is to twist the good thing in their victim around so it looks bad, thus ruining that good thing.  For example, many years back, before I decided to focus only on writing, I did some editing work.  I was blessed to work with one amazing client & mentioned the work to my mother.  That was a huge mistake, but at that time, I didn’t know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  I mentioned my client & the work I was enjoying doing for her because I naively thought my mother would be happy for me.  She always fancied herself a skilled writer, & she was, but she never worked in the field.  I thought she might be happy that I was working in the field & enjoying myself.  Well, not only did she not share my joy, but a few days later she ruined mine.  She did this by saying she was thinking of getting into editing work because (& this is her wording), “it’s such easy money.  Obviously anyone can do it.” 

Narcissists also beat their victims down with criticism.  When my husband & I got together, his mother repeatedly told me how much she hated my car.  For years, I heard constant hateful comments.  Many times I wanted to tell her, “I know.  You hate my car.  You think it’s the worst car in the whole world.  There’s no need to keep telling me.  I figured out how you feel after the first 50,000 times you mentioned it!”

After going through these things for years at the hands of narcissists, I really think that no matter how much we may have healed, criticism is still a very tough thing for us to handle, even when we don’t care about someone else’s opinions.  We are burned out on criticism, negativity & cruelty.  We also had it drilled into us how awful we are or something about us is.  After years of this, we get to the point where criticism, unless it’s clearly well meaning & meant to help, is incredibly irritating.  So many times I have wanted to tell someone, “Your opinion wasn’t asked for & truly means nothing.  Why must you share it?  And, why do you think it’s ok to be such a disrespectful jerk?”

If this describes you, I so relate!  It’s frustrating!  I have learned the best way to handle criticism that is unasked for & unfair is to stop for a moment.  Inhale deeply then exhale to calm your mind & body.  Remind yourself that you are having a reaction to the narcissistic abuse, nothing more.  Also remind yourself that not all people have good social skills.  Some are very critical simply because they haven’t learned any better.  That doesn’t mean they are narcissists or are out to hurt you.  They are simply oblivious.  And, remember that just because someone is criticizing you doesn’t mean what they said is true.  Consider what they have to say, & if it’s wrong, disregard it.  If they are right, although it was a painful way to learn, you still learned something.  That is a good thing.

If you know the person who is critical, then you know if you can talk openly to them or not.  If you can, gently let them know how you feel.  They may have simply not realized how what they said sounded.  Or they may be struggling with something & took their frustrations out on you. 

And as always, remember to pray.  Ask God for wisdom & help in your situation, & He will provide you whatever you need!

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Illness Changes Personality & Behavior

When a person faces serious health problems, they change & not only physically.  Their personalities change, too.  That is normal.  Sometimes the personality changes can be very bad.

A dear friend of mine lost her husband some time ago after caring for him for several years.  Not long before he died, she told me some very disturbing things about his behavior.  This once good, kind, loving man was suddenly exhibiting many narcissistic traits.  In particular, he didn’t want his wife to be with other people, including their children.  It was bizarre since narcissism doesn’t suddenly show up, like when you catch a cold.  The more we talked about things, the more I thought of something… 

After I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the hospital gave me no information & even said my elevated carbon monoxide levels “weren’t so bad.”  They also said I had no brain injury in spite of showing many signs of a concussion from hitting my head when I passed out.  The hospital said I could return to work two days later, but by that time, I still felt just as miserable as I did when I left the hospital.  I was lost, so I started researching my condition.  I also joined a traumatic brain injury group on Facebook.  I noticed immediately most people in the group showed a LOT of narcissistic tendencies & were very insecure.  I left the group quickly, but I realized something.  I was starting to behave much as they were!  I wanted my husband to be with me non stop & was very annoyed he wasn’t.  I knew he had demanding, elderly parents with health problems, plus a full time job which all left him exhausted much of the time, but even so, I was annoyed he didn’t spend more time with me.  Realizing how selfish I was behaving was a real wakeup call!

I told my friend about my experiences plus what I witnessed in that group & in time, we realized what happened with her husband was much like what happened to me.

The reason I’m sharing this is so many people are affected by serious health concerns either in themselves or in those they love.  Whether you are the person with the condition or someone you love is, it’s vital to understand that serious health problems can change someone’s personality drastically.  The condition doesn’t even need to be something that affects one’s brain directly like Alzheimer’s, stroke or traumatic brain injury for this to happen. 

