Tag Archives: emotions
Anyone who has suffered trauma knows about triggers. They are something that reminds you of past trauma & can leave you feeling very shaken up.
Triggers can be such a miserable thing to experience! They feel like there is no reason for them when you’re going through them, but I believe they actually have a purpose.
When you are healed in a specific area, you can experience a trigger, & although it certainly isn’t pleasant, it isn’t devastating either. It reminds me of what it feels like when you remember a nightmare. Unpleasant but not terribly upsetting.
When you aren’t healed in some area however, that is when triggers can be helpful. They show you the areas where you need some healing. Paying attention to exactly what emotions you feel can be an excellent start to heal in this area.
When you’re triggered, I firmly believe it’s wise to consider exactly what you felt & why you felt it in order to heal. For example, were you angered because you felt invalidated, powerless, ignored, or disrespected? Did you feel shame because you felt judged, unimportant, or mocked? Were you hurting because you felt excluded, unloved or as if no one cared at all about you?
Once you realize the root of your feelings, you can heal. What helps me if I’m unsure why I feel what I do is to ask God to show me the root of this feeling. Where did this start? Usually then I remember some incident from a long time ago that shows me where the problem began. Once I remember that, I try to remember everything possible about that incident, even seemingly unimportant details like what clothes I was wearing. I also try to feel all the feelings associated with it, as difficult as that may be. The more thoroughly an incident can be remembered, I believe the more healing takes place. The more healing that happens, the less you will experience triggers like this in the future.
One important thing to remember is when you do this, take breaks. Emotional healing is very difficult & painful work. It also doesn’t happen quickly. Because of these factors, it can get to be too much sometimes, especially when the trauma is extremely bad. When those times happen, it’s best to take a break. Stop focusing on your healing & focus on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with the trauma for a little while. You need to put your emotions in a box on a shelf for a time, & take some time to do something fun. Watch a movie, read, work on a craft, snuggle your furkids, spend time with a good friend sharing some laughs… whatever you do, make sure it is lighthearted & fun. If it can make you laugh, all the better. After you have relaxed & feel less overwhelmed, when you get back to working on your healing, you will be in a better frame of mind to do so.
Triggers can be difficult to deal with, I know. Frankly, they just stink. However, they can be a very helpful tool in your mental & emotional healing. Why not use them that way & make the pain they cause count for something?
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff. Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.
I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings. If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that. I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.
Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was. She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did. I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me. Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood. I still dislike fluffy stories.
I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.
So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories. They prefer something real even if it is sad. Many also share my interest in true crime.
Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities. We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick. Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.
Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up. Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse. This often carries into adulthood. We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them. Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored. Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet. Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet. They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.
Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves. This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching. Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself. If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story. Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice. You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t. Instead it’s redirected.
If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost! At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to. That is good. Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet. This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.
Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now? Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal? If it helps, talk to that child. Write letters to him or her. It may help you tremendously.
Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God. He truly understands even when we don’t. He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?
Narcissistic parents teach their children that they are to have no wants, needs & even feelings. As a result, those children grow up out of touch with their emotions, with anger issues, their emotions can manifest in dysfunctional ways such as in picking abusive romantic partners, or they even can have physical ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, inflammatory disorders, diabetes, kidney or digestive problems.
Add in that dysfunctional & cruel people tell adult children of narcissistic parents things like, “Get over it.” “Forgive & forget.” “You aren’t honoring your parents by talking about such things. After all, the Bible says love covers a multitude of sins!” & it’s pretty much a guarantee that the adult child of a narcissist will suffer with mental & physical illness.
A person who hasn’t felt their feelings needs to learn that there is nothing wrong with emotions! They’re from God, & the Bible says in James 1:17 that all good things are from God. I know, many Christians say negative emotions are sinful, but I disagree. Even negative emotions have their place. Anger & sadness show you that something is wrong. If you’re going to fix something, you need to know it’s wrong, which tells me these negative emotions serve a very good purpose. How can that possibly be bad?
My best friend has a saying. “You gotta feel your feels.” Obviously, she’s very wise. It’s so true! If you want to be mentally, emotionally & even physically healthy, you need to feel your feelings. As hard as it can be at first to feel painful emotions, it is much easier than working to keep your feelings stuffed down. One thing I’ve noticed is the older I get, the more my feelings demand to be acknowledged. If I’m going to control my emotions rather than them control me, I find it best to deal with them as soon as possible.
Dealing with a lifetime of emotions for the first time can sound overwhelming, but it isn’t. When I first began my healing journey, I naively thought I would forgive my parents for everything they ever did to me at once, & all would be right in my world. That isn’t even close, & thank God because that was truly overwhelming!
Instead, I have found that God helps me to deal with only what I can handle at a time, nothing more. I think about an incident & focus on that, then another & another. Rather than focusing on everything at once, it’s easier to focus on incidents one at a time.
When something comes to mind I must deal with, I try to remember every detail about it. My surroundings, scents, sounds, & every awful thing that was said or done to me. Doing that stirs up emotions & from there I can pray, journal, cry, yell.. whatever helps me to cope. If the incident was especially painful, it may take a long time or I may need to repeat this process a few times but the pain associated with that incident will subside. I can promise you that!
This process really helps you to heal. It benefits your mental health greatly! You’re validating yourself by feeling your emotions. Basically, you’re saying, “That was wrong! That person shouldn’t have done that to me! I deserve better than to be treated that way!”
You’re also releasing emotions that have been stuffed inside you for years or even decades. That helps your physical health by releasing the stress & effort of stuffing down those emotions.
You also gain a great deal of peace, because you’re no longer haunted by the terrible experiences. They lose their power over you. You won’t feel such intense pain or devastation when you think of those things. You’ll know you’re healing when that no longer happens & instead you feel more like you’re remembering a bad dream. Yes, it’s unpleasant but nothing you can’t handle.
Also, your self esteem will improve which will benefit you in so many ways! You’ll have no more trouble setting boundaries & you’ll know yourself much better.
I want to encourage you today to “feel your feels.” It truly will help you! xoxo
Ruminating thoughts are very common after someone has experienced trauma, in particular in cases of PTSD & C-PTSD. They are when a person can’t stop thinking about their awful experiences.
Like many people, I experienced them once C-PTSD developed, but I still had a slight degree of control over them. Sometimes, I could force them to stop & think of something else. After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning though, my brain was damaged. Part of that damage was no longer having the ability to control those ruminating thoughts. I had to learn new & effective ways to cope with them.
After my mother’s sudden death in April, my ruminating thoughts got really, really bad! At first it was incredibly hard to handle them on top of everything else about the situation. With God’s help, after a few months of this, I’ve gotten a much better grip on the awful ruminating thoughts.
When they happen, I’ve learned it’s best if at all possible to get alone & sit with the thoughts. I let them run their course, reminding me of whatever awful thing they are about. I also allow myself to feel the emotions that the thoughts trigger. Whatever it is, be it anger, sadness, hurt, I feel them. No, this isn’t easy. In fact it’s incredibly difficult, but it is also well worth it. The more I do this, the less frequent the ruminating thoughts on that particular topic are.
Immediately following my mother’s death, I kept having ruminating thoughts about the night the police came to give me the news of her passing. It was hardly a pleasant experience to say the least. I would relive their visit over & over in my mind. At first, I did my best to ignore these thoughts. I didn’t see it could do me any good to think about that night.
As time went on though & the thoughts were still frequent, I realized something had to give. I started allowing myself to think about that awful night, & to feel the emotions that I remember feeling that night. I leaned on God to help me but even with Him, it was still quite painful. However, the more I did this when they happened, the less painful remembering that night became. As an added bonus, the less frequently the ruminating thoughts about that night became. I still remember that night pretty frequently & it still hurts to be honest, but now I think it’s on a much more normal level. After all, it’s only been just under 4 months since my mother died. That isn’t a long time at all, so it’s totally normal considering the length of time, our lack of relationship & the rest of the odd situation that I’d still be very upset about her death.
If you suffer with ruminating thoughts, I recommend that you do the same things I have. Get alone with the thoughts as soon as you can. Let them run their course & feel your feelings. Let God help you to get through them, too. Tell Him what you feel & allow Him to validate & comfort you. It’s going to hurt at first, but I promise, it gets easier as you do it! I also promise it’s well worth the pain you feel at first when those ruminating thoughts come less frequently or even disappear in time. It’s kind of like lancing a boil. That doesn’t even sound pleasant & must be awful to experience, but it must be done in order to release the infection so the body can heal. You’re doing the same basic thing – you’re going through the discomfort of facing these ugly things head on so your mind can heal.
