Tag Archives: healthy

Showing Your Emotions

It seems to me that many people consider people who are free with showing their emotions weak, “drama queens or kings” or even crazy.  Not showing emotions is often looked on as a sign of strength.  I really disagree with this thinking.  There really is nothing wrong or bad about showing what you feel inside.

Years ago, I remember my mother telling me about her mail carrier.  She hadn’t seen her for a while, then finally saw her one day.  She asked how she was doing & where she had been.  Turned out the lady’s husband committed suicide.  My mother thought her composure in discussing this topic was admirable.  I disagreed!  This lady could have been in a state of shock & was unable to show emotions due to that.  But, she also could have been glad he was gone & didn’t miss him.  Her lack of emotions gave no clue which was how she was feeling about her loss.

Showing emotions is a healthy thing to do.  It helps you to process them in healthy ways.  Did you know many people who don’t process anger often end up with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease & digestive issues?  They also can suffer from depression since sometimes repressed anger manifests as depression.

Showing emotions also helps people to know where they stand with you.  If you weren’t obviously happy that your spouse brought you your favorite coffee as a surprise sometimes, how would he or she know how much you appreciated it?  Or, if you held in disappointment, how would your child know that he or she needed to work harder to get better grades?

The Bible even describes times when Jesus showed His emotions.  When Lazarus died, Jesus knew He would raise him from the dead, but even so, He was emotional & let that show.  John 11: 32-35 says,  32 When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept.”  The Gospels also tell the story of Jesus becoming enraged when He saw people buying & selling in the temple.  He drove animals & people out & flipped over tables.  Hardly the actions of someone afraid of showing their emotions.

Showing emotions is truly a courageous thing to do.  It shows you aren’t afraid of the opinions or judgment of other people.  It shows you are brave enough to be vulnerable.  It shows you are in touch with your emotions, which is a very healthy way to be.

What is not courageous is hiding all emotions behind a mask of stoicism.  This often is a trauma response created by those who have been exposed to cruel people who criticize them for how they feel & invalidate their feelings.  If this describes you, please know that you don’t need to be that way anymore.  You are an adult & allowed to feel your feelings & yes, even show them!  That doesn’t make you oversensitive, overreacting, stupid or even crazy.  It makes you human. 

If you’re struggling to get in touch with your emotions, I suggest praying, paying attention to how you feel about everything & journaling about your experiences.  Read over your journal entries periodically too, don’t simply write them & forget them.  They can help you to have insight. 

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

Dismissive Listening

One way people can treat others poorly is by practicing dismissive listening rather than empathic listening.  It is a very common behavior.  It is so common, in fact, that many people don’t even realize that it’s not right.  They may feel badly after someone treats them this way but not necessarily know why, because in addition to being so commonplace, it’s also very subtle.

Dismissive listening can be recognized easily if you know what to look for.  Basically it is like the name says, it is when someone dismisses what you say.  Some common dismissive phrases are:

  • “Don’t be upset/sad/angry!” 
  • “The same thing happened to my friend!  She was fine though.”
  • “At least it’s not…<insert random bad thing here>”
  • “Well it could be worse!”
  • Any sort of toxic positivity phrase like, “cheer up!”, “Positive vibes only!” or “Think only happy thoughts!”

Dismissive phrases like these often try to shut down & even instill shame in the person talking to the dismissive person.  They also are a sign of someone trying to fix another person rather than listen to what they have to say.

While narcissists clearly are pros at dismissive listening, not everyone who talks this way is a narcissist.  Some people simply don’t realize how they are treating others is wrong. 

I urge you to pay attention to how people treat you when you talk.  If someone is quick to dismiss what you have to say, that is a red flag.  They may not be a totally unsafe person, but they may not be comfortable with the subject matter & as a result, want to stop you from talking about it.  Some people simply can’t handle talking about specific topics.  While that is fine, dismissing you if you bring up a specific topic isn’t fine.  The dismissive listening is a red flag that this topic isn’t a safe one to discuss with this person, so you should avoid it.  It also could potentially be a sign the person is dysfunctional or even narcissistic.  The way they behave otherwise will let you know what the case is.

I also want to urge you to pay attention to how you treat others when they are talking.  If you catch yourself being dismissive to others once in a while, it happens.  It’s normal, really.  On a regular basis though, it’s not good.  You can make changes though! 

Remember that being a good listener means you want to hear what someone has to say, & you make that obvious.  You make it clear you are willing to listen to them.  You let the other person speak without interrupting.  You don’t change the subject.  You let them speak without judgment or criticism. 

You also don’t need to offer advice unless the other person asks for it.  Unasked for advice is just rude & presumptuous! Not to mention, many people just need to vent rather than advice. 

Show empathy.  Let the other person know you care by saying things like, “That sounds really hard.”  “Can I do something to help you?”  “I’m here for you.”  & “I care.”  Those little phrases will make a huge difference to someone in need of a comforting friend.

Body language can be important too.  It sends subtle cues to the speaker that you are involved in this conversation.  Touch their hand, look them in the eye, maybe offer a hug.

Dismissive listening may not be the worst thing a person can do to another, but it still needs to be avoided in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

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The Real Truth About Denial

Today’s post admittedly sounds different than my usual posts. I hope you’ll continue reading anyway, because I believe the message is important.

I woke up recently from a nightmare, as I often do.  In it, I was driving a young girl somewhere while she used my phone to call one of my relatives.  As a funny aside, I know in the dream I blocked my number from showing up on the relative’s phone when she called.. just as I would do in real life.  Anyway the phone was on speaker, so I could hear the conversation.  It sounded innocent enough.  I was fairly guarded anyway, because although I haven’t had any negative interactions with this relative, I also haven’t had any positive ones either.  I wasn’t sure if this person was safe or unsafe.  This relative asked to speak to me, & the girl looked at me before answering.  I quietly said, “maybe tomorrow” & she said that to the other person.   Suddenly this person’s demeanor went from normal to viciously trashing me.  She said I was selfish to the core, a spoiled brat & many more awful things that my family has said to & about me.  I grabbed the phone to hang up as I drove & that is the point I woke up. 

It triggered a nasty emotional flashback as I woke up.  It emotionally took me right back to the time when my father was dying, when my family attacked me constantly & daily for his final almost three weeks because I didn’t say goodbye to him.  When I was able to physically calm down a bit, I began to pray, as I often do when I have nightmares.  This turned out to be very interesting.   God not only comforted me as usual, but He also told me some things.

God reminded me of that awful time when my family was attacking me, & how He told me then that they did so partly out of denial.  They wanted to believe my father was a great guy, our family was great & I was the problem.  Me not saying goodbye threatened their denial, which is mostly why they were so cruel to me at that time.

He also told me about facing truth opposed to living in denial.  He said denial isn’t simply a poor coping skill.  It comes straight from the devil himself.  Denial is about lying to yourself rather than facing the truth.  Since the enemy hates truth, of course something coming from him would embrace lies & reject truth.  John 8:44 in the Living Bible says, “For you are the children of your father the devil and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and a hater of truth—there is not an iota of truth in him. When he lies, it is perfectly normal; for he is the father of liars..” 

People who are deeply entrenched in denial hate anyone who is a threat to it, & will do anything to protect it.  The reason being, God said, is that they become “entwined” with the enemy.  I found that choice of words interesting, so I looked it up to be sure of exactly what it meant.  According to Cambridge dictionary’s website, the definition of entwined is “closely connected or unable to be separated.” 

