Tag Archives: in-law

A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them.  Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness.  Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well.  Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness. 

Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced.  One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things.  This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent.  This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.

Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families.  They often want their children to stay close to them forever.  One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions.  They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things.  This doesn’t stop in adulthood.  When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law.  They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child.  These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family.  They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse.  Their lies are often completely outrageous.  As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this.  Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up. 

When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage.  One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying.  The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies.  Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth.  Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.

If you are the one in this situation, question everything.  Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you.  Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart.  Often family can be the cruelest to their own.  When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind.  Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening?  Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say.  If it helps, write things down.  Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate.  Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective.  Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.  

If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense.  This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all.  If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did.  When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments.  Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible.  If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.

You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.

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

When Narcissistic In-Laws Say “You Stole My Son Or Daughter!”

In the years I’ve been writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’ve talked to lots of people.  As if my own experience didn’t teach me enough, I’ve learned a lot more from the wonderful people who shared their stories with me.

One of the things I’ve learned about people with narcissistic in-laws is what I want to talk to you about today.

Narcissistic in-laws often are cruel to the spouse of their adult child in countless ways.  One of them is shaming that person for having complete control over their adult child.  This often manifests for others in the same way it did for me.  Like many others with narcissistic in-laws, I was accused of “stealing” my husband & keeping him from his family. 

For the sake of simplicity & also because it’s just fun to say it this way, I will refer to the accusers as “in-laws” & those of us who supposedly steal someone from their family as “outlaws.” 

Narcissistic in-laws must have things their way in every area, including in their children’s lives.  Many would prefer that child not marry, so that way, there is no interference in the control they have over their adult children.  If he or she does marry however, they need to marry someone of which the in-laws approve.  Marrying someone who doesn’t meet up to the in-laws’ standards means things will get ugly, in particular for the outlaw. 

In addition to the frequent scathing criticisms, excluding & shunning the outlaw, & a thousand other ways they let the outlaw know they are not good enough for this family. One thing almost all narcissistic parent in-laws or narcissistic siblings will say is that the outlaw stole the victim from his or her family.  Outlaws like me who are accused of this are almost always shocked since they are hardly controlling people, let alone manipulative enough to control their spouse.  Yet, the accusation is said anyway.

Chances are, when this outlaw talks to their spouse, the victim of the in-laws, he or she will defend the in-laws, minimize their behavior or even deny it entirely.  Naturally this causes a lot of problems in the marriage.

If you are in this situation of being an outlaw as I have been, I know it’s hard.  You definitely will need some ways to cope while minimizing the chances of the in-laws getting their way & destroying your marriage.

When you & your spouse discuss the in-laws, maintain a calm demeanor as much as you possibly can.  Showing your anger will make your spouse feel he or she must defend & protect the in-laws.  Staying calm minimizes the possibility of that happening so you can have an actual discussion about the problem.

Use logic & ask questions when your spouse defends the in-laws.  It is totally reasonable to ask why your spouse thinks it’s acceptable for your in-laws to do what they do to you both.  Ask why he or she doesn’t consider their behavior disrespectful to you, your spouse & your marriage.  Ask for examples of the bad behavior they accuse you of doing.  Expect answers, & don’t let your spouse avoid giving them.  Being forced to think about these things will hurt, so he or she most likely won’t want to give them, but it is vital.  He or she needs to see the truth of the situation in order to deal with it correctly.

If your spouse refuses to see the truth, you may be forced to sever all ties with the in-laws.  It won’t make your spouse happy, but you must protect your mental health & avoid these toxic people.  If you must do this, stick to your convictions & refuse to talk to them at all while not telling your spouse that they must choose you or their family.  The person who gives the ultimatum on these situations almost always ends up abandonded, which is why I say that. 

Most of all, pray, pray, pray!  In such a delicate situation, you need God’s wisdom & for Him to guide your timing & words.  Leaning on Him is the smartest thing you can do in this situation.

I truly wish you all the best in your situation, & am praying for you!

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Regarding Snooping Narcissists

Years ago, much like many other authors, I had a Facebook page dedicated to my writing.  It was a typical page.  I shared updates of new books I wrote, links to blog posts, helpful memes & the like.  A good friend of mine has admin privileges on that page.  I had a lot of folks blocked that I didn’t want to unblock anyone to see if they followed my page, so this seemed like a good solution.

Then in 2013, I was on the receiving end of harassment from one of my narcissistic relatives.  Although I blocked this person, somehow she still followed my page as I learned from my fellow admin.  My friend blocked my relative from the page, but somehow she still showed up as someone who liked the page.  She deleted & banned my relative several times with the same results.  I finally unblocked her temporarily then deleted & banned her myself from my page in the hopes that would solve the problem somehow.  Since I had unblocked this relative, I thought it might be wise to unblock others to make sure they too weren’t following my page, & was shocked.  One of my sisters in-law that I hadn’t spoken to since 2002 was following it.  I decided to re-block those I had unblocked, shut down my page & focus on my private group instead since I could control who I allowed in my group easier than page followers.

My relative was determined to follow my page as one more way to harass me, I believe.  I read through & found no comments or “likes” from my sister in-law though.  It was baffling at first, but eventually I think I figured out why she followed my page.  She wanted to snoop. I believe her motive is similar to many other narcissists, so I thought I’d discuss this with you today.

Narcissists will snoop on their victims in the hopes of seeing the person who severed ties with them failing &/or miserable without them.  Nothing would make them happier than to see that person they tried to destroy utterly despondent without them. 

In many cases, some snooping people are narcissists & are flying monkeys for another narcissist.  The reason they snoop is to find out any information that the other narcissist may find useful.  They get something from “helping” out that narcissist.  It may be money, favor or in the case of covert narcissists, simply enjoying what they are doing while looking like a good person just trying to help.