Ruminating thoughts are a miserable thing, I know. They don’t have to cause you unnecessary suffering anymore, however! You can make these miserable things work in your favor. You can use them as a tool towards healing!
People who grew up with narcissistic parents learned early in their life that their feelings didn’t matter & in fact, they weren’t even allowed to have feelings. The only feelings that are important to any narcissist are the feelings of that narcissist, after all. Growing up in such an environment, it’s very common for children to learn to ignore their feelings or on the off chance they feel something, to stuff that emotion deep down inside & ignore it.
This is very unhealthy behavior!! Feelings don’t just disappear or die. They remain, even when ignored & neglected. Sure, you can ignore or even numb them successfully for a time, but they will demand attention at some point.
Feelings are actually a wonderful thing, in spite of what our narcissistic parents taught us. They let us know when things are good or bad. They warn us when something harmful is happening & give us a release when too many bad things are happening at once. Sharing your feelings also can create intimacy with someone by making you vulnerable with that person. That really is a good thing, provided you share with a safe, loving person.
After a lifetime of ignoring your feelings though, where do you begin?
First, start paying attention to yourself. Notice how you really feel about things. Do some things make you happy? Sad? Angry? Pay attention to what those things are & how they make you feel. This will help you to get to know yourself better as well as how you honestly feel about things. You can journal about your discoveries, too, as having a written record to look back on can be very helpful.
Also, never judge yourself for what you feel. Feelings just are, they just happen, even the strange ones. You aren’t wrong if vanilla ice cream makes you angry. Chances are that if you get angry when you see vanilla ice cream that there is some trauma in your past connected to vanilla ice cream, & that is why you feel that way. Figure out what that trauma is & face it head on. Sure, that sounds odd, but things like that can happen. I believe God lets us face only what we can at a time which is why some repressed memories start as unusual things like the ice cream example. That first strange little thing is a stepping stone to a larger thing that needs your attention.
Don’t forget to talk to safe, good people about your feelings. It helps to have caring people validate your feelings. There is nothing wrong with you for what you feel, but it can feel that way at first. Having someone you can trust tell you that you’re OK, & there is nothing wrong with you for what you feel can be incredibly helpful!
Most of all, don’t forget to pray & pray often. God will help you however you need the help, so let Him! Tell him whatever you think & feel, ask for whatever you need & listen to His voice as He speaks to you. You’ll be glad you did!
I really think my mind is much like a Lazy Susan. It just kinda spins & I’m not always sure where it’ll stop.. lol For some reason, a few minutes ago it stopped on 2 people I was close to who both died from cancer.
The first lady died in 2009. She faced cancer I believe it was five times before she passed away. You’d think after having gone through so much pain & misery, she would’ve been bitter, but she wasn’t. She was always kind, loving, caring. Even when she felt horrible, she never failed to ask me how I was doing or what was happening in my life. She genuinely cared about my life. Even if something small but disappointing happened like I got a paper cut, she would offer sympathy.
The second lady died five years later. She also experienced cancer multiple times before it took her life. However, she was much different than the first lady. She lacked compassion. In fact, she came across like if you didn’t have cancer, she thought your problems weren’t important. Even if you had a different life threatening disease, it wasn’t cancer, so it was no big deal to her.
Thinking about this, I realized something. It isn’t just physical problems that can make people act this way. It’s all kinds of problems. I’ve seen similar attitudes in adult children of narcissists. Some who had siblings look down on those of us who were only children. They think we had it easy because we didn’t have siblings. Some who never developed C-PTSD or PTSD act like those of us who do have one of those disorders are weak. After all, *they* didn’t develop it & they had narcissistic parents too. Sometimes this attitude is even evident in those who write about narcissistic abuse. They are the ones who expect their readers to be in the same place in healing they are, or they tell their readers to “just go no contact.. I did it & it worked for me!” without knowing anything about their situation.
Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today not to act that way! Examine your behavior & if you are acting like other people’s problems aren’t as bad as yours, change your behavior. Ask God to help you to see if you’re acting inappropriately in this area.
Also remember, just because something might not traumatize you doesn’t mean it’s not traumatic to someone else. People are very different & this means we respond & react differently. Two people can grow up with the same parents, experience many of the same things, & they will tell stories of their experiences much differently. One may be upset or even traumatized while the other talks about his or her happy childhood.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].” (AMP) If you notice, it doesn’t say we should judge their situations or how they feel about their experiences. it just says we should share in their joy or sadness.
Even if you don’t understand why someone feels the way they do, you still can be kind to that person. You can offer to listen to them if they want to talk, to take them to lunch or some other outing to cheer them up or to pray with or for them. Small gestures like these can help a hurting person a great deal, definitely much more than trivializing or even invalidating their pain.
Please think before you speak when someone is trying to tell you why they are hurting. It will do you both good. The person who is hurting won’t be further hurt by what you say & you may become less judgmental & more compassionate.
A major pet peeve of mine when it comes to narcissism is how so many people think the victim is responsible for the feelings of the narcissist. Here are a couple of examples from my life…
- When my mother’s abuse hit its peak when I was in my late teens, she spent a great deal of time daily screaming at me, telling me how terrible I was. One afternoon, her friend called. I answered the phone since my mother was busy. This person told me how I needed to start ‘behaving myself’, obeying my mother & how lucky I was to have a mother who loved me so much. I didn’t feel lucky!
- When I broke my engagement with my ex husband in 1990, everyone who knew us told me I was making him miserable & should get back together with him. No one cared that I was miserable with him or asked why I even broke up with him.
- When my father was dying in October, 2017, I can’t even tell you how many people told me I needed to say good bye to him so he could die in peace, I wasn’t honoring my parents, I was a “bad Christian,” I needed to “put my feelings aside” & more nonsense. Not one person cared why I was no contact with my parents.
Pretty disgusting, isn’t it? And I know I am far from the only person who has experienced situations like this. It seems to me every victim of a narcissist has been made to feel responsible for their narcissist’s feelings not only because of the narcissist making them feel this way, but other people too.
Dear Reader, although you may know this already, this is WRONG! You are absolutely NOT responsible for the narcissist’s feelings any more than you are responsible for any other human being’s feelings. Each person is responsible for their own, & that includes narcissists. Even though narcissists often act like spoiled, bratty little kids in adult bodies, they’re still adults & that means that their feelings are their responsibility, not yours.
When faced with people who do their best to make you feel responsible for the feelings of the narcissist in your life, chances are slim you will make them see the error of their thinking. Probably it will be best for you simply to ignore what they say. Change the subject, tell them you won’t discuss this topic with them, or ignore their text or email. Why frustrate yourself trying to change the mind of someone who is determined that their thinking is right while you are absolutely wrong?
If you feel you must say something to the person, treat them as you treat any flying monkey. Remain calm & don’t let them see that you’re frustrated with them. You can ask them logical questions too. “What makes this person’s feelings so much more important than mine?” “Why are this person’s feelings my responsibility?” “Other people take responsibility for their own feelings- what makes her exempt from doing that?” Questions like that may shut the person down because really, there is no reasonable answer to those questions. Of course, they may try to come up with excuses, such as the infamous, “But that’s your MOTHER/FATHER/etc.!” If they do, let logic prevail again. “So you’re saying that because this is my mother/father/etc we’re talking about, that I should be responsible for his/her feelings?” “You mean that you honestly think I should do ___ to make him/her happy, even knowing how miserable that would make me? That really makes sense to you?!”
Whenever these situations come up (& they will if you have any relationship at all with a narcissist), be sure to pray about the best way to handle them. God won’t let you down & He will give you some very creative & effective ways to shut these people down.
Have you ever noticed how miserable narcissists are? It seems like the higher on the spectrum a narcissist is, the more miserable that person is.
I think this is because narcissists do not have the skills or wisdom to know what to do to improve their situations. In typical narcissist fashion, rather than try, they opt to make others just as miserable as they are or gain attention for their misery.
If you think about the narcissist in your life, how many times were you in a good mood, then that person did or said something that sent your mood rocketing downhill? I bet that has happened a lot. It has with me. Narcissists cannot stand seeing other people happy, especially if they are unhappy. If they can make you unhappy it makes them feel good, because they have power over you. If they can control your emotions & have a strong effect on you, they think they must be powerful. There is also the simple fact that they enjoy causing pain. Making you unhappy is a win/win for the narcissist.
Narcissists enjoy misery so much, they even will cause their own misery. I bet there are many, many narcissists unhappy in their marriage partly due to their own making. Many times, my parents came to me complaining about the other & how miserable they were together. Yet, when I saw simple changes they could have made to improve their situation, they refused to do those things. They would say that was a bad idea, make excuses why it wouldn’t work or say things like, “I do too much already! I’m not doing that for him/her too! He/she is the one who needs to change!”
