Tag Archives: healing

One Way To Minimize Anxiety

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If You’re Struggling With Setting Boundaries Or Going No Contact With Your Narcissistic Parent

Many people have issues with setting boundaries or even severing ties with a narcissistic parent.  They say you are being mean, unreasonable, selfish.  In religious people, they may also throw in that you aren’t honoring your parent, & they quote Exodus 20:12 that tells us to honor our parents.  Or, in Asian cultures, they mention filial piety, which is respecting & caring for one’s parents being the highest of virtues.

People who say this sort of gibberish are either completely clueless or they’re narcissistic enablers.  Yet, in spite of that, sometimes victims are convinced that these imbeciles are right.  They stop using their boundaries, continue to tolerate the abuse, & are completely miserable.

If you are reading this & in this place of either wanting to set boundaries or go no contact with your narcissistic parent, but feel you are being selfish, mean, etc., you need to know that you are wrong!  I promise you that, & will show you why.

Although I don’t know much about religions other than Christianity, I do know that many of them seem to share one common belief, which basically boils down to, “you reap what you sow.”  Just look at what the Bible has to say about that…

 

  • Proverbs 11:25 “The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].” (AMP)
  • Proverbs 19:19 “A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
    For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.” (AMP)
  • Proverbs 22:8 “He who sows injustice will reap [a harvest of] trouble,
    And the rod of his wrath [with which he oppresses others] will fail.” (AMP)
  • Obadiah 15 “The day of the Lord is near for all nations.
    As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” (NIV)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6 “Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap generously [and be blessed].” (AMP)
  • Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap.
    8 For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (AMP)

 

These Scriptures prove that whatever a person does, good or bad, there are consequences.  It’s a natural part of life.

I realize as the child of a narcissistic parent or two, this feels so foreign.  After all, the child never should upset the parent, burden them with “trivial” things like their needs or let the parent face consequences of their terrible behavior.  However, this is so wrong!  God has made sure this reaping & sowing wisdom is mentioned repeatedly in His Word.  This has to be important to be mentioned many times, wouldn’t you agree?

If you think about this, I’m sure it’ll help you to realize that your boundaries or no contact aren’t you being an awful person, but simply the natural course of events.  That is what happened with me.  I felt bad for setting boundaries with my parents & going low contact. God reminded me of Galatians 6:7-8.  I thought about it & realized it made sense.  Every time I so much as started to feel guilty, I remembered that Scripture.  It was very encouraging!  So much so that I was finally able to go no contact with my parents.  I felt mostly sadness because this wasn’t how things should be, which I think is totally normal, but very little guilt.  Without realizing the principle of sowing & reaping, I don’t know if I could have gone no contact.  If I had, no doubt the guilt would have been about crippling!

Please consider this post if you are struggling with setting boundaries or going no contact with your narcissistic parent, Dear Reader.  You aren’t wrong, selfish, unreasonable, mean or anything else.  You have every right to do these things!

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Ways To Cope With Triggers

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?

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Another Sale On My Ebooks!

From March 20-April 20, 2020, all my ebooks are 30% off.  They can be found at this link:

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

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When You Have Bad C-PTSD Days

I think most of us who suffer with C-PTSD hide when we’re having bad days.  It can be scary to be vulnerable enough to let another person see how things really are, because people can be cruel.  There is never a good time to hear insensitive & invalidating comments of course, but on a bad C-PTSD day?  That is the absolute worst time.

Having a bad C-PTSD day, it is TOUGH!  I’ll explain how it goes for me.  Feel free to show this to anyone in your life that may need to understand your experiences with C-PTSD.

Often I wake up from a night of fitful sleep, too little sleep or a night full of nightmares.  The nightmares can be of reliving trauma or more often, something strange or unrelated to the trauma, yet stirs up the same emotions that traumatic events in my life did.  This leaves me exhausted, anxious, depressed & on high alert.

Before getting out of bed, I lay still, often with my eyes closed, trying to relax after a bad night.  I focus on my breathing to help me calm down, yet in spite of the effort, anxiety comes in waves.  I have to remind myself that I am safe, this is merely the C-PTSD doing what this disorder does.

Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes an hour later, I am able to get out of bed & start my day.  The anxiety & hyper-vigilence are still there, but a little better at least.  Usually I can function at this point, but some days, it’s about impossible.  Sometimes, I have panic attacks.  If you’ve never experienced one, count your blessings.  My chest gets incredibly tight, making me feel like I could be having a heart attack.  My breathing gets rapid & feels so strange.  I feel like when I’m inhaling, I should be exhaling & vice versa.  I end up breathing very shallow & fast until it eventually subsides, making me lightheaded.

Other times, flashbacks start.  Imagine trying to discern whether you’re in reality or somehow transported back in time to a traumatic event.  Fighting to make sure to stay in reality while dealing with the emotions of a traumatic event is a LOT of work!  As if the bad night’s sleep wasn’t enough to make me feel exhausted, this makes the exhaustion even worse.

Between the mental & physical exhaustion, being able to think or focus on tasks like a normal person seems impossible.  Even something simple as getting a drink can be difficult.  It can be hard to remember where the glasses are, decide if I want ice or not, & decide what do I want to drink.  Little things like this that most people take for granted become very daunting & challenging.  Often my moods are erratic but get moreso when these days happen.

All of these things are a real blow to the self-esteem.  I often think, “I’m so stupid for having C-PTSD!”  “Other people have been through worse, yet I have C-PTSD.  What’s wrong with me?!”  “Why am I not better than I am?!  I’ve dealt with this disorder for years!”  These thoughts leave me filled with even lower self-esteem than normal, ashamed of myself & doubting why I write about what I do, even considering quitting.  If I’m such a mess, how can I help anyone else, after all?

Eventually though, I return to normal, which is still not even close to what normal for most people is.  I am able to remember that C-PTSD is a terrible disorder.  Just because I have it also doesn’t mean I’m weak.  It means I’ve been through some terrible things.

If you experience similar days to mine, know you aren’t alone.  There are plenty of others who understand your struggles!  Pray.  Remind yourself of the things I mentioned.  Be understanding of yourself & always take good care of you!

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About Flashbacks

Those who don’t have flashbacks usually have no idea what a flashback truly is.  They sometimes think those of us who have them are exaggerating or being dramatic about something we remembered, & have little patience for us because of our “drama queen” ways.

People who think like this need to understand something.  Flashbacks aren’t the result of someone being overly dramatic.  They also aren’t simple memories or even repressed memories.  They are much different.  They’re intense & complicated.

Flashbacks aren’t as simple remembering a traumatic event.  All of your senses kick in & you see, hear, smell, taste & feel the same things you felt when the event originally happened to you.  It literally feels as if you’re reliving the traumatic event, even though logically you know you aren’t.  It can be very hard to tell the difference between reality & the flashback.

If you’re very lucky, when a flashback happens, you still maintain enough composure to remember to ground yourself somehow.  Touching something with an extreme texture, such as burlap for example, can help.  Or, smelling something with a very strong scent like lavender also can help.  The trick is to override your confused senses with something real in order to get them to focus on something other than the flashback.  Grounding yourself like this can be quite effective in helping you to get through the flashback.  Even so, remembering what to do in the midst of a flashback is something else entirely.  It’s incredibly hard to have focus on anything when your mind & body are trying to convince you that this horrible memory isn’t just a memory, but it’s happening to you all over again.

As if all of this isn’t quite enough, once the flashback is over, you’re drained both mentally & physically to the point of exhaustion.  I have described it as feeling like I was hit by a huge truck.  The anxiety of it tenses your muscles greatly.  When it’s over, those muscles can ache badly for a while.  Your heart races during the flashback & it takes time for it to slow back down once the flashback dissipates.  Chances are very good your stomach will be upset & you’ll have a nasty headache for a while as well.