Narcissists are also nosy.  They simply want to know what their former victim is up to just because they think they have the right to know these things.  I suppose that is part of their sense of entitlement – they believe that no matter what they have done to someone, they still have the right to know everything about that person. They couldn’t be more wrong!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me, that last reason is the worst.  It just ticks me off to no end that some person who treated me like dirt & trashed me behind my back would think that they somehow are entitled to know anything about my life.  It astounds me that anyone can think it’s acceptable behavior to want to know things about my life while not having any relationship with me or trying to work on having a relationship with me.  That is seriously messed up!

Unfortunately in this age of technology, completely hiding isn’t an option.  You can block someone from calling or texting you, but they can use another phone.  You can block their email address, but they can reach you by using a different one.  The same goes for social media – they can use or create a different profile to see you after you blocked their original one. 

I figured out some ways to handle the situation that may help you too.

I don’t answer calls from phone numbers I don’t recognize.  If I know someone will call from a number I don’t know, such as a repairman, I’ll ask for their number or at least what time they will call so I can answer the call without worry.

I keep all social media posts not related to my writing private, so only trusted friends can see them. 

I have blocked all narcissists’ phone numbers, emails & on social media, & continue to block them when they find alternative ways to contact me or snoop.  Eventually they do get tired of constantly finding new ways to reach you, although it may take a long time to do so.  My relative I mentioned earlier?  She bothered me for four years, & the last time was only to hurt me because she knew my father was dying at that time. Narcissists do love to kick a person when they’re down.

I stumbled across an alternative to blocking on social media I find to be entertaining. Rather than simply blocking, I share things on public just for the nosy people.  It’s usually educational things about being nosy narcissists or flying monkeys because I honestly hope they recognize how dysfunctional they are. But, I also have some fun & share periodic memes about online stalkers or how people need to mind their own business.  Doing this probably means the in-laws have plenty to say about what an awful person I am, but since their opinions are irrelevant to me, it doesn’t bother me at all. If you feel that same way, you might find this tactic as entertaining as I have. 

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When Families Are Too Close

Most people consider close knit families to be a good thing.  And they really can be a blessing!  They obviously love & support each other through everything life throws their way, yet everyone still has their own life & a healthy amount of individuality & privacy.  Sometimes however, families become too close.  These families are known as enmeshed, & they are truly toxic.  Families like this have very lax or non existent boundaries, dysfunctional patterns in relationships & they discourage any independence.  Children who grow up with such families end up as dysfunctional adults until they break the chains of enmeshment.

Enmeshed parents are overly dependent on their children.  They rely on their children for emotional support while offering nothing in return.  They also expect their children to share their beliefs, values, to meet their expectations even into adulthood all while ignoring their own & they also expect their children to keep their parents as their top priority during their entire lifetime above anyone else including a spouse, children & even God.  These parents believe their children need nothing from the world beyond their family, & looking to that world is discouraged.  Parents like this also expect their children to maintain the status quo of dysfunction, & are chastised severely if they don’t.  Privacy doesn’t happen between parents & children, meaning any topic is suitable for discussion, any item is considered appropriate for the parents to snoop through (purses, dressers, closets, laundry, etc).  Families like this remind me of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The children are supposed to be concerned of nothing beyond the Collective, in other words the enmeshing parent.  And, if those children opt to marry, their spouse is supposed to be assimilated, also focusing on the Collective.  Any hint of not behaving in this manner is seriously frowned upon & results in shunning, shaming & treating the spouse terribly.

Children who grow up in these dysfunctional enmeshed families have plenty of issues.  They have virtually no knowledge of their own needs, often minimizing or completely ignoring them.  Their goals aren’t their own, but their parents’.  These children never learn how to say no in a healthy way.  They have serious trust issues with other people, & a fear of abandonment in relationships.  They also feel overly responsible, in particular for taking care of their parents.  Possibly the saddest part is children who grow up like this never have the opportunity to make their own choices & mistakes, which are needed to form their own identity.  Without this, these children grow up with low or even non existent self esteem. 

If you recognize yourself in this information, rest assured you can heal from the damage done.  I can’t tell you it will be quick & easy, but I can tell you it is very possible.

I always recommend a close relationship with God because it is of the utmost importance in every area of life.  It is also incredibly helpful with healing from abuse.  (And, make no mistake about it – enmeshment IS abuse!)  Allowing God to help you heal & show you what to do is going to be vital to healing.  He knows best what you need to do & how you need to do it, so let Him show you & give you whatever you need to do these things.

There are some basic things that everyone needs to do to break this enmeshment with family.  You will need to start by setting boundaries.  There is information about this on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com, so you can start there.  Learning what is & is not your responsibility will be extremely helpful for you.  And, start small, such as not answering a text immediately.  Starting small will help you to gain the confidence to set more & more challenging boundaries in time.

Get to know yourself.  Learn who God made you to be, what you truly like & dislike,  & how to identify your feelings over what your enmeshed parent told you to feel.  To do this, start paying attention to how you really feel about things & don’t judge your feelings. 

Accept that there is no shame in not having your parents as your top priority as an adult.  People need to have God as their top priority, period.  If you are married, your spouse should be your second priority, followed by your children, then your parents. 

Your enmeshed parent isn’t going to like these behaviors, & that is your parent’s right.  You also have rights, including doing what you need to do to be a healthy, functional person!  Don’t let your parent’s disapproval take you off that path!

Do what you need to do to break free of this enmeshment.  It won’t be easy but it absolutely will be worth it!

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

When Covert Narcissists Act Immature, Incompetent, & Dumb

A very common tactic of covert narcissists is to portray themselves as immature, incompetent & even dumb. Considering all narcissists want to be seen as special & even superior people, this sounds wrong, but I can assure you, it happens.  I’ve seen it first hand.