When you become seriously sick or injured, you become scared.  Even if you’re getting the best of care & have a great prognosis, health problems are terrifying. 

Add in that you can’t do things you once took for granted & are forced to rely on other people for help.  That too can make you feel afraid, especially for the person who has always been self reliant, & is a serious blow to the self esteem.

Having to rely on other people also can make you feel like a burden, which unsurprisingly is terrible for one’s self esteem.

Feeling like a burden can make you feel that you need to put your best face forward & not show others just how miserable you feel or how much you’re struggling.  There is a very difficult balance in this situation.  If you act as if your symptoms aren’t as bad as they are, or not happening at all, people often think you’re faking the health crisis.  But, if you are honest about it, people often think you’re exaggerating your symptoms, feeling sorry for yourself or looking for attention.

Feeling insecure & afraid naturally change a person.  Many people get angry.  Many others talk about their illness non stop in an effort to educate people, which often alienates them because people get tired of hearing about this topic.  Most people though seem to become insecure, some even to the point of displaying narcissistic tendencies.

If you are the person who is ill & behaving this way, please work on healing!  You are only hurting yourself & those around you!  I know it’s hard but you can change!  Watch your behavior, & change it accordingly.  Apologize when you mistreat someone or have unfair expectations on them.  Stop expecting people to meet your needs & focus on God to do that. 

If you are the person in a relationship with someone who is behaving this way, remember, you can’t change their behavior.  They have to change themselves.  But, you aren’t helpless.  You need to have good boundaries in place & enforce them.  Talk to this person & explains that their behavior hurts you.  Non-narcissistic people will respond to that!  I know it seems hard to believe if you’ve dealt with a narcissist, but it’s true.  Remind yourself that their behavior isn’t personal.  It’s their illness making them act this way rather than something you are doing wrong.

Whichever position you are in, remember to stay close to God. Nurture that relationship.  That is what will help you more than anything else!

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My Print Books Are 15% Off For A Limited Time

My publisher is having another sale on all of my print books. Use code SELL15 at checkout & get 15% off until April 23 , 2021

Books are available at the link below:

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A Common Way Mental Illness Is Minimized

Most of us have used terms like, “That drives me crazy!”, claimed something gave us a “panic attack” when all it did was startle us, or even described a moody person as being “bipolar” even though that moody person wasn’t diagnosed with the disorder.  Phrases like this have been part of the way people talk for God only knows how long.

I believe there is a problem with using these phrases though.  By using these phrases so freely, they dilute very serious mental health disorders.

Claiming something drives you crazy makes insanity sound like an annoyance rather than a serious mental problem.

Panic attacks are also much more than being startled.  They can feel like you’re having a heart attack.  They are physically & mentally debilitating.  After I have one, I feel very emotionally drained & exhausted for quite some time after.

Saying a moody person is bipolar makes Bipolar Disorder seem much less serious than it is.  Those with Bipolar Disorder aren’t simply moody.  Manic episodes can involve some very risky & even dangerous behavior.  The down side is seriously bad as well.  The depression can be so severe as to include suicidal ideation. 

If you think I am over thinking this situation, then consider this.  As a victim of narcissistic abuse, doesn’t it offend you when someone carelessly describes someone’s selfish behavior as narcissistic?  You have seen narcissistic behavior up close & personal.  You are all too aware that it is extremely different than someone doing something without thought or consideration of other people.  It is more than selfishness.  It is abusive, malicious, cruel & dangerous to your mental & physical health.  Lumping someone who simply was thoughtless in a momentary lapse of judgment in the same category as someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is deeply offensive to anyone who has seen the unmasked narcissist first hand.

I really don’t think most people are being malicious when they say something “drives them crazy” or some other phrase related to mental illness.  These phrases have become so common place, no one really thinks twice when saying or hearing them.  They simply have become an everyday part of our vernacular.  The problem with that is over time, very subtly, they reduce the meaning of real & serious mental disorders.  Sometimes, even make them laughable.  This just should not be the case!

