Tag Archives: heal
Those who are of the “But that’s your MOTHER!!! She wouldn’t hurt you!” mentality, please leave quietly now. This post is for those who are suffering through this day due to having a narcissistic mother. No doubt it will irritate you, & those for whom this post is written don’t want or need to hear any judgmental comments. Thank you.
Now that that’s out of the way….
For those of you with narcissistic mothers, I know this is one of the worst possible days of the year. For many weeks prior, the message of loving mothers is everywhere. “She’s your mother- she would do anything for you.” “She loves you more than life itself!” “Don’t forget to idolize your mother today!!” When your narcissistic mother has tried to kill you, either physically or mentally, there aren’t exactly a lot of warm feelings associated with Mother’s Day. How could there be?
Many people at least are sympathetic to our pain, even if they can’t understand it. God bless these people! Then there are the others. Those who say shaming things like, “But that’s your MOTHER!” Often these people are narcissists themselves, flying monkeys who help their narcissist abuse their victims. Others are people who have suffered abuse & refuse to acknowledge their pain. Their goal is to shut down anyone who faces their pain. Witnessing someone face their pain reminds them of their own & makes them feel cowardly for not facing theirs. Rather than make healthy choices, they opt to shut down healthy people instead.
Understanding things like this can help to take some of the pain out of their heartless comments, because it proves that the comments are about the dysfunction of the person saying these things. However, it’s still going to sting a bit, even knowing that.
Being raised by a narcissistic mother is painful. There are ways to cope, however.
I firmly believe it’s necessary to grieve. Grieve for the fact you didn’t have a good childhood. Grieve because your mother never has been or will be a loving mom. Grieve what you missed out on by your mother not being a healthy, functional mom. Grieving such things helps you to accept your situation & heal.
On Mother’s Day, if you have children, spend time with them when possible. Enjoy your family & celebrate this gift God has given you.
Don’t forget to acknowledge those wonderful women who were like mothers to you. I had a friend I called my adopted mom. She was about 20 years older than me, & a wonderful lady. Kris was nurturing, kind, loving, a natural mom & a devoted Christian. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after she died that I realized I should have celebrated her on Mother’s Day. Don’t make the same mistakes I did! If you have a wonderful mom figure in your life, wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Give her flowers or a card. Take her to lunch. Do something together to show her how much you appreciate her.
If you absolutely must deal with your narcissistic mother on Mother’s Day, before you see her, pray. Ask God to show you what you should do. He will help you to know the best ways to cope!
Don’t forget, you also have the right to set limits on your time spent with your mother. Don’t spend the entire day with her if you don’t want to. Set aside an hour or two for her & no more. If you know you’ll have trouble leaving when you want to, arrange something to do so you have to leave her at a certain time.
Take care of yourself on Mother’s Day & every day, Dear Reader. You deserve to be loved & cared for, especially by yourself. xoxo
During the course of healing from narcissistic abuse, you may want to confront your narcissistic parent. You may want to let her have it, to tell her she’s abusive & evil, to tell her although she tried, she didn’t destroy you & many other things. In your fantasy of doing this, she breaks & apologizes for all of the hurt she has caused you. She says she wants to change, & to make it up to you for all of the damage she has done.
Unfortunately this is a very unrealistic expectation.
Narcissists don’t admit to any wrong doing on their part. They often do one of three things- either blame the victim for making them do what they did, say it happened an entirely different way or deny it ever happened in the first place. As a result, often confronting the narcissist is more damaging to the victim than if they don’t confront.
Confrontation is certainly your choice. You have every right to call out an abuser on her abusive behavior. However, you need to have realistic expectations on how the situation may happen for it to be a healthy choice for you.
If you confront your narcissistic parent, will it help you to get it all out to her? Will it help you to call her out on what she has done even if she denies it or blames you? If so, then confrontation is a good option for you.
However, if you expect that your narcissistic mother will suddenly have a moment of lucidity, then accept full responsibility for her actions, genuinely repenting of what she has done, you are setting yourself up for serious disappointment. In fact, that disappointment may be devastating for you.
Probably around 10 years ago, my father went through a phase of complaining even more than usual about his & my mother’s marriage to me. I hate that! That is emotional incest & abusive! I don’t want or need to know about their marriage problems, yet both of my parents have dumped them on me my entire life. One day when I saw him alone, I finally decided enough was enough. I was tired of changing the subject to get him to stop complaining. I had to tell him that he was hurting me, & it needed to stop. So I did. I told him those words- “It hurts me when you complain to me about your marriage & about Mom. Please stop it. Find someone else to talk to.” He responded by saying, “Oh ok.. but just this one more thing…” He went on to complain about her for 45 more minutes until he left my home! (Yes, I timed it! I was curious how long it’d go on.) I ended up even more hurt than I was originally, because at this point, he knew he was hurting me yet did what hurt me anyway.
When considering confronting your narcissistic parent, please consider it long & hard. Pray about it too, & ask God to show you what you should do & if you should confront, how you should do it. I would hate to see you hurt, Dear Reader, so please do those things before you confront your narcissistic parent! xoxo
One topic that I haven’t seen a great deal of information on is anger after narcissistic abuse. It’s a pity too because most victims face a great deal of it, & rightly so!
Not long ago, as I was praying, God spoke to my heart & said that I have a lot of anger inside. He was not accusatory, simply stating a fact. He also said it’s time to face it.
I was less than thrilled with this. Like all other victims I have spoken with, anger was just one more facet of myself I ignored rather than face my mother’s ridicule or shaming for my terrible temper. It’s only in the last couple of years I’ve begun to recognize & face when I get angry, & it’s not fun! I’m still not used to it. Even so, God’s been helping me.
He showed me why this happens in victims, why so many of us stuff our anger. It isn’t only due to the ridicule & shaming from the narcissists. It’s also because in many cases, we had two narcissistic parents, & when the overt was abusive, the covert turned the situation around to him or her, & how painful it is for that parent. As children, we comfort that parent rather than face our anger regarding what was done to us.
There is also the fact that most narcissistic parents don’t give their children time to recover from one abusive incident before inflicting another. There simply isn’t time to process the anger! The victim is too busy trying to survive, so emotions get pushed aside so survival instincts can work. This becomes a habit, even into adulthood, & victims ignore their emotions without even realizing it.
Often, people don’t want to hear our stories. “It’s in the past” “Let it go” “Stop wallowing” “You need to forgive & forget!” & other callous phrases show victims it isn’t safe to talk about their experiences & emotions, so they continue ignoring their emotions.
We can’t forget the flying monkeys, either. Prior to learning about narcissism or in the very early stages of learning about it, it’s easy to buy into their nonsensical logic. “That’s your mother!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They won’t be around forever yanno!” Such gibberish can make a person feel guilty for their feelings, & resume the dysfunctional lifestyle that is so familiar.
While these situations are understandable, that doesn’t mean they need to be permanent! Dear Reader, maybe it’s your time to face your anger too!
I know facing anger is scary, especially when you haven’t done it before, but it is also necessary for your mental & physical health! Holding it in can cause all sorts of physical & mental problems such as high blood pressure, kidney problems, pains without a physical cause, depression & more. You deserve better than that, don’t you agree?
Once you decide to start facing it, pray. Let God help you through this difficult process. I found He guides me to what I need to face & only allows things in small doses. The anger isn’t overwhelming that way. I also talk to Him a lot about what I feel, which helps so much in getting it out of me.