Whether a narcissist is overt or covert, two of their main goals are to abuse & control their victims.  Appearing not overly capable allows narcissists to do just this while receiving no consequences whatsoever, because people often believe that the narcissist who behaves this way simply doesn’t know any better.  Consider these scenarios

A child who grows up with a covertly narcissistic parent like this often is assigned the role of protector of that parent.  Since narcissists often marry, mostly an overt & a covert narcissist, the child protects the covert narcissist parent from the overt one.  The covert narcissist can get away with just as much if not more abuse than the overt one, because the overt is in the spotlight.  There is no denying the abusive ways of the overt narcissist.  Covert narcissistic parents however, can fly under the radar, abusing their children quietly through manipulation while getting their children to protect them from the overt narcissistic parent.  They end up looking like the good parent, & the child honestly believes they are until they learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  This is how I grew up with a covert narcissist father & overt narcissist mother, & my story is very common.

Consider the common scenario of the covertly narcissistic mother in-law who is verbally abusive to her daughter in-law when they are alone, & never in front of her son.  When the daughter in-law tells her husband, this can go several ways.  One is the husband defends his mother.  He hasn’t seen her do anything his wife says she has, so he doesn’t believe his wife is telling the truth about his mother.  Or, he defends his mother saying yes, she can be hurtful sometimes, but she just doesn’t know any better so the wife can’t get mad at her.  Or, maybe he does believe his wife, & then confronts his mother.  His mother claims she had no idea what she said would upset his wife.  She cries & says she meant no harm, she was just trying to help.  He believes this victim act & stops defending his wife to his mother rather than face her crocodile tears.  By acting immature & unintelligent, this person is able to get away with abusing her daughter in-law, having her son protect her instead of his wife & she has caused a giant rift in their marriage.

Using a covertly narcissistic mother in-law as an example again (since I have plenty of experience in this area), consider this scenario.  This mother in-law hates that her recently married son isn’t spending as much time with her as he once did.  Naturally all parents aren’t thrilled by that, but most take it in stride as a natural course of events.  Narcissistic parents however take it as a personal slight against them, as if their adult child’s new spouse married them for the sole purpose of stealing them from their parents.  Rather than simply call her son & say, “I miss you.  Would you & your wife like to come to dinner next weekend?  I’ll make your favorite dish”, covert narcissistic mothers plan.  The mother in this situation can come up with all sorts of things she needs her son to help her with because she claims she doesn’t know how to do these things.  Since he does, she needs his help.  She often creates more & more tasks for him, taking him away from his new wife.  She may even invent a need for him on his anniversary or his wife’s birthday, claiming she forgot the date.  If his wife protests, he feels torn because although he may want to spend more time with his wife, he feels badly for his poor helpless mom who needs him.  He may even see his wife as unreasonable & selfish.  Another giant rift in the adult son’s marriage can be caused by this situation.

If you recognize someone you know in these behaviors, then chances are excellent you’re dealing with a covert narcissist.  If that is the case, there are some ways to help you handle this situation. 

Never provide this person personal details or information, since that will be used against you at some point. 

Never show them any emotions, because showing emotions helps narcissists figure out what works in hurting or abusing victims. 

Do NOT allow this person to manipulate you.  Recognize the signs & change the subject, hang up the phone or leave when the manipulation starts. 

Try never to be alone with them.  Covert narcissists behave better when there are witnesses. 

Don’t ever think they just don’t know any better.  They DO know better, but they don’t see a reason to behave better. 

Never forget that no one can be devious & stupid at the same time. 

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Narcissistic In-Laws

For simplicity sake, I’m going to refer to the victim in this article as he & the spouse as she, but the roles easily could be reversed.

When you are married to someone with narcissistic family members, your life is full of challenges.  Narcissistic families expect their chosen victim to do as they want, which includes marrying only someone of whom they approve.  When that doesn’t happen, that victim & spouse’s life becomes incredibly challenging.

One common problem in these situations is when the victim doesn’t recognize the level of dysfunction in the family.  He may recognize that his family can be difficult or bossy, but doesn’t see them as the cruel or manipulative people they truly are.  She however, recognizes the depths of the situation.  When she tries to say anything about his family, he becomes defensive.  She gets frustrated, he gets frustrated, an argument happens & nothing gets resolved. 

This scenario is very common, & easily can result in divorce if handled the wrong way.

As tempting as it can be for you if you see the situation clearly, asking your spouse to choice you or his family is never a good idea!  The one who gives the ultimatum usually ends up on the losing end.  The person receiving the ultimatum feels unfairly pressured & manipulated.  On the rare chance the one receiving it goes along with it, he will end up feeling resentful in time.

When you feel you must mention the situation, do so calmly & as non-accusatory as humanly possible.  Anger will make your spouse defensive because he’ll feel as if you’re attacking him & his family.  Try to remain calm & leave emotion out of the situation as much as possible.  Men respond better to logic than emotions, & in this case may feel as if the emotions are less about emotions & more of an attempt at manipulation.  Women in these situations may respond to calmly expressed emotions, however, such as, “I feel like your mom tries to interfere too much in our marriage.  It makes me really uncomfortable.”

Have your own boundaries firmly in place as much as possible with your in-laws.  Don’t let them manipulate you or push you around.  Remain calm when setting those boundaries, so if your spouse sees this happen, he can’t say you were mean or unreasonable.  Your narcissistic in-law will be angry however, & your spouse will see their irrational behavior as you remain calm.