If you realize you use such phrases, please reconsider doing so.  On behalf of my fellow “crazy” people, I ask you to stop it.  I know what I live with having C-PTSD & there is nothing laughable or trivial about it.  Having to fight your own mind to get through the day is serious & an incredibly difficult way to live.  It isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy.  Having my mental health trivialized or turned into the butt of a joke is insulting. 

What makes this situation even worse is mental illness is seldom believed.  If a person wears a cast on their leg, people see this person obviously broke their leg.  They offer that person sympathy.  Mental illness doesn’t have a glaring piece of physical evidence that is undeniable proof of the mental illness.  Those who suffer with it often aren’t taken seriously because they look “normal.”  Living with that then the trivialization of our illness is extraordinarily hard.  Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life & death.  Please remember that & choose your words wisely!

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Emotional Intelligence Shamers

The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions.  It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness.  People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.

Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people.  There are various reasons they can feel this way.  Possibly because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent they hate them.  Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought.  It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence. 

Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated.  Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them.  Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people.  This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them.  It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long.  This makes them terrible victims of narcissistic abuse.

For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming.  They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance.   In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!”  “Wives should submit to their husbands!”  “Love covers a multitude of sins!”  When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better.  People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…”  “That’s just how he is.”  “You need to understand her better.”  “But he was abused by his parents!!”

Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist.  A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused.  They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things.  It can hurt though & can be rather hard not to take the shaming personally sometimes.

If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things.  You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person.  They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments.  Then ask God to tell you the truth & ask if they were right in what they said. 

It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense?  If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick to help.  Pretend a friend has come to you & told you of this same situation happening to them.  Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation. Please remember, Dear Reader, to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are.  Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse.  Don’t accept their shame!  The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry it!     

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For Adult Children Who Went No Contact With Their Narcissistic Parents

This post is for those of you who have made the bold, painful step of going no contact with your narcissistic parents.

All of us who have gone no contact with our narcissistic parents know that in such situations, the relationship had become utterly intolerable & that pushed us to the desperation of no contact.  The constant control, vindictive criticisms & abuse became too much from the overtly narcissistic parent.  The constant shaming, manipulation, childish behavior & abuses so subtle most people didn’t see them from the covertly narcissistic parent also were too much.  Who can live with this indefinitely?!  No one with any normal human emotions could!

Upon ending the relationship, the shock of the flying monkeys & their despicable abuse was next.  The constant comments of, “But that’s your mother or father!”  “You only get one set of parents!”  “They’re getting up in years.  How do you think you’ll feel when they die?” & other venom comes from their mouths.  When guilt & shame don’t work, they attack your character.  They call you ungrateful, spoiled, a brat, evil & more.  If you’re a Christian, your faith will be attacked, too.  As they like to claim, by severing ties with your abusive parents, you obviously have no idea what it means to honor your parents.  You must be a hypocrite!   

Trauma doesn’t end with no contact.  Thanks to flying monkeys, it often continues for quite some time until they find a new target.

The time immediately after no contact is a very difficult time.  The guilt, the doubts & the abuse from flying monkeys are all incredibly hard to deal with!  Also many times, C-PTSD goes into overdrive after no contact.  No longer needing to function in survival mode seems to make the brain think that since you’re safe now, it’s time to deal with all those old issues you put on the back burner for so long.  All of these things can make you wonder if you did the right thing by going no contact.  Sometimes it seems easier to remain in the relationship just to keep the peace, but it truly isn’t easier.

Once you are no contact, you’re finally free.  Free from the barrage of abuse from your narcissistic parent.  Free from your parent trying to make you into whatever they want you to be.  Free to do what you want without your parent trying to tell you how wrong you are & shaming you for your so called bad decisions.  Free to be the wonderful person God made you to be.  You’re finally free!!

From day one, narcissistic parents try to make their children into whatever sick fantasy they have.  They don’t care one iota about the child’s talents, interests or anything like that.  They are narcissists, after all, so all that matters to them is what they want.  Growing up like this, finally experiencing freedom can be scary.  The assaults of the flying monkeys & often the harassment from the narcissistic parents can add to the fear.  You know something though?  Going through the fear is totally worth it.  On the other side of that fear are peace, joy & bravery like you have never known! 