My late ex mother in-law used to tell me about her own mother, “She’s not happy until she’s miserable!” That seems to be the same case for narcissists. If they’re miserable, they can garnish sympathy, concern & attention. If they appear to be a victim, then they also can gain pity. And, if they can make you as miserable as they are, that’s an added bonus. All of these things provide them with narcissistic supply.
When the narcissist in your life tries to ruin your good mood or trivialize your good news, just remember these things. They are simply looking for narcissistic supply. Do your best not to let them have it by remembering what they are up to. That can help you keep your joy. If they are miserable, that is their problem, not yours.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn many things early in life that most people don’t, such as you aren’t allowed to have feelings. Often if you are happy, a narcissistic parent will ask you what you have to be so happy about, shaming you into hiding your joy. If you are sad, you’re told you don’t have anything to be sad about because other people have it way worse than you. If you’re angry, you’re told you have a bad temper & are crazy.
Because of such things, you learn early on to ignore your emotions. Stuff them down deep inside & pretend they aren’t there. Eventually though, after years of doing this, enough is enough. You can’t physically or mentally handle this stress any longer, & you have to start learning to express yourself. It feels so strange at first. Sometimes, I still feel like I’m waiting for some sort of backlash for sharing my emotions, because I’m doing something I learned as a child was absolutely wrong. It has improved over time, but is still there to a degree.
I think though that anger is the hardest emotion to handle when you learn to share your emotions. Aside from the messages of shame for feeling anger that you must get rid of, anger seems to have a mind of its own.
When first getting in touch with your anger, it may feel as if there is an infinite pit of it inside you, which is pretty scary. You must realize that if you’ve been stuffing it inside you for your entire life, there is going to be a lot of anger in there to deal with. There is an end to it all, but it’s going to take a while to deal with it all.
Also, when you’re not allowed to express anger, it comes up later, even years later. I get angry with my parents for things that happened 30 years ago sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m living too much in the past. It can be so frustrating! Unfortunately it’s also very normal. You can’t simply expel all of the anger you feel inside at once. You mentally couldn’t handle that. Instead, it comes out in manageable doses. This means you’ll probably have to deal with an incident at a time. Since narcissistic parents dole out such a great deal of abuse to their children over the course of their lives, there are obviously going to be many, many incidents to deal with, even going back to your very early life. It’s an unfortunate & frustrating fact of being raised by narcissistic parents.
Sometimes the anger comes up later because you were so busy trying to survive the abuse that you didn’t have time to cope with it at the time. I had a terrible relationship with my husband’s mother. Then, my husband defended her to me which caused many problems in our marriage. I had to fight with him as well as her, & didn’t really have time to process what was happening, because I was trying to survive both of them with my sanity in tact. It wasn’t until I cut her out of my life that I could finally deal with the things she had done to me as well as the anger at my husband for taking her side no matter what she did.
You need to realize that all of these feelings are normal.
You also need to realize that you have a right to your anger. Being abused isn’t fair. No one deserves it! You have every right to feel anger about that.
You have every right to learn to deal with your anger in a healthy way. It’s well overdue.
There is nothing wrong with anger in & of itself, so please don’t buy into the lies you heard about that. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with that anger that can be bad. Trying to get revenge on someone out of anger is bad, but feeling anger is not. Anger is a good thing since it lets you know something is wrong.
I know anger is a very scary thing when you never learned how to handle it in healthy ways. However, you can learn healthy ways to deal with it. Prayer is the absolute best place to start, I believe. Ask God to show you what to do, how to handle it. He certainly will answer that prayer!
Ever since I became a Christian in 1996, I’ve heard preaching about not allowing your emotions to rule you. Keep them in check & don’t let them run your life!
Basically, this made me feel bad when I would feel hurt or angry & couldn’t control how I felt. I thought something must be wrong with me for not having a better grip on my feelings.
The truth though is everyone needs to have a healthy, balanced perspective on emotions.
Emotions are given to us by God to let us know when things are good or bad. When something is good, you feel happy, content or pleased. If something makes you sad or angry, you know this thing isn’t good. Emotions are a good monitor in that respect.
Emotions can teach you a lot about yourself. Where your boundaries lie, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy & who you are the closest to. Not allowing yourself to feel such things can turn you into a shell of a human being, & that is not what God wants for you.
Sometimes emotions can be irrational too. There may be times that you’d rather lay on the sofa watching TV than go to work, even when you enjoy your job, & you have no idea why you feel this way. In times like this you know it’s best to ignore those emotions & go to work.
When you are healing from trauma or abuse, however, you need to be sure not to ignore your feelings. If you suddenly feel anxious, angry or depressed, you need to know why you feel that way. Then you will be able to feel the emotion fully, process it & release it. Ignoring your feelings if you’re healing only serves to drag out the healing process & make you more miserable. I know, facing past trauma is hard, but it is easier than constantly trying to stuff it down inside of you.
I firmly believe that while you can’t listen to your emotions blindly, you do need to listen to them often & use wisdom on how to deal with them. Know sometimes you can ignore them, but mostly, you should pay attention to them & respect them. Don’t judge your feelings either. They aren’t good or evil- feelings simply are.
So many of us who have suffered narcissistic abuse are simply tired. Tired after years of walking on eggshells & trying to please the unpleasable. Tired because the experience gave us C-PTSD or PTSD, which are both exhausting disorders for many reasons. Tired of working so hard, trying to heal & feel normal for once. It’d be so nice if we could just forget what has happened. Put it away like an unloved Christmas present from the mother in-law somewhere in the back of a closet where it wouldn’t see the light of day again.
Unfortunately though, that is completely unrealistic.
If you want to heal from any traumatic situation, you have to deal with it completely. This means to heal, you have to feel. Feel what, you ask? Feel the anger or the hurt. Get angry. Cry. Scream. Cuss.
Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? That is partly because narcissistic mothers shame their children for having any emotions, society shames victims for not “getting over it” immediately & the church often shames people for not “forgiving & forgetting.”
Dear Reader, I’ve been working on healing from narcissistic abuse since 2000. I bought into those lies for too long. I ignored the gentle promptings in my heart from God saying it’s OK to feel my emotions. I tried forgiving & forgetting. I tried getting angry & just couldn’t do it- I was afraid of getting angry & losing control. I also could hear my mother’s voice in my head scolding me for having “that Bailey temper.” I couldn’t even cry or grieve because I thought I was feeling sorry for myself & needed to pick myself up by my bootstraps & get over it. And, I was miserable.
I ignored God’s promptings for years until early last year. After nearly dying from carbon monoxide poisoning & suffering a concussion when I passed out from the CMP, I changed. Both of these things can change one’s personality, so it’s not a surprise that happened to me. I was surprised how I changed though. I suddenly was less able to control my emotions. I had no choice but to feel angry or sad or happy or whatever. And you know what? It’s been a blessing!!
I have been able to heal more since that happened than in the many years prior. Feeling things has enabled me to release those emotions. It’s enabled me to purge myself of the yukky emotions buried inside of me & heal. It’s much like healing an infected wound. You can slap a bandage on it, but that won’t heal it. The wound has to bleed to get the germs & infection out first, then it can heal.
Another bonus of feeling my emotions has been I’ve learned how to make anger work in my favor. My mother couldn’t stand me to be angry, even simple frustration was a problem for her, so she would shame me if I displayed even mild irritation. As a result, I learned early to stuff anger deep down inside, & carried this dysfunctional behavior into my adulthood. Now, I no longer do that. I feel the anger, & when it is a righteous anger (such as when she is hateful to me), I let it give me the strength to set boundaries, walk away or even call her out on her bad behavior. Righteous anger truly is a good thing for giving you strength & motivation to make changes!
Dear Reader, don’t wait until something life altering happens- decide today that you are going to feel your feelings so you can heal. Give yourself permission to do so. Talk to someone safe & trusted about how you feel. Also, you can try the chair technique, where you place an empty chair in front of you, pretend your abuser is in it, & yell, scream, cry or whatever you want to do to vent your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable verbalizing them, then write them down somewhere safe from prying eyes. You can pray silently too- God certainly will listen!
And, when you’re feeling your feelings, get it all out! Don’t worry if your language is bad. Do you think God’s never heard those words before?! He gets that you are that hurt, angry or frustrated! It’s much better to get that ugliness out of you than let it fester inside of you.