A person gets into this entwined state so subtly, they fail to recognize it.  It starts out as learning something painful.  Anyone’s natural reaction to pain, physical or emotional, is to pull away from it.  The devil uses this reaction to his advantage.  He convinces people just don’t think about the pain & it won’t hurt anymore.  Simple, subtle & very effective.  This happens repeatedly with other painful things, & the more it happens, the more entwined someone becomes with the enemy.

When a person is deeply entwined with the enemy, they can’t see their bad behavior as bad.  They are so entangled with him that they will not see truth.  They almost never see how their denial hurts other people.  On the rare occasion that they do see it, they are so deceived that they see any person who tries telling the truth as a real problem.  That means they think hurting anyone who tells the truth is acceptable & sometimes even a good thing to do.  With my situation that I mentioned earlier, God showed me at that time that my family truly thought they were doing the right & even Godly thing by trying to harass, bully & shame me into saying goodbye to my father.

Being involved this way with the enemy doesn’t mean they aren’t entwined with him in other areas as well.  Since he found one access point into a person’s life, he certainly can find others just as easily.

I know that all of this may sound hard to believe.  I get that.  However, I firmly believe this to be accurate since it can be backed up by Scripture.  Consider Ephesians 6:12 also from the Living Bible.  It says, “For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the devil & his minions stopped attacking people.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Psalm 55:3, Psalm 38:20, Psalm 64:1, Psalm 69:4, Ephesians 6:11 & 2 Timothy 4:18 are just a few examples.

Please seriously consider what I have said here today.  Pray about it for yourself, & ask God to show you the truth if you have doubts.

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

Best Friends

“Best friends” is a term that is used pretty freely & often without much thought.  I don’t do that, however.  I have a best friend that is incredibly special to me.  We met just before our senior year of high school in August, 1988, & in the years since, she has taught me so much about the real meaning of best friend.  I believe that others can benefit from what I have learned, so I want to share it today.

True best friends have healthy boundaries & they respect yours.  They know what you are ok with & what you aren’t, & they respect such things.  They don’t use you or are NOT ok with anyone else using you either.  They will remind you that no one has the right to mistreat or abuse you, especially when you doubt it.

True best friends are honest.  They won’t lie to you just because it’s easier for them.  They will be honest & if that means it hurts your feelings a bit to get you to a better place, they will be honest.  They will be as gentle as they can in their honesty so as to minimize the hurt because they love you, but they still will tell you the truth.  They know honesty is best & they want what is best for you.

True best friends stand the test of time.  Close friendships are somewhat like a marriage.  You love & support each other.  You have fun with each other & also are there during the hard times.  You work through disagreements & can agree to disagree.  You don’t just run at the first sign of problems.  You do your best by your friend & they do their best by you.  A wonderful friendship like this lasts for more than a few months.  It can last a lifetime.

True best friends are there for you, period, even when it isn’t easy for them to be.  I called my best friend as soon as I had a moment after receiving my mother’s death notification, & she was there for me from that moment on.  She even attended the burial & was at my side even when one of my cousins raged at me during the burial.  She listened when I was dealing with estate matters & overwhelmed.  None of that was pleasant or easy for her, but she was there for me anyway.  That is what a best friend does.  They are there for you even when it’s incredibly difficult for them.

True best friendships aren’t one sided.  There is a mutual give & take in the relationship.  There will be trying times you are needier & your best friend is there for you, but there are also times when the reverse is true, & you are there for your needy best friend.  As a whole though, your friendship is very balanced.  You both love & support each other as needed rather than one person being the only one to offer love & support.

True best friends know you very well & accept you without judgment, yet still encourage your personal growth.  Your best friend should accept you as you are because they understand why you are as you are, but they also encourage you to improve yourself.  They share things they have learned that can help you.

True best friends are a gift straight from God, & if you have a wonderful one in your life as I do, you truly are blessed!  Never forget to tell your best friend how much you appreciate them being a part of your life & that you love them.  Never let them feel you take them for granted!

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“Healthy” Narcissism

Have you heard the term “healthy narcissism”?  If not, it is a term coined to describe having a positive, healthy view of self, being assertive & also being good with self care.  It first was coined in the 1930’s & is still used today.

I truly mean no offence to the mental health professionals who created the term & those who use it, but that term doesn’t sit well with me.

Those of us who have been abused by narcissists naturally have an aversion to anything with the label “narcissism” attached to it.  We have stared evil in the face & survived what was meant to destroy us.  We learned that evil was known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  We know that the word “narcissism” has no good or healthy aspect to it.  Healthy narcissism often feels like an oxymoron to us, no matter what anyone says. 

It is also offensive to us, because the term healthy narcissism comes across as a very subtle downplaying of true narcissism.  In a way, the term puts healthy people on the same level as narcissists.  It makes narcissism sound not all that bad, like maybe narcissists are just a bit over the top with these normal, healthy behaviors that “healthy narcissists” use.

At the same time, the term can reinforce what narcissists tell their victims, that if they have any boundaries, self esteem or practice self care in any way, they’re selfish.  Having experienced the extreme selfishness of narcissists first hand, not one of their victims wants to be like them in any way.  This means victims will turn from anything that could be perceived as selfish, including healthy things like boundaries & self care.

For anyone reading this who feels this way about this term “healthy narcissism”, I hope you realize that although you may feel this way, please know that there is nothing wrong or bad about having good self esteem, boundaries & practicing self care.  Just because a narcissist told you these things were bad & prevented you from exercising such things doesn’t mean that person was right. 

Many narcissists also claim to be Christian & won’t hesitate to twist God’s word to justify their completely erroneous thinking.  These despicable people often destroy their victims’ faith or they make them believe God isn’t a loving father but instead a heartless dictator who wants victims to do nothing to take care of themselves.  For those of you who have been in this position, I want to let you know something.  1 Corinthians 6:19 in the Amplified Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]?”  Consider how you would treat a beautiful temple.  You certainly wouldn’t allow it treated any old way.  You would protect it & treat it well.  That is exactly how you should treat yourself.  Never forget, your body is a temple.  Treat it accordingly & not like an afterthought. 

Self care is NOT selfish or bad!  It is a good thing, & yes, even a Godly thing.  True self care isn’t narcissistic, so never let anyone convince you otherwise!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

Narcissistic parents are notorious for not allowing their children to have any boundaries.  They have no problem going through their children’s personal belongings or even breaking or getting rid of things their child uses or loves.  Children are allowed no privacy, & some narcissistic parents go as far as removing their bedroom doors.  Possibly the worst thing narcissistic parents do is refusing to allow their children to say “no”.

Narcissistic parents are too self centered to realize or even care that by not allowing their children to say no, they are teaching their children some pretty terrible lessons.  When children learn that saying no is bad & not allowed, this teaches them that others can treat them however they wish.  This opens the door for other wicked people to abuse these children.  It also sets these children up for a life of misery because they don’t believe they have the right to say no to anyone, no matter what.  They also believe that they have to say yes to everyone & everything, & that obviously is a huge problem!

Children need to feel safe knowing that there won’t be any repercussions if they say things like, “No”, “Stop doing that,” “Don’t touch me”, “That hurts”, “I don’t agree with you” & “I won’t do that.” 

When a child doesn’t experience this ability to set reasonable boundaries, they can turn very submissive.  Their boundaries become very blurred.  They change their likes, dislikes, views, etc. depending on the company they keep.  They lose their individuality.  They do above & beyond what is reasonable for other people, even to the point of enabling terrible behavior.  They tolerate way too much, including abusive behavior, because they don’t believe they have the right to do otherwise.