And, you don’t have to walk through that fear alone.  God will be right by your side!  Remember, Psalm 23 says that He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death.  I have experienced that first hand, & I can tell you that as painful as those times were, especially after going no contact with my parents, it was all worth it.  I ended up closer to God than ever, & He enabled me to do the unimaginable.  He will do the same for you if you allow Him to.  Dear Reader, as hard as no contact with narcissistic parents can be, don’t give up.  Don’t go back.  Don’t listen to the absurd ramblings of those who don’t know your situation like you do.  Lean on God.  Let Him support & guide you through this process.  xoxo

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Living With A Spirit Of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 in the Amplified Bible says, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”  It can be so hard to remember that God has given us a healthy mind sometimes!  Having lived with many symptoms of C-PTSD for as far back as I can remember then almost all since 2012, there have been more times than not that I have doubted that very Scripture.  Clearly I’m not proud of that but it’s true.  Waking up during panic & anxiety attacks, the way sometimes anxiety runs roughshod over logic & the crippling agoraphobia I lived with for well over 20 years can make that happen.

If you can relate, then you too may be controlled by a spirit of fear as I have been.  There are ways you can identify if this is indeed the problem or not.

Do you have the urge to hide from everyone, even God?  Fear can become a self made prison, creating the urge to avoid everyone.  Most introverts are fine with plenty of alone time but even so, fear can make even the most die hard introvert spend too much time away from other people & become lonely.  It also can make even the most devoted Christian pray less & less.

Is your faith becoming weak?  If so, you may be living with a spirit of fear.  Fear can create a hindrance for believing in what God has to say.  It can make you think irrational thoughts such as all of those promises in the Bible aren’t for you, that God meant them for other people.  It can make you doubt the call on your life to the point of not following through with it.  It also can make you forget what you know the Bible says or what God has spoken to you.

Fear can consume your thoughts.  When fear takes over, all you can think about is the issue that makes you afraid.  You neglect relationships, doing a good job at work, caring for children & pets & more. 

Fear can skew your judgment.  Because fear is so tormenting & miserable, you can become desperate for a way out.  This means you may listen to people you normally wouldn’t listen to for advice. You may consider or actually do things you know you shouldn’t do.

If you can relate to these, then you may be operating under the control of a spirit of fear.  Don’t lose hope though!  You don’t have to live this way any longer!

To start, refocus on God.  Read your Bible more often.  Subscribe to a daily devotional or Bible in a year email.  Listen to Christian music that makes you feel close to God & do it often.  Ask Him for help whenever you feel fear.  And when you don’t, thank Him & ask Him to help you to live with this type of peace more often.

Consider your situation logically.  Ask yourself why this situation makes you so afraid.  Is there a valid reason to feel fear?  Can harm come to you or someone else?  Doing this can help you refocus & accept that there is no real reason to be scared.

Force yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes.  It really will help you to have more self confidence which will in turn reduce the amount of fear you feel.  When my mother died & I learned I was her personal representative, I didn’t think I could do it.  I had no choice though.  I legally couldn’t pawn the duties off on anyone else.  I literally had to force myself to do things that were miles out of my comfort zone.  I did them though.  I tried to reward myself almost every time I did something, too.  It didn’t have to be anything big.  I like driving while listening to good music so I would take a long route home & just enjoy the music.  Sometimes I picked up dinner rather than cook.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone helped me to gain more & more confidence, & the rewards helped to cement good feelings in my mind.  Try to do the same!  Start small & do bigger, scarier things as you feel able, & don’t forget to reward yourself after for a job well done!

In time, you can stop living with that spirit of fear & start living with the sound mind that God has given you!

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The Four Trauma Responses: Fawn

Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences.  Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others.  A lot of children of narcissistic parents use the fawn response.

The fawn trauma response is when a victim tries hard to please their abuser so the abuser will stop whatever painful thing they’re doing.  They will try to distract the abuser somehow, do something they know their abuser likes, & go along absolutely anything the abuser wants.  While this may stop an abuser at the moment, over the long term, this doesn’t work.  Fawning shows abusers that their abusive, toxic ways can be used to get whatever they want from their victim.

Fawning still affects a person long after the abuser is out of their life.  Fawners are often very devoted people pleasers who have no real boundaries.  They falsely believe that losing yourself in relationships is totally normal.  They also are prone to very dysfunctional & abusive relationships, including more than one relationship with narcissists.  This leads them to focus on the needs & wants of other people much more than their own & often to their own detriment.  They also seem to have no real identity of their own, often becoming what other people say they should be. 