There may be a time when you have to go no contact with your narcissistic in-laws.  This can cause problems in your marriage.  A person still under the spell of their narcissistic family may not understand your reasoning.  If you firmly believe no contact is the best solution in your situation, calmly explain to your spouse that this isn’t you trying to manipulate him or come between him & his family.  Instead, this is what you feel is best for you to do.

Always remember not to have expectations of your spouse where his family is concerned.  Expectations put pressure on him & make his situation even more difficult.  Also, he may resent them, no matter how reasonable they are, which means he will resent you.  This will push him closer to his family & make him pull away from you.

Try to be patient & understanding of the situation.  This is hard, I know, but if you too had a narcissistic family, you understand how hard it is to be under their influence before recognizing what they really are.    

At some point, he is going to get frustrated or angry with his family & need to talk about it.  When this happens, do NOT say anything like, “I told you so!” or, “I always knew she was like that.”  Listen quietly while offering your support.  You can gently state the truth in a matter of fact way. If he asks for advice, give it without being critical. 

Don’t forget to take care of yourself in this situation, too.  Pray.  Write in your journal.  Talk to supportive friends or family who understand your situation for what it really is. 

Last but certainly not least, never ever forget to pray about your situation!  Let God show you how best to handle things with your spouse & toxic in-laws as well as how to take care of your own mental health.  His help is truly invaluable & He will show you the right way to handle the situation!

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Narcissists & Gifts

Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing.  It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out or even make this gift, spend the time to wrap  it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things.  The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for giving them.

With narcissists, this isn’t how this scenario happens.

For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts.  To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself.  You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants.  You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer.  Narcissists can’t be bothered with those things, so they give gifts that are what they like or think you need.

Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be.  Probably in 1999 or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned that I don’t like to cook, unlike her & her daughters. I didn’t criticize them, just said I didn’t share that with them. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me cooking stuff.  Spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen.  At least I did find a good use for that.  When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol  Everything else was donated, given to my friends or thrown in the trash.

And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving.  Giving makes them feel like they are good people.  See how caring they are?  They gave someone a gift!

There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist.  They may want something from you.  They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?”  Gifts come with strings attached.  They may give birthday & Christmas cards with money inside, & in return, you need to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous or the personal cost to you.  It is an unspoken rule many narcissistic families have.

Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people.  This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver somehow, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist.

When it comes to giving gifts to a narcissist, it isn’t really a better scenario. 

Narcissists are impossible to please.  They set these high goals for their victims, then when the victim comes close to it or even reaches it, they say that isn’t what they want, they want something else that is even harder to do.  Nothing their victim does is good enough.  This scenario plays out similarly with gifts.  They may say they want something, but when they receive it, it somehow falls short of their expectations & the giver feels badly.

They also compare gifts.  For example, let’s say you gave your parents a gift certificate for their favorite restaurant for their anniversary.  A thoughtful gift, but not to them.  Instead, they may tell you that their neighbor’s son bought them a 65” television & set it up for them while they were at the grocery store. 

This holiday season, if you are in the unfortunate position of exchanging gifts with a narcissist, I hope you remember what I have said.  They do these awful things because this is just how dysfunctional, abusive & toxic they are.  It truly has nothing to do with you.  When they criticize what you give them, remember the nicer your gift, the more they will criticize it.  When they give you awful gifts or things that they like knowing you don’t like those things, just say thank you… then later, quietly find a new home for that gift.  Maybe a friend of yours could use the item or you could donate to a worthwhile charity.  Or, throw it in the trash!  You’re under no obligation to keep gifts that were given to make you feel badly or that come with strings attached.

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How Close Is Too Close In Families?

Most people want to be a part of a close knit family.  That can be a wonderful thing, but there is also such a thing as being too close.

Some examples of being too close are as follows:

  • When boundaries aren’t respected or are non existent in a family.
  • Parents not allowing their children privacy, no matter the age.  Parents that look through their children’s diary, bedroom, wallets, purses, cars, etc.
  • Parents relying on their children for emotional support, which is parentification.
  • When parents discourage their children from growing up & becoming independent.
  • When adult children’s lives center around their parents.
  • When married adult children prioritize their parents over their spouse.
  • When adult children will tolerate anything because they are afraid to deal with the fallout of saying no.
  • When someone marries into the family, & is treated like an outsider while frequently being reminded they aren’t good enough & never will be.

Families that display this type of behavior are known as enmeshed families.

Enmeshment is an extremely dysfunctional family dynamic.  It may be passed down through generations, it can be brought about by a family experiencing trauma, abuse, illness or it can be due to engulfing narcissistic parents.

Children who grow up in this type of environment suffer for it.  They are often burdened with trying to care for their parents when they aren’t prepared to do so, which leaves them feeling overly responsible for the feelings of them as well as others.  These children also lack a connection to their wants, needs & feelings due to prioritizing their parents’ over theirs.  They grow up not nearly as independent as they should be, often expecting their parents to tell them what to do with their lives in every area including things only they should decide like when to move out or who to marry.

This treatment also leaves children in a confused state.  In one way, they are child like, yet in another they are supposed to be wise & mature enough to handle their parent treating them like a friend or substitute spouse.  They also lack the ability to self sooth in tough times, are very disconnected from their emotions & often suffer with anxiety.  Relationships are a challenge & healthy one are impossible because the parents are always their top priority.

Once the child of an enmeshed family realizes what is happening, he or she is rarely supported.  Outsiders see the family’s facade of being close & happy, & believe that is true.  When this usually adult child begins to speak about the problem, people often minimize or invalidate his or her concerns because they have seen only the close, happy family facade.  They believe this person’s concerns to be unsubstantiated, & he or she should just be glad to have a close family.  Whether intentions are good or bad when saying this, it still is very upsetting & invalidating when you are in this situation!

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  To heal, you need to lean on God first.  He will help you to see what you need to do & how to do it.