When a person grows up not allowed to say no, the fear of what could happen can become paralyzing, & they literally can’t say the word no.  This fear happens because of many possible reasons.  Some of those reasons might be the fear of hurting other people’s feelings, fear of someone’s anger, fear of being punished, fear of abandonment or the fear of being seen as selfish, bad or even ungodly.  This fear also can happen because a person is too hard on themselves, & if they say no, they judge themselves very harshly.  They condemn themselves as horrible people, so they don’t say no in order to avoid feeling that way.

If you recognize this as your behavior, you’re not alone.  This is so common among children of narcissistic parents.  The good news though is that you can make healthy changes.

I always recommend starting with prayer in any situation, & this one is no different.  Asking God for help is never a mistake.  Also ask Him to show you the truth about where you end & others begin, what you should & shouldn’t tolerate, how to start setting healthy boundaries & anything else you need help with.

Also start paying attention to how you feel.  Does it bother you when someone expects something from you?  Why does it bother you?  If it feels unfair since they don’t ask others to do as much as you or they want you to do something they could do themselves, that is very reasonable!

Start small!  Start by not answering your phone if you don’t want to talk to the person calling or something like that.  The more you gain confidence in smaller boundaries, the more it will help you to go on to bigger ones.

Know people are going to be upset with you for your new boundaries.  Rather than being hurt by this, think of it this way.  Safe, good people will be happy for you & encourage you.  Only toxic people are offended by reasonable boundaries.  Seeing toxic people for who they are may be painful, but it’s also a good thing.  It shows you who you need to remove from your life.  And, removing them allows more time & energy for those who truly deserve that from you.

Having good boundaries won’t happen over night, but it will happen.  Just stay with it!  You can do this!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

How People Handle You Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

When people have known you a long time, it can be difficult for some of them to handle your healing. Functional people will respect your healing though, & even encourage you.  They will be so happy to see you growing stronger & healthier, & learning how to live a good life, especially if they knew you during the abuse you endured. 

Dysfunctional people however, won’t be so happy or encouraging.

While not all dysfunctional people are abusive, of course, they still may not be happy about your healing.  Sometimes that is because it makes them feel badly about themselves.  They see you learning, growing & becoming happy, & they resent not doing the same.  The seriously dysfunctional won’t be motivated by feeling this way to work on their healing.

Others are on the side of your abuser, & can’t handle your healing because it is proof that the abusive person wasn’t the wonderful person this flying monkey thought they were.  Rather than face that truth, some especially cowardly people prefer to stay in denial & try to force the victim to maintain the status quo so they can continue to think of the abuser as a wonderful person rather than face the truth.

Whatever the motivation, these dysfunctional people have a goal of putting the victim in their place, so to speak, so they can continue living in their dysfunction.

A common way people accomplish this by refusing to acknowledge the new, healthier you.  They will mentally keep you in their box of what they expect you to be, & treat you accordingly. 

When I was growing up, I was completely submissive to my parents & did only as I was told.  I was a very good doormat.  As an adult who had focused on my healing for quite some time, my family still treated me as the doormat I once was.  Most spoke to me however they wanted, which was usually disrespectful & cruel.  This was especially evident during the time my father was dying. Their level of cruelty & vile words was astounding.  My family daily harassed & tried to bully me into ending no contact to say good bye to him.  Not one person cared about my thoughts or feelings on the matter, only theirs, & clearly they were furious they couldn’t force me to bend to their will.  The way they treated me is very common among narcissistic families. 

As you make small steps in your healing, even if those steps aren’t celebrated, they shouldn’t be diminished or totally disregarded.  Every single person changes over the course of their life, & that is to be expected.  Anyone who refuses to acknowledge changes you make or acts like something is wrong with you for growing clearly has problems. 

When you come across these people, please do NOT give in to whatever it is they want from you.  Be the best you that you can be.  Focus on your healing & never give up on it.  People like that don’t have your best interest at heart.  They only have their best interests at heart, & maybe even those of your abuser.  They aren’t worth trying to please.  Instead, be more concerned with pleasing God, pleasing yourself & pleasing those people you are the closest to, such as your spouse.  The rest really aren’t all that important, especially those who refuse to see you as anything but who you were at your worst. 

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Feeling Like You Must Forget Yourself To Focus On Others In Relationships

When I was growing up, I remember feeling like my entire purpose in life was only to serve people no matter any personal cost, never burden anyone, never inconvenience anyone in any way or even cost anyone anything.  This continued into adulthood where it was reinforced by the extremely toxic narcissists I have known. 

The result of this was me believing some pretty dysfunctional things.  One of those things was that if a relationship I was in was to succeed, I “only” had to forget all of my feelings, wants & needs, & focus completely on the other person.

While this may sound utterly impossible to believe, I assure you it is quite true.  I also can assure you that such dysfunctional beliefs are ingrained in many victims of narcissistic abuse. 

If you are someone who has thought this way, I am speaking to you today.

Whatever any narcissist told you that ingrained such beliefs in you is utterly WRONG!  You aren’t responsible for other people.  Of course, doing for others is good but not to the extent you hurt yourself.  By doing too much for other people, you are distracting them from God & focusing their attention on you.  When they have a need, rather than pray, they’ll simply expect you to meet that need, which in a way makes you a god in their life.  This is NOT good!!

It also isn’t healthy to be so completely self reliant.  That is a trauma response that stems from being hurt too much by other people.  I know – I struggle with this myself on a very regular basis, so I have a lot of experience in this area.  God made human beings to need relationships, to need other people.  A relationship with Him should be first & foremost, of course, but also we should have healthy relationships with other people.  Healthy relationships involve two people being there & doing for each other.

There is nothing wrong with accepting help from someone.  Whether the help is someone giving you money, doing something for you or helping you to do something, none of this is bad at all!  As I said, God made people to need relationships. 

You aren’t burdening anyone or even inconveniencing them.  You are NOT a problem in any way!  Don’t believe this lie that the narcissist told you!

In fact, the fact the narcissist has told you this is proof that there is something pretty wonderful about you.  Narcissists don’t choose average or even below average people to abuse.  They choose those who they see as attractive, loving, intelligent, talented or successful.  People who they believe will make them look good, in other words.  The narcissist saw something special in you, which is why he or she chose you to abuse. 

If your parent is the abusive narcissist in your life, you may think that doesn’t apply to you but it still does.  Yes, you were a convenient target, but your parent also thought there was something special about you. 

When you have moments where dysfunctional thoughts like I have mentioned come to mind, then please remind yourself that these thoughts are wrong.  They were planted there by someone who only did so for self serving reasons, not because these things are true.  You have all the same rights that other people have, no more or less.  You are worthy of expecting to be treated with love & respect.  You aren’t a burden to anyone, & anyone who truly loves you appreciates the special person that you are!

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When People Try To Shut Down Other People’s Anger

Many people can’t handle anger in people other than themselves.  As a result, they try to stop people from displaying their anger by invalidating them, dismissing them or even shaming them for being angry.  Clearly that is wrong in many ways.  While anger isn’t pleasant, it also isn’t a bad thing when handled properly.  People should be allowed to express it in reasonable ways without fear of being invalidated, dismissed or shamed.  And, no one should be so horrified by reasonable displays of anger that they try to stop them

I’m sure there are countless reasons people try to shut down healthy displays of anger.  Rather than try to guess them all, I’ll only deal with a few here today.

Narcissists can’t handle any emotions in people, but anger in particular bothers them.  Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has seen this first hand.  They will do whatever it takes to stop someone who is angry, in particular angry with them.  If they can prevent someone from feeling anger, their chances of getting away with abuse are much greater.

Many people were raised with angry parents.  Their parents did everything to display their anger in unhealthy ways such as guilt trips, invalidating, dismissing, screaming, & hitting.  Even years after the last abusive episode, these people are still terrified by anger in anyone.  They will do anything to avoid it, including trying anything they can to shut down someone who is angry in their presence. 