Journaling about it is also very helpful! Seeing your story in writing can be shocking at first, but it also reminds you that yes, this happened, yes it was awful & no it was not something you deserved.
Talk to safe, non judgmental friends. They can be a gift from God! They’ll understand, support & validate you, all of which are so very important!
As you work through your anger, you may feel like suddenly you’re angry about all kinds of things that never bothered you before. I firmly believe this is normal. I believe facing the unfairness of the awful things done to you seems to make you more aware than you once were of just how many awful or even simply wrong things have been done to you. I don’t mean things like someone stealing your parking space. I mean things like how you are usually the one to compromise with your spouse. Maybe you’ve just always done it, but suddenly you’re seeing that isn’t right & your spouse could do some compromising too for a change. Just work through that anger like the rest, & have a talk with your spouse when you are able to do so calmly.
You can get through this ugly process, Dear Reader, & you will be so much better for doing so! You’ll feel freer & more peace & joy than ever. xoxo
Recently I wrote this post about the time my mother tried to kill me, & the tough time I’m having regarding this incident. I wondered something. Why now? Why this year? Every other November 28 since 1990 when it happened hasn’t been this hard. Difficult sometimes, sure but not like this. So what is going on?!
A thought crossed my mind that answered that question.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband & I went to dinner at this little local bar/restaurant we like. As we ate, someone started playing the juke box. The song “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” by the Kentucky Headhunters came on. It immediately made me think of a story I told in this post last year. The abridged version is this…
The day of my father’s funeral, I asked my Amazon Echo Dot to play music by Wham! since I wanted something light & fun, but instead it mysteriously played Waylon Jennings’ song, “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”. I just knew in my heart that God & my father wanted me to know that song is kinda how my father felt – trapped & unable to protect me from my mother. I thought about my father’s notes I’d found documenting some of the abuse my mother inflicted on me & terrible things she said about me as I listened to the song. I read them that day & it was pretty overwhelming to say the least.
Anyway… when the song played at the restaurant, immediately I felt transported back to that experience. It triggered a ton of intrusive memories of abuse & naturally a big C-PTSD flare up.
Later, I prayed about it all & asked God what was that about?! He clearly spoke to my heart & said, “This was a gift from your father. He knows you have a lot of anger inside, & rightfully so. He wants you to face it & heal. He knows you’re strong enough to do that. I agree.”
Since then, I’ve been getting very angry about things as they come to mind, & my mother’s attack on me is no exception. I never realized before that I hadn’t been overly angry about it. Why? Because I felt I had to be more concerned with how others were affected.
My father complained about my mother locking him out of the house when he left the night she attacked me. His keys were in his pocket! He could’ve let himself back in at any time!!! But that was what was wrong with the situation, not my mother trying to kill me. Years later, my father complained to me about having to fix the wall my mother threw me into. He expected me to apologize. That did NOT happen & I told him it never would. Not my fault she broke the wall with my back.
When it happened, my ex husband was upset about it, but not because I’d been hurt. It was more because it upset him that she did this, rather than her actions causing me harm, if that makes sense.
Both my father & my ex wanted me to comfort them. As a result, I did (I was only 19 & knew nothing of NPD obviously), & ignored my own anger. That anger is now at the surface after 28 years & it’s time to face it.
I’m seeing more & more how valuable anger can be. Yes, we should forgive, not be full of anger or try to get revenge on people, but at the same time, anger has its place! It is an excellent motivator for change. It is also a big part of the healing process, & should NEVER be ignored! The only way to heal from anger that I know of is to get angry. Feel it. Yell, cry, write hateful letters you never send, or whatever works for you, but feel that anger & get it out of you. Then you can release it fully.
Forgiving too easily or early is an issue, like it was with me. Once I became a Christian in 1996, I heard a lot about forgiveness. I thought I forgave my mother for her attack, but what I really did was just ignore the anger that I felt. I think many victims of narcissistic abuse do the same thing.
I believe one of the best things you can do for yourself when trying to heal from narcissistic abuse is to decide early on that you will forgive your abuser, then face your anger head on. It’s miserable to do, I know, & scary when you’ve never really felt anger before, but you have to do it. Remember that anger is from God like all of our emotions, so that alone proves it is valuable. Feeling it helps you to cope with injustices done to you & motivates you to make appropriate changes. It also helps your self esteem when you get angry about what was done to you because it’s like it shows you that you are valuable! You deserve to be treated right!
“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” ~Theodore Roosevelt
The above saying is so incredibly true when it comes to healing from abuse.
Anyone who has experienced any type of abuse knows that healing from it isn’t easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever do in your life. There will be times you want to give up & just forget everything that happened. Other times, you’ll want to curl up in your bed & never get out again because the pain is overwhelming & so depressing. Yet other times you feel like you can’t think about anything but some traumatic, horrible experiences, even though you would love to think about something, anything, else.
Awful times like this are, unfortunately, a very natural part of the healing process.
When these times come, I want to encourage you to keep pressing on. The results will be worth it when you make progress in your healing. All progress, even baby steps, is good when you’re healing from abuse, after all. Do whatever you know to do to help you heal. Or, if you don’t know what to do, then talk to God. He wants to help you, so let Him!
Whatever happens during these incredibly trying times, don’t give up, Dear Reader! I know it’s hard & painful, but don’t give up! You can & will get through these times. Be gentle & understanding with yourself. Be especially good to yourself too- do things that make you feel good. Pamper yourself. Splurge on that yummy milkshake or latte. Snuggle up in your favorite blanket or get soft, cozy new pajamas. Watch your favorite movies or tv shows. Self care is always important, but especially so during the hard times. Don’t neglect to take care of yourself! xoxo
I’m sure we’ve all been there. We try to discuss some about our traumatic situations with a narcissist only to be met with someone trying to shut us down. They clearly don’t want to hear about it & say things to invalidate your pain such as “Just get over it already,” “Lots of people were abused by their parents but you don’t hear them talking about it,” or (possibly the stupidest one yet) “But that’s your MOTHER/FATHER!!”
When this happens, it can make you feel bad in many ways. It can make you ashamed of “whining”, it can make you feel like you’re petty or overreacting to things that weren’t a big deal, or it can make you feel like a bad son/daughter or even Christian for being upset about your parents abusing you.
Dear Reader, I want to tell you today, please do NOT feel bad when someone treats you this way! The truth is, their wanting to shut you down is about them, NOT you! These people have their reasons for wanting to shut you down, They aren’t good reasons, but they also have nothing to do with you.
The person may be gaining something from supporting/enabling your narcissistic parent or partner. What that is can be anything- maybe they get money, things or even just the narcissist’s praise. If this person is also a narcissist as many flying monkeys are, that praise is extremely important to them after all. This person obviously is not willing to jeopardize losing whatever it is he or she is gaining, so it is more beneficial for them to shut you down than to listen to what you have to say.
The person also may have their own issues, & you facing yours reminds them of theirs. That can make them want to shut you down quickly, because you make them feel uncomfortable by reminding them of their similar situations.