You also need to start learning about & setting boundaries.  This is tough, but it can be done.  Start very small, such as not answering the phone every time your parent calls or if they want you to come visit a certain day, try to do it another day.  Tiny steps like this give you some power.  That power enables you to set more boundaries & more yet.  Before you know it, you’ll have this boundaries thing down pat!

Get to know yourself.  The real you, not the you your parents say you are.  Learn about your likes, dislikes, goals, morals, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses & everything you can possibly think of.  Accept your feelings on everything without judgment or criticism, & question if these feelings are truly yours or your parents’.

Recognize you have no valid reasons to feel guilty for doing this.  You aren’t harming anyone & you are helping yourself.  Your parents are going to hurt at first, but that isn’t a bad thing.  You need your independence & are entitled to it, & they need to learn a healthier way to live.

Remember, you can do this & be so much stronger, healthier & happier than ever before!

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Mother’s Day

I just wanted to share a little something for those of you with narcissistic mothers who struggle on & around Mother’s Day…

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15% Off My Print Books Until May 7, 2021

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

My print books can be found at the link below…

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

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Marrying Into A Narcissistic Family

In families with narcissistic parents, the person who marries into this family is in for quite the adventure.  I learned this from my own experience, but apparently a lot of stories are very similar to mine.  Parents decide immediately whether or not they like the person their son brings home.  That decision is often based on simply ridiculous, trivial things such as what kind of work does she do or where she grew up.  It can be even more ridiculous such as something about her appearance being a problem.  If she is too pretty, if she is over or under weight or maybe she is tall when their family is short.  It also could be simply a matter of differences in personality.  Rather than be polite for the sake of their son, they hate this new woman in his life.  They also demand she respect them while not returning respect to her.  And, their definition of respect is that she be seen & not heard, only doing what benefits the family.  Her needs & wants mean nothing to this family. 

In these situations, the family functions as one unit in an “it’s us against her!” manner.  As I have said before, they remind me of the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.  They all function as one, focused only on what the Collective dictates.  In this case, the Collective is usually a narcissistic mother pulling everyone’s strings to make them act according to her whim.  One whim the “Collective” usually has is to tell the son & have others in the family tell him as well what a terrible person this new woman is.  She isn’t good enough, she stole him from their family, she keeps him from them & similar lies are the most common, but some also will say more drastic things she is unfaithful, steals, uses drugs & more.

It never seems to cross their collective mind that this man could get fed up & walk away.  And really, why would it?  No doubt he has tolerated all manners of maltreatment & even abuse at the hands of his family.  They place demands on him like giving them money or otherwise bailing them out of their problems with no thought to how this could affect him, & he does as he is told.  Why wouldn’t he?  This is what he has done his entire life.  Often siblings in these situations call this one mean spirited nicknames his entire life, even as an adult, as an attempt to let him know that he is still a child in their eyes.

Families like this are entitled beyond belief.  They honestly think they are entitled to treat this poor man any way they like.  By default, they believe they are also entitled to treat his significant other just as badly.  They have groomed this man to take any abuse they dish out without complaint, & expect the same behavior from his wife.  If she complains, all hell can break loose. 

At this point, families like this don’t consider anything that led up to the complaints.  They only see the problem at hand, which is someone is setting boundaries on their abuse.  The horrors!!

Sadly, the son in this situation doesn’t often realize how disrespectful & insulting his family is to him. 

His family has no respect or love for him if they won’t at least try to be civil to the woman he loves.  If they did, they would manage basic civility, unless of course that woman was abusive to him.

Clearly his family also thinks he’s stupid.  After all, they expect him not to think for himself, but instead to blindly listen to them regarding his life.  As if he doesn’t know what is best for him or isn’t smart enough to choose a good woman to marry!  How insulting is that?!

It’s a truly sad situation!  If you are in this situation, my heart goes out to you!  I pray you & your spouse can work together to set healthy boundaries with this Borg-like family.  Being clearly a team is the best thing you can do as a couple in this situation.

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Protecting Your Spouse From Your Narcissistic Family

If you are in a long term relationship or are married to someone & at least one of you has narcissistic parents or family members, there is something you should know.  Standing up for your partner to your narcissistic parents is one of the most important things you can do in your relationship.

When a couple makes a commitment to each other, a big part of that commitment is taking care of each other.  Part of that involves not tolerating anyone hurting your partner.  If you stand up to someone on behalf of your partner, you show your partner that this person’s well being & safety are extremely important to you.  You prove that you love that person & will do your best to keep them safe.  This is incredibly good for your relationship! 

Not tolerating someone hurting your partner also shows the abusive person that you are well aware of their actions, & there are consequences for their behavior.  Not doing so only proves to an abuser that they can do anything they want without consequences.  This means that they will continue what they have been doing & in time, their behavior will get even worse.  And, your partner will be left feeling abandoned & alone, which is potentially relationship ending.  No one in a committed relationship should feel that way!

If you struggle with defending your partner to your abusive family members, then please consider a couple of things.

If it is your family that mistreats your partner, this means they are your problem!  It is NOT your partner’s job to deal with your family.  If your partner confronts your family rather than you, your family will be highly upset.  That happens in many families, but especially in narcissistic ones.  Chances are they will tell you what a terrible person your partner is, how he or she isn’t good enough to be in your life or other nonsense as a way to deflect your attention from their terrible behavior.  If you are the one to confront them, they still may try to deflect & criticize your partner, but there is a better chance of them listening to you than your partner!