Please remember, to heal it, you have to feel it. You can do this! I know it’s scary at first, but do it anyway. Ask God to give you the strength & courage to face those ugly, scary, traumatic things head on so you can heal from them. Once you do this, those awful memories will feel more like a bad dream than something you’ve actually lived through. That is how you know that event has lost its hold over you.
When dealing with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realistic expectations are extremely important for the sake of your mental health. They will help you not to be constantly disappointed or hurt. They also will help you to be prepared for whatever may come, because you understand that this is how the narcissist in your life acts.
For many adult children of narcissistic parents, adjusting their expectations to be realistic is very hard. It’s hard not to hope that this will be the time things are different, the one time that Mom actually cares about me or doesn’t insult my husband. It’s also hard to grasp that normal things- such as treating your child with basic respect- are things that no narcissistic parent wants to do.
If you feel that way about your narcissistic mother, you’re perfectly normal. However, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider taking care of your mental health, your peace & joy, & lowering your expectations of your narcissistic mother.
Realistic expectations of narcissists are very different than those of other people. Most people, you are safe in assuming that they will have some level of empathy, think of people other than themselves & not viciously criticize anything they wish to about you. Not so with narcissists. Let’s look at some features of a narcissist:
- They are constantly looking for narcissistic supply- anything that helps boost their self-esteem.
- They are incredibly entitled- they feel as if they deserve anything they want, even if it means hurting others (yes, even their own family) to get it.
- They have absolutely no empathy- never will a narcissist genuinely understand or care about your pain. Never.
- Narcissists are excellent manipulators- they read people very well to find out their vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for personal gain.
- Narcissists don’t care how much they hurt you, destroy your self-esteem or even destroy your sanity as long as they get what they want from you.
These few qualities alone mean you cannot deal with any narcissist as you would a normal person if you wish to survive this relationship with your mental health in tact. Keeping realistic expectations of the narcissist will help you tremendously.
So what are realistic expectations of a narcissist? Basically, have no expectations. Never expect to be able to run to your narcissistic mother with your problems without her criticizing or mocking you. Never expect her to be able to genuinely celebrate your victories either. She may try to take credit for what you have done, ignore it completely or trivialize it.
What you can expect from most narcissistic mothers-
- She will criticize everything about you without mercy. I don’t mean constructive criticism- I mean mocking, insulting, saying cruel things that can bring you to tears.
- Gaslighting. Lots & lots of gaslighting & mind games.
- Conversations will be all about her. If you try to mention something about yourself, she’ll find a way to bring the conversation back to her.
- No empathy. It doesn’t matter if you broke a nail or are getting a divorce- your narcissistic mother will treat any problem you have exactly the same way. She won’t care.
- Her trying to destroy any joy you have over something good that has happened to you.
- Demands or hints rather than requests. She thinks she deserves your complete obedience.
Of course, each narcissist is a bit different, so I’m sure you can add to this list.
The good thing though is that if you keep in mind that your narcissistic mother is going to do these things, it will help you tremendously. You won’t be caught off guard by her outrageous behavior. You also can plan ahead of time how you wish to handle her outrageous behavior. You won’t be so hurt because you know it’s coming.
And, if you know what to expect, when your narcissistic mother calls or comes by, you can decide whether or not you can handle her on that particular day before you pick up the phone or answer the door.
Lastly, having these realistic expectations of your narcissistic mother also will help you to remember what kind of person she is, which will help you to remember that she has problems. You aren’t the terrible person she claims you are!
I have been asked quite a few times how long it takes to recover fully from narcissistic abuse. I believe it to be a lifelong battle, unfortunately. However, I don’t want to discourage you with that, because there is good news. Although it can be a lifelong battle, it does get easier!
You will stumble sometimes, but even so, you are constantly getting stronger as you heal. The more wisdom you gain about NPD & the effects of its abuse, the more strength it gives you. You finally realize it wasn’t your fault, & that you’re suffering the normal effects of abnormal treatment.
The dark times of depression come less frequently & don’t last as long when they come.
There are times you feel stuck, as if you are always going to be depressed, anxious, or feel like you’re going crazy. But, the longer you have been healing, the less frequently those times happen. They, like depression, won’t last as long on the rare occasions when they happen.
Your self-esteem soars. Sure, sometimes you may backslide into feeling like the worthless piece of garbage your narcissistic mother always said you were, but at least that isn’t how you constantly feel anymore. They’re merely fleeting moments. When you realize this dysfunctional thinking is happening, you remind yourself that isn’t true. Healthy self-esteem also stops the dysfunctional people-pleasing at your own expense ways many children of narcissistic parents possess.
You try to practice good self-care rituals- prayer, relaxing activities, participating in fun hobbies. Granted, sometimes you let your schedule get too busy, but the healthier you become, the quicker you are to realize this mistake & make the appropriate changes.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to change how you think about your recovery. While it may be a lifelong battle with no definite end, try to focus instead on the good that comes during your healing. Focus on each baby step, every bit of progress you make. Your narcissistic mother tried to destroy you, but she didn’t! You are like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Little by little, you are getting healthier & happier. Maybe right now you aren’t where you want to be, & feel like you have a long way to go. How about instead focusing on how far you have come? You are no longer that wounded, dysfunctional little child, but instead are a grown woman who is getting stronger & healthier each day!
When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you learn quickly that narcissists are murderers. Maybe not in the typical sense of the word as in they don’t try to shoot you, stab you or run you over with their cars but they are murderers nonetheless. They try to kill the person you are & recreate you into the person they want you to be- blindly obedient, enabling, having no needs, wants or feelings of your own. Basically, a robot here only to do their twisted will.
Once you escape the abuse, a part of your healing should be discovering the person God has created you to be. After all, He made you the way He did for a specific reason which is infinitely more valuable & important than the narcissist’s reasons for trying to turn you into a robot.
God made you to have a special place in this world, blessing others & enjoying being who you are. The narcissist’s only reason for trying to destroy that & remold you into what she wants is selfish- to enable her dysfunctional & abusive behavior. Isn’t it worth shedding the narcissist’s image of you & embracing the person God made you to be?
Rediscovering yourself, or discovering yourself for the first time, is not easy when you are accustomed to being the narcissist’s robot, but it is worth the effort. It also is fun, learning about yourself. Just start paying more attention to your feelings on things- do you like that or not? Are you drawn to things you never were allowed to pay attention to before? Then why not explore those things now? What do you have to lose?
Last February when I got very sick, it really caused me to re-evaluate my life. In my thirties, I tried to discover myself. I made some progress, but I abandoned the effort many times though, slipping back into old, dysfunctional habits. While recovering though, I realized I didn’t want to die knowing I had wasted my life being the person the narcissists in my life had tried to make me into. I didn’t like that person at all. So, I started exploring things that sounded appealing to me. I bought some clay & tried making various items. I tried felting. I also got back into drawing- something I loved to do as a child, but got away from. I feel much more peaceful & more confident doing things just for myself for the first time. I have become more self-confident, even when dealing with my narcissistic parents- I speak up to them more often now when I didn’t used to do so at all. (Using wisdom of course, as many times speaking back to narcissists only causes more problems since they can’t handle criticism or confrontation). I have also begun to take better care of myself & be more understanding & forgiving with myself.
Unfortunately, I also have been slipping back into the old, dysfunctional habits! It’s so frustrating! Like all emotional healing, it’s not a straight uphill path, but a windy one with a few big potholes. One thing helped me a lot, & that was a video I saw on facebook. It’s of Trace Adkins in the movie “Moms Night Out” talking to a lady about her feelings of not being good enough. Watching this brief video was eye opening to me, & I will be watching it over & over again to help keep me on track. I hope it blesses & helps you as it did me, Dear Reader. xoxo
There is a saying that is pretty common, but especially here in the South. “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I believe it to be very true. The very things that have been meant to kill me, such as narcissistic abuse, have instead strengthened me in the long run.
But, the truth is, in spite of being grateful for the strength I’ve gained, I’m pretty tired! Tired of the nonsense I’ve lived through, & mostly tired of always being the strong one who carries other people can fall apart.
Many people, especially those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse, are a great deal stronger than we realize. This doesn’t usually escape the notice of other people, however. They notice it right away & often, don’t hesitate to use our strength to help themselves out. Even when they know we’re going through a crisis, they’ll come to us for comfort, advice or to meet some other need, often without even asking how we’re doing. When faced with a difficult person, we are the one who is always supposed to be understanding or the “bigger person”, & let the offenses go. People know we’re strong & can handle bad situations, so they assume we never need help, a shoulder to cry on or, well, anything really..