There are others who are excessively positive, & can’t handle any negativity whatsoever.  Rather than allow someone to feel valid, even righteous anger, they try to get that person to “cheer up” so they don’t have to deal with their “negativity”.

There are also people who naturally internalize their feelings.  It’s just a part of their personality.  Logical type personalities often do this.  They may come across as cold & unfeeling, but the simple fact is they don’t need to verbalize any feelings to process them.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t feel emotions, even anger.  They just don’t often feel the need to show those feelings to other people. They may look down on someone who is comfortable with expressing their feelings, especially anger, because they feel that is something that should be kept to oneself.

Some people are also very insecure & dysfunctional.  People like this try to make themselves into what they think other people would like them to be.  They seem to lack respect for people who don’t do the same, & people who show their anger clearly don’t do the same.  They are more concerned with authenticity than other people liking them.

There are also others who misunderstand what the Bible says about anger, & think it is always bad or sinful instead of realizing it is the behavior based on anger that can be bad.  They will try to shut down someone who is angry in an attempt to help them to stop “sinning”. 

When you understand reasons why someone could try to shut you down when you’re angry, it can be helpful because it shows you that there isn’t something wrong with you.  Every normal person feels anger sometimes & there is nothing wrong with showing that anger in a healthy way.

If someone clearly can’t handle your anger, it’s best if you don’t let them see your anger.  Venting to someone like this only will add to your anger because of their behavior.  Or, if they are the reason for your anger, them trying to get you to stop being angry at them will make things worse.  It’s far better to vent to someone who can handle all of your emotions, not only the good ones.  

If you do opt to talk to this person about why they insist on trying to shut you down when you’re angry, do so when you’re calmer.  State your case calmly & logically.  Statements like, “I feel like you can’t tolerate when I get angry, even when it’s not directed at you.  Why is that?”  “What do you think is going to happen when I get angry?”  Get the other person thinking & identifying their feelings.  It truly will help both of you to find a solution to this situation.  Obviously if the person in question is a narcissist, this won’t help, because they don’t want to change or have a healthy relationship.  Instead, try not to show the narcissist when you’re angry & when you do, don’t let them make you believe something is wrong with you for what you feel!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

How To Identify Safe People

When you have been in a relationship with a narcissist, whether the narcissist is your parent, friend or lover, it can skew how you see other people.  Although you want to find safe, genuine people to be in relationship with, it’s easy to become somewhat paranoid, seeing narcissistic traits everywhere.  It can become hard to figure out who is safe & who isn’t, but it doesn’t need to be.

In Matthew 10:16, Jesus tells His disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (KJV)  You need to follow this wisdom, too- it isn’t only for the disciples.  To do that, you need to remember what you have learned about spotting narcissists, but also you need to learn ways to identify safe people.

Safe people:

  • have empathy.  They understand how others feel, they don’t just say they do but you can tell they have no idea.
  • are thoughtful.
  • they have good boundaries.
  • they accept people as they are, without trying to change them.
  • they learn from their mistakes.
  • they accept responsibility when appropriate, rather than pass the blame onto someone else.
  • have a good sense of humor, & don’t make inappropriate jokes at the expense of other people.
  • don’t look to others for approval.
  • aren’t judgmental.

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

About Perspective Of Good & Bad Experiences

I love watching the old public tv show, “The Joy Of Painting” with Bob Ross.  He was an incredibly talented painter, & there is something so calming about watching him create his beautiful works of art.  I also especially enjoy the bits of wisdom he shared through each episode.  Not only bits of wisdom about painting, but about life in general. 

I was watching his show recently & he was painting a beautiful mountain scene in the fall.  During the course of painting, Mr. Ross said some interesting things.

The first thing he mentioned was as he was painting a lake.  To create dimension, he used dark & light colors together.  He said something like, “Don’t conceal all your dark areas or the painting will become flat.”  Immediately it made me think of the overly positive people of the world.  I don’t mean the average person who tries to be positive, but the ones who refuse to say anything negative or see anything but the good in people.  When people don’t admit that sometimes things are less than perfect & happy, they often are much the same way- flat.  They express only one mood- happy.  Honestly, I find this incredibly annoying to be around.  Not that I want to be around people who are always miserable either.  Somewhere in the middle is so much more comfortable & I think also healthy.  People who are real & honest are the most interesting people, in my opinion anyway, probably because they have many different aspects to their personalities & different moods.  They’re also more comfortable to be around, because you know they won’t judge you if you are anything less than completely positive & happy.  Many overly positive people also can come across very invalidating & shaming.  For example, if you’re laid up with a broken leg, it’s ok to be upset about that.  The unhealthy, overly positive type of person will say something like you should be glad it happened because now you have the time off to catch up on whatever hobbies you enjoy.  That comment can make you feel badly for being upset that you are in a miserable situation, even though you have every right to be upset.

Another interesting thing he mentioned was that you need darkness to show the light.  How true is that!  If you think of it in the natural realm, if you light up an average light bulb, it will look very different in the dark than it will on a sunny day.  In the dark, even a very dim bulb can look extremely bright.  Yet, in the sunlight, even the brightest bulb will appear pretty dim.  The contrast of dark & light always makes light appear brighter.

The same things happen with good & bad things in life.  The bad, or darker, things that happen make you appreciate the good, or lighter, things.  If you have only good things happen, you can count on not appreciating anything good that happens to you simply because that is the norm for you.  There is nothing to compare your experiences to that will make them appear worth appreciating.  If there is a balance of both good & bad things, however, the bad things truly will make you appreciate the good things.  The good things will look so much better in contrast to the bad, just like that dim light bulb will look especially bright in a very dark room.

It was kinda strange, realizing these things from watching a man paint a pretty landscape, but I hope you found them interesting like I did.  And, his show can be found on YouTube & I think it was Pluto TV where I found it.  Very worth checking out if you have the chance!

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

Best Friends

God gives His children many gifts.  One of the finest ones I’ve ever received is my best friend. Although since we met in 1988, truth be told, she’s more of a sister than a friend.  She is one of those rare people who is absolutely beautiful, inside & out.  She has taught me about what a best friend really should be just by being herself, & I thought I would share that with you.

Best friends should always help to strengthen your faith.  People are often quick to say, “I’ll pray for you” but honestly, how many people who say that also help to remind them that God is so much bigger than their problems?  As good as it is to have others pray for you, it’s also incredibly helpful to have someone encourage you to pray, to remind you what the Bible says regarding your situation & remind you of times in your past when God has came through for you.

Best friends should be encouraging.  They shouldn’t just encourage your faith but your soul too.  If you have doubts about your abilities & your best friend knows you have no valid reason to doubt, they should be your cheerleader.

Your relationship should be balanced.  During trying times, it’s normal for a close relationship to be out of balance as one friend helps the other, but this shouldn’t be the norm for any relationship.  Relationships should involve two people supporting each other, not one person constantly doing all of the work, constantly helping the other or one person not caring about what is happening in the other person’s life.

Best friends should know each other VERY well.  My best friend knows me better than anyone else in the world with the exception of my husband.  This means she not only knows my likes, dislikes, interests, morals & beliefs, but she knows how to relate to me well.  I know her probably just as well.  If we disagree about something, we can work it out easily because we know each other so well.

Best friends are real with each other.  My best friend has seen me at my worst.  I don’t mean just seeing me without makeup.  I mean seeing me as I recovered from the carbon monoxide poisoning, after arguments with my parents & husband, after flashbacks, & going through very hard times like abuse at the hands of my parents.  Not once did I ever feel I had to tell her I was fine.  I always can tell her today was awful & this is why, knowing she wouldn’t judge me for being too negative.  I also can count on her to tell me if I’m wrong about something.  Thankfully, she is kind about it, but she will offer constructive criticism or correction if necessary.