What if a person has codependency issues? If that person is raised in an emotionally incestuous/parentalizing environment, that person is going to believe it is a child’s job to take care of & cater to their parent forever. At least until such time as they learn how unhealthy this situation is. But, if a person doesn’t realize how unhealthy it is, they think everyone should do as they do, & cater to & care for their parents no matter what. They may even think it’s loving & “Godly” to tolerate whatever abuse their parents dish out. If you’re standing up for yourself, setting boundaries or even *gasp* saying your parents are less than perfect, to this person, you are committing a terrible sin in this person’s eyes. They want to shut you down so they don’t have to hear about it. They think everyone should do as they do. That is their reality & it makes them uncomfortable if you threaten it in any way.
There are two other possibilities that God spoke to me when my father was dying in October, 2017. As I wrote about before, at the time, people continually harassed & tried to bully me into visiting my father. I mean, not only daily but often multiple times in a day. I eventually asked God why were they so cruel to me? He told me two things…
They were in denial about my father. They wanted to believe he was a good guy, & me refusing to speak to him threatened that denial. They wanted me to go to him so they could remain in denial. After all, if I went, it would be proof to them that all was fine. People in denial will do about anything to protect their delusions.
God also said to me that they don’t know me now. They remembered me as that scared of everything little kid I once was, that was also blindly obedient to my parents. By that person being strong enough to face her own issues, it makes them feel weak for not facing theirs. They wanted to push me back into being like I used to be so they didn’t have to feel weak. If the person in your situation knew you when you were being abused, they knew a different version of you. They knew the beat down victim that we all have been at some point. It’s very possible that they may want you to stay that way so they don’t have to feel badly for not dealing with their own issues.
Just remember, Dear Reader, when people invalidate you or try to shut you down, it’s not your fault. It’s not about you. It’s about them & their own issues.
Many people think that understanding your abuser is unimportant to the healing process. They say the reasons they did what they did doesn’t matter- only the fact that they hurt you matters. I disagree with this type of thinking.
When you understand what makes your abuser tick, it helps you a great deal by seeing that that person is the one with the problem, not you. You finally can see that you aren’t responsible for what they did to you. You did nothing to make that person hurt you. Nothing you did or didn’t do forced them to hurt you. Ultimately, it’s the choice of the abuser how they treat people & once you understand that your abuser made some very bad choices, it sets you free of any false guilt you carried for what you endured.
Understanding your abuser also helps you if you are still in a relationship with that person. (As I’ve said many times, not everyone is able or willing to go no contact with the narcissist in their life, & I am trying to help those people.) When you know how they think, you understand why they’re saying & doing the hurtful things they are. This means their words or actions don’t hurt as badly as they could, because you know that they aren’t personal, exactly- they are the result of the dysfunction of the abuser. It also helps you because you’ll be able to anticipate their next move. When you know them well enough to predict their actions, you can anticipate the best ways to protect yourself & set boundaries.
If you’re being abused, please consider what I’ve said. If your abuser is a narcissist, they are especially devious, so learning about narcissism is especially important. Learn what you can. Read books & websites. Most of all though, pray. Ask God to show you whatever you need to know. Also, ask Him to show you ways to cope. If you’re able to go no contact & considering it, ask Him if you should, & if so, how to go about it. God will provide you with great, helpful insight.
Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, I suddenly felt as if a ton of bricks landed on me. I have had one very hard, painful year & currently have quite a bit going on. The intensity of it all hit at once. I really felt overwhelmed for a while & couldn’t stop crying.
Eventually I did though, & realized what was happening. I hadn’t really dealt with things very well. In fact, I avoided thinking about some things, stuffing my emotions like I always used to do. Old habits die hard, & apparently that one resurrected briefly without me realizing it. I think my old habit returned because I had so much happening at once. I didn’t have time to cope with one thing when three more bad things happened.
Upon realizing all of this, I have formed a plan. I will take things one issue at a time. When I first realized I had problems stemming from my childhood, I thought I could deal with everything at once. Forgive my parents, accept the fact they were abusive, face being depressed & anxious, think positive, & all would be fine. Naive? Oh yes.. but truthfully, I didn’t realize how deep my issues went or have any grip on this emotional healing stuff. Now I know better, & I have learned that a lot of times, it’s best to face one issue at a time, as it arises.
What I mean is this…
As an example from my life, part of my issue is the fact that when my father was dying, so called “family” came out of the woodwork to tell me what I needed to do regarding my parents,what a horrible person I was for not obeying them or “forgiving & forgetting” & not “honoring” my parents. Mind you, this is on top of the death of my father. Instead of lumping this all into one thing to deal with, I’m dissecting it, & dealing with each issue as I am able. Here are the issues:
- My father died.
- I was attacked by many people at that time over a few months, but in particular my father’s final month of life.
- Some people were strangers, so dealing with their nonsense isn’t too hard. I don’t know them so they don’t mean anything to me.
- Others were family & those relatives fall into 2 categories:
- Family I once had been close to & felt betrayed they treated me this way.
- Other family I never was close to so the fact they attacked me was a big shock in addition to the pain of the things they said & did.
I think it’s healthier to deal with things this way because the events of that time are very distinct & complex, not to mention overwhelming to face all at once. Even just the one part with family is difficult because there were two very different dynamics at play. My relationships with these people were very different, so naturally that means I must deal with the situations differently. Plus, doing this also gives me smaller things to cope with rather than trying to tackle one huge issue. Smaller bits will be easier to cope with, which is especially important since I have C-PTSD. Having the disorder means my brain is broken. I have to treat myself gentler than a person without C-PTSD treats themselves.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, Dear Reader, I’m sorry. It happens sometimes & it’s rough, I know. Just try to remember to approach the situation in small doses, especially if you too have C-PTSD. Break it down into manageable parts, & deal with those however works best for you rather than tackling the big picture all at once. The little things will add up to form the big picture. Also remember, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (KJV) Sometimes when you’re facing your pain, it feels like you are all alone. People don’t understand, & may avoid or even abandon you during your darkest hours. God isn’t that way though. He loves you & is with you no matter how bad things may be. xoxo
Your body remembers everything that you’ve experienced, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, & stores such memories on a cellular level. Your brain may or may not remember things, but your body does. This is why certain smells, sounds, tastes, feelings or sights bring specific feelings to mind.
Body memories are especially common with victims of sexual assault. Even if the assault happened when the victim was too young to recall details, smelling the same cologne the attacker wore, or hearing music that was playing in the background during the assault can trigger incredible anxiety in the victim, even a panic attack. The victim’s mind may not recall the assault, but the body remembers every detail.
Body memories aren’t only linked to sexual assault, however. They also happen with victims of other types of abuse, including narcissistic abuse.
Often, narcissistic abuse is a series of constant traumatic events. I think of it much like a machine gun of abuse- one trauma immediately follows another then another & yet another in rapid succession. You don’t have time to heal from one trauma when another five are thrown your way. It may be too much to cope with, so your mind forgets some of the abuse as you try to survive the constant trauma. However, your body remembers it all. That is why certain things trigger anxiety, fear, anger, etc. in you for no obvious reason. It is your body’s way of trying to protect you from things like that happening again.
A couple of years ago, I went to my old high school with a friend. They were having a craft show & we thought it’d be fun to check it out since we both love crafts & both attended that school. From the moment we set foot on the campus, I became anxious & even panicky. I had trouble holding back the tears until we left. It turned into a miserable experience for me. I had no idea exactly why I was in such a state then. Since, I have remembered a few instances of abuse at the hands of my mother on the property of that school though, which apparently my body remembered even though my mind didn’t at the time.