In addition to the physical side of flashbacks, there is also the mental ones.  Flashbacks are utterly depressing.  It’s so unpleasant remembering traumatic events under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you feel as if you just relived it.  They also can make you feel ashamed for not being healed from the trauma by now, embarrassed if it happened in front of another person or other people, & they take away your hope of having a normal life without flashbacks.

They also make you incredibly anxious because you wonder when is the next one going to strike?  Will it be just like this one or will it involve another traumatic event?  What if it happens when I’m driving?  What if it’s worse?  Is it possible to get stuck in the flashback & never come out of it?

If you’re one of those folks who never has experienced a flashback, I’m telling you, count your blessings!  Thank God for this!

If you know someone who has flashbacks though, I hope you will remember this information & treat your loved one accordingly. Remember that this person isn’t seeking attention or being overly dramatic.  They are dealing with a very difficult & painful mental illness.  They have experienced something or some things so traumatic that their brain physically broke!  It isn’t your loved one’s fault they have flashbacks, & chances are excellent if this person could find a way never to have them again, they would.  So please, be patient & understanding with anyone you know who suffers with flashbacks.  A little gentleness can help us more than you know.

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What No Contact Is & Is Not

Many people I have dealt with seem to misunderstand what no contact really is.  Since others have experienced this too, I decided I would share some thoughts today on what no contact is & is not.

First of all, & yes, this is directed specifically at those who have said this nonsense to me.. no contact is NOT un-Christian.  Enabling bad & abusive behavior is un-Christian.  Tolerating abuse silently is un-Christian.  Never confronting someone about their abusive behavior is un-Christian.  If you don’t believe me, open a Bible.  As Christians, we are to love people.  Part of loving people is wanting what is best for them & helping them to be their best.  When someone doesn’t listen to another’s complaints, they need consequences to make them want to improve their behavior.  When normal consequences don’t work, no contact is a very viable option, even for those closest to a victim such as their own family & yes, even parents.

No contact isn’t about being unforgiving.  A person can no longer speak to someone & have forgiven them for their abusive ways at the same time.  Protecting one’s mental health has nothing to do with unforgiveness.

No contact isn’t taking the easy way out.  Far from it!  Anyone who has gone no contact with someone they love has suffered a great deal not only due to the abuse, but also making the decision to go no contact & living without that person.  If you disagree, consider my story.  I went no contact with my parents several months before my father died & almost three years to the day before my mother died.  Doing that & not being there for them when they needed me at the end of their lives was horrible.  If you think that was easy, you are very sadly mistaken!

No contact isn’t about trying to change someone.  Yes, you are giving that person consequences for their actions, but that doesn’t mean you are trying to manipulate them into behaving better.  You set that stage & it’s up to them to do with it as they want.

No contact also isn’t about not accepting someone.  It’s about accepting that person as they are, yet knowing you can’t have a healthy relationship with that person.

No contact has nothing to do with being disrespectful.  Rather it has everything to do with self respect, with respecting one’s self enough to detach from an abusive relationship.

No contact isn’t about hate.  Just because you have ended a relationship doesn’t mean you hate the other person.  You can love someone a great deal yet not be able to be in a relationship with that person.  Some people I’ve spoken with assumed I hated my parents because of being no contact with them.  Far from it!  I loved my parents a great deal.  It was how they treated me that I hated.

No contact isn’t about creating conflict or being dramatic.  Every single person I’ve spoken with who ended an abusive relationship, no matter who that relationship was with, wanted the exact same things I did: no further abuse, peace & a conflict & drama free existence.  When a narcissist’s flying monkeys go after someone who has gone no contact, fewer things can be more stressful & upsetting.  We try to avoid that at all costs!

I doubt there is anyone who truly wants to end a relationship with someone they love, even when that person is abusive.  That being said though, there are times when it’s necessary.  Some people are so toxic there is no other solution other than no contact.  Sadly, this even happens in families.  As I said, I ended the relationship with my parents.  They were simply that cruel & toxic.  It happens, unfortunately, so if it has happened to you as well, know you’re not alone.  Many of us understand!

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Sale On My Ebooks!

My publisher is offering a 25% off sale on my ebooks from March 1-7.  Find them at the link below:

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

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Busyness: An Unhealthy Trauma Based Way To Cope

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Being Supportive Of Other Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

James 4:17 in the Amplified Bible states, “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.”  These are pretty powerful words, don’t you think?  They made me think….

People sin every day in all kinds of ways, no matter how hard we try not to.  Some by doing something extreme, such as killing another person, but most of the time it’s smaller things.  How many times have you felt in your heart that God wanted you to do something, even just something small, for another person, yet you ignored it?  I don’t even want to think about how many times I have been guilty of this.  I don’t always let that car into my lane when I feel I should or leave a good tip to a waitress as I know in my heart God would like me to do.

There are bigger issues though & yes, they relate to narcissistic abuse.  There are also times I don’t want to listen to another victim of narcissistic abuse tell me their story.  I’m not proud of that but it’s true.  There are times I just can’t because I’m burned out on the topic, & in dire need of a break.  But there are other times when I’m not burned out that I just don’t want to offer support or even just a listening ear for whatever reason.  That is being really selfish & I’m not proud of it.  I also believe it’s a sin, because I know God put this person in my path for a reason.

Unfortunately I think many people are guilty of this same behavior.  We need to use balance & wisdom when someone approaches us, wanting to discuss their experiences with narcissistic abuse.  There are times we need to protect our mental health, such as when burning out on the topic or if the C-PTSD is flaring up.  At those times we can gently explain this isn’t a good time for us to discuss the topic.  Let’s talk later.  Or even suggest they email you.. that way they can get it out now, but you don’t have to deal with it immediately.  It’s a really good solution.

Other times, however, maybe someone needs your support & you just aren’t in the mood to discuss narcissism.  I truly get that.  I am so tired of this topic it’s pitiful!  That being said though, if someone is suffering, it isn’t fair to brush them off just because I don’t feel like talking about a topic they need to discuss.  It’s unkind, & there is already a lack of kindness in the world today.

I’ve found if I know I should be there for someone when I’m not really feeling my most supportive, there are ways I can motivate myself.  Knowing I’m helping someone is wonderful of course, but there are times I need a little extra motivation  I think of a little reward for myself I can do or get later.  Maybe it’s a new bottle of nail polish or time alone with a good movie & some knitting.  The rewards are nothing really extravagant, just little things I like.  It’s amazing how silly little things like that can be so motivating.  It’s a good thing though, because it helps you to do the right thing when you just don’t want to.  You also get a little something you really like

When in these situations, how can you think to help to motivate yourself?  Like I said, it doesn’t even have to be extravagant.  Some small little thing can be surprisingly motivating.  And never forget the best part of all.. you’re helping someone else who has suffered as you have.

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When People Tell You Not To Discuss Narcissistic Abuse

So many people tell victims of abuse that they should forgive & forget, never mentioning the abuse again, in particular when the abusers in question were the victim’s parents.  They love to quote Matthew 5:38-39 to prove their point.  Those verses say, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (KJV) 

The problem is though that when you pull out a random Scripture from the Bible, you can prove almost any point.  Other Scriptures on the topic need to be considered as well.

Psalm 82:4 “Rescue the weak and needy;
Rescue them from the hand of the wicked.” (AMP)

John 18: 22-23 “But when He said this, one of the officers who was standing nearby [a]struck Jesus [in the face], saying, “Is that how You answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus replied, “If I have said anything wrong, make a formal statement about the wrong; but if [I spoke] properly, why did you strike Me?” (AMP)

Acts 16:36-37 “36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent word to release you; so come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without a trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now they are sending us out secretly? No! Let them come here themselves and bring us out!” (AMP) 

These verses clearly show that there is nothing wrong with speaking out about abusive behavior!  People need to learn & grow.  They can’t do that if the never are told their actions are wrong & people hide abusive behaviors.