Fawning often is encouraged in society.  Primarily by abusers but also by ill informed people who see people who fawn as generous, loving, even Godly rather than dysfunctional.  This makes overcoming fawning behavior especially hard for those engaging in this behavior, because even though it can hurt a person, it also can be the one area they feel gets them love & approval, & maybe even makes them  feel worthy of love.

There is hope for replacing this dysfunctional behavior with much healthier behavior.  As always, I firmly believe prayer is the best place to start.  God will help you, so let Him!

Focus on healing from the trauma in your life that made you develop your fawning ways.  The more you heal, the healthier you will become in every way.  That means you will decrease your unhealthy behaviors more & more as you heal.

Remind yourself as often as you need to that not pleasing someone doesn’t mean you’re bad, wrong, or unworthy of love.  You simply may have made a mistake.  Or, maybe they were wrong to expect this particular thing out of you.  Don’t assume you were automatically wrong.  It is just as possible the other person was wrong.

Feel your feelings.  Whatever you are feeling, accept those feelings without judgment.  As you do, you may see that they aren’t appropriate to your current situation.  They could simply be triggered by old issues.  They also may give you insight on ways you can do things better.  In any case, they can teach you, so let them do that by feeling them.

Slow down & examine your motives.  Ask yourself why are you doing something for someone.. is it out of love or out of hoping to get their approval?  Am I saying I’m happy to do this even though it is too much for me right now?  Am I taking on too much responsibility?

In time, your fawning ways can & will be replaced by healthy ones.

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The Four Trauma Responses: Freeze

When someone has experienced trauma, in particular repeated trauma, they learn to use specific trauma responses to help them survive their particular situation.  While many waver between two or more, most people primarily use one trauma response.  Many people raised by narcissistic parents primarily use the freeze response.

Freezing means much like the name implies, you freeze & are unable to handle the situation in a healthy way.  Think of a deer on a highway during the night when a truck comes barreling towards him.  He stands still, staring at the truck & unable to move to save himself.  People can & do react the same way sometimes.  Sadly, freezing often is a good choice when dealing with a narcissistic parent, because it reduces the likelihood of that parent turning even more abusive.  Equally sadly though is this survival tactic doesn’t help when dealing with other people.  In fact, often the lack of response of a victim is taken as consent, so the other, non-freezing person assumes whatever they said or did was acceptable to the freezing person.

As an example from my own life, as I’ve written about before, I lived with awful back pain for ten years.  During a fight with my mother, she threw me into a wall.  I felt my entire spine crack from my tailbone into my neck when I hit the wall & was in pain for ten years after.   I saw several doctors, had over fifty x-rays & an MRI.  I was told no injuries showed up on the x-rays or MRI.  Every single person I saw with the exception of one chiropractor was convinced I was faking the pain.  I should have stood up to all of them, but instead I quietly accepted their diagnoses.  Between that & other people in my life who were convinced I was faking it, I wondered many times if they were right.  By silently accepting people’s accusations of faking my pain, that only seemed to confirm their suspicions of me.  It also made me wonder more & more if I really was faking my back problem or if something was truly wrong.

This happened all because I learned how to use the freeze response so well as a child.

If you have used it as well, you probably can relate to my story.  Also like me, you probably dissociated often as a child & possibly still do to some degree, struggle with making decisions, & isolate yourself. You also probably come up with good responses hours or even days or weeks after a confrontation but can’t think during the confrontation.

While freezing may have helped you to survive the narcissist in your life, it doesn’t help you in other relationships.  In fact, it is likely to hurt you instead of help you.

When in situations that trigger your freeze response, your best place to start is with prayer.  God will help you & ground you so you can function in a healthier way.  Also, please remind yourself that you are safe now.  You don’t have to freeze to protect yourself.  You have rights including the right to speak up for yourself & to protect yourself.  You aren’t doing something bad by taking care of yourself.  The other person in question isn’t the narcissist who would abuse you for taking care of yourself.

Also take a deep breath in & exhale slowly.  It will help you to calm your body & mind very quickly, which will help you to figure out a better way to handle your situation.