Best friends should love each other God’s way.  What I mean is that love isn’t superficial.  It is deep, it only wants what is best for each other, it is courteous & full of respect. 

Best friends shouldn’t shy away during the hard times.  The night I got the death notification about my mother was an extremely terrible night.  My first thought once I was at my mother’s home & starting to deal with the police was to call my best friend.  Immediately she said she’d pray the moment we hung up & asked what else she could do.  A few days later when my mother was buried, guess who was at my side?  Even when one of my cousins screamed at me, she didn’t budge.  It couldn’t have been easy for her to be there during these scenarios, especially at the cemetery, but she was there offering her unwavering support.

If your best friend isn’t like this, then it may be time to find one who is.  God made people to be in relationships of all kinds, so why settle for less than the best He has to offer?

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Enjoying Life, Mental Health

A Way To Cope With Dysfunctional People

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world with flawed people.  Many of those flawed people are very dysfunctional & they refuse to change.  There is no escaping them, so we all need to find ways to cope with them.

One way I have found to deal with such people is by accepting these people where they are.  Please don’t think I am saying people have the right to treat you any way they want & you should accept it.  That isn’t what I mean at all.  I mean recognizing that some people are comfortable operating in their own dysfunction & that is their right.  You have every right to protect yourself from such people, of course.  You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries.  You also have the right to distance from such people to protect yourself. 

Here is an example from my life of what I’m talking about.

For quite some time, my mother went through a phase of often telling me how good a mother she was.  She regaled me with stories of how she took such good care of me.  The stories were strange to say the least.  While there was some truth in many of them, she twisted some facts around to make herself look good.  Other times, she denied any wrong doing towards me at all.

When she first began to do this, I felt like she was invalidating the pain she caused me yet again.  First, by doing the things she did that caused the pain, then later by acting as if such things never happened or spinning the stories around to make herself look good.  And, to add insult to injury, she clearly wanted me to validate her delusions. 

Naturally, I was incredibly hurt & angry when this happened.  I literally could feel my blood pressure rise when she would start telling her tales, or if not then, when she wanted me to agree to her stories.  In time, I realized something though.  This was how she coped. 

I realized that my mother felt badly for doing abusive things to me.  Not like a normal person would though.  She didn’t feel badly for causing pain.  Instead, her actions were so embarrassing to her that she simply couldn’t bear the thought of anyone knowing what she had done.  That is why she started to reinvent the past.  She worked very hard to convince herself, others & even me that she didn’t do the horrible things she did or the events didn’t happen that way I remembered.  She spun facts around in some way to make her look good.  The fact it hurt me didn’t seem to cross her mind.  Often when she said or did things to hurt me, she looked pleased with herself, but that didn’t happen with her stories.  I think she was simply so focused on helping herself feel better, how it affected me simply didn’t occur to her. 

When these things happened, I prayed & God showed me what I told you just now.  This was how my mother coped.  Many people do this exact same thing, narcissist or not.  It is incredibly dysfunctional for sure, but it also is a person’s right to live as functionally or dysfunctionally as they want to do. Naturally I wanted better for her than this for my sake as well as hers, but there was nothing I could do to make my mother operate in a healthier way.  This was her choice & even her right to behave this way.

When I realized that, it helped me to accept my mother’s behavior for what it was.  Dysfunctional but also her right. I kept that in mind when she started sharing her stories, & I was no longer so negatively affected by them. 

I also realized that just because she wants to drag me into this behavior doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it.  While it’s true people have the right to behave badly, that doesn’t mean you have to participate in it.  I never validated my mother’s stories like she wanted me to.  Instead, I changed the subject or ended the phone call.  You too have the right to protect yourself from the awful behavior of other people. 

Accepting people where they are while not encouraging their dysfunctional behavior can make coping with them so much easier!

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Misconceptions About Introverts

Being an introvert means being someone who recharges through solitude & who prefers it to the company of large groups of people.  It’s really that simple, yet in spite of that, introverts are often a very misunderstood bunch.

Being an introvert myself, I have plenty of experience in this area.  One example that comes to mind is how extroverts who haven’t bothered to get to know me have mistakenly thought I believe that I’m a snob who thinks I’m much better than them simply because I’m quiet & reserved when around most people.  Another misconception is people assume all introverts are weird.  The majority of people who assume this do so simply because we don’t divulge a lot of information about ourselves to those who aren’t very close to us, so they fill in the blanks with what they think.

Those misconceptions can be annoying, but after being subjected to them my whole life, I’ve come to accept people think that way.  It no longer upsets me like it once did.  There is one misconception that still bothers me to no avail & I can’t seem to change my feelings on it however.  That is that introverts need to do the majority of the work in relationships, & when they fail to meet the other person’s expectations, they are criticized harshly for it.  I don’t see this as a common misconception for all introverts, but I have noticed it happens mostly with those who have suffered narcissistic abuse.

Those of us who have suffered at the hands of a narcissist were made to feel responsible for that relationship.  We were to please that person at all times, be there for them & basically be & do anything that person wanted.  Even after the relationship has ended, sometimes long after, we tend to be people pleasers.  People pleasers are naturally the ones who are given the task of maintaining relationships in their lives. 

While this often happens naturally, that doesn’t mean the behavior is right.  It isn’t. 

Relationships should be full of love, care for & compassion for each other.  It’s not fair to expect a person to treat you that way if you aren’t willing to treat them the same way. Being the one responsible for calling the other person, planning activities together & everything else in the relationship is exhausting.  Those things should be shared among both people in a relationship, not only one person’s responsibility! 

If you know an introvert who hasn’t contacted you in a while, it might be time to consider your behavior with that person.  Are you expecting them to do most or all of the work in the relationship?  If so, it’s time to apologize to this person & make some changes!  If not, then rather than get angry with the introvert for pulling away, think about that person.  There are a plethora of reasons an introvert may pull away in relationships, & the reasons aren’t always personal.

Sometimes, introverts get overwhelmed with life & need space from everyone.  It doesn’t mean they’re angry or hurt.  They just need some space to recharge.

Sometimes, introverts just don’t think about reaching out.  Again, it’s not personal.  It may mean they have a lot on their minds, are working extra hours, have someone else in their life in need of their attention more than you, they might simply be tired or sick or for some reason reaching out simply hasn’t crossed their mind.  I am this way & got worse after a brain injury.  I don’t think about calling friends all that often.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care.  Far from it!  I do care, & think of them often.  My brain just doesn’t seem to make the connection between good thoughts of them & picking up the phone for some reason. 

If you’re an introvert & in the position of being treated as if you are responsible for the relationships in your life, know that you are NOT solely responsible for those relationships.  You have every right to set boundaries & to expect people to treat you with respect, love & compassion.  If they can’t, then you also have the right to remove such people from your life.  It won’t make you a bad person.  It’ll make you a person with healthy self respect!

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Filed under Mental Health, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.)

Biggest Sale Of The Year On My Ebooks & Great Sale On Print Books!

From July 1-31, 2021, my publisher is offering 25% off all of my ebooks.  It’s a great time to buy any of them you have been thinking about getting for a low price!

You can find all of my ebooks at the link below:

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

If you prefer print, there is a sale going on now until July 2, 2021 for 15% off! Use code SHELFCARE15 at checkout. They can be found at the link below:

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

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

30% Off Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is having a really good sale on print books. 30% off!! To take advantage, use code BFCM30 at checkout.