Granted narcissists are not exactly the easiest people in the world to confront or even simply talk about.  They violently rage, create vicious smear campaigns to stop people from doing such things, & almost never learn when dealt consequences for their actions.  However, even so, it’s still your job to give them consequences & to be open about their abusive ways.  You give them chances to make healthy changes by doing such things, & that is the best thing you can do for them.  What they do with those things from there is on them, but you can rest easy knowing you have done the right thing.

You also need to be open about what they have done to you, because you may be helping someone in a similar situation.  Your story may open their eyes to just how bad narcissistic abuse is or inspire them to walk away.

Being open about the abuse inflicted on you also may cause some people to leave your life, but you know something?  It will show you exactly who truly loves you.  They will be the ones standing by your side & supporting you through your healing.  Realizing how special these people are makes losing the others hurt a whole lot less  🙂

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Ghosting, aka The INFJ Door Slam

Removing someone from your life is a very challenging thing to do even under the best of circumstances.  What makes it even harder is when others criticize not only that you did it but even how you ended a relationship.  It is so frustrating when you took this big step & people with no vested interest in the relationship feel the need to tell you how wrong you were.  It can make you seriously doubt your decision.

One aspect of this I have experienced is being told how wrong I was for simply backing out of someone’s life rather than explaining how I feel or trying to work things out.  Those familiar with the Myers Briggs personality test recognize this as the infamous INFJ door slam, even though all personalities may use it.  Others call it ghosting.  Whatever you choose to call it, many people call it childish, petty & even cruel when it often is nothing of the sort.

While the door slam isn’t appropriate in every relationship that ends, in many cases is it a very good option to take no matter what others may think.

With narcissists, trying to work out relationship problem is a waste of time.  In fact, telling them that you are hurt when they do or say something usually just makes them do or say that thing more often.

They also have no desire to change their hurtful behavior.  If something they do hurts someone, that is either inconsequential to them or it brings them joy.  Trying to talk things out with someone like this is not only impossible, but it will cause a lot more pain & frustration.

Not to mention, narcissists will try to convince a victim to maintain the relationship’s status quo & can be very good at doing so sometimes.  This can cause a couple of unpleasant outcomes.  The victim may become confused & stay in the toxic relationship.  Or, the victim may leave but carry a great deal of shame for leaving the “poor abuser” or “ruining his or her life” by ending the relationship.  Another scenario can happen if the abuser & victim live together.  Talking to the abuser before ending the relationship & moving out can give the abuser time to come up with especially creative & effective tactics to keep the victim in the relationship

In cases like this, it is much better for someone to leave a relationship unannounced & silently for their own mental health’s sake.

Not all relationships are abusive, though, & sometimes a person wants to end it simply because of personality differences, moral differences or even religious beliefs.  In cases like that, sometimes leaving a relationship silently still may be a viable option.

If someone repeatedly hurts you, you tell them they’re hurting you & they continue to hurt you, they have to know why you’re ending the relationship.  They don’t need you to explain yourself yet again.  There is no point.

No one should have to explain to someone how to be a decent human being, especially repeatedly.  Some people seem to have no clue how to be civil, let alone polite, & are content with their behavior.  They say things like, “This is just how I am.”  Explaining why you want to end a relationship with someone like this is most likely going to be a waste of your time.

Obviously, people are very different so you need to consider your options seriously when ending a relationship someone.  If the person is reasonable, explaining why you’re ending it is a good option.  That person may learn that they need to behave in a healthier way.  And, who knows, they may teach you something about your own behavior as well.  If the person in question isn’t reasonable though, quietly walking away probably is your best option.

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Often “Less Wrong” Is Your Best Solution With Narcissists

When dealing with narcissists, often there is no right answer.  They are masters at creating no win situations, & even when they aren’t actively creating one, they seem to come up anyway.  For example, think about no contact.  In a sense, it’s the right solution.  It’ll protect you from further abuse & give you the space you need in order to heal from all you have endured.  While those are certainly great things, no contact also means a close relationship ended & on a bad note.  Clearly this isn’t a really good thing, even though the good outweighs the bad.  The only other alternative is to continue in an abusive relationship, so a person is limited to two choices, neither of which is particularly great.

Many things with narcissists are like that.  Setting boundaries is another example.  Yes, setting boundaries is a good thing & it is necessary, but at the same time, it starts a lot of problems with narcissists.  Since they don’t respect anyone’s boundaries, when someone tries to set them, they get angry & even more abusive.  The only choices are begin to set boundaries & deal with more abuse at least temporarily, or do nothing & suffer anyway.  Neither answer is really a right one.

Often, the best you can do with a narcissist is choose the least wrong answer.

While I know this sounds depressing & hopeless, I don’t mean it to.  Once you accept this, you can feel less stress & anxiety in your dealings with the narcissist.

Accepting that there really isn’t any right answer helps you to understand that no matter what you do, there won’t be a good, healthy or functional solution.  There is nothing you can do to make that happen.  It’s beyond your control.  This can be very freeing!  It helps you not to beat yourself up because things haven’t worked out perfectly.  You accept that sometimes a person’s best just isn’t good enough, & that’s ok.

It also helps you because you learn to keep your expectations realistic with the narcissist.  You know that the narcissist is going to be angry or upset no matter what you do.  You will have a good idea what to expect rather than thinking that this time will be better.  You also can prepare yourself for whatever is going to happen.

Accepting this truth that there are only less wrong answers with narcissist also helps you not to drive yourself crazy trying to figure out exactly what you need to do & how to do it.  You feel much less pressure to make everything right when you know that no matter what you do, you’ll be wrong anyway.

When you know that the narcissist will say you’re wrong in whatever you do, it’s also much easier to think of yourself instead of only him or her.  You develop a mindset something like, “Well, if I’m going to be wrong anyway I might as well get something out of this too.”

In all honesty, sometimes the fact there often isn’t any right answer also will make you sad.  That is totally normal.  It isn’t exactly the most cheerful fact of life, after all.  But, if you can look at it in ways that benefit you, it really can help you.

I also found that a quote from Captain Picard from the old tv show “Star Trek The Next Generation” to be comforting.  “It is possible to commit no mistakes & still lose.  That is not a weakness.  That is life.”  I know, I’m a nerd quoting this show, but the words are very wise & very comforting.  Definitely worth remembering, in particular when dealing with a narcissist.

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Secrets Narcissists Have But Hope Victims Don’t Learn

Narcissists have secrets that they hope will remain secret indefinitely.  Learning these secrets can help you when you must deal with a narcissist or to sever ties with them.

One of their biggest fears is that they will be forced to be held accountable for their actions.  Document EVERYTHING the narcissist says & does to you.  Save voicemails, text messages, emails, screen shots, etc.  Save these items to cloud storage or email them to yourself & save on the server rather than on your phone & computer to be sure they aren’t accidentally lost.  Don’t forget to hide the access information from the narcissist too!  This documentation can work to your advantage if you need to go to the police, go to court or get a restraining order.  It also can make a narcissist afraid of being exposed, damaging their reputation.   Mention discussing their behavior with someone, for example.  No doubt the narcissist will immediately tell you what a horrible person that is you’ve been speaking with in an attempt to make you stop speaking to them.  This fear of discovery means they may discard you quickly, freeing you of their abuse, so don’t hesitate to drop hints about documenting their behavior. 

Acting indifferent to a narcissist is devastating to them.  Narcissists love attention, be it good or bad.  Showing a narcissist that nothing they do affects you is utterly devastating to them.  Narcissists feed off of emotional responses, so by denying them that, they will get bored & leave you alone.  If you must deal with a narcissist, show no reaction whatsoever to anything they do.  If you have ended the relationship & they’re trying to harass you, never respond.  Any response will be their fuel to try to hurt you further, so deprive them of that fuel!