When things like this happens, you need to remember you aren’t crazy! Your body is remembering something pretty terrible. There is pain that you need to acknowledge. Some people suggest talking out loud to yourself. Remind your body that what happened won’t happen again, & that you survived. You’re OK now.
I think prayer is a better idea, however. Asking God to help you to cope. Or, maybe a combination of prayer & talking to your body. Whatever works for you is what matters. Body memories can be a very unpleasant thing to deal with, but at least they can help offer some insight into areas where you need healing.
People say, “Just let it go!” all the time to those who have been through bad experiences or abuse, but what do they really mean? I think many people who say that don’t say it to try to help you. Instead, I think they really mean, “Stop talking about it. It makes me uncomfortable!”
Unfortunately, this statement can make a person feel ashamed of themselves for being unable to “just let it go.” They feel like something is wrong with them, or maybe they’re a bad Christian when the truth is, they’re simply human.
The fact is, most people just can’t “let go” of pain. It’s not that we want to hold onto it at all- we have no choice in the matter. It’s kind of like a splinter. You can’t wish it away or let it go- you actually need to deal with it to get rid of it.
If you really want to let something go, once & for all, it takes work. You need to feel the anger, feel the hurt & get it out of you. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you weren’t allowed to show your emotions as a child, but it does get easier in time.
When it happens with me, I make time to write in my journal. Writing is often easier than saying things out loud for me, so although often prayer is my first place to start, journaling is in this particular situation. I let it all out- name calling, bad language & all. Sometimes I’ll write as though I’m speaking to the person, sometimes I just vent about them & what they did. I just follow whatever feels right, & let it all out. I pray after, & ask God to help me. For many things, this helps to purge me of the anger & hurt completely. For other things, I have to repeat it a few times. I’ve learned not to judge it- abuse does bad things, & everyone heals differently.
Maybe what I do will help you as well. It’s worth a try anyway, right? If you’re sure it won’t, then do whatever does work for you. Or, ask God to show you what you need to do. Healing is a very individual thing, & there’s nothing wrong with you if something other than what I do helps.
Remember, Dear Reader, if you can’t “just let it go”, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s OK! It’s perfectly normal to have to feel things to heal.
I am obsessed with psychology. I wonder why people do the things they do, what makes them tick. I’m even hooked on the ID Channel & several of the true crime shows on that channel.
When a friend of mine told me about the MBTI test a couple of years ago, I was intrigued. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator test is based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. I took the test & when I read my results was shocked. For the first time in my life, I realized I’m not the freak many people have said I am! In fact, I’m quite typical of my personality type. My type just happens not to be overly common.
Since that time, I’ve read a lot about my type & my husband’s as well. It’s helped me so much to understand both of us better. And, it helped me to understand the best ways to help myself heal from the narcissistic abuse I’ve experienced. My type is pretty much even logical & emotional. One thing that helps me is to understand the motivation behind the abuse. I’ve come to understand why my parents are/were narcissists, why my father didn’t protect me from my mother’s constant abuse & that being a narcissist means everything they do is motivated by narcissistic supply. Knowing all of that has helped me to understand completely that none of the abuse was my fault. Realizing everything they do is motivated by gaining narcissistic supply also helped me when I was in relationship with my parents to be prepared for what they might do. I could see things coming a mile away a lot of times so I wasn’t surprised when they happened. I also figured out what I think my parents’ types were, which helped me to understand them better. Granted most of our problems were due to their narcissism, but realizing that their personality types & mine were pretty much my polar opposite sure didn’t help the situation! We just don’t really understand each other because our personalities are naturally very different.
Learning about your personality type can benefit you too, Dear Reader. The more you understand yourself, the better you’ll be at finding ways to help you to heal. It also helps you not to take the cruel criticisms to heart that your narcissistic parent said. My mother in particular always made me feel like something was very wrong with me or I was crazy, so learning that I’m simply typical of my type was very freeing!
In case you’re interested, this is the test I took: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
If you decide to take the test, then learn all you can about your personality type. I find this site to be quite useful: http://personalitygrowth.com
There is one last link I want to share with you. This one is about the unhealthy side of each personality type. I found this to be beneficial because it shows you what behavior you are prone to if you’re dysfunctional. https://www.psychologyjunkie.com/2017/07/31/evil-versions-every-myers-briggs-personality-type/
So many survivors of narcissistic abuse I’ve spoken with take on so much blame for being abused. They say things like, “I should’ve known he was this way when we first met…” or, “I was a difficult child.. my mother had to be hard on me.”
This makes me sad. People need to have a balanced view of blame rather than taking on too much.
If you too grew up with a narcissistic parent or two, there is a great deal of blame to be laid on your parent(s). If you have C-PTSD, anxiety or depression issues, struggle with self-harm or eating disorders, chances are very good the root of those problems lies with enduring narcissistic abuse as a child. Nothing you did could create these problems for yourself. It is your responsibility to deal with those problems, but not for having the problems.
If your narcissistic mother shamed you, told you that you were a mistake, ignored you or was abusive instead of disciplining you, the fault lies with her. No matter what a child does, a child cannot make her parent treat her in such cruel ways. No bad behavior is a valid reason to abuse a child!
Having trouble relating to other people after being raised by a narcissist or two is completely normal. The blame for that can be traced back to your narcissistic parent(s). However, the responsibility for making changes to have healthier relationships is on you.
Not having a healthy balance in such areas & accepting blame for these things can lead to nothing but misery. False guilt, shame, depression, anxiety & more can result.
Do you place blame where it belongs or do you take on too much blame, Dear Reader? I urge you to take a long, hard, honest look at your situation. Ask God to help you identify areas where you’re in need of balance. He will!
I realize that saying your narcissistic mother is to blame for your problems as an adult can trigger unkind, even cruel, comments from others who don’t understand narcissistic abuse. That being said, I urge you also to consider carefully who you discuss this with. Aim for safe people- people who have been through similar situations, who are non-judgmental & have your best interest at heart. If you’re unsure if anyone in your life currently fits that description, then check online. There are many online support groups. (I have a Facebook group that is full of love & support. You’re welcome to check it out if you like.) Talking about it can help you a great deal, when you talk with the right people.
Denial is a common survival tool of victims of all types of abuse. Pretending things didn’t happen, weren’t that bad or there was a good reason your abuser acted as she did are all forms of denial.
Denial may help you to cope for a while, but it shouldn’t be a permanent solution. It can be very unhealthy.
It enables you to avoid facing the damage done & the pain you feel. Although that may feel good for a short time, in the long run, it can hurt your physical & mental health. Stifling emotions can create anxiety, depression, headaches, body aches with no physical cause, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes & more.
Denial may get you through a bad situation as it’s happening, but otherwise, it has no benefits. I know facing the ugly truth can be hard, but I want to encourage you, Dear Reader, to face it. As hard as it may be, it’s actually much easier in the long run than denial is.
Facing the truth allows you to heal. When you no longer deny the facts, you can see the situation for what it is, then deal with it & heal from the damage.
Staying in denial often also means staying in an abusive situation. Many people think they don’t have a right to be upset about their situation because their narcissistic parent wasn’t as bad as someone else’s, or at least their abusive husband didn’t beat them like their friend’s did, so they continue to have a close relationship with their abuser. There is no logic at all in this! Abuse is abuse, period! It’s all bad! Degrees of abuse don’t matter. What does matter is no one should tolerate being abused!