The simple truth is that even the strongest among us need help sometimes. Being strong can be hard enough, but feeling as if you’re completely alone in your struggles with no one to help, & you have to be strong all of the time for others is incredibly hard. It’s extremely depressing, because you know you can’t count on anyone else to let you lean on them. It’s also mentally & physically draining.
Chances are, if you’re reading this post, then you understand this all too well. I would like to encourage you today to make self-care a priority. Take breaks as needed from work or from other people (especially the ones who lean on you without reciprocating). Set & enforce healthy boundaries to protect yourself. Do nice things for yourself often. What makes you feel good? Make it a priority to do those things as often as possible. Participate in your hobbies often. Express your creativity often.
And, remember- sometimes you need to lean on others as they have leaned on you. It’s actually a good thing for a relationship- it makes you depend on each other instead of the relationship being one sided. It also increases intimacy in the relationship, because asking for help makes you vulnerable. I understand that it is very hard to do, but I encourage you to step out & try it. Ask God how to do this & who to ask- He won’t guide you wrong!
And, speaking of God, don’t forget to lean on Him as well! He loves you so much, & wants to help you in every way you need help. I’ll never forget what happened when I was sick at the end of February.. I was relaxing, just playing a game on my tablet, & I couldn’t get past this one level. It was frustrating me. I muttered & asked God to help me get past this stupid level. Suddenly, I did it! I started to cry. Granted, I was super emotional because of the concussion I got only a few days prior, but even so, it was a lovely moment. I knew God helped me to win that game because He loves me so much that He even cares about something so trivial that means something to me. He loves you just as much- allow Him to show it. Trust Him & lean on Him. He won’t disappoint you.
Many people who grew up abused tend to have black & white thinking. For example, you may think you’re a bad employee because you made a mistake at work, or a bad spouse because you forgot your wedding anniversary rather than just thinking you made mistakes. Most people aren’t so hard on themselves, & are much more forgiving than that.
This type of thinking can damage relationships as well as your self-esteem. If, as an example, you grew up told by your narcissistic mother that all people who listen to heavy metal music are bad & accepted that belief, then you are either missing out on potentially good relationships, or if you later find out someone you’re close to likes metal, you’ll end that relationship.
Black & white thinking has its roots in childhood, like so many other things. When you grow up with a parent berating, shaming & criticizing you, you take it to heart! You tend to continue to do those same behaviors to yourself as an adult. It’s time to stop doing that to yourself! You don’t deserve to continue the abuse that was so unfairly done to you! You deserve better!
Today, I want you to decide to stop with the black & white thinking!
To do this, you’ll need to do several things. First of all, ask God to help you. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth & the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight”. God wants to help you think better! Allow Him to do so.
You also need to challenge how you think. Slow down & pay attention to your thoughts. When you make a mistake & begin to beat yourself up for it, stop! Stop right there & remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE! Not only you. If people didn’t make mistakes, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Mistakes are a part of life- you need to accept that fact.
If you find yourself thinking something or someone is bad, then again, stop. Ask yourself why you think this. If you realize it’s because your narcissistic mother dislikes a quality that person has, then it’s time to challenge her opinion. Not to her but to yourself. Did she say why she hates something or someone? Do her reasons make sense? If not, discard them & form your own opinion! You don’t have to share her beliefs or feelings. You have the right to have your own!
Black & white thinking also can be a hindrance in healing from abuse. If you’re like me, you tend to frequently tell yourself that you should be better by now, you’ve been feeling sorry for yourself for too long, you need to let this go & more unhealthy things. Please, please, please stop it right now!!! Easier said than done, I know, but please try anyway. I’ve gotten better at this, although I still slip up sometimes. When I tell myself these awful things, I remind myself narcissistic abuse is a terrible thing. Healing from it is a lifelong task. Narcissistic abuse is insidious & permeates every part of your being. You can’t heal from that kind of pain & suffering in a month or even a year. It’s perfectly normal to heal little by little over the course of your life. It’s also perfectly normal for healing to be an up & down process. Emotional healing is never strictly an uphill battle. It’s more like an uphill battle with periodic falls into valleys & side trips.
Dear Reader, please be encouraged today to be better to yourself. Think about what you’re thinking about. Challenge those things that aren’t beneficial to you, & change how you think into more healthy thoughts. You deserve it!
A pretty common phenomenon I’ve noticed about adult children of narcissistic parents is this belief of others that we are always supposed to allow other people to mistreat or even abuse us without complaint. Also, if something is wrong in a relationship, it’s supposed to be our job to fix everything while the other person does nothing.
My mother in-law treated me like dirt for the first eight years of my husband’s & my relationship, until I finally severed ties with her. My husband told me constantly that I “needed to understand her better,” I should “be the bigger person & let things go.” He didn’t believe me when I told him what she had done, or (worst of all) blamed me for her abuse.
My ex husband & I lived with his parents for about a year. During that time, he & I had a big fight on our third wedding anniversary. I left the house to cool off for a while. When I came back, his mother jumped me, blaming me for the fight (which he started, not that she knew this), for making him angry & for him punching a wall in his anger. She told me I needed to talk to him & smooth things over.
During a very bad time in my marriage, I talked to a good friend of mine about something extremely painful my husband had done. He tried to make excuses for my husband’s behavior & suggested things I can do to help fix our marriage rather than comfort me or help me.
Do scenarios like this sound familiar to you as well?
If they do, I want to tell you today that it’s not your job, nor your purpose in life, to be used or to do all of the work in your relationships! Relationships are NOT one sided, at least healthy ones are not. A healthy relationship has two people working together. Relationships where only one person does all of the work are extremely dysfunctional & miserable.
It also is not your place to tolerate abuse or make excuses for the abuser! No one deserves abuse- NO ONE! There is no excuse to abuse, there is nothing you can do to make someone abuse you & abusive people are sick. None of this has anything to do with you.
I believe this warped behavior happens because of being raised by narcissistic parents. You’re raised to be nothing more than a tool to be used as needed, much like say, a screwdriver. You’re kept in a drawer until needed, pulled out, used, then put away until the next time you can serve some purpose. While you’re “in that drawer,” you need to be completely invisible- you have to stay out of the narcissist’s way! Don’t “bother” her with your trivial needs. Hers are so very much more important than yours, after all. As a result, you grow up continuing to act as if other people’s needs are more important, yours mean nothing, & being a people pleaser. People naturally read other people, & abusers in particular are extremely good at it. Abusers look for people like this to abuse, since they’re easy targets who won’t complain about how they’re treated. Then there are other people don’t deliberately seek out people they can abuse. Instead, they see you believe you are: invisible, you deserve to be treated poorly, etc. & they treat you that way.
To help fix this problem in your life, work on your healing. You will learn to spot the abusers quickly, & avoid them. You’ll develop & enforce stronger boundaries. Your self-esteem will improve, making you less willing to tolerate nonsense, including being the only one to work on your relationships. You also need to really grasp the fact that you are NOT what your narcissistic mother says you are. You are someone with great worth & value. God loves you, no matter if your parents don’t. If you have trouble believing that, ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Read the Bible- there are countless times in it where God states His love for you!
I recently read a wonderful quote from Jefferson Davis- “Truth crushed to the Earth is truth still, & like a seed will rise again.” As soon as I read this, I thought about how it relates to those of us who have been raised by narcissistic parents.
Many of us grew up in this toxic environment, learning very early that we are never to discuss the abuse going on at home, nor are we allowed to protest it. We also aren’t allowed to have or express feelings, wants or even needs. This results in growing up “stuffing” everything deep down inside & ignoring things, even pretending the abuse we endured wasn’t so bad. After all, others had it much worse, right? *sigh*
The truth is we do have needs, wants, & feelings. We also have been through unimaginable abuse. And, as Mr. Davis said, those truths will rise again.
There comes a point in your life where suddenly you no longer can “stuff” everything. You have to admit that you were abused, & that it did a great deal of damage to you. You also can’t ignore the fact you have wants, needs & feelings any longer. You want to be heard for the first time, instead of being treated as if you’re completely invisible. You also may get angry, very angry, that you have been treated in such a way.
At first, this is scary. You aren’t used to feeling anger or wanting to be heard. It feels very abnormal to say the least. And, the thought of discussing what happened to you at the hands of your narcissistic parent(s)? Terrifying! However, if you are at this point, I would like to say to you today to push on!
You have just reached a turning point in your life. It’s actually a very good thing, even though it may not feel that way at first. This is the point you start to realize you have worth & value, & you are not the terrible things your narcissistic mother said you were.
As abnormal as it feels, keep on healing, learning & growing. Work through your feelings of fear, & ask God to help you however you need that help. They won’t hurt you. In fact, the experience will make you stronger. You will become comfortable knowing you have the right to have your own needs, even if one of those needs is discussing what your narcissistic mother did to you.