My books can be found at the link below:

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

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About Being True To Yourself

Anyone who knows me knows I am deeply into music.  Although I love all kinds of music, one of my favorite bands ever is the famous rock band, Queen.  Their unique sound & ability to mix all types of sounds to make music is absolutely incredible to me.  “Normal” music bores me so the uniqueness that always has been Queen is super appealing to me.

Anyone who knows me also knows my way of thinking is a bit skewed from what normal people think.  That ties into my Queen fandom, so please bear with me….

Recently I was listening to my favorite Queen song, “The Show Must Go On.”  The song was written by Brian May, the band’s incredibly talented guitarist & by the way also an astrophysicist, for the band’s singer, Freddie Mercury as he was dying from AIDS.  The band members were incredibly close friends, & this song was his gift to Freddie.  The story goes, at the time they were to record it, Freddie was quite ill & the other band members weren’t sure he would be able to sing long enough to create the single.  Upon hearing their concerns, he slammed down a shot of liquor & said he’d do it… then proceeded to create the vocals in only one take.  Pretty impressive especially for a dying man, don’t you think?

Yet, this isn’t something that was un-typical for the magnificent singer.

An extremely shy man, Freddie Mercury created an on stage persona that was very different from his true personality.  His fans loved the extrovert he was on stage, yet in spite of that, when he was off stage, he stayed true to his true shy nature.  His private life stayed private as much as possible.

In spite of being known for being shy, Freddie Mercury had a healthy self esteem.  Many people assume being shy means having low self esteem, but that isn’t always the case.  He recognized his talent as well as his shortcomings.  As a result, he also was very accepting of others & non-judgmental.

Freddie Mercury was comfortable with who he was.  Ok, he was not perfect, but who is?  Even so, this man was clearly comfortable in his own skin.

Also, he wasn’t afraid to step out of the box.  He did many unique things.  The opinions of others really weren’t important to him.  That isn’t a bad thing at all!  Everyone should have such confidence in stepping out of the box!

Thinking of these things, I was reminded yet again that Freddie Mercury is quite the role model.  Yes, I know, he had issues.  But honestly.. don’t we all have some issues??  He was true to himself & that is a wonderful thing!  We should strive to be true to ourselves as well.

I think most of us can learn a thing or two from this amazing man!

Naturally as Christians, we need to keep God first in our lives.  That being said though, it sure wouldn’t hurt any of us to learn a few lessons from Freddie Mercury.

Whatever you do, stay true to yourself, be comfortable in your own skin & don’t be afraid to step outside of the box.  What other people think isn’t important.  And yes, this is aimed at those who survived narcissists!  You take care of yourself, be true to yourself & don’t be afraid of trying anything different.  If you want to dye your hair pink or blue or purple, then by all means, DO IT!!!  Get that tattoo, change your wardrobe into something entirely different from your normal.  Don’t let the opinions of other people determine what you should & shouldn’t do.  I know this can be so hard when you were raised by narcissistic parents, but it’s so important to break away from their mindset.  They don’t know you as the person God created you to be.  They don’t understand His will for your life.  And that is fine.  You know these things & you know that you need to do God’s will for your life.  Do it & enjoy every single moment!

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

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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God Truly Works All Things Out To Good

My husband & I were talking last night about the relationship with my parents, & I thought I’d share a bit of that talk with you…

I was quickly reaching a point probably about 10 years ago where I wanted no further contact with my parents.  I prayed about it, & knew God was leaving that decision up to me, & would support me either way.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I maintained the relationship.

As many of you know, in 2015 I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.  While I was in the emergency room & still very delirious, I told my husband not to tell our parents about this at any costs, because if he did, I would kill him.  In spite of being totally in my own delirious world at that time, I still have some vague memories of thinking of how my parents would respond to my situation & knew there was NO way I could handle their lack of concern.

While recovering, I remembered this, & it hit me… my word!!  I can’t even expect comfort from my parents when I nearly died!  How messed up is this?!  That revelation threw me for a loop.  I was incredibly sad & angry about it at the same time.  That was when I told God, enough is enough.  I want these people out of my life!  I’m done!  Yet oddly, this time I felt He was saying, “No.  Wait.  I’ll show you when the time is right.”

Well, I waited & kept saying, “Now?!  Please?!”  “Wait.”  *sigh*  Ok…

Then May 5, 2016, I had a big fight with my parents.  I knew that night my mother wouldn’t speak to me for quite a while, then she’d call like nothing ever happened.  That is how she always operated.  I also knew my father would demand to me to try to smooth over this fiasco.  What I figured would happen, happened.  Over the next few months, I made the decision that I was officially done with my mother, then later decided I was also done with my father.  I felt God was saying the timing was right, so I blocked my parents’ phone numbers.

For a while, I wondered why that timing was right & why I felt God didn’t want me to end contact for that period of time.  Eventually it hit me.  I learned a LOT in the final couple of years of my relationship with my parents.  I learned a lot more in that short time than in the other years.  I started to understand what makes narcissists tick & figured out some pretty effective ways to cope with them.  This gave me a LOT of good information to write about & to share with my readers.

I am so glad to be able to help people, in particular ones for whom no contact isn’t an option.  That is such an awful place to be!  I am grateful I learned what I did during that time, in spite of how incredibly miserable that time was.

I’m telling you this so that you hopefully will be inspired to think the same way about your situation.  I’m not saying be grateful for the abuse you endured of course.  Who could be?!  But, chances are there is some good that came of it.  Being abused gives people a deep empathy & caring for other people, because they understand suffering so well.  That is a blessing.  Learning how to spot abusive people & how to deal with the ones you can’t avoid is another blessing.  Learning about how to set & enforce healthy boundaries is still another.

Like I said, I’m not saying you should be grateful you were abused.  That would be weird & I’d think very unhealthy to boot.  However, if you can find some good in it all, it can help you a great deal, because you know that your pain wasn’t pointless.  It had some purpose.  What others meant to destroy you, not only didn’t accomplish that, but it gave you some blessings as well.  God wastes absolutely nothing, & He was able to glean something good out of anything, even something so awful.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (AMP)

So when you consider the awful experiences you have been through, please try to remember that some good things did come out of them!  Of course, it would’ve been nice if they came another way, but at least they did come to you.  Your pain wasn’t in vain!

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

Thoughts On Emotional Healing

Recently, seemingly out of nowhere, I suddenly felt as if a ton of bricks landed on me.  I have had one very hard, painful year & currently have quite a bit going on.  The intensity of it all hit at once.  I really felt overwhelmed for a while & couldn’t stop crying.

 

Eventually I did though, & realized what was happening.  I hadn’t really dealt with things very well.  In fact, I avoided thinking about some things, stuffing my emotions like I always used to do.  Old habits die hard, & apparently that one resurrected briefly without me realizing it.  I think my old habit returned because I had so much happening at once.  I didn’t have time to cope with one thing when three more bad things happened.

 

Upon realizing all of this, I have formed a plan.  I will take things one issue at a time.   When I first realized I had problems stemming from my childhood, I thought I could deal with everything at once.  Forgive my parents, accept the fact they were abusive, face being depressed & anxious, think positive, & all would be fine.  Naive?  Oh yes.. but truthfully, I didn’t realize how deep my issues went or have any grip on this emotional healing stuff.  Now I know better, & I have learned that a lot of times, it’s best to face one issue at a time, as it arises.