Any attempt from a narcissist to lure you back into the relationship isn’t because they truly love & miss you.  Instead, it is so the narcissist can abuse you further, then end the relationship on his or her terms.  Narcissists must be in control & you ending the relationship removed their control.  This infuriates narcissists!  They usually do whatever they can to rekindle the relationship.  They try to lure their victims back with false promises of change or they even try scaring them into resuming the relationship.  Once the victim is back, the narcissist abuses the victim even worse than before, then discards the victim.

You are nothing more than narcissistic supply to a narcissist.  Narcissists don’t see people as human beings.  They only see them as tools to be used however the narcissist sees fit.  This is why they are able to abuse & throw away people so easily.  People mean nothing more to narcissists than a screwdriver or hammer.

When a narcissist tells you someone else is much better than you, what they mean is that person has fallen for their act.  This other person hasn’t caught on to what the narcissist really is yet, so they provide good narcissistic supply.  In the eyes of a narcissist, that makes this person better than you.

Narcissists will apologize, but it won’t be a sincere apology.  Narcissists prefer to control without resorting to apologies, but they will if they think it will get them what they want.  There are big problems with narcissistic apologies, however.  They never accompany the narcissist accepting responsibility for their behavior & making appropriate changes.  As if this doesn’t prove enough that the apology isn’t genuine, their words do that too.  They say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or, “I’m sorry you think I did something wrong.”  These fake apologies are meant to pacify a victim by saying, “I’m sorry” while not accepting any responsibility for the bad behavior.

Narcissists will use your empathy against you.  Covert narcissists in particular have no problem making you feel sorry for them if it will accomplish their goal.  They do this in various ways.  One way is apologizing for their actions but offering excuses such as “I was just trying to help!”  or, “I didn’t know that would upset you!”  Adding such comments onto an apology is meant to make you accept their abusive behavior because their excuse makes it ok.  You are supposed to feel ashamed for being upset about their abusive actions, & accept that behavior again.

Keeping these things in mind can help you cope when you must deal with a narcissist.

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Scars

Often a physical injury results in a scar.  Did you ever think about the fact that psychological injuries also result in scars?  They may not be so easy to see like physical scars, but they are there nonetheless.

PTSD & C-PTSD are scars that result from exposure to extreme trauma or multiple traumas.  The traumas were so bad they literally “broke” a person’s brain, causing physical changes, that create some very difficult problems to cope with.

Depression is a scar resulting from living through the horrors of emotional abuse.  The constant berating, gaslighting & more of emotional abuse created depression that can last even long after the relationship has ended.

Anxiety is a scar that comes from living with someone, either a parent or a spouse who is demanding, highly volatile & unpredictable.  The constant feeling of walking on eggshells in an attempt to avoid angry outbursts creates anxiety that can last a lifetime, whether or not the volatile person is still in a victim’s life or not.

These scars are incredibly difficult to live with, I know.  I live with C-PTSD as a result of the narcissistic abuse I’ve endured.  It is a horrible disorder to live with but for me, the anxiety & depression are probably the worst parts of it.  It could be very easy to get caught up in the heartbreaking, discouraging & unfair nature of it all.  Honestly, there are some times that happens.  However, there are also times it doesn’t happen because of the perspective I try to have on these scars.  My hope is this information will help you too.

Scars remind you of what you’ve been through so you retain what you learned.  Having survived narcissistic parents, an ex husband, in-laws & countless so called friends & family, naturally I’ve learned a lot.  That’s a good thing, because now I spot unsafe people easily.  I know quickly either to avoid them or to have firm boundaries in place if I must deal with them.  I also know when they are attempting to manipulate me, & avoid falling for their games.

Scars also remind you that you survived something that was meant to destroy you.  This can be really hard to remember when you’re facing suicidal thoughts, flashbacks or paralyzing anxiety or depression, but it’s true.  The goal of narcissists is to destroy their victim emotionally.  (If they can tear a person down enough, that person will be easy to bend to their will, so it just makes sense that is the goal of narcissists.)  You survived that!  Yes, you still have issues from it but who wouldn’t?!  You survived something really terrible, & that is the main thing!

What I think is the best part of all is that scars also are an excellent reminder of God being by your side, through this “valley of the shadow of death,” so to speak.  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;” (KJV)  Your scar is reminder that although you went through something utterly horrific, God was by your side the entire time helping you to survive.  He loves you so much, & your scars are a reminder of that wonderful fact.

When you have problems because of the scars you have as a result of surviving narcissistic abuse, please try not to get discouraged!  I know it’s hard, but you can do it.  Remember the points in this post.  Be gentle & understanding with yourself.  Acknowledge your feelings & accept them.  If you feel things like you’re damaged, a burden to your loved ones or other negative things like that, remind yourself that they are simply old beliefs stemming from narcissistic abuse.  And, most of all, lean on God.  Pray often. Ask Him for comfort, strength, wisdom, guidance & anything else you can think of.  Remember, He was there with you “through the valley of the shadow of death.”  He is still with you!

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Encouragement For Those Still In Relationships With Narcissists

I know it seems like it’s only you.  No one else is still sticking it out with a narcissist in their life.  You probably even feel ashamed & like a coward for not ending the relationship when so many other folks have.  Today I want you to know that it isn’t only you, you have no valid reason to feel ashamed, & you aren’t a coward!

So much information says, “Just go no contact” when it comes to narcissists.  They make it sound so easy, as do many survivors of narcissistic abuse.  The truth of the matter though is no contact isn’t easy!

It isn’t important whether the narcissist in your life is a friend, romantic partner or even a parent.  Ending any relationship is very sad & painful.  Although that usually is the best solution & often the only one when dealing with a narcissist, even that doesn’t make this an easy or less sad solution.

There is also the fact that narcissists don’t usually abuse strangers.  They abuse those closest to them.  Ending a relationship with someone you have known for a month isn’t so hard.  Ending it with someone you have a long history with however is really tough.

Don’t forget too, that narcissists can behave very well when they want to.  It can be so hard to leave someone who has the ability to be good to you!  Most people want that good version to come back & are willing to hang in there in the hopes it will happen.

If you believe no contact is the right solution for your situation yet are having trouble taking that step, please know you’re ok.  Really!  No contact is such a difficult move to make.  It often takes a great deal of time to work up the inner strength to end an abusive relationship.  Narcissists do their best to destroy their victims’ self esteem.  Once that happens, it takes a lot of time & work to rebuild that self esteem to the point of being able to leave the abuser.

If you’re living with the narcissist in your life, maybe you are in the unfortunate situation of being financially dependent on this person.  It happens more often than you may realize.  Narcissists abuse in every possible way, even financially.  They often spend all their victim’s money, run up the victim’s credit cards, create a great deal of debt in the victim’s name then refuse to pay is in order to ruin the victims’ credit & even force a victim to sign their paychecks over to them leaving the victim destitute.

None of these scenarios are your fault.  Sadly they are very common.

You will know when & if the time is right to end the relationship with the narcissist in your life.  Until that time comes, there are some things you can do to make your situation a bit more bearable.

Always remember to pray.  Ask God for help.  Ask Him to give you creative & effective ways to deal with the narcissist.  Ask Him to help you by giving you whatever you need to go no contact.

Never forget that the primary motivation of anything a narcissist does is narcissistic supply.  The less supply you provide, the more likely the narcissist will leave you alone.  Think about this person- what provides him or her with that supply?  Stop doing those things.  Your anger provides supply?  Never show the narcissist you’re angry.  You looking your best provides supply?  Then let yourself look sloppy sometimes.  No doubt you can come up with a list of things that provide this person with narcissistic supply & ways to stop providing it.

One tool I found to be quite useful with narcissists is asking logical questions without showing any emotions.  You can say things like, “I don’t understand what you mean.  Would you explain that?”  “Why do you think that is a good idea?”  Asking these kinds of questions in a calm manner flusters narcissists.  It shows that you’re onto their manipulation, but in a manner that they know if they get mad at you, they’ll look foolish.  Since narcissists hate the very thought of looking bad in any way, chances are good they will change the subject to avoid this conversation.