Regarding discussing what happened with your narcissistic mother, by the way, I’m not saying that you have to discuss it with everyone, or write a book or even a blog like this. I am saying though that you don’t need to feel as if you’re hiding some dirty little secret, like her abusing you was something for you to be ashamed of. You have nothing to be ashamed of, but your mother has plenty. The shame of what she did to you is hers, not yours, so don’t carry it any longer! Put the shame back where it belongs- on your mother. Refuse to carry it one more day!
Dear Reader, lean on God. Let Him help you to heal & grow. He truly will, because He loves you so much & wants to bless you. You can get through this painful time, & will come out on the other side so much stronger, healthier & happier for it! xoxo
Today is my birthday, which gave me the idea for something to write about. Well, ok, technically I’m writing this before my birthday to publish on the day so I can take that day off.. lol But anyway..
So many of us adult children of narcissistic parents hate our birthdays. I’ve been battling this myself for many years, since my seventeenth birthday when my mother ruined my day & spent a good part of it screaming at me. My eighteenth, when she gave me a gift she said she didn’t even know why she was giving me anything since she didn’t even like me. There have been plenty of other lousy birthdays over the years, too, that weren’t related to my mother. These bad times set the stage for me to start dreading my birthday once the month of April begins.
A few years ago, a friend of mine messaged me on facebook shortly before my birthday & asked what I was going to do for my birthday. I said nothing. At the time, my father had started chemo & wasn’t feeling well- I felt I should be available in case my parents needed me. My friend proceeded to chew me out. Gently but still.. lol Birthdays are very important to him, he said, & pretty much ordered me to do something nice for myself that day, even if it was only picking up lunch from my favorite restaurant. Something in me clicked. I realized he was right. Since then, each year my husband & I have gone to our favorite restaurant on the water not far from home with a few friends. We share a meal & some laughs in a cute little place with a scenic view. It’s always a lot of fun.
In my experiences of meeting many other adult children of narcissistic parents, I’ve realized that I am hardly alone. Many others dread their birthday because of bad memories their mothers attached to the date. If that describes you, Dear Reader, please reconsider your feelings. Your birthday is a special day- it’s the day you made your grand entrance into this world. It is the day God assigned for you to bless the world with your presence! That makes it a very special day. And, you are a very special person! In spite of what your narcissistic mother most likely told you, you are a wonderful person, & your birthday is a day that should be acknowledged & celebrated! Why don’t you decide today to start doing just that?
When I first started to try to celebrate & enjoy my birthday, it felt so strange. I even felt guilty, like I was doing something bad & wrong. But, as time has worn on, I’ve gotten better at it. In fact, I’ve even looked forward to my birthday a few times. Admittedly, I’m still struggling in this area, but at least I’ve made progress. Progress is so much better than cringing every single time the month of April begins! It may take you a little time & practice as it has me to start consistently looking forward to your birthday, but it is worth it!
To start, you don’t have to start big, like with a huge party, if you aren’t comfortable with that. Just do a little something nice for yourself. Like my friend said, get your favorite lunch from your favorite restaurant. Bake yourself a cake or buy a slice from a nice restaurant. Buy yourself a nice gift- it doesn’t need to be extravagant if you don’t want it to be or can’t afford it. A new book would suffice. Go out for coffee with your best friend(s). Buy yourself some fresh flowers or plant a pretty garden in your yard. The point is to do something special just for you, to celebrate the wonderful day that you were born. xoxo
I was talking with a good friend recently. She told me about something traumatic that happened to her a while back. She also said that many of her friends & relatives told her that she needed to get over it & trivialized her awful experience, rather than offer her compassion & support. Naturally, it upset her badly that people she expected to be compassionate were instead cold & unfeeling.
Unfortunately I understand her feelings all too well. Since I got sick at the end of February, I’ve experienced this same thing first hand more times than I can count, starting at the hospital. Apparently even a potentially deadly illness isn’t enough to warrant compassion from most people.
There is a terrible lack of love, empathy & compassion in the world today. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “1 But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. 3 [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. 4 [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. 5 For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” (AMP)
I firmly believe this is what is happening today, why people are so indifferent to the suffering of others. Look at how people behave. Money & things mean more than people & relationships. Animal & child abuse are commonplace, as is hypocrisy. And most importantly, God is rarely invited into, well, anything. Not many people have God as their top priority in life. Without God, it’s impossible to truly love people God’s way- full of compassion, caring, & great empathy.
Dear Reader, I’m certain you have been on the receiving end of this hurtful type of behavior. Your pain has no doubt been trivialized or even invalidated. (This is especially common for adult children of narcissistic parents, since our parents didn’t always leave bruises or broken bones like physically abusive ones did, & they act like good people around everyone but their own children.)
While there is certainly no way to control how people act & completely avoid their coldness, you can remember that a person who acts this way has a problem. That will help you not to internalize their words, thinking something is wrong with you for being upset over whatever trauma you experienced. You need to remember that, because you are not wrong, crazy, oversensitive, etc. for being upset when something bad happens to you.
And, also remember that people with problems naturally turn self-centered to varying degrees. Some people become so self-centered that they don’t have it in them to care about others who are also suffering. Remembering this too will help you not to internalize being treated so poorly.
I would like to also encourage you to consider how you react when someone tells you about a painful or traumatic experience. Do you offer compassion? Empathize with their pain? Or, are you so wrapped up in your own problems you refuse to see anything or anyone except what relates directly to you?
If you are the type to have a hard time empathizing when you too are suffering, it may be time to change that. Aside from the fact that behavior can be hurting others, being good to others also is good for you. It takes your mind off your problems, even if only temporarily. You also may learn that this person & you share a common problem, & now you have someone to talk about your problems with. You may be able to help each other!
Don’t know how to change this about yourself? Ask God for help. Ask Him to increase your empathy, to make you more aware of the feelings of others & to give you wisdom on how to help those He puts in your path & wisdom with your words. God will honor your prayer, & bless you for wanting to help others.
Do you celebrate the good things in your life? Not necessarily throw a big party over every good thing, but at least revel in your joy for a few moments.
Life can be so hard & full of negative things, the good can get pushed aside. It’s very easy to do. However, I would like to encourage you today to start looking for more good things & celebrating them. Focus more on what you have accomplished than what is still left to do. Be proud of the fact you lost five pounds or finally painted your living room. Think about how blessed you are that a good friend of yours brought you lunch when you were sick, or offered to take your child to school when you were unable. Enjoy the fact your spouse took off work on your birthday to celebrate & spoil you. Take a few moments just to think about those good things & feel good about them. Bask in the good feelings for a few minutes. Truly this will help you to feel good, & it will help to cement these positive experiences in your memory by attaching good emotions to them. Experiences with emotions attached stick with us much better than those with little or no emotions.
I have stressed many times the importance of taking a break from emotional healing sometimes, as it can be very draining. As much as you need to heal from narcissistic abuse, it can be very complex & deep, so periodic distracts are very important. However, I think equally important is looking for & celebrating the good things.
Growing up with a narcissistic parent, accomplishments were always undermined. We heard negative, critical, judgmental things our entire lives. In fact, I think of my parents as the “could be a tumor” kid from the movie, “Kindergarten Cop.” Do you remember that kid? If not, here you go:
These things our parents did became habits. We learned to do them to ourselves. We became highly critical & negative about ourselves, even trivializing the good things we’ve done. Why continue the abuse that your parents started? Stop it & stop it now! You deserve so much better than that, & you deserve to be happy. Start today by celebrating something good. Take a few minutes to bask in the joy of the blessing or the event, whatever it is. Focus on how good it feels to have received something or to have accomplished something. Even if it’s simply cleaning your house- doesn’t it feel good to have that task completed? Focus on that good feeling for a few minutes. Thank God for the good things. That’s all you have to do.
Now, try that celebration with other things, big & small. Relish the enjoyment! You’ll be a happier person for it! xoxo
Many people are quick to judge anyone who either is suicidal, has attempted it or has followed through on committing suicide. It’s such a shame people can be so heartless!
Many people who have survived narcissistic abuse live with depression, & as a result are suicidal. In fact, many also have developed C-PTSD or PTSD as a result of the abuse, & depression & suicidal ideation are symptoms of both dreadful disorders. The judgmental attitudes of others make this awful situation even more painful. People readily accuse suicidal people of being selfish, weak, wanting to take the easy way out or seeking attention. Others say it’s a sin that God won’t forgive, so if they do it, they’ll go to Hell.