Doing this will help you over time to reduce the frequency of the freeze trauma response & enable you to respond in a healthier way.  It won’t happen overnight but it will happen.  Hang in there!

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The Four Trauma Responses: Flight

Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences.  Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others. 

Some people favor the flight trauma response over the other three options.  This basically means their instinct during a traumatic event is to do anything they can to avoid the trauma.  If they can run away, they will.  During a traumatic event, someone who favors the flight trauma response but cannot escape will be pretty easy to identify.  They are clearly anxious, which means their breathing is shallow & rapid.  They may be restless, and this shows by tapping their feet or fingers.  Their eyes dart around, looking for a means of escape.

In situations where traumatic experiences are repeated, such as in cases of child abuse, some long term problems develop from using this trauma response over & over again.  Flight is used as a coping mechanism, & it manifests in many ways.  Workaholism, perfectionistic ways, micromanaging others, the need to keep busy constantly, obsession with video games, endlessly surfing through channels or social media, & other avoidance type behaviors can be signs of someone who has experienced the flight trauma response regularly. These behaviors are designed to keep someone from thinking about past trauma.  There are other signs too, such as anxiety disorders, constant worrying, inability to relax, hyper-activity & being overly analytical.

Like other trauma responses, it is understandable a person could react this way to trauma & behave this way after repeated triggers of their flight response.  That doesn’t make the behavior healthy, however.  Being constantly on the go whether it is mentally or physically takes a toll on a person’s mental & physical health.  Changes need to be made & they can be!

As always I recommend prayer to start.  Ask God to guide you, to help you to behave in a healthier way & anything else you can think of.

Look at your life.  What is unhealthy?  Are you constantly working eighty hour workweeks?  Spending every free moment playing video games?  Do you feel as if you must stay busy every waking moment?  These are some examples of red flags.  It also may help to ask those people who are closest to you for their thoughts as well. 

Once you have identified the problem areas in your life, then figure out a plan on how to make appropriate changes.  Cut back on hours spent at work if at all possible, or find another job.  Set times for certain activities & stick to the limits.

Lastly, it will help you tremendously to finally face what you have been avoiding.  I know it’s hard!  I know it’s scary!  I also know that until you do this & focus on healing & becoming healthier, any changes you make most likely will be temporary.  Emotions demand to be dealt with, & if they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way, they will manifest in unhealthy ways.  You’re going to suffer from the pain of the trauma or of the pain of the unhealthy manifestations of your emotions.  Why not make the pain count & focus on your healing?  At least that way, the pain will end & you will be much happier & healthier for it. 

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The Four Trauma Responses: Fight

Experiencing trauma, in particular repeated trauma forces people to develop certain responses in order to cope with their horrific experiences.  Many people waver between two or even more of the four trauma responses, but usually people use one much more than others. 

During traumatic experiences, those who exercise the fight response do exactly as you would expect.  They fight.  They are obviously angry, they will cry, ball up their hands into fists, their jaws will be clenched tightly, & they look ready to attack anything that is in reach.  Sometimes they do, usually punching walls or slamming doors. 

Clearly this type of trauma response can be useful.  If someone is afraid of you, they aren’t going to attack or abuse you.  Unfortunately though it can backfire, & in particular with children with narcissistic parents.  When a young child gets angry at their narcissistic parent, that parent won’t tolerate that.  Narcissists want their children to show no emotions whatsoever, & anger at the narcissist’s abusive ways is the least tolerated emotion.  Narcissists expect everyone, in particular their children, to tolerate their abuse indefinitely & without complaint.  Standing up to a narcissist says their behavior is wrong & won’t be tolerated, which creates a narcissistic injury.  In other words, their pride is damaged when they are told their behavior is anything less than perfect.  Often narcissistic parents step up their abuse in these situations.  These children learn not to show anger towards their parents, & often take it out on innocent victims. 

The repeated use of this trauma response can cause many problems that last into adulthood.  Some problems are the inability to handle anger in a healthy way, a quick temper, becoming a bully, becoming controlling & sometimes even becoming narcissistic or showing some narcissistic tendencies while not being a full blown narcissist.  It seems to me these behaviors are all about having some control &/or hurting others before the angry person can be hurt. 