If you don’t know much about boundaries, then it is time for you to learn.  You have every right to have reasonable boundaries, such as being able to say no without inciting rage.  You also don’t have to explain your boundaries.  Doing so only encourages a narcissist to try to convince their victim why their boundaries are wrong & instill doubt.  It’s best to state your boundaries without explanation.

Also never forget that the way the narcissist is treating you isn’t about you.  It isn’t personal at all.  I know it feels that way but the truth is the narcissist behaves this way because they have issues.  It isn’t because you deserve to be treated as they are doing.  Remembering this can help to take some of the pain out of their abusive ways.

Lastly, if you are able, low contact is a very good stepping stone to no contact.  Only deal with the narcissist when you feel able to do so.  Give yourself permission not to take every single phone call or visit the narcissist every time he or she demands you do so.  Sometimes, narcissists in this position will initiate no contact with their victim since the victim is no longer a good source of narcissistic supply.

Remember, no contact is a very big decision.  There is nothing wrong with you for taking your time about making that big step.  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!  You will know in your heart when the time is right & have the ability to do so!

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Why Victims Should Tell Their Stories

Before I write one word on this topic, let me just say that I don’t believe every single person who has experienced abuse must write books or a blog about their experiences.  It’s a very good thing to do of course, but it also isn’t every person’s calling in life.  If you’re reading this & immediately felt badly because you have yet to write publicly about your experiences, then please stop.  You have no reason to feel badly!  That may not be what God has planned for you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

That being said….

I firmly believe that everyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse needs to be open about their experiences.  No victim has a reason to feel shame for being abused, so why hide it?  Why pretend it didn’t happen?  Instead, be open about your story.  The Bible says in  Proverbs 31:8-9:

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
Stand up for the poor and destitute!”  (MSG)

By being open about your story, you can help other people!  Sharing your story in any capacity can let people know that they aren’t alone.  There are so many victims who don’t understand their pain & your story can help them.  There also are those who don’t know anything but abuse, & when they hear your similar story to theirs, their eyes open.  Suddenly they see how wrong the things that were done to them were.  Your story can give them the courage to walk away.

If you speak openly & without shame about your awful experiences, you can do more good than you realize.  You can help people in so many ways by doing nothing more than talking.

And, if you think this is only about other people, you’re wrong.  By being willing to discuss your own experiences, you can help yourself as well.

Do you know anything about the legends of vampires?  I read quite a bit about them when I was a kid.  I learned that vampires were very powerful, supernaturally powerful in fact, unless they were exposed to the sunlight.  The sun would utterly destroy  these impossibly strong, immortal beings by turning them into dust.  That same principle applies to issues stemming from abuse.  So long as they remain in the dark, in other words, they aren’t discussed, are ignored or hidden, they have a great deal of power.  They control your life.  Once you discuss them however, they lose that power like a vampire in the sunlight.  Discussing your issues helps to release you from their hold over you somehow.  It’s incredibly healing to be open about abusive experiences.

In my younger days, even though I knew something was very wrong, I still didn’t want to discuss the abusive situations I experienced.  I felt like if I did so, I was betraying my abusive parents & ex husband.  It seemed wrong to do anything other than hide what they did to me.  Not that they told me I shouldn’t tell anyone what they were doing, but it was as if it was some unwritten rule that I shouldn’t tell anyone what they did.  Many victims of abuse feel much the same as I did, that they shouldn’t “tattle” on their abuser.

I want to tell you today that this thinking is wrong.  This is your story too, not only that of the abuser!  You have every right to share as much or as little as you want to.  Abusers aren’t the only ones who can talk about whatever they want!  You have that right as well!

I do want you to know that if you opt to discuss your experiences freely either verbally or in writing, you need to be aware of the laws against libel & slander in your state.  While you are free to discuss your situation, you also need to use wisdom when it comes to protecting yourself in any capacity from your abuser.  Even with these limitations in place, you can say an awful lot, & help many people!  I wish you the best in doing so!  xoxo

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Victim Shaming Comments

Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days.  It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.

Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.

“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.”  Trauma isn’t a contest.  Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s.  This sort of statement does nothing good.  It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.

“Your abuser has had a rough life!  You should help him/her.”  A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people.  Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people.  However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive.  I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.

“You know what the problem is?  You weren’t nice enough.  You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.”  Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations.  It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong.  They feel convicted & change.  When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though?  Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.

“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.”  This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior.  This is totally unfair!  The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!

“Stop being a victim!”  While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience.  There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse.  None!  There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse.  In many cases, it takes a lifetime.  That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!

“You need to forgive/let this go.  You’ve been holding onto this for too long!”  I am a huge proponent of forgiveness.  Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health.  That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to!  Doing so is a process.  I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done.  In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done.  Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy.  That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger  as a way to get it out of you.  There is no time limit on that.

“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?”  This statement is beyond foolish.  When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”!  Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing.  A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.

When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you.  They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way.  That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain.  If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.

Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world.  If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.

Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things.  If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.

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For Those Who Lack Joy Around Holidays & Birthdays

I truly dislike holidays & birthdays, & have felt this way for years.  The reason I feel this way is also the reason for so much negativity in my life.  It boils down to narcissistic behavior.

For all of my adult life, I’ve had demanding in-laws, both past & present, who expected my husband & I to do only as they wanted on holidays with no concern to anyone’s wishes beyond theirs.  In fact, my current in-laws claimed almost all holidays before they died, not only Thanksgiving & Christmas, but also Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, etc.  I’ve also had husbands who felt they must obey their demanding parents no matter what I felt.  My birthday also has been ruined by narcissists more times than it hasn’t been.  This all has ruined the joy I once felt about holidays.  Seems quite understandable to me that I dislike special days now, but many people can’t seem to grasp this.  In fact, many have been very critical of me for my feelings.

I thought I should write this for those of you who share similar experiences &/or feelings about special days.

You need to understand that if you feel as I do, your feelings are reasonable & valid.  They are there for a reason, so don’t discount them.  I know, most people can’t stand to learn a person doesn’t look forward to special days with a sense of glee, but they don’t understand that sometimes things happen.  Sometimes one truly severe or traumatic thing can happen that instantly destroys your fondness of these days, such as the death of a loved one close to or on a holiday.  How could anyone look forward to a holiday again when it’s a reminder of one of life’s most painful experiences?

Other times, you experience the same special day misery over & over again every single year.  Maybe you’re forced to spend the day with someone who abused you.  You know it’s not going to be pleasant to put it mildly.  There is no way you’re going to happily anticipate holidays knowing what unpleasantness is coming your way.

Even if you haven’t experienced something awful around the holidays, you may have a family that only comes together on holidays, & the phoniness of it bothers you.  That is one thing that rubs me very wrong about many holiday get togethers.  If this group of people only sees each other on a holiday, why are they seeing each other at all?  Why don’t they call each other or hang out together other times?  To me, that feels incredibly fake, & it gets under my skin badly.  I want no part of such get togethers because of the phoniness of it all.

Whatever your story, it’s ok to feel as you do.  Accept that about yourself without judgment.  If you’re struggling to do so, then imagine your closest friend came to you sharing their story which is yours.  What would you tell that friend?  Would you shame him or her for feeling that way or would you tell your friend you understand?  Tell yourself whatever you would tell that friend.

Try to deal with your feelings however works best for you.  Pray, journal, talk to someone safe & non judgmental.  Talking through this helps a great deal to release so much pain inside you.  Writing does, too, & it also can help to bring clarity to your situation & validate you.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to try to change your feelings & learn to love the holidays.  That is up to you if you want to try to do that.  I did, but it felt fake to me which is something I just can’t tolerate in myself.  But, maybe it’ll work for you.  If so, create new traditions just for yourself,  Spend the day with special friends.  Or, if you spend the day alone, make it a day just for you by doing something you thoroughly enjoy such as reading, watching good movies or going to a park.