When you know you need to start facing certain things, it’s time to get into prayer. Ask God to help you. Ask Him for strength & courage. Ask Him to enable you to face whatever you need to, & only to allow you to face what you are able to at any given time. You will be glad you did this as you begin to face ugly truths. And, you’ll be glad you started facing those truths once you realize how much healthier you’ve become!
John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (KJV)
We all know that light conquers darkness. If you were in a pitch dark room & lit a match, that tiny match would dispel a surprising amount of darkness.
Jesus referred to Himself in the above Scripture as the light of the world for a reason. Light also gives life- look at plants, as an example. Without light, they won’t survive. Like light, Jesus gives life- eternal life. If you follow Him, He will make clear what path to take in your life. He also can show you things you might not have noticed before. (If it wasn’t for Him, I don’t know if I’d know anything about narcissism.)
In your journey of healing from narcissistic abuse, have you asked the Lord to help you? He truly wants to! And, although even He can’t make it easy, He can help to make it less painful & difficult. I can tell you from my own experience, I wouldn’t be where I am now without His help. He’s shown me what I needed to do & how to do things. He’s answered my questions, let me rant when I was angry or hurting & comforted me when no one else could.
If you haven’t asked Jesus for help in your healing journey, maybe now is the time for you to do that. He wants to help, so let Him! Ask Him to show you what you need to do & how you need to do it. Ask Him for comfort, wisdom, strength, courage & anything else you need. He will be more than glad to help, so why not let Him?
Narcissists love to put their issues on other people rather than face them. Shame is a big one- any shame a narcissistic parent feels is going to be thrust upon their child, for example.
After a lifetime of not even realizing I was carrying around my mother’s shame, it finally hit me in 2015. As I was recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, I felt horrible for asking my husband to help me in any way. I’d nearly died for pity’s sake! Carbon monoxide poisoning has a high fatality rate & also has a very long recovery time (you do the bulk of your healing 9-12 months after poisoning) during which chances are very good you won’t heal completely. Yet in spite of all of this, I felt horrible for asking my husband for any help. After praying about it, God showed me this was all about shame. It’s very common for those abused as children to experience toxic shame, & I was no exception.
One way God showed me to deal with this shame is to imagine myself holding a big box containing shame, handing it off to my mother while telling her “I refuse to carry this for you a moment longer”, then walking away.
It sounds silly, but this was very helpful for me. Even though I can’t physically give my mother back her shame that she’s put on me, by imagining returning it to her, at least I was able to stop carrying it somehow. It’d be the same as a real scenario if she wouldn’t hold the box. If I placed it at her feet, I wouldn’t be carrying it any longer. What she would do at that point would have no effect on that fact.
I can’t say I am 100% cured of this toxic shame, but it drastically improved my problem. I no longer feel incredibly guilty about writing about my experiences or asking my husband for things (either stuff or help), & these used to be very big issues for me. I still fight the guilt with my husband sometimes, but that’s better than every single time.
Have you ever tried something like this, Dear Reader? It doesn’t have to be shame.. it can be anything your narcissistic parent put on you- self-hatred, eating disorders, believing you’re ugly or stupid. Obviously I can’t guarantee it’ll cure you immediately, but I do believe it’d help you as it helped me. It’s worth a try, right?
Triggers are things that remind you of something else. Sometimes, they can be good such as the sound of whipped cream being sprayed from that can reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who loved it & would do a little dance for a spray of whipped cream.
Often though, when you come from an abusive past, triggers aren’t so nice. Certain scents, sights, sounds or situations can take you right back to a traumatic event, making you feel like that scared child you once were.
Triggers are easy to understand when they are obvious. The scent of a perfume that your abusive mother wore when you were a child or a cruel nickname that your father called you are obvious. Not all triggers are so obvious though.
Some triggers appear to have absolutely nothing to do with why you feel the way you do. Those triggers are what we’re going to talk about today.
Some triggers on the surface seem innocuous, yet you end up feeling just as bad as you did as a child in a traumatic situation. Talking to someone who shows no empathy may enrage you because it makes you feel like it did when you were growing up with your narcissistic parent, for example.
When this happens, it can be confusing. Having a strong reaction to something that isn’t really a big deal can make you wonder about your sanity. It’s a horrible feeling, but it can be dealt with.
As soon as you can, go somewhere where you can be alone & pray. Ask God to show you what is going on, what’s the root of this feeling? He will show you, & from there, you can begin to heal. It may be something that you thought was small, but apparently it wasn’t since it’s still causing you problems. Or, it may be a big, ongoing issue. Either way, once you know what the problem is, then ask Him to help you to heal & show you what you need to do in order to heal. Write your experiences & feelings in a journal. Talk with a therapist or trusted friend. Work on this however helps you, & the trigger will lose its power.
When you begin talking to people about experiences with narcissistic abuse, it can be tempting to compare your experiences. Especially in online groups, it’s very easy to see people in different levels of healing. It can be discouraging seeing people who are obviously in a better place than you.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader. Stop comparing your healing with that of other people! Nothing good comes from comparison! It only makes you feel badly about yourself!
Instead, remember- people are very different. We all respond to things differently, we feel things differently & we process things differently. Even if you & another person have very similar experiences with narcissistic abuse, those differences mean your healing will be unique to each of you.
One area in particular I struggled with is anger. I think many people struggle in this area. I used to feel badly because I’d see so many others who weren’t angry. Yet, there I was, livid every time I thought of certain things my parents had done. Others had experienced similar situations, yet obviously weren’t as angry as I was. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. I went to God with my concerns, & He shared some interesting things with me.
If you weren’t allowed to show anger as a kid, as is the case with most narcissistic parents, you’re going to be very angry as an adult. The anger built up over the years because you had no way to release it. Some children of narcissistic parents are fortunate enough to find outlets for their anger, so they don’t feel as angry as adults. I was never allowed to show anger, not even simple frustration, as a child. I was shamed greatly if I got angry, so I learned to avoid showing anger at all costs. It’s only natural that I have a bigger problem with anger than someone who found outlets for their anger as a child.
There are also folks who continue to hold in their anger. They deny feeling it, because they are still convinced that anger is a terrible thing that should be avoided at all costs. These people may even be shaming towards others who feel anger, although unintentionally. For example, they often try to be extremely positive in order to deny their anger, which makes someone who is angry feel bad for not doing the same, even though being too positive isn’t mentally healthy. (Being realistic is much healthier)
I hope you see that comparing your healing journey to that of other people is a complete waste of time. There is truly no good that can come of it! Walk your individual path proudly. God has a unique plan just for you! xoxo
For years, one thing that has bothered me about the relationship with not only my narcissistic mother, but also narcissistic grandmother & narcissistic mother in-law is the waste of it all. I was pretty much nothing but a bother to my narcissistic mother. When I was one of the caregivers for my narcissistic grandmother, she ordered me around like the hired help & was constantly hateful & cruel to me. We should’ve been close since I spent so much time with her, but instead I was nothing but a servant to her. As for the mother in-law, she hated me since we met, never giving me a chance. I’m just the woman who stole her son.
This is so sad to me. It seems like nothing but waste. Narcissism stole any chance at me having a decent, at the very least civil, relationship with any one of these women. On top of the damage it causes, such as stealing joy & destroying self-esteem, narcissism also steals relationships.