Also if anyone in your family mistreats your partner, they have absolutely no love or respect for you.  If they had any respect or love for you, they would manage to be civil to your partner no matter how much they disliked this person.  If your partner is abusive to you, any children you share or your family, that is a different scenario.  They should civilly address their concerns with you, be loyal to you & care more about your safety than civility.  However, if the reason they dislike your partner is because of simple differences in personality, your family should manage basic civility at the very least to this person out of love for you.  When you love someone, it’s not that hard to be polite to someone they care about even if you can’t stand that person.  I have done it & while it can be hard to be polite to someone you really dislike, reminding yourself of the person you care about can make this much easier.

Dear Reader, if you are in this position of having someone in your family mistreat or even abuse someone you love, then please consider what I have said.  Protect your loved one!  It will protect their mental & physical safety but also help your relationship!  In fact, protecting your loved one will increase the bond you both share.

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When Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents Marry

Often, two people who were raised by narcissistic parents marry each other when they grow up.  Ideally, they understand each other’s past, offer support & help each other cope if their parents are still a part of their lives.  Sadly though, this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes when two adult children of narcissistic parents marry, they learn each person is on a very different page.  One is trying to be healthy while the other remains in denial of just how toxic his or her parents are.  This is hardly an easy position to be in for either person.

If you are in this painful situation, I hope this post can help you today!

To start with, you need to pray.  Ask God for any help you need to cope with the situation, whether it be patience, understanding, wisdom or anything.  Prayer is always the best place to start in any difficult situation, & situations don’t get much more difficult than this one!

Next, you need to accept that you & your partner are in a different place.  Your spouse may never see the truth about their parents.  They also may never see the truth about yours, for that matter.  You can’t change this, so you need to accept that painful truth.

You also need to accept that you can’t change your partner.  As much as you’d like to, you can’t make him or her see the truth.  We all have to face the truth as we are able.  Forcing someone to see the truth before they’re ready isn’t good for their mental health. 

You may need to stop discussing anything about your parents with each other to avoid conflict.  I know this is incredibly frustrating because you should be able to discuss any topic with your spouse.  In an ideal world, that is how things are.  Unfortunately though, when dealing with two fallible human beings, that isn’t always feasible.  If discussing anything about parents causes strife, it may be best to find someone else with which to discuss the problems.  A close friend or relative, your pastor or even a counselor may be a much better option for you. 

If you have issues with your spouse’s narcissistic parent, unfortunately, you can’t expect support from your spouse if he or she doesn’t see that parent is narcissistic.  Don’t expect it from him or her.  I realize this goes against what is natural & is very painful & hard to accept, but you need to do it anyway.  Accepting this painful truth is hard, but it is easier than to be disappointed in your spouse repeatedly.

You also will need to find ways to deal with your narcissistic in-laws on your own, & chances are slim your spouse will approve of how you deal with them.  This is tricky.  There is no way to avoid your spouse’s anger in this situation.  The best you can do is to remain calm when dealing with your awful in-laws & your spouse.  Also be logical when your spouse gets angry.  If he or she says you’re hurting the narcissistic parent, for example, you can say that parent has hurt you too.  Why was that acceptable behavior but you setting a reasonable boundary to protect yourself wasn’t? 

Never forget to take care of yourself & your mental health.  A spouse in denial can be very good at making the healthier spouse feel as if they are wrong, over sensitive or even crazy.  Don’t buy into this gaslighting!  You are doing what is right by facing the truth about your narcissistic parents & in-laws.  Don’t let anyone, including your spouse, convince you otherwise!

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Reasons Why Being The Black Sheep Is A Good Thing

When someone mentions the black sheep of their family, the common mental image people get is someone who is very different from the rest of the family.  Maybe the black sheep is the one person in the family who is in trouble with the law or is a surly type.

More often than you would think, this isn’t the case though.  Instead, the black sheep is nothing like their bad reputation.  The only thing they are guilty of is not being like the rest of their family, aka the White Sheep.  In these cases, this is usually a very good thing!

As I’ve mentioned before, I think of dysfunctional families much like the Borg from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”  The Borg were all alike & only focused on what was best for the Collective.  Individuality was not tolerated.  This is exactly like a dysfunctional family.  Individuality is discouraged & all that matters is the Collective, aka the family. 

Dysfunctional families are the same way, so when a member is different, they aren’t pleased.  They are even less pleased if there is abuse in the family & someone discusses the abuse openly.  It is a guarantee that person will be labeled the Black Sheep, referred to as mentally unstable, oversensitive & more.  Their traumatic experiences will be invalidated or even denied. 

This has been my experience as a black sheep in my family & my in-law family.  The good part though is although it hurt at first, it taught me a lot.

People who treat someone who has been abused this way are cowardly.  They have no integrity either, because they would rather do nothing than stand up for what is right.  I’m glad not to be like them!  I’d rather be a person of integrity who is willing to help others than be a coward!  If being labeled the black sheep means I’m someone with integrity, I’m absolutely fine with the label!

When you consider your situation, chances are good you’ll realize that the opinions of the White Sheep really aren’t important as I did.  Why should you care what they think of you?  Just because they’re family?  That isn’t a good reason!  The only people whose opinions should matter to you are those who genuinely love you & want what is best for you, whether or not those people are related to you.  People who want you to fit inside their little box of what they think you should be, like the Borg, don’t love you God’s way, nor do they want what is best for you.  Why should their opinion of you matter?   Being weighed down by the opinions of other people is exhausting, especially when their opinions of you are so restrictive!  It’s truly a blessing & freeing not to have to worry about such things. 

White Sheep family members often think the Black Sheep of their family has nothing in common with them.  They often are right about that!  That being said though, it doesn’t mean they’re right & you’re wrong.  You’re simply different from them.  Different does NOT equal bad!  That is a very important thing to realize!  Different can be a wonderful thing.  People who think differently invented all kinds of great things, heal others mentally & physically & more.  Besides, the world would be incredibly dull if we all thought the same!