I truly wish you the best in your situation!  It’s not easy feeling like a holiday villain in a society that demands everyone enjoy the holidays.  xoxo

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Ongoing Problems As You Heal

When you are healing from narcissistic abuse, it can be incredibly discouraging.  It sometimes seems like no matter what you do, you still have problems that you cannot fix, which can be incredibly frustrating!

Recently, my husband turned a movie on tv whose subject matter was football.  This is not good for me.  When I was growing up, my father was utterly obsessed with football.  He was so obsessed that his normally civil demeanor turned into something resembling a screaming demon if a game was on.  If my mother or I walked into the room, he would yell at us about making too much noise.  If I wanted his attention, I had to sit still & quiet until there was a break in the game.

As a result, I absolutely hate football.  It stirs up memories of feeling less valuable than a leather bag of air & a bunch of guys playing an over-glorified game of fetch.  Just hearing the sounds of a football game makes me angry.

I am in my late forties as I write this.  I have tried to let this go.  I have tried forgiving my father for his jerk-like behavior surrounding this game, & I think I have.  I also understand it is simply the result of some very dysfunctional behavior of my father’s more than a reflection on me.  Yet in spite of it all, football sounds still make me angry.

This has been incredibly discouraging to me!  I have healed from so much of the abuse I have experienced.  So why is this still a problem??

One day several years ago, God showed me this verse….

Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says,

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].”

Suddenly everything clicked…

On this healing journey, there are going to be issues we do not heal from in this lifetime.  God will work with us & on us.  He will continue to improve us & heal us.  Yet, even so, some things are going to be an issue for as long as we live.

When this happens, Dear Reader, know it does NOT mean something is wrong with you.  It simply means you are normal.  It can be incredibly frustrating I know, but at least it does not mean you are doing something wrong, or are broken beyond repair.  It just means you are a normal human being!

Rather than be upset about this, why not do what you can to accept this as a simple shortcoming & rely on God to help you get through?    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.

The valley of the shadow of death is never pleasant of course, but even so, you can get through it.  In my experience, it is those trips through that awful valley that brought me closer to God.  Also sharing my ongoing issues like this often mean someone who reads my story also can relate & is comforted by knowing someone else understands their struggles. This means something good can come from those dark times!  That pain has a purpose!  As bad & painful as the bad times are, it truly helps when you know that something good can come from them & your pain was not in vain.  If you have trouble understanding what the purpose is, ask God to show you, to help you see the purpose.  He truly will not disappoint you!

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Understanding Narcissistic Behavior

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Minimizing Your Abusive Experiences

Those of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse, in particular at the hand of our parents, tend to share many characteristics.  One of them is the inclination to minimize any & all traumatic experiences, whether or not they had anything to do with the original abuser.

Some indicators that you are doing this is if you say things like:

  • “It wasn’t that bad.. at least he didn’t hit me.” after leaving a relationship with someone who was verbally abusive.
  • “Yea, that person held a knife to my throat but all he did was take my wallet…”
  • “I know my parents did some bad stuff to me but others have it way worse than I did.”

See the common thread in these statements?  Each one minimizes something very traumatic.

Another way people do this is to use the words “just” or “only” often.  Think of statements like, “It was just verbal abuse” or “He only hit me the one time.”

I realized some time ago that I have done this same thing.  What got my attention was watching a tv show about a serial killer, believe it or not.  The killer’s ex wife was interviewed, & many things she said that he said as well as some of his behavior that she described reminded me a great deal of my ex husband!  No, he’s no serial killer, but to realize he shared some behavior & personality traits with one was a big wake up call to me.  It showed me that in spite of what most people said, that marriage truly was bad!  His behavior really was abusive, & he had some serious mental health issues.  Yet, when I discussed that marriage, I often downplayed the abuse.  Realizing all of this showed me how unhealthily I’ve behaved, & also how many other people do exactly the same thing.

Minimizing one’s trauma is a terribly unhealthy thing to do!  It contributes to a root of shame, & toxic shame affects every area of your life.  Toxic shame makes you feel unworthy in every possible area of your life.  It’ll make you willing to settle for the job you hate because you don’t think you’re qualified to do a better job you would enjoy.  It’ll make you settle for a romantic partner who isn’t good for you since you believe you wouldn’t be attractive to someone better.  The same goes for friendships.  Someone with toxic shame will settle for friends who mistreat you because you don’t believe you deserve a better caliber of friends.

Minimizing also gives other people the message that what you went through wasn’t so bad.  This can lead to people having no compassion for you or others who have experienced abuse.  Since you act like it’s not a big deal, they will assume it isn’t.  It also can send the wrong message to others in similar situations.  They may think that since you don’t see the abuse as bad, maybe they’re overreacting to their situation.  Of course, this will lead to toxic shame & all of the problems that go along with it.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today.  Listen to yourself.  Do you minimize your traumatic experiences?  Do you use “just” or “only” often?  If so, STOP!  Trauma is trauma, no matter if someone else had it worse than you.  Don’t minimize your suffering!  Acknowledge it for what it is so you can heal.  Minimizing only causes problems!

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Irritable Gratitude Syndrome

I recently read an article about Traumatic Brain Injuries that mentioned the term Irritable Gratitude Syndrome.  This phenomenon happens to many who have survived a TBI.  People often tell these survivors how lucky they are to still be alive, it could have ended so much worse or be happy you don’t have it as bad as someone else does.  Many caregivers or survivors at this point want to scream, & rightfully so!!  Such comments can stir up some pretty angry thoughts & feelings that are quite justified.

Yes, it’s great the person is still here, but it’s not so great that he or she has lost their personality, has constant headaches, struggles to comprehend even the simplest things & forgets so much.  Many unaffected by TBIs have zero idea just how awful these things are to live with either in yourself or someone you love.

Ok, true, the situation could’ve ended worse than it did, but even so, that doesn’t mean it ended well!  It can be very hard to be grateful to be alive when you’re struggling with the awful day to day symptoms of a TBI or watching someone you love struggle with said symptoms.

And yes, others have it worse.  That doesn’t negate the fact that all TBIs are unique, they all host at least some pretty challenging symptoms & they all are very disruptive to a person’s life.  As someone with a brain injury, I can tell you that knowing someone else has it worse than me doesn’t make mine any less obnoxious to live with.

As I was reading the article & considering such things I realized something…  I really don’t think Irritable Gratitude Syndrome is only for those with brain injuries.  I also think it can be common to those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse.

Think about it… how many times have you been told that you should be glad your situation wasn’t worse, at least he didn’t hit you or everyone has problems with their parents?  That’s kind of similar to the comments TBI survivors often hear, & they also stir up similar emotions & thoughts to what I described above.

How can you be glad your situation wasn’t worse when you struggle with C-PTSD from the narcissistic abuse?  Living with the symptoms of C-PTSD is miserable & incredibly difficult.

Maybe that abusive ex didn’t hit you but he didn’t need to hit to hurt you.  Narcissists destroy their victims on the inside, not the outside, but doing their best to ruin their sense of self.

While it’s true, everyone has problems with their parents at some point, that doesn’t mean all parents are the abusive monsters narcissists are.  There is a big difference between normal disagreements & narcissistic parents determined to destroy their own children.  Saying they are the same only trivializes narcissistic abuse & invalidates victims.

I think there are some things to do that can help you when experiencing such thoughts & feelings.

  • Pray.  Tell God what you think & feel.  Let it all out!  He can handle your anger & sadness.
  • Write it out in a journal.
  • Talk to someone who is non judgmental, safe & understanding of your situation.
  • If you don’t feel like talking or writing, then get alone & cry, scream, beat up some pillows or whatever helps you feel better.
  • I know this one is very hard but try to be patient with yourself.  You’ve been through a lot!  It’s ok to feel badly about that!
  • Rest when you need to.  Emotional things take a big physical toll.  Give your body extra rest.