 

What I mean is this…

 

As an example from my life, part of my issue is the fact that when my father was dying, so called “family” came out of the woodwork to tell me what I needed to do regarding my parents,what a horrible person I was for not obeying them or “forgiving & forgetting” & not “honoring” my parents.  Mind you, this is on top of the death of my father.  Instead of lumping this all into one thing to deal with, I’m dissecting it, & dealing with each issue as I am able.  Here are the issues:

 

  • My father died.
  • I was attacked by many people at that time over a few months, but in particular my father’s final month of life.
    • Some people were strangers, so dealing with their nonsense isn’t too hard.  I don’t know them so they don’t mean anything to me.
    • Others were family & those relatives fall into 2 categories:
      • Family I once had been close to & felt betrayed they treated me this way.
      • Other family I never was close to so the fact they attacked me was a big shock in addition to the pain of the things they said & did.

 

I think it’s healthier to deal with things this way because the events of that time are very distinct & complex, not to mention overwhelming to face all at once.  Even just the one part with family is difficult because there were two very different dynamics at play.  My relationships with these people were very different, so naturally that means I must deal with the situations differently.  Plus, doing this also gives me smaller things to cope with rather than trying to tackle one huge issue.  Smaller bits will be easier to cope with, which is especially important since I have C-PTSD.  Having the disorder means my brain is broken.  I have to treat myself gentler than a person without C-PTSD treats themselves.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed too, Dear Reader, I’m sorry.  It happens sometimes & it’s rough, I know.  Just try to remember to approach the situation in small doses, especially if you too have C-PTSD.  Break it down into manageable parts, & deal with those however works best for you rather than tackling the big picture all at once.  The little things will add up to form the big picture.  Also remember, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  (KJV)  Sometimes when you’re facing your pain, it feels like you are all alone.  People don’t understand, & may avoid or even abandon you during your darkest hours.  God isn’t that way though.  He loves you & is with you no matter how bad things may be.  xoxo

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Boundaries Are Important, & Not Only With Narcissists

Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.

Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries.  This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone.  Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused.  Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no.  How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?

Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard.  They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility.  Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility.  Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours.  You do not even need to have an opinion on these things.  If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.

No one can control someone with healthy boundaries.   You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.

By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide.  You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated.  It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.

Boundaries also enforce consequences.  Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems.  Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere.  People need consequences for their actions, good or bad!  How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works?  That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter.  Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer?  This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.

When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it.  They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be.  Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems.  Unsafe people will not.  If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you.  Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.

For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:

• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?

When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.

You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:

• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
• “No.”

Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary.  Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is.  If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.

Remember to respect the boundaries of others too.  You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life.  Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions.  And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others.  People are also allowed to freely express their emotions.  While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them.  If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.

You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this!  Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway!  The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks.  You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.

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

Getting The Most Out Of Your Life

Three years ago today, I suffered the most terrifying trauma of my life. I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. My husband & I didn’t know it that day, but apparently somehow a bunch of debris suddenly gathered behind my chimney’s flue, pushing it slightly closed. Not enough to smoke up the house when the fireplace was lit, but it was just enough to fill it with carbon monoxide after hubby left for work.

As seems to be my new February tradition, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this recently. Coming close to death definitely makes you reevaluate your life. Plus the damage to my brain changed my personality a great deal, which is actually a good thing in some ways. I’ve gotten better at self care & not tolerating abuse among other things, so I’m still getting to know this new me & what I want & need.

One thing that I realized that I need to remind myself of frequently is life can change drastically or even end in an instant. (I certainly didn’t wake up on February 27, 2015 expecting to nearly die that evening or that it was going to be the first day of a new life full of weird health problems & a lot of brain damage.) I think it’s an excellent idea to life life without regrets, because you don’t know when or how your life will change or even end.

I realize living every day like it’s your last isn’t quite possible. You still have a job, housework, budgeting, family obligations & what not to consider of course. But, I think it’s an excellent idea to get in any joy in life where you can, to do things you want to do or try new things as often as possible. Even little things can make a big difference. Go for a drive without a destination in mind & blare your favorite music on the radio. Grab a milkshake once in a while. Buy a new color of nail polish (one of my favorites) or dye your hair a fun, funky color. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, why you love them & do it often. Make time for a hobby you love or pick up an old hobby you once abandoned. If time is an issue, look over your schedule & streamline it. I have a routine for my housework that helps me to maintain a clean home with spending the minimum amount of time on it. Doing a little almost daily is easier for me than doing a lot a couple of days each week since I run out of energy quickly. It also allows me more time available for writing, hobbies, spending time with friends or whatever I want.

It seems to me that society values being busy, but that just isn’t healthy or conducive to enjoying every moment in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being productive 24/7! Even God took a day of rest after creating everything, & then told His people to do the same! (see Genesis 2:1-3) He did NOT create people to be non stop busy. He created people to work & also to take time to enjoy their lives. When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to think about what a well lived life you had & not what a busy one you had?

Another thing society values that I realized isn’t healthy is being overly positive. Yes, positivity is good. It can help you avoid depression. However, being too positive can set you up for disappointment. Did you know many people who commit suicide are known for being optimistic? They became depressed when they were repeatedly disappointed.

Being too positive can set you up for feeling shame, too. If you’re very positive yet end up feeling negatively or unable to find good in a situation, it can make you feel terrible shame. That’s not good! If you know very positive people, you also know you can’t tell them you’re sad or disappointed, because they’ll make you feel ashamed of yourself. They’re not people you can be real & honest with, & that’s not good either!

I’ve found I have much more peace & less stressful being realistic. Sure, I look for the good, but I’m also not ashamed for getting depressed, angry or disappointed sometimes. I’m also not ashamed to say sometimes, things just stink & I can’t find anything positive in the situation.

Another thing to consider… your relationships. While soul searching after my awful experience, I also took the time to evaluate the relationships in my life. When I realized that through the complete delirium of the poisoning, I still had the sense to tell my husband as soon as I saw him never tell my parents about this, it was a huge wake up call for me. I knew anyone who wouldn’t care that I nearly died couldn’t be a part of my life, & they wouldn’t have cared. I also realized some friends weren’t good for me or at least they weren’t what I wanted in a relationship. The relationships were too one sided & some didn’t even care about what I experienced. Saying, “You’ll be fine”, “But you didn’t die!” or “Glad you’re ok.. so anyway *subject change*” after such an experience showed me how cold & uncaring these people were.

What about your relationships? If, God forbid, something terrible happened to you, could you count on the people in your life being there for you? Would they be care about your pain & suffering or would they brush you off? If they wouldn’t be there for you, then it might be time to consider whether or not you really want them in your life. You deserve good, loving people with whom you can have an equal & loving relationship. There is nothing wrong with refusing to settle for less than that!

John 10:10 is beautifully said in the Amplified translation: “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus died not only so we could spend eternity with Him & have a relationship with God the Father, but also so we can enjoy life while we’re alive here on this planet. There is no good excuse not to enjoy your life! You deserve it! Jesus obviously thought so too! So why not start thinking about ways you can add more joy to your daily life?

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

Reassuring The Narcissist When You’re The One Who Is Hurting

Why do narcissists expect you to reassure them when you are the one going through problems?!  This seriously irks me.  Maybe I’ve lost all patience as I’ve gotten older, but lately this pushes my buttons badly.

My husband will be visiting his parents today, & I’ll be alone. We’ve spent a few holidays together in our 20 years as a couple, but most he has spent with his family.  I’m ok with it now.  I decided to change my perspective several years ago & now look at holidays as a laid back day I can enjoy by myself.  (I discussed this in my last postif you care to read about it.)

So last night, my father called.  He invited me to go to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents again.  I thanked him & declined again.  Suddenly he has a bee in his bonnet about me spending a holiday alone.  I ended up reassuring him it’s ok.  This really ticked me off.  Why is it I’m the one who in the past has been hurt badly by this, yet I am supposed to reassure my father who isn’t in the least bit affected by this scenario?  How does this make sense on any level??   Yet, I realize this is a very common scene when dealing with a narcissist, be they overt or covert.