It’s also sad to me to think about what these narcissists in my life missed out on. Admittedly, I still have issues with self-esteem, but even so, I realize I’m not a bad person. I have a good (albeit warped) sense of humor. I like to help people. These people have missed out on that, & it’s a shame for them.
Have you ever thought about that? About what your narcissistic mother has missed out on by treating you the way she has?
It’s common I think to be so focused on what we, the victims, missed out on, but I think contemplating what they, the abusers, missed out on too can be helpful. It helps you to realize you aren’t unworthy, as you were made to believe.
If you really think about it, your narcissistic mother missed out on a lot. You have many great qualities, & it is her loss not to be able to enjoy those. What good qualities do you have? Are you loyal? Compassionate? Fun? Helpful? She also missed out on so many of those lovely mother/daughter moments, such as picking out a prom dress, planning your wedding, or helping you pick out paint colors for your first home. So many mothers & daughters are very close friends- she missed out on your lovely friendship. You aren’t the only one who missed out on those- they would’ve been a blessing to her as well. She missed out on watching you grow & appreciating you in each phase of your life.
Your narcissistic mother has missed out on so much with you. You are truly a gem, & it’s her loss that she’s been so involved with her narcissism that she missed out on that. Do you know that?
If you’ve never thought like this before, I’d like to encourage you to think about it. What has your narcissistic mother missed out on with you? Think about the wonderful qualities you bring to a relationship. When you do, you’ll see that your mother has lost a special gift in you. You’ll also see that just maybe, you aren’t as terrible as she always tried to make you believe.
Many people truly have no grasp how incredibly difficult the process of healing from abuse is. As a result, they often provide some unasked for & useless advice.
- “Just get over it.”
- “Just let it go.”
- “That happened a long time ago. You need to get over it already!”
- “Don’t think about it.”
- “Think happy thoughts.”
These messages all say the same thing- “Don’t talk about it. Sweep it under the rug & pretend it didn’t happen.” What a horrific message to give to someone who is suffering!!
Never allow this awful unasked for advice to get inside you! If you follow it, your pain will manifest in awful ways such as depression, nightmares, high blood pressure, digestive issues, diabetes & more. Emotions demand to be heard. If not given a healthy way to process, they will find other ways to come out.
People don’t realize that victims *do* need to think about it. Want to? No. Need to? Yes. Only when you face things can you heal. You need to remember what happened & feel all of the emotions connected to it- anger, hurt, etc.- before you can release them & be healed. This process often involves talking about it. A lot. There is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or wallowing in the past. It means you’re processing the event so you can move on.
Many times, victims have PTSD or C-PTSD. Intrusive thoughts come with the disorders. This means that thoughts go through your mind whether or not you want them to. Sometimes it’s impossible to “think happy thoughts.” There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, things just suck! It’s OK to admit that. A while back, God showed me that at times, being positive isn’t always a good thing. You can read about that at this link for more details. Are You Too Positive Or Too Negative?
Narcissistic abuse is especially complicated & insidious. It permeates every part of you. It takes a long time to heal from it because of its complexities. There is nothing wrong with you for taking a while to heal. I haven’t spoken with one victim who was able to fully recover, let alone do so quickly. I am in my 40’s & regularly still deal with things that happened to me in my childhood.
The next time someone offers you useless, unasked for advice such as “just get over it”, do your best to ignore it. Chalk it up to someone being ignorant of the complex road that is healing from abuse.
So many people I talk to that have survived narcissistic abuse tell the same story about how people in their lives responded to them discussing the abuse. They were met with invalidation (“It couldn’t have been that bad!” “Other people had it way worse than you did.”), scolding (“How can you say those things about your own mother?!”), disbelief or being accused of being unforgiving or needing to “get over it”.
Especially in the early days of awareness of narcissism & learning what you went through really is abuse- you aren’t crazy or to blame like you were told- this sort of behavior is devastating. The more you heal, the better you can handle it, but I don’t think it ever stops hurting at least some to be met with such indifference to your pain. It can leave you bitter & angry if you allow it to.
In all fairness, you certainly have a right to be angry at people who say such things! It’s heartless & hurtful! So get angry! Get it out of you so you can forgive. You don’t deserve to live with that anger inside of you, stealing your joy! Whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or asks for it is irrelevant. You deserve better than carrying around anger inside of you!
That being said, there are other ways to cope.
Journalling is a wonderful thing. It is a completely safe way to get your feelings out, especially if you use a password protected journalling website. This will help you to let go of all the negative feelings.
Focus on the positive. Just because one person mistreated you doesn’t mean everyone will. Appreciate your good friends & let them know you appreciate them! What other good things are in your life? Maybe start a gratitude journal- daily, write down at least 2 things you’re grateful for.
Accept the fact that not everyone will understand what you’ve been through. In all honesty, narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it. (Even if you’ve been through it, it’s hard to grasp!) And sadly, some people have no desire to even try. With people like this, it’s just smart not to discuss the topic of narcissism. They won’t be convinced of anything you say because they lack the desire to understand. When that wall is up, it stays up, & nothing you say can make a difference. Stick to more neutral topics with this person, & if you need to discuss something you’ve been through, then seek out someone who understands.
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!
Something I’ve noticed about survivors of narcissistic abuse is many become very sensitive. The smallest thing can hurt or devastate them. It’s quite understandable, really. After being verbally abused so much, they probably have reached their limit, & just can’t tolerate any more insults, invalidation, etc.
Unfortunately, they are often also very sad people, feeling abused or mistreated when no such thing was intended.
Does this describe you? If so, then I urge you to consider making a change!
Try to remember to respond rather than react. What I mean is stop for a moment before feeling or saying anything. Think- did this person say something hurtful to you just after losing a loved one? Being fired? Stubbing their toe on the coffee table? Then they aren’t trying to hurt you out of maliciousness- they’re in a bad mood. It’s nothing personal! Remind yourself it’s nothing personal- the person is just in a bad mood & you just happened to be there. If you aren’t sure, then ask God to tell you the truth. Is it you or is the other person having a bad day?
On the other hand, if the person is deliberately trying to hurt you & you know this, then you know what? It’s also not personal. This person has issues & for whatever reason, finds you a good victim. You haven’t done anything to deserve this- the other person simply has problems. I’ve reminded myself of this with my narcissistic mother repeatedly. She got mad at me when a friend of hers complemented me once, & spent the rest of our time together making me miserable. It hurt, but I reminded myself this is how she is! She is so insecure, she can’t handle anyone in her presence getting any positive attention from anyone, so she will do her best to ruin the positive attention by being demeaning & hateful.
I know this can be hard to do with narcissists, but it does get easier in time. The more you learn about NPD, the more you understand that they have big problems, & you are NOT one of them! I’m speaking from experience- this really is true! I feel like thanks to realizing my mother has problems, I’m a narcissistic abuse navy seal by now. It takes quite a bit to phase me anymore. After my mother spending hours & hours screaming at me, telling me what a horrible person I am, really, what else is there?! A stranger flipping me off in traffic isn’t going to upset me for more than a moment. Someone obviously hating me & trying to bully me? Yea, whatever…. I’ve dealt with bigger & badder & survived.