This is horrible & it shouldn’t be, but sadly not a lot of people have much compassion or are able to see things from another’s perspective. Feeling suicidal isn’t exactly the walk in the park many people think it is. It’s a dismal, depressing place where you believe the only means of escape is death. It doesn’t sound like a bad choice- your pain will be over, you’ll have no more misery of this life & it’s not like anyone would care if you’re gone anyway. (At least that is how you feel. That doesn’t mean it’s the truth however!)
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, the last thing that person needs is to be lectured or judged. The person instead needs a great deal of compassion, empathy & love. They need to know that their presence makes a difference, & they would be greatly missed if they died. They also need to know that you are willing to help them through this dark patch. Make sure this person knows that you love her, are willing to pray with & for her, listen to her without judgment & are willing to do whatever you can do to help.
If you are the one who is suicidal, please know that you are here on this Earth at this time for a reason. If you don’t know what that purpose is, ask God to show you. Also follow your passion- that is where your calling(s) lie. Although it probably doesn’t feel like it at this time, there are people who love you & would be devastated if you were no longer around. You make a difference to many people. Please remember that losing you would hurt them terribly, & you don’t want to do that.
There is a way out. God. Pour your heart out to Him- He loves you & wants to help you. Let Him pour His love out on you & comfort you. Spend time alone in His presence sharing your most intimate feelings- He will help you come out of that dark place! Remember Psalm 23:4 “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” (AMP) God is with you, even in this dark place, taking care of you! I know this may sound trite to you, but please believe me- it is very true. I’ve been suicidal many, many times in my life, so I have plenty of experience on this subject. God has been the only thing that has helped me during the darkest of times. If He helped me, He will help you too. All you need to do is ask..
So many people say that no one can make you feel a certain way, & imply that you are weak if you “allow” someone to hurt you. While saying no one can make you feel anything sounds empowering, I find it to be ridiculous, & often a form of victim blaming.
While it is certainly true in some cases, in many cases, people definitely can make you feel certain emotions. If someone you love tells you that you look beautiful, they will make you feel good. If that same someone tells you that you look horrible, they will make you feel bad. If a total stranger said the exact same things, it wouldn’t mean so much to you because you won’t care nearly as much what a stranger thinks of you as you care about what someone you love thinks of you. In fact, if a stranger said either thing, you may not even care at all.
So often when you have a narcissistic parent, other people don’t understand how, as an adult with your own life, their cruel words can hurt you. They may say you should just ignore her, stop letting her get to you, you’re letting her make you feel that way, or similar invalidating things. If it was only so easy! It’s much easier to ignore a nasty stranger than it is your own mother, the woman you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is saying these things for the sole purpose of hurting you. How can someone, especially your own mother, wanting to hurt you not affect you? You would have to have a heart of stone not to be at least a little hurt by such a thing!
I want to encourage you today to have some balance. Don’t let the ignorance, rudeness or even nastiness of some people bother you when you are able, & deal with the upset feelings when you aren’t able to disregard bad behavior directed at you. If you care even a little about another person, they absolutely can make you feel things, & that is totally normal! There is nothing wrong with you or abnormal about you for being hurt by your narcissistic mother. She is your mother- that role gives her a unique position no one else ever had or ever will have in your life, so don’t you think it’s only natural that she has the ability to hurt you or anger you when she is hateful to you??
Telling the victim of narcissistic abuse that no one, including her narcissistic mother, can make her feel a certain way to me is a type of victim blaming, which is sadly very common in today’s society.
I read something recently about how narcissists dump their inner pain & torment on others in order to attempt to relieve some of the pain they feel inside. This makes a great deal of sense when you think about it. For example, my narcissistic mother has very low self-esteem, & she has done her best to make sure I also have low self-esteem. She obviously feels a great deal of shame, so she has put that on me as well. My narcissistic mother in-law never felt good enough for her mother in-law, & from day one, she made sure I knew I was never good enough to be a part of her family.
There are so many (often very subtle) ways a person can try to put their pain on another. Did your narcissistic mother accuse you of being fat although your weight was normal & hers above average? Did your narcissistic spouse accuse you of cheating, shaming you greatly, when in fact you were faithful & he was the one sleeping around?
This trying to transfer their pain to another seems to be a pretty normal thing for narcissists to do, but that doesn’t make it right. Rather than excusing their actions, I wanted to discuss this with you today so that you know when this type of thing happens, it’s not your fault! Like many narcissistic behaviors, it isn’t even personal even though it feels like a personal attack- it’s simply the narcissist hurting & wanting to make herself feel better. You getting hurt in the process isn’t important to her, of course, so long as she feels better.
If you can keep the perspective that some abusive behaviors aren’t personal, but about the narcissist, it makes coping a bit easier. It still hurts of course, & is painful to accept it happened, but it does help some at least. Any help is better than none, right? Really grasping that what was done to you was the narcissist’s fault & not yours will help you to avoid the always painful thinking that what happened was your fault, that you made her do that terrible thing, or if you would have only done or not don *fill in the blank* then she wouldn’t have hurt you.
I urge you today to keep this post in mind when your narcissistic mother says something hurtful to you. Remember, she is trying to make you feel bad so she doesn’t have to feel bad. That is why she’s accusing you of whatever awful thing it is she’s accusing you of! You’re fine, she isn’t.
No one can go through something life altering & not change in some ways. Whether the experience is losing someone you love, a divorce, abuse or something that threatened your life, that experience will change you somehow.
While sometimes the changes aren’t positive ones, like developing PTSD or C-PTSD (which are unavoidable, unfortunately!!), sometimes the changes can be good. That can take a deliberate choice to make the changes good, but it’s worth it. Some examples are:
- Losing a loved one, which causes you to realize how suddenly life can end. You can either become terrified or you can decide to enjoy life more. Also, you can decide that it’s time to start showing those you love just how much you love & appreciate them more often.
- Going through a divorce can make you give up on love, or you can think of it as a stepping stone to find the person God meant you to be with.
- Abuse can make you bitter & afraid, or you can learn from it. You can learn how to identify abusive people, how to be compassionate with & help other victims of abuse & learn ways to heal. Also, surviving abuse gives you a different perspective than others who haven’t been abused. You can appreciate the fact that you’re strong & don’t get flustered easily over the little things.
What have you been through that has changed you? Are you trying to learn from your experiences? If not, I encourage you to do so. If you’re at a loss as to what good could come from your pain, ask God to show you. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV) Although it may not feel like it, there is some good that can be gleaned in your painful situation, & God will show it to you, gladly.
I mentioned a while back how I went through a potentially life-ending experience with carbon monoxide poisoning. Aside from the fact I survived, I wasn’t sure if any good could come of it, but it did. God showed me through that event that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which was causing me a great deal of pain & suffering. He also showed me what I needed to do to cooperate with Him to set me free of that, & I’m making progress! I also grew up with narcissistic parents, & also have narcissistic in-laws. In the last few years, I have learned a great deal about narcissism, which has enabled me to help others in similar situations. Although I’m not grateful for the painful experiences, I am grateful that God has been able to make something good from them. That is my wish for you too, Dear Reader- that you too can see something good that has come from your awful experiences & appreciate those good things.
Abandonment comes in many forms. It can come about for the newborn baby left in a dumpster, a child whose parents suddenly die in a car wreck, divorce, or death of a loved one. There is a form of abandonment that many people seldom discuss- when close friends & relatives leave you.
This type of abandonment is common after divorce, especially if you are the one who initiated it. I lost all but one friend after mine. No one saw him as the manipulative narcissist he was, so they rallied to his side, abandoning me. Abandonment also happens after surviving the death of someone you love. After her daughter died, a good friend of mine said it seemed like once the funeral was done, people thought she should be over losing her daughter, as if the funeral being over meant her grief should be over. Abandonment also can happen after experiencing a traumatic event, as some people think you should “be over it by now.”
It’s also very common for children of narcissistic parents to be abandoned repeatedly in their lives.
First, we’re abandoned in the sense of not having a real mother (&/or father). Just because a narcissist has conceived & birthed a child doesn’t make that person a parent by any means. We also may be abandoned by the other parent, usually a covert narcissist, who throws us under the bus to the overtly narcissistic parent to cover their own butts during an argument, & who fails to protect us. We’re also abandoned by anyone who sees the abuse yet fails to do anything to help us: teachers, counselors, relatives, friends or their parents. As we grow up, we tend to attract narcissists & other abusive people into our lives, who will drop us in an instant once we’ve outlived our usefulness to them. They also are often skilled at turning others against us too, so we not only lose that person, but friends as well at the same time. Then eventually we learn about narcissism & the damage it causes, & we begin to talk about it. That is when our closest friends & relatives often claim we just want attention, need to get over it, So & So had it much worse, your narcissist wasn’t so bad or seemed like a good person to them, & more before abandoning us for being too negative, living in the past, etc.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I’m guessing it sounds all too familiar.