When my dog, Danya died suddenly in 2009, my mother called as my husband & I were trying to get his body (he was over 100lbs) to the car so we could take him to the crematorium.  I told her what we were doing, & she went on to tell me how hard this was for her, & wanted me to comfort her.  Really?  She never gave Danya the time of day when he was alive…

When I told my father I was divorcing my ex-husband, his response was, “Can I still be friends with him?”  He was upset that he might lose his “friend,” & I told him it was up to him & the ex (even though inside I was hurt this was even an option).

If you think about it, I’m sure you have had similar experiences with your narcissistic parent as well.  Am I right?

I am trying to think of ways to deal with this especially annoying habit.  So far, all I can come up with is to say you have to go then leave the room or hang up the phone, or change the subject.  After all, narcissists aren’t like normal, healthy people.  If you explain that the behavior is wrong or painful, they will take offense & either go into a narcissistic rage or they’ll use the behavior more often just to hurt you.

If anyone else has a better idea, I would love to hear it.  Not just for my benefit but for the benefit of others who read this blog as well.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

“You Need To Do Something!”

Why is it when people hear you say something about your abusive parents, they say that YOU need to fix it rather than saying something to your abusive parents? That never fails to amaze me.

Yet again recently, I heard another comment along these lines. It was only one of MANY I’ve heard over the years, & when I thought about that, it really ticked me off. Over the years, I have heard things like, “YOU need to make things better with your parents” or, “YOU need to get into counseling so YOU can figure out how to fix things with your parents!” more times than I can count. The truth is I have tried to make things better with my parents, & even got into counseling when I was seventeen to try to figure out how to make things better with them. I have done all the work while they have done nothing.

Time & time again, I have tried talking to my parents about how their behaviors hurt me, & they don’t make any changes. They don’t listen to me enough to hear what I have said, nor care enough to change anyway. Two examples popped into my mind- I told my father that it really hurt me badly to hear him complain about my mother & their bad marriage to me. He said, “Oh ok. I’m sorry. But-” then he went on to complain about her for another forty-five minutes (I timed it). Since, he has not stopped griping about his marriage problems to me every time we spoke, aside for a short two month period after his sister spoke to him on the topic. Suddenly, he was right back at it again, though. The other example is with my mother. She insults my cats when she sees them. This one is too fat, that one too affectionate, etc. I have told her over & over again to knock it off, yet she didn’t. One day on the phone, she asked if she ever offended me with something she’s said about the cats. *sigh* I told her yes & reminded her that I’d told her to stop it. She was shocked- she claimed she had no idea I was upset, let alone said anything to her.

So please tell me – why I am the one who should do all the work on a relationship with these people?

All relationships are a two way street, whether they are friendships, romantic relationships or a parent & child relationship. Any relationship that is one sided is not healthy! Even healthy relationships may be a bit one sided sometimes, but when that is the norm? It needs to stop, otherwise anger, bitterness & resentment build up in the one who does all of the giving. That person also can lose self-esteem, because she may learn she is simply around to be used.

Don’t take those guilt trips when people tell you that you need to fix things with your abusive parent(s). I don’t, & I don’t believe I am being a bad person for it! You have every right to expect to be treated with civility & simple respect & courtesy, just like every other person. Doing all of the work in a relationship, even with a parent, is NOT civil, respectful or courteous to either person involved.

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Safe vs. Unsafe People

Good day, Dear Readers!

Over the last few years, I have reached the end of my tolerance for dealing with abusive, selfish, manipulative or narcissistic people. Having dealt with a couple of people like this recently, I thought I’d share some ways to recognize safe people vs. unsafe people.  So many people who have survived some type of abuse often attract unsafe people, & have trouble recognizing safe people.  I was that way too, but have learned the difference.  I hope this post will help you to learn the difference!

Safe people respect your time- they don’t assume you are going to wait for them to call or show up at a certain place. Unsafe people, however, have no respect for your time or life.

Safe people ask, rather than make demands. Unsafe people are entitled, believing they deserve whatever they want or need, even at the expense of others.

Safe people do not jump to conclusions. For example, if you don’t answer the phone, they don’t call you back 15 times in a row. Safe people assume you are unavailable, & either wait for you to call them back or they call you back several hours later or the next day. Unsafe people call you back repeatedly, assume you didn’t answer the phone because you are mad at them, or try to make you feel guilty or get mad at you for not answering their call. That is a control tactic- forcing you to deal with them on their terms.

Safe people aren’t judgmental & critical. They don’t say things like, “well if I were you, I would-” or judge or criticize you for decisions you make, things you like, etc. Those are invalidating behaviors are cruel!

Safe people help & support you, rather than mock you or tell you how your problem affects them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as I have experienced this many times. The day my dog, Danya, died suddenly & unexpectedly, while my husband & I were trying to gather his body (he was over 100lbs- not easy to move him!) to take him to the vet’s for cremation, my mother called. I told her what happened & what we were doing. She went on & on about how upset she was over his death, not asking once how my husband, I or our pets were doing.

Safe people don’t expect you to be their “trash can.” What I mean is when a person dumps all of their problems on you, & expects you to listen to whatever they want to talk about while ignoring anything you have to say. That is being a trash can. Unsafe people do this trash can thing all of the time.

I hope this helps you to recognize the safe, good people in your life. Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by safe, loving, compassionate, empathetic people. You do NOT deserve to be abused & mistreated!

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

What Is The Difference Between Guilt & Shame?

Many people who have survived abuse, especially childhood abuse, don’t realize there is a vast difference between healthy, normal guilt & toxic shame.  We are taught from day one to feel shame- ashamed of who we are, what we think/feel/do/like/don’t like & more.  This is absolutely deadly to one’s self-esteem.  When you are ashamed of who you are, you want to hide from the world- you don’t want to expose anyone to the terrible person you believe you are.  You would love to be invisible.

Guilt, however, is a very useful, healthy tool in life.  Guilt doesn’t make you feel ashamed of yourself- guilt makes you feel ashamed of something you did that was wrong instead.  Guilt speaks of the action, while shame speaks of who you are.  For example, if you come home after a very trying day, & snap at your husband, you should feel guilt.  Enough guilt for acting that way to make you say, “I’m sorry, Baby.. I’ve had an awful day.  It’s not fair of me to take it out on you though.”  Once your apology is accepted, you let it go.

Shame however, would make you tell yourself that you are a terrible person.  You shouldn’t have acted that way- only a bad person acts like that!  You may or may not apologize- shame may make you feel too embarrassed to apologize- but you will beat yourself up for being such a bad person.

Do you see the difference?  Guilt says, “I did something wrong,” where shame says, “I am wrong & bad.”

Do you have a healthy sense of guilt, or do you feel shame?  If you are in doubt, ask yourself how you feel after doing something that hurts another person’s feelings.  (And yes, you will- we ALL do hurtful things sometimes, no matter how careful we are to avoid it).  If you quickly do what you can to make amends & let it go, then you are feeling healthy guilt.  If you beat yourself up for being a terrible person, you feel shame.

It can be hard to overcome shame, especially after a lifetime of experience with it, but it can be done.  As you work on your healing, your self-esteem naturally improves.  You also see things in a much healthier perspective- you begin to realize that you are NOT at fault for everything, as you heard you were when you were a child.  You realize that things were done to you that you didn’t deserve, & nothing you could have done would have made you deserve to be abused.  These things help you to feel less & less shame as time passes.  

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