This sort of behavior doesn’t have to be permanent though!  With effort & time, you can develop healthier habits!

As always, I highly recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to help you change, to show you what you need to do & anything else you can think of.

You will need to accept that you don’t have to control or bully others, too.  Remember, even God doesn’t control people.  If anyone has that right, it’s the Creator of the universe!  If He won’t do it, what makes you think you have the right to do so?

It will help to consider other people more often, too, not only yourself.  Consider others when you make decisions, when you make plans, when you speak.  Consider their wants & needs, too.  What do those close to you want & need?  How can you help to meet those needs & wants?

When you feel yourself getting angry, stop.  Take a deep breath & release it slowly.  This will help to calm your body & mind, & that will allow you to think clearly about the situation.  When you think clearly rather than simple react, you may realize the situation isn’t really worth being angry about like you thought it was at first.

Also please know that you are going to need to heal from the events that created this behavior in you in the first place.  I know it’s a scary thing, but you need to face those things in order to heal.  I promise you, it WILL be worth it!

The lasting effects of an overused fight trauma response don’t need to be such a big part of your life.  While it did help you survive for some time, & can be a useful tool, there are clearly many negatives!  You can make healthy changes & live a happier life!

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When You Hate Someone

Those of you close to me know that my husband & I have bought his late parents’ home from his two sisters.  Our situation has been challenging & rather different though in many ways from a typical home purchase.  For one thing, I haven’t spoken to them since 2002, & haven’t broken that even during this process.

They haven’t been good to my husband during this process, & it’s made me so angry, I realized I went from feeling nothing for them to hating them

As a Christian, this isn’t somewhere I wanted to be but I wasn’t sure how not to feel that way.  I asked God to help me not hate them a couple of times, but mostly just tried not to think about it.  Anything that is ignored doesn’t just disappear, so I have no idea why I thought that was smart.

While I was ignoring this hate in my heart, I had a dream one night.  In it, the only part I could remember was seeing a large flock of white doves.  I looked up the symbolism.  One possible meaning of doves in a dream is that you need to release any hatred you feel.  So much for ignoring it!

I got serious about asking God to help me get rid of this hate.  Matthew 5:44 came to mind.  In the Amplified translation, it says, “But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”  This really isn’t my favorite Scripture, to be honest.  It might be my least favorite in fact.  Even so, that doesn’t mean it can be ignored.  I started praying for them.  Not just as my in-laws or my husband’s sisters.  By name.  I forced myself to think of each one of them specifically as I prayed for them.  Somehow it felt like the right thing to do & I am so glad I did it!

The first two or three times I did this, it was hard.  I wasn’t sincere.  I was only praying for them because I knew that is what God wanted me to do.  Then little by little, the hatred started to disappear.  It didn’t just vanish all at once.  It took lots of praying for them, & with each prayer, a bit of hate would disappear.

Once I’d decided to pray for them, I noticed that often, I’d think of them out of the blue, & get really angry.  Rather than sit with that anger, I’d pray for them.  Even if it was just a simple prayer, asking God to turn their hearts to Him or to bless them, I’d still pray it.  And you know something?  The more I did that, the less the anger reared its ugly head.

I don’t want you to misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that all is forgiven & forgotten, we’re going to be best friends now.  I am still angry about the terrible behavior they have exhibited towards my husband.  That is reasonable, I believe, because we should always be angry about someone we love being mistreated, but especially when the abusive person shows no signs of remorse.  I also will continue not to have a relationship with them for the rest of our lives. 

Praying for them took me to a much more reasonable & even Godly place.  God doesn’t want His children hating others, but He does want us hating what is evil, according to Romans 12:9.  Abusing someone without remorse or changing behavior is evil, so there is nothing wrong with hating such things.  There is also nothing bad with having healthy boundaries in place.  Examples of setting healthy boundaries are sprinkled all throughout the Bible.

If you have gotten to a place that I was where you hate someone, then please consider praying for that person as I did.  It really is worth the effort.  It truly helps!  It’ll help the person you’re praying for & it’ll help you by allowing you to release that hatred in your heart.   

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Another Good Sale On My Print Books!

This time, my publisher is offering 15% off all print books. Simply use code READER15 at checkout until March 26, 2021 to take advantage of the sale. Visit the link below to see my books…

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

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