The things that make you unique also could be something that makes the White Sheep envy you.  Did you ever think of that?  They could be labeling you out of simple envy.  Many people do this rather than try to improve themselves. 

Or, they could be too afraid to face their own issues & are trying to shut you down because you facing yours makes them feel badly.  This is something God told me that my own family has done to me.  It’s better in their mind to shut me down than to face their demons.

Whatever the case, I want to encourage you to embrace your Black Sheep label.  Being a Black Sheep requires courage & strength.  Be proud of yourself for possessing such wonderful qualities, & don’t try to please the White Sheep.  You get this one life to live.. you should live it in a way that pleases you, not others.

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Enmeshment

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Holiday Stress

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means those of us with narcissistic parents &/or in-laws are filled with dread.  We know the narcissists in our lives have unrealistic expectations of us every day of the year, but holidays often seem to up those expectations.

My late mother in-law would tell me when I was to be where on which holiday.  She never said the exact words, but it was clear there was no excuse for me not to be there.  The same with my ex mother in-law.  Not obeying meant facing their anger.  It also meant spending the day without my husband & being angry with him for choosing his family over me.  Obeying meant spending the day surrounded by people who disliked me, & me resenting them.  Since many others with narcissistic parents or in-laws face this same scenario, I thought I would share some thoughts on the holidays.

Remember, you are an adult.  You do NOT have to blindly obey your parents or in-laws when they demand you spend a holiday with them.  When you disobey their orders, chances are good they will be upset.  They will try to guilt trip you for not wanting to spend time with “family”, or show their disapproval in some other way such as with criticisms or even the silent treatment (if you’re lucky…).  Remind yourself as often as necessary that you have nothing to feel guilty about.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with those you love, such as good friends rather than abusive & mean people

Also, if you want to spend a holiday with someone other than your narcissistic parents or in-laws, you can offer a compromise.  My paternal grandparents always had a big Christmas gathering on the weekend after Christmas.  That way, everyone could spend the day with whoever they wished, yet there was still a family Christmas party.  Why not do the same thing?  Does it really matter what day the day is celebrated, so long as it is celebrated?  Celebrating on a weekend also means many people don’t need to be at work the following day so they can relax more & enjoy themselves.  Since narcissists do things more willingly when they can see it benefits themselves, why not approach it from this angle?  “You won’t have to get up early the next day for work if we celebrate on Saturday instead of Tuesday.  That means you can relax/enjoy the holiday/spend more time with your family & friends.”  I know, many narcissists demand holidays be celebrated only on the exact day.  My late & ex mothers in-law were that way.  But if you approach your suggestion in a way that clearly benefits them, you stand a chance of getting your way.  This isn’t a perfect solution since you’ll still be spending a holiday with narcissists, but it does at least free up the actual holiday to spend however you like.  It’s a pretty reasonable compromise!

If celebrating a holiday on another day is not an option, set a time limit.  Determine ahead of time you’ll only spend 2 hours with them, or whatever time seems reasonable to you, then leave at the end of that time.  Tell the narcissist ahead of time that you only have a short window of time to spend with them, so you must leave by 2:00 or whenever.  No, they won’t like it, but don’t back down!  Stick to what you said, & leave at the set time.

If the demanding narcissist in question is an in-law & your spouse wants to spend the day with the narcissist, so be it.  You can’t make him change his mind.  You can, however, refuse to go.  You can stay at home & watch Netflix all day.  You can spend the holiday with friends instead.  You can create a new holiday tradition to enjoy when your spouse isn’t with you.  Trying to think of it as a day off to spend in any way you like definitely helps diminish & disappointment you feel.

Most of all, never forget to pray about your situation.  God will show you the best way to handle it & help you to get through this difficult time of year.  xoxo

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Things A Mother In-Law Wants From Her Daughter In-Law

I came across this really interesting article about what a mother in-law wants in her daughter in-law.  My curiosity was piqued, so I read it.  It got me to thinking just how different a narcissistic mother in-law is from a functional one.  I thought I’d do a side by side comparison of the two based on the article in case anyone reading this is wondering if their mother in-law is a narcissist.

  1. A woman who will consider her a friend.  A daughter in-law is nothing more than competition to the narcissistic mother in-law.  Friendship is NOT gonna happen!
  2. A woman who makes her son’s life easier.  Seems to me, the narcissistic version of this one is “a woman who has no needs or wants of her own, who waits on her son hand & foot, expects nothing in return & is blindly obedient to the mother in-law.”
  3. A woman who shows how much she loves her husband by the way she talks about him.  Never seen or heard anything of the sort from a narcissistic mother in-law.  Seems to me it’s more about actions, like those I mentioned in the last point.  It also seems that in their eyes, their daughters in-law should be seen & not heard.
  4. A woman who will be a good listener.  A functional mother in-law & a narcissistic one both want this, I believe, but the difference is the functional mother in-law gladly will return the favor.  Narcissists only return the favor when they think they can learn something to use as ammunition against the daughter in-law at some point.
  5. A woman whose faith in Jesus is evident.  I would guess that the only narcissistic mothers in-law who have any interest in their daughter in-law’s faith is those who are concerned about looking good to their church.  And, she won’t hesitate to twist Scripture around to manipulate her daughter in-law.
  6. A woman who forgives her past mistakes.  What narcissist admits to past mistakes?  This obviously isn’t important to the narcissistic mother in-law because she doesn’t make mistakes & if by some chance she did, they were the fault of someone else.
  7. A woman who helps her navigate the technology-driven, social media-frenzied world today.  I can’t really imagine any narcissistic mother in-law who may want to learn more about technology looking for help from her daughter in-law.  Viewing her daughter in-law as beneath her, why would she ask her for help in any area?
  8. A woman who resolves not to see differences of opinions, interference, or interruptions as an intentional dig.  This one may depend on the narcissist.  Some no doubt want blind obedience from their daughters in-law, including never speaking back to them & assuming the best about them.  But there are many others that want their daughters in-law to be angry with them.  That works out very well for the narcissist in question, because she can use this in several ways.  She can use it to prove her daughter in-law is unappreciative, crazy, irrational, or over sensitive.  She also can use this to prove she is the innocent victim of her daughter in-law’s abuse.
  9. A woman who gives her credit for the incredible son she raised.  The one area that functional mothers in-law & narcissistic mothers in-law are alike to some degree.  Who wouldn’t want to hear she did a great job raising her son?  Narcissists take it to the extreme though, pretty much expecting to be worshiped for her amazing mothering skills.
  10. A woman who doesn’t compete for her children’s love.  If you know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you know that narcissistic parents become narcissistic grandparents.  Unlike a nice, normal, functional grandparent, the narcissistic one will expect to be first place in their grandchild’s life.  They also may lie to the grandchild about the child’s parent(s) or tell the child there is no reason to listen to Mom & Dad.  Many even bribe the grandchild with money or gifts to gain that child’s favor.