I know that when Irritable Gratitude shows up, it’s not pleasant.  Quite the opposite in fact.  But you can & will get through it!

In case you are wondering, this is the article I was referring to:  https://www.brainline.org/blog/learning-accident/irritable-gratitude-syndrome

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One Way Abuse Victims Process Emotions

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?

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Manipulative Memes

I love memes.  In fact, I saved many over the years.  Some inspire me with quoting Scripture.  Others inspire because of the beautiful pictures.  And then there are ones like this one that was popular on Facebook for a while.  It said, “It is very sad when members of the same family do not talk to each other.  The children suffer for the adult ego.  Cousins miss the wonderful opportunity to be together, & all due to a bruised adult ego.  Stop getting offended.  Reunite with your family members.  One day your imaginary conflict will all come to an end…with or without you.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Type yes if you agree.”

That one about made me gag.

I will admit, there are families where someone is being a petty jerk & not speaking to other family members.  It does happen, but I don’t believe it’s all that common.

What is much more common is when someone in a family is abusive, & their victim gets fed up.  They sever ties with that abuser to protect themselves & sometimes also their spouse &  children.  The abuser & their devoted flying monkeys harass the victim, drag their name through the mud & blindly support the abuser.   Meanwhile the victim is left behind in a state of shock & deeply hurt by the betrayal of not only the abuser but the family members who once said they loved the victim.  I guess that truth doesn’t make such a “nice”, wholesome sounding meme though, does it?

If I sound angry about this, it’s because I am.  Not only for myself since I have been in this position but for the countless others who have been as well.

It’s not right to abuse someone in the first place.  There is no reason to abuse anyone.  The only thing that makes this even worse is when people know about the abuse, but treat the abuser with kindness & the victim with disdain.  Treating someone who has the courage to open up about being abused is one of the cruelest things a person can do to another in my opinion.  It takes a lot of courage to go against the abuser’s wishes in any way, especially their desire to keep their acts secret, because once it’s out, you can’t take it back.  To treat someone in this position as if they’re lying, making a big deal about nothing, acting like a spoiled brat, trivialize their feelings or experiences or claim they want to hear nothing about it is absolutely disgraceful & disgusting.  Anyone who does this should be utterly ashamed of their actions, but sadly that is rare.

People who act this way are people who are fans of the meme I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Those people obviously have issues.  Since I’m related to many of that type of person & have seen their sick behavior first hand, I think I can say that without any doubt.  Thanks to these people, I have learned a few things about this kind of person.

People who treat victims as they do often have abuse in their past.  They don’t have the guts to face that fact, so they deny it.  They put on a fake happy face & tell stories of their happy family.  Their denial runs deep so they don’t have to face the pain.  Any perceived threat to it & they attack.  This includes silencing other victims who are willing to speak out, even when those victims are their own family.

There are others who know the narcissist & refuse to believe the truth.  They believe the “nice guy/girl” act & will also attack any threat to their denial of the truth.

People like this are just as toxic as the narcissist who abused you in the first place.  And sadly, they’re out there creating memes like this & hurting & manipulating God only knows how many people who see it.  It’s utterly disgusting!  You really can’t believe everything you read, because sometimes it’s nothing more than garbage written by toxic people.

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Subtle Abuse

Many people think  abuse is something loud & cruel, such as screaming obscenities at another person.  This certainly is one type of verbal abuse, but for the most part, it is much quieter & more subtle.

Ignoring someone is abusive.  It can create anxiety or avoidance when it happens enough, especially when it happens to children.  It makes someone feel insignificant or even invisible to be ignored, especially by someone important such as by a parent or spouse.

Normalizing abuse is also abusive.  Everyone needs to know that abuse is NOT ok.  When someone doesn’t know that, they tolerate abuse because they don’t know it’s wrong.  This is one reason abusers try to make their victims think the victims are the problem, rather than the abuse being the problem.

Constant criticism is abusive.  While everyone needs constructive criticism from time to time, no one needs abusive criticism, in particular when it is non stop.  The difference is constructive criticism is meant to help a person be better, while abusive criticism is meant to manipulate, control & destroy a person’s self esteem.

Failure to give someone praise & support is abusive.  While people are drastically affected by constant criticism, they also can be affected by a lack of praise & support even without the constant criticism.  My mother used to brag to me about how one time in my entire childhood, she told me she thought I was “kinda pretty.”  That along with her constant criticisms made me incredibly insecure about my looks for my entire life.

Shaming someone is abusive.  To make someone feel shame doesn’t always have to involve saying things like, “What is your problem?!”  “You need some therapy!”  It also can involve laughing at someone, rolling your eyes at them or making them the butt of jokes.  Toxic shame makes a person feel there is something wrong with every single thing about them, which destroys self esteem & makes a person easy to control.

Criticizing someone harshly claiming that it was done, “for your own good” is abusive.  My mother was hyper critical of every single thing about me when I was growing up.  Whenever I would say something about how critical she was, she told me it was for my own good.  I needed to know my faults so I could change them.  I couldn’t argue with that logic as a child.  As an adult however, although I do agree that everyone needs to be aware of their faults, they also need to be equally aware of their good qualities too.  Only being aware of their faults can destroy one’s self esteem.

Similarly, saying or doing cruel & saying it’s “tough love” is abusive.  When my mother’s abuse hit its peak, she said everything she was doing to me was tough love, because I wouldn’t learn any other way.  This made me feel like something was wrong with me, I was the problem in our relationship & I made her abuse me.  A victim in such a situation usually believes the way I did.

Last but not least, gaslighting is extremely abusive.  Gaslighting is when an abuser subtly makes a victim doubt their perceptions of reality.  It isn’t hard to gaslight children in particular, but anyone can be a victim.  An abuser doesn’t have to raise their voice to accomplish it.  All they have to do is convince their victim that what happened didn’t happen the way the victim believes it did or didn’t happen at all.  That can be accomplished easily by instilling doubt in a victim & stating the lies with extreme confidence.  An abuser may even feign concern for a victim for being so confused as to think things happened the way they did instead of the way the abuser says things happened.

Abuse comes in many different forms.  Many of those forms can be hard to recognize at first.  I hope this post will help you to be very aware of them so you don’t fall prey to an abusive person who behaves this way!

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Feeling Your Feelings Is Vital To Good Mental Health

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

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Reinventing The Past

Anyone who has experienced a relationship with a narcissist knows that they love to reinvent the past.  In their version of events, they weren’t abusive.  They were just trying to help.

Narcissists aren’t the only ones who are able to reinvent the past, however.  Sometimes their victims do as well.   I have a very good example of this phenomenon.

I know of someone who was what I refer to as a holiday Nazi.  She demanded her adult children, their spouses & grandchildren spend holidays with her, & they had to celebrate on the exact day.  There was no acceptable reason not to do this, it seemed.

One Christmas season, her adult children decided they wanted to spend the day with their respective families rather than their parents.  Apparently, Mom didn’t approve.  She stopped taking her insulin a few days before Christmas & ended up in the hospital either Christmas day or within a couple of days after, I can’t remember which.  She told her adult children that she did it because she was too busy baking Christmas cookies that she didn’t have time to take her insulin.

Some time after this fiasco, her son who had heard what she said & even repeated it said that never happened.  It was during the time when she was having trouble regulating her insulin dosage.

Rather than admit how manipulative his mother was, & how she would risk her own health just for some attention, he convinced himself that was not the case.  He convinced himself that this happened because the doctors hadn’t regulated her insulin need at that time.

If you have done something similar, you’re not alone.  There is no need to be ashamed of yourself for doing it.  There is, however a need to change that behavior.