Most of all, keep a good relationship with God as your top priority. Know you can go to Him anytime, asking for help. In fact, ask Him other ways to help you not to take things so personally.
If you’re over sensitive, then there isn’t something wrong with you. It’s just proof you’ve been through way too much pain. But, you deserve better than going through life hurt all of the time just because someone acted insensitively to you! Please, for your own sake, Dear Reader, try to put into practice what I’ve mentioned here. Your life can be much happier for it!
Why is it when someone has either set boundaries in or ended an abusive relationship, people try to convince that person to “forgive & forget” or “be the bigger person” & fix the relationship? Have you noticed how commonplace this is? Think about it…
If a daughter in-law is constantly belittled by her mother in-law, she is told to be the bigger person. Let it go. She is only trying to help by criticizing everything about you!
If your abusive parents have been out of your life for some time, then they become ill or worse are dying, chances are someone is going to tell you that you need to make things right with your parents. You need to be there for them & take care of them! You owe your parents that much!
A wife whose husband has beaten or raped her is told to forgive him since he was drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill!
This is a major pet peeve of mine. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to expect an innocent victim to repair an abusive relationship. Why don’t people tell abusers to fix the relationship instead? Why not tell them to stop abusing?!
I think some people simply don’t want to face the fact that there is a lot of ugliness in the world. They prefer to think everything is unicorns & rainbows, when nothing could be further from the truth. Anything that interrupts their ignorance is met with denial or even hostility.
Some people, flying monkeys in particular, don’t want to believe that a person could be so bad. Maybe they know the abuser & have seen the “good person” show that he or she puts on. They would prefer to believe that facade is the real person, not the vicious, devious, abusive monster who has hurt you.
When this happens to you (& sadly it will at some point), it’s going to hurt. It’s going to make you angry. This is only natural since this type of thing is triggering & painful. You can cope, however.
If you see the conversation you’re in is taking this turn, then end it. Change the subject. Say you won’t discuss this topic with this person. Walk away if you must or hang up the phone.
Don’t buy into that “you need to be the bigger person” nonsense. You didn’t cause the damage, you don’t need to fix the damage. Fix only what you broke & apologize if you hurt people. Take responsibility for things you have done wrong only.
And really.. how is it a good thing to stay in an abusive relationship anyway?! Not only does that take a toll on your physical & mental health, but it encourages the abusive person to be abusive! While no one can make an abuser become a kind, Godly person, setting boundaries sets the stage for that person to change their abusive behavior. That is truly loving, Godly behavior! Tolerating abuse from anyone is NOT!
Rather than listening to that drivel about being the bigger person, do what you know God wants you to do. Stick to your boundaries. Don’t be bullied or manipulated into allowing an abusive person back into your life. Surround yourself with good, loving, Godly people who understand, love & support you.
There are conflicting messages for victims of abuse. Some people encourage victims to speak out. Help raise awareness! Confronting your abuser will be good for you! Others encourage victims to keep quiet. Stop dredging up the past. Forgive & forget.
Rather than stating what I think victims should do, I would like to encourage you to decide what is right for yourself. After all, being vocal about being abused can be very challenging. Being vocal about it means you’re reliving some of the most painful experiences of your life. It also means some will criticize you harshly. You may lose friends & family who side with your abuser. Is this something you can deal with?
There are pros & cons for speaking out as well as staying quiet. You need to consider them seriously before making any decisions.
Silence isn’t always good, as it can encourage an abuser to continue abusing. Knowing the victim won’t tell anyone what is happening gives the abuser free reign to do as she/he pleases without fear of consequences. It also means things can stay pretty much the same for the victim in that her friends & family will continue treating her as they always have. Silence allows the victim to continue in the familiar place that she is accustomed to. This can be a good thing, to a degree, especially if she does not feel strong enough to confront her abuser or even discuss what has happened, & if this is only a temporary place.
Telling her story can empower the victim. She takes back the power that her abuser stole by forcing her to stay silent. She realizes it’s her story & she can do as she sees fit with it. She can help & inspire others who have been through similar circumstances if she opts to go public with her story (such as blogging about it, for example). By speaking openly about what happened, she also can give her family the opportunity to grow & to heal. However, telling also means that she can be setting herself up for criticism, even from those closest to her. Those she believed were on her side may turn against her. They may refuse to believe her, tell others she’s lying, or invalidate her pain if she speaks to them about the situation. And, if she opts to confront her abuser, that can open up a new world of pain. Abusers hate confrontation, especially narcissistic abusers. The abuser may turn the entire situation around, blaming the victim for what happened or denying they did anything wrong. Often, the one telling the truth is demonized by abusers as well as those who may have known about the abuse but did nothing. Many people can’t live with what they have done, so they vilify the victim.
What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?
Before you answer that question, I urge you to pray. Let God give you advice on which way to go, & how to go about it. Also, allow Him to give you the strength you need, because either way is very challenging. You will need His strength. And remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.” (GNT) God will empower you to do anything you need to do!
Have you ever considered the similarities of cults & narcissistic families? There are quite a few similarities…
- Leaders demand unquestioning, blind devotion, no matter what.
- Leaders demand how those under them should act, think & feel.
- The leader is always right, period.
- Questioning leaders is discouraged, & often severely punished.
- Isolation is extremely important. Relationships with those not in the group is discouraged, often the leader demands others to sever ties in those relationships.
- Life outside of the group is discouraged.
- Leaving is looked at as a betrayal, & the person leaving is often spoken badly about.
- Mind games/gaslighting are the norm.
- Independent thinking is not allowed. The leader has done all the thinking necessary so those under him need only to submit to his will.
Don’t these characteristics of cults sound also like the characteristics of narcissistic families?
The above reasons are precisely why it is so hard to heal from narcissistic abuse. Living in this cult type environment is detrimental to your mental health! People who have escaped both cults & narcissistic families work on their healing for many years, often their entire lives.
When people say you should “just cut ties” or “just leave”, the above reasons are exactly why it is so hard. Not only are they talking about abandoning your family, but thanks to the cult mentality, leaving them is even harder than one might think. You feel as if you’re betraying your family, as if you’re committing some unpardonable sin by thinking of your own mental & physical health. You also may be afraid of the backlash because they will send out a smear campaign to destroy your reputation. Not to mention, the unknown can be scary! All you know is their warped mentality & way of life. Even though it’s awful, it’s familiar, & there is a degree of comfort in what is familiar. Things have to be really, really bad to take that leap of faith by leaving the familiar & treading into the unknown.
If you were raised in a narcissistic family, please understand that the damage done is incredibly severe. Never get mad at yourself for taking too long to heal, or having so many issues. Narcissistic abuse is incredibly insidious & pervasive. It’s only normal to have a lot of problems after being raised in such an environment, even well into adulthood.
If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you know about nightmares. You have them so often, they aren’t a surprise. They’re just a way of life. Yet, little is mentioned about the nightmares.
I’d always had frequent nightmares, but it got much worse in 2012 which is when I realized I had C-PTSD. I began having several almost every night, which of course led to a lot of fatigue. The nightmares also became even more vivid than usual, which is saying something since I’ve always had very vivid dreams. They became so vivid in fact, that often I would wake up feeling as if I’d just done whatever I did in the dream. If I dreamed I ran a marathon, for example, I woke up physically tired & achy.