Constant abandonment like this cuts a person to the core. It also can lead to many problems- low self-esteem, depression, anger, self-destructive habits such as addictions, & even losing your self-identity.
So how do you deal with this pain? You grieve your losses much like you grieve when someone you love dies.
Some people say there are five stages in grief, others say seven. I tend to believe more in seven..
- Denial. What happened is too shocking to accept. You can’t believe it happened.
- Guilt. You feel guilty. “Maybe if I had done *fill in the blank*, this wouldn’t have happened.
- Anger &/or bargaining with God. This is the time when you ask “Why did this happen to me? I don’t deserve this!” or, “God, if you bring him back, I’ll never do *fill in the blank* again.”
- Depression. The magnitude of what happened becomes real to you at this stage, & it hurts. Badly. This is often the longest lasting stage.
- Starting to move on. The depression starts to lift some & you begin to adjust in small ways to life after what happened.
- Moving on. You really begin healing at this stage. You read & learn about how to adjust & heal.
- Acceptance. You have accepted what happened. You start to look forward to things once again. You may never again be the person you once were, but you are moving forward.
***sometimes when grieving, you may bounce back & forth between steps a few times. This is normal***
While going through the stages of grief is never a fun process, it is a necessary one when it comes to big losses, & being abandoned, especially repeatedly, is a big loss.
While experiencing each stage, it is important to talk things out. I encourage you to pray a lot. Tell God everything you feel, & listen for any wisdom He wants to share with you. Also, if you’re like me & it helps you to see things in writing, then journal. Sometimes seeing things in black & white brings a clarity that simply talking about them doesn’t.
Always be patient, non-judgmental & gentle with yourself while experiencing the grief process. You need such things in your life during this time, & especially from yourself.
Exercise wisdom in who you share your experiences with. Many people don’t understand grief in any form, & others don’t wish to hear such “negativity”. Don’t discuss your journey with people like that- instead only share with people who are non-judgmental, compassionate & who love you unconditionally.
I know this is not an easy time for you, but you can get through this, & you will be a stronger person too. Also, you’re not alone! Many people have experienced this same pain you have, including me. If you would like to meet others, feel free to check out my facebook group & my forum, links to both are on my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Lately, I’ve been reading some about emotional neglect & criticism, & their detrimental effects, especially on children. They can cause anxiety & toxic shame, both of which are absolutely horrible to live with.
I’ve been seeing lately how much anxiety & shame I carry, & as I mentioned in this post, now I understand why I have them. When a parent doesn’t care about their child’s feelings, acts as if the child is a bother &/or is overly critical, seeds get sown in the child. The child becomes fearful. She learns early that people will hurt her with their words or actions (or both), & no one will protect her, not even her parents. She also internalizes the fact no one cares enough to protect her, & becomes deeply ashamed of who she is. After all, if her own parents don’t love her enough to care about & for her, she must be deeply flawed, unlovable, a terrible person. Or so she believes.
These dysfunctional beliefs carry into adulthood. It means she settles for dysfunctional or abusive relationships (friendships or romantic relationships), lives with extreme anxiety especially when dealing with other people, has a hard time asking for assistance, & doesn’t believe she is worthy. Worthy of what? Pretty much anything! Anything from setting healthy boundaries to taking care of her health to getting new clothes because her old ones are worn out & more.
It is a miserable way to live, & no one should have to live like this! If you recognize yourself in this post, then please read my other post I mentioned above. In it, I offer some ways I think can help you overcome toxic shame. As it diminishes, the anxiety should follow. It has for me.
I’m praying for you, Dear Reader. May God bless you, & help you to overcome the pain of toxic shame & anxiety! xoxo
I thought I would let you know what’s happening on the book front with me..
I now have two books I’m working on as I can. Unfortunately I’m still recovering from the carbon monoxide poisoning & the concussion that came with it, so writing is a challenge for me at the moment. (as if writing with C-PTSD isn’t enough of a challenge sometimes..lol) But, I’m trying to do a little as often as I can.
My one book is a fictional story I started over a year ago. I had it about halfway done when the external hard drive it was on crashed, taking my book with it. (Tears were shed, let me tell ya!) I decided to start working on it again, trying to recreate what was lost. It was inspired by the movie “Gaslight”- the movie from which the term gaslighting was coined. It takes place here in Maryland in the late 1800’s. It’s about a young widow who, after her mourning period, is caught up in a whirlwind romance with a man who in truth is only after her money. In order to have full access to it, he decides to drive his pretty young wife insane. He enlists the help of the young maid he’s having an affair with by telling her that his wife is really his sister, & he’s trying to help her show symptoms of her “illness” since she usually hides them from the doctor. She reluctantly agrees. As they are in the process of driving this woman insane, the wife & maid end up learning the truth, & decide to turn the tables on him, driving him insane instead.
My other book is going to be about recovering from narcissistic abuse. I’ve read so much about it, but there are plenty of things I haven’t read- I had to experience them & learn about them firsthand instead. For example, if you read about C-PTSD (very common with survivors or narcissistic abuse), it says many people experience nightmares. It’s often implied that the nightmares are about re-experiencing the traumatic events. I have learned that although that happens, it’s more rare, & nightmares are often things that are very upsetting yet symbolic of past trauma instead.
So anyway, these two are my current projects. I’m not sure when they’ll be released. Honestly, I don’t even feel comfortable setting a goal on that right now, not until I recover more. I’ll be sure to share when they will be released as the day comes closer though.
When you were raised by a narcissistic mother, & you finally learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the first reaction usually is relief. Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person your mother said you were, that instead it was her projecting her own issues onto you. Relief that you really aren’t the terrible person she always told you that you were. Then, other emotions kick in, such as grieving. You grieve for your lost childhood, the fact that you were so terribly abused, & the fact that your own mother deliberately hurt you to forward her own agenda.
Eventually, you also get angry over those same things.
Recently, I’ve learned that anger changes as you heal. For me, I’ve become angry at people who have hurt & abused me over the years. Many so-called friends, my narcissistic in-laws, my narcissistic ex husband, an extremely controlling ex boyfriend & even my husband for some dysfunctional behaviors he used to exhibit in our relationship. I’ve also been angry with my parents, because if they hadn’t raised me the way they had, I wouldn’t have grown into a narcissist magnet & doormat. And, if I wouldn’t have been that way, people wouldn’t have thought it was perfectly acceptable to abuse me.
After praying about it, I believe this to be a normal part of healing. As you heal, naturally your self-esteem improves. And, people with healthy self-esteem have no tolerance for being abused because they know their value. They know they don’t deserve to be treated in such a way. Plus as you heal, you begin to realize that some behaviors you once thought were normal were in fact abusive. Realizing that will make you angry.
Also, being a narcissist magnet & doormat, you’re often stuck in more than one abusive relationship at a time- I certainly was! This means you are so busy trying to survive that you don’t have time to deal with your anger properly. You’re just trying to get through each encounter with these people with your sanity in tact!
So how do you deal with this old anger?
Some people are fortunate. They are able to ask God to help them let things go & forgive, & then it’s over for them. Honestly I envy those people. I’m not so fortunate- I have to feel things to fully process them, then I can let things go. If you’re like me, read on- I’ll share some tips of what works for me below.
What helps me mostly is prayer. I talk to God about it. I also write it out in my journal if I don’t feel like talking about it. Either way, I let it all out, & He knows what I feel. He listens without judgement, no matter how ugly what I say is.
You can also talk to someone non-judgmental, such as a good friend, a close relative or a counselor. As long as you get the feelings inside, out of you, that is the main thing. Anger is a very strong emotion that demands to be heard. If you ignore it, it will come out sooner or later- it never just vanishes. Either you end up taking it out on those closest to you who have nothing to do with why you’re angry, or you get depressed (depression is often repressed anger), or you can become physically ill. Isn’t it much better to get your feelings out?
I also ask God to help me get rid of the anger. I certainly don’t want to carry it around, & He wants us to forgive our enemies since it’s beneficial for us, so I know He helps me to release that anger.
Don’t forget, too, to ask God to comfort you. This process isn’t a pleasant one- a little comfort can go a long way in helping you to get through it all.
And, don’t judge yourself for this. Anger happens, & sometimes it’s delayed for whatever reason. That is all that is happening- something normal. Don’t criticize yourself for doing something perfectly normal & understandable under the circumstances!