Reinventing the past only gives the narcissist power, because their actions are being excused rather than holding them accountable for their actions.  Narcissists realize they can do anything, & you’ll pretend they didn’t.  In fact, you may even end up blaming yourself for what they did.  You won’t punish them for their actions, so this makes them believe they can do anything without fear of consequences.  There is no reason to limit their abusive actions.

It also makes the victim feel like they have to tolerate the abuse.  They convince themselves that what happened was ok by pretending it didn’t happen as it actually did.  This means victims will tolerate a LOT of abuse.

You can change your behavior into something much healthier!

Writing is an incredibly useful tool.  I don’t mean writing a book or blogging about your experiences.  I mean writing in a journal or writing letters you don’t send.  Seeing your experiences in writing helps to make them more real somehow.  It’s very validating!  Writing also gives you an outlet for getting your emotions out with no fear of anyone judging you, which can be incredibly helpful.  It can show you, too, just how much you’ve grown & healed, which is very encouraging.  And regarding changing this habit of reinventing the past, writing also gives you a written record of events, so you can’t reinvent anything.  If you wrote something down, you can revisit that knowing that is what happened rather than this different scenario you started to form in your mind.

Dealing with the traumatic event also will help you to stop reinventing the past.  Reinventing things happens as a way to avoid pain.  If you face that pain & deal with it. you automatically won’t try to reinvent the scenario.  I know that seems terrifying, but truly it will help you a great deal if you face it.  It’ll hurt for a while but not forever.  You’ll heal & that situation won’t have power to devastate you anymore.  At most it may sting a bit when you think of it.  Wouldn’t you prefer that to being devastated?

And as always, never forget to turn to God & trust Him to help you to do what you need to in order to release that unhealthy habit of reinventing the past.  xoxo

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When Places Or Items Trigger Traumatic Memories

This post is going to sound a bit odd to many of you, I’m sure, but I hope you’ll read it anyway as I believe it can be beneficial to those in similar situations.

I saw a quote on Facebook that got me to thinking.  It was long, so I’ll summarize.  It suggested that you talk to nature.  Before cutting a tree or plant, tell it what you have in mind to do, & talk to animals with respect.  That sort of thing.

Having some Native American Indian heritage in me, I tend to do this.  It just seems to be in my blood.  I never thought much about it though until reading the quote.

I’ve always talked to my pets as if they were people, & treated them with love & respect.  Many people including many at their vet’s office have commented how well behaved, smart & loving they are.

After my mother died, I took over some of her house plants.  I’ve never been particularly good with plants, but decided to try with some of them anyway.  I started talking to them when I decided to bring them home.  I told them I was taking them home soon & I’ll do my best to take good care of them.  They’re doing surprisingly well!

Before reading this Facebook post though, I began doing this more, & that even includes talking to inanimate objects.  Reading the post only confirmed to me that I was onto something.

When my mother died, & I learned I was to be her personal representative, I was less than thrilled to put it mildly.  I hated going into her house for years, I even hated the house itself, because of all the awful memories it held.  It seemed every room had some bad memories attached.  Knowing I’d have to spend a great deal of time there triggered horrible anxiety & even anger in me.  I had no idea how to deal with this, so I asked God for help.  He told me, “Talk to the house.”  I thought I must be imagining things… then my very logical husband said the same unusual thing a day or two later, even though I told him nothing about God saying that.

One day when I went to my parents’ house, I started talking to it.  Obviously, I felt strange, talking to this inanimate object, but I did it anyway.  I told the house I realized I was wrong for being upset with it for things that people who lived in it did to me. It wasn’t fair to blame the house for the actions of people, & I was sorry.  Let’s get to know each other better.  Suddenly I began to feel a lot more comfortable in the house.  I’m not angry at the house & I don’t cringe every time I see a location in it where something bad happened anymore.

I also did this with my mother’s car, which is now mine.  There were a lot of pretty bad memories of times with her in that car, so I dreaded dealing with the car.  The first couple of times I got behind the wheel, I talked to the car much like I did with the house.  And you know something?  I don’t mind driving that car now.  I’m comfortable with the car now.

Like many of us in our family, my mother named her car.  Her name is Peaches, so when I take her out I often say things like, “Hey, Peaches.. ready to go for a drive?”  I also told her she was getting new tires recently.  I do the same for the house, saying hi & good bye, or telling the house what I’ll be doing today in what room.

I firmly believe a lot of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse have similar feelings.  Some things & places can offer reminders of awful situations, or even trigger flashbacks.  I suggest talking to the item in question.  It really can help you!  I know it sounds crazy, but isn’t it worth a try?  Whatever helps you to remove some pain is a good thing.  So please, give it a try.. what do you have to lose?

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Another Way To Help Anxiety

There is a lot of talk lately about being a minimalist.  In other words, not having tons of stuff.  Some people even give away of most of their belongings & moving into a tiny house or tiny house trailer.

By their definition, I’m not a minimalist.  I need a slightly larger house than that!  However, I’ve always been of the mindset I don’t need a lot & regularly clean out some of my belongings.

Since I periodically help my husband with the unpleasant task of emptying his late parents’ home & am in the process of doing the same to my late parents’ home, I’ve realized this minimalist thing needs to be taken up a notch in my life.  No, I won’t sell my home & replace it with a 300 square foot tiny house, but I am cleaning out.

I’ve found a great deal of pleasure in downsizing.  Recently I went through our entire CD collection.  Somehow it grew to just over 300 CDs! Since I’d ripped most of them & safely stored those mp3 files on online storage, I figured this is ridiculous.  They take up a lot of space in my small house & I’d like my space back.  I made sure everything was ripped & got rid of all but 31 CDs that have some sort of sentimental value.  They now fit in a storage box that’s slightly larger than a shoe box!  I can’t tell you how good it feels not to have that big collection anymore!

I realized that my paternal grandmother was right.  Too much stuff is just more to maintain & clean, which takes up precious time that could be put to more pleasant uses.  Some of those uses are hobbies, hanging out with people you love, volunteering…  I’d love more time for those things, wouldn’t you?

Too much stuff also can create anxiety.  Something about living in a cluttered space makes me VERY anxious, as no doubt it does many other people.  Since those of us who survived narcissistic abuse usually deal with a lot of anxiety, that is what made me think writing about this topic may be a good idea.

If you’re considering downsizing, I have some tips to help you get started.

When considering getting rid of an item, ask yourself what function it has in your life.  Does it make your life easier?  Does it bring you joy?  If the answers are no, it may be time to let that go.

When was the last time you used/wore the item in question?  If it’s been a while, it may be time to let it go.  But, if it’s something you do use, just only maybe once or twice a year, that may be an item to keep.  As an example, not everyone needs a deviled egg plate daily, but sometimes it can be useful.

Consider what your life would be like without the item in question.  Do you think you would feel better or worse without it?  If better, send it to a new home!

If you’re going through items like books, scrapbooks, pictures, movies or music, do you enjoy the hard copy or could you be content with digital only versions?  Digital versions don’t take up space like hard copies do & can be right at your finger tips, so they have a big advantage like that.  However, some things are irreplaceable, so it would be very hard & even depressing to get rid of them.  Use wisdom & balance in these situations.  I have a ton of pictures stored online, but I also have quite a few printed pictures from years ago.  Also, if you opt to keep digital versions, remember – phones, computers, & external hard drives crash.  I recommend using a reputable cloud storage for such things to be sure nothing gets lost.  I like Dropbox but there are also Google Drive & other online storage options.

Is the item a one of a kind item?  That can make it trickier to give away.  If the item has sentimental value because it once belonged to someone you love that has passed on, I recommend keeping it if you can.  If you don’t feel peace about that though, find someone special to pass it along to that you know will love it as you have.

I firmly believe in downsizing, balance is the key.  Clean out!  Give away things that don’t serve you well, but keep things that do serve you & bring you joy.  You may be surprised how much less anxious you are when you realize you have a lot less stuff in your home than you once did.

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