After learning about C-PTSD, I assumed the nightmares would be about reliving traumatic events, which does happen, but only rarely. Most of my nightmares are about strange things- being an adult yet having to repeat high school & relying on my mother to take me rather than driving my own car; while repeating high school as an adult, being unable to find or remember the combination to my locker; my car being stolen &/or totaled; my husband mocking me when I was obviously upset or rejecting me somehow; or someone letting my cats outside & they ran away. Strange stuff! I finally asked God about it after waking up for yet one more bizarre nightmare. What He shared made a lot of sense & I think it will if you too suffer with odd nightmares like I do.
The brain constantly processes information, whether the information is good, bad or indifferent. Our dreams are often a result of that processing, because the brain doesn’t take breaks. Sometimes we don’t remember dreams because they weren’t important- the brain simply processed something unimportant. Other times, it tries to make sense of horrible things that have happened, which is where nightmares come into it. Sometimes the brain relives those awful, traumatic events in an attempt to understand it, but not always. Sometimes nightmares look as if they have nothing to do with traumatic events on the surface, yet they actually have a lot to do with them.
While the circumstances of the dreams may be different, the emotions they stir up feel exactly like some trauma you have experienced. My nightmare of my car being stolen & totaled? It caused a huge amount of anxiety & fear, & I felt completely helpless. Eventually I realized it triggered the exact same emotions of my seventeenth birthday. That day, my mother took my gifts from my then boyfriend/now ex husband & destroyed them on the way home from school. She blamed me for making her do that & making her car messy. The event caused me so much anxiety (knowing I’d have to tell my ex what happened to his gifts), fear (wondering what she was going to do next) & I felt helpless (she destroyed the gifts as I was picking up her Avon order & gone for maybe 3 minutes- I couldn’t have known what she was going to do or stop her from doing it)
When these nightmares happen, the good news is that they have a purpose. They show you that there is an area in which you need more healing. It can be hard to figure out, so I highly recommend asking God about it. He loves you & wants to help you, so let Him! Ask Him what did that dream mean? If you like, you also can look up symbols on a dream dictionary website- I’ve done this. I write down everything I can from my dream- items, colors, feelings- then look up what each means & write it down beside each item. Sometimes things make more sense to me when I see them in writing so that can be a helpful tool.
Once you realize what the dream was trying to make sense of, you can heal. Work on coping with the traumatic event however works for you- pray, talk to a therapist, talk to a close friend, write in your diary. What you do doesn’t matter, so long as it works for you.
I know nightmares are a very difficult part of C-PTSD & PTSD, but they are also unavoidable. Why not make them work in your favor by learning what they’re trying to help you cope with? Once you do, the nightmares often go away or at the very least don’t happen nearly as often. I haven’t had a dream about my car being stolen or totaled in a couple of years. 🙂
On Mother’s Day, I came across a very good article called “A Mother’s Day Card For The Disposable Child.” One sentence in particular hit home with me.. “She walked away from me and shamed me for asking for a healthier way of relating. If I wanted to go back to the old way, I suspect she’d accept me as her daughter again.” Reading this sentence, I thought about my parents & that is exactly our situation.
As usual when reminded of something so dysfunctional about my parents, it really made me sad. I knew I needed to deal with this rather than bury it, but I just wanted to finish the article first. As I scrolled down I read the letter the author wrote to her mother, but never sent. Upon reading this, what I needed to do clicked in my mind. I needed to write a letter to each of my parents, but never send them.
Have you ever done this, Dear Reader? Have you ever written out what you would love to say to your parents if it was completely safe to do so? If not, I urge you to do this.
Writing things out can be a very therapeutic experience. There is something validating about seeing things in writing rather than simply remembering them. It makes experiences seem more real.
Also, by writing things out, you are in charge of who sees what you write. You can hide it so no one but you & God know about it (I like an online, password protected diary), or you can add to it & turn it into a book. You are totally in control. When speaking things out, there can be interruptions, or others can hear what you don’t want them to hear.
By writing things out, you’re safe. If you confront your narcissistic parents, you are far from safe. Narcissists don’t do confrontation. They refuse to accept responsibility for things they’ve done since that might make them look or feel bad. They will do or say anything to avoid accepting responsibility. Denial, projection, gaslighting are all distinct possible scenarios. Why subject yourself to them if it’s not necessary? Yet, you still may need to purge the awful emotions you’re experiencing. That is where writing letters you don’t send come into play.
Writing letters like this helps you to get out your feelings in a completely safe manner. You can say anything you like, in any way you like, without fear of judgment or narcissistic mind games. When I write these letters, I don’t worry about bad language or using “I” statements or anything- I let it all out, no matter how ugly it is.
Once the letter is done, I’ve noticed I feel very tired & a bit raw emotionally. It doesn’t last long, thankfully. This seems to be a typical phenomenon after doing heavy emotional work on healing. When it happens to you, just remember to be especially gentle with yourself. Do whatever self-care things make you feel loved & nurtured.
So many people are quick to defend abusive parents. They may say they did the best they could, or you should forgive & forget what they did to you since they were abused as children so they didn’t know any better. Others simply refuse to believe the abuse happened, accusing you of lying or exaggerating.
Why does this happen so often anyway?! I have some thoughts..
If you notice, people who came from truly loving, functional upbringings aren’t the ones doing this. They know what real, Godly love is, so this means they also know what it is not. When you tell them horror stories of the abuse you endured, they normally are shocked & horrified that a parent could treat their own child that way. Their parents never would have done such a thing to them, & they know that. They won’t make excuses for the abuse or try to normalize it. It’s wrong & they call it wrong. They offer you love & support because they know that is the right thing to do. They may not understand how you feel since they never endured such things, but even so, they empathize with you, & it hurts them you have been so mistreated. I have two friends that I’ve known since Kindergarten & first grade. One male, one female. Both were raised by loving mothers, she had a very kind wonderful father & the his father physically abused his mother. They have no personal experience with being abused narcissistic parents, yet they are very supportive & kind to me.
People who come from dysfunctional upbringings however act much differently. They are the ones who are quick to say, “But those are your parents! They won’t be around forever!” “I’m sure they did the best they could!” “They just don’t know any better!”
I can’t help but think this is because these people are triggered by your openness. You discussing your painful childhood makes them think of theirs, & they aren’t willing to face theirs at all. If they can shut you up, they can resume their denial of their own pain. For years, my husband thought I should try harder with my parents. Ignore their cruelty. He made excuses for what they did. At the same time, he was doing just that with his own abusive parents. It took him many years before he would say anything even remotely negative about his parents, let alone admit his parents were abusive.
Some people also may recognize their own behaviors when you describe the abuse you endured, & they don’t want to face that either. They may be abusing their child the same way you were abused, & don’t want to admit they are abusive or wrong. They like the control they have, & don’t want to lose it.
There are also others who can’t handle anything negative. These are the same people who expect every book & movie to have happy endings, & they want the same from real life. My mother is that way. She hates anything negative. These people don’t want to hear about your problems. They want to hear only about light, fluffy, happy topics, ignoring anything bad or negative. These people don’t seem to have good coping skills, so they avoid anything that is even mildly upsetting. You discussing your pain is upsetting, so they don’t want to hear about it. Unless you can share something light & happy with them, they don’t want you to talk about it with them.
Whatever the reason someone defends abusive parents, take it as a warning for you that this person is NOT safe to discuss your painful experiences with!