As you can see, there are many differences between healthy, functional mothers in-law & narcissistic ones.  I hope you aren’t dealing with the narcissistic variety because they are incredibly difficult to deal with at best!

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 2



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About Toxic In-Laws, part 1

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My Latest Book Is Now Available!

My latest book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide to Toxic In-laws” is now available in both print & ebook versions.

The print version is available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/regrettably-related-a-guide-to-toxic-in-laws/paperback/product-24225183.html

The ebook version is available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/955631

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Narcissistic In-Laws & The Ex, part 2

 

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Narcissistic In-Laws & The Ex, part 1

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Toxic In-Laws

I’ve been working on a book for a while now about toxic/narcissistic in-laws.  I’m struggling to write it for a few reasons.  I’ve been really distracted by things going on in my life since I started this book 2 years ago.  I also felt that I needed to put it on the back burner to write other books.  The topic is such a hard one for me to write about too, because I honestly have been through hell because of some of my husband’s family, & I’m still healing.  And, in spite of taking frequent breaks, I’m pretty burned out on all things narcissism.  These issues make this one tough book to write.  That being said, I believe the topic is an important one so I will finish it.  It just may take some time.

Since my book is delayed, here is a post to help identify whether or not your in-laws are toxic.  I will write from the perspective of a daughter in-law with a toxic mother in-law, since that is the bulk of my experience as well as the bulk of the experiences of people I’ve spoken with.  The information is good for toxic sisters in-law, fathers in-law, etc. though.

Does your mother in-law ignore you?  The purpose of this behavior is to show you that you mean nothing to her.

Does she refuse to accept responsibility for treating you badly?  Rather than say something like, “I shouldn’t have said that.. I’m sorry,” does she make excuses for her words or actions or deny them completely?  This is a big red flag.  Functional people accept responsibility for what they say & do.

Does your mother in-law have a different personality depending on whether or not you are alone with her or others are around?  Another big red flag!  Any abuser will behave differently to their victim depending on whether or not there are witnesses.  They want to hide their abuse from other people.

Does she expect you to be blindly devoted to her family, even to the point of rejecting your own family & friends?  Many toxic mothers in-law remind me of the Borg from the tv show “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”   They expect their son’s or daughter’s new spouse to become completely enmeshed in their new in-law family.

Like the Borg, toxic mothers in-law expect their new sons or daughters in-law to adapt to their opinions, religion, way of life, etc.  Individuality is highly discouraged by toxic mothers in-law.  I once told my late mother in-law I hate to cook.  I do it, but hate it.  For Christmas a few months later, she & her 2 daughters gave me nothing but cookbooks, utensils, food & other cooking paraphernalia.

Toxic in-laws show no respect.  Toxic in-laws show no respect for personal space, choices, likes/dislikes, parenting, & even boundaries.

And speaking of a lack of respect, your mother in-law makes it clear to you that she doesn’t like you.  Unless you abuse your mother in-law’s adult child or your children, if your mother in-law had any respect whatsoever for her child, she would be civil to you no matter how much she disliked you.  The inability to be civil even only for the sake of her adult child proves she is toxic.

Is she manipulative & controlling?  Toxic people, in particular narcissists, must be in charge.  Chances are, your mother in-law controls her spouse & children.  Since you married one of her children, she expects you to be as control-able & easily manipulated as everyone else.  When you say no, she is NOT happy.

If your toxic mother in-law is nice to you, it’s short lived & in front of others only.  Very few people are cruel 100% of the time.  Toxic people bring out their nice side when it can be advantageous to them.  Being nice sometimes will make their victim want to see it more, so they work harder to please the toxic person.  Also, being nice to a victim in front of others helps the toxic person prove to others that if you complain about the relationship, you are obviously the problem.

Mothers in-law like this care nothing of their adult child beyond what he can do for her.  They clearly have no respect for him either, since they treat the person he chose to spend his life with so badly.  His marriage is nothing more to this kind of mother than an embarrassment, & she would like it simply to go away.  Since she can’t file for divorce on his behalf, she becomes extremely destructive to the adult child’s marriage with her abusive ways.

Your spouse no doubt suffers greatly from his mother’s abusive behavior, yet tolerates it anyway.  This is because he is accustomed to how his mother behaves.  This is his norm & many adults in this situation have accepted this as their permanent reality.  By complaining about his mother’s behavior or even confronting her, this threatens his norm.  Facing the truth can be incredibly painful for many in this position, which is why many refuse to face the truth.  This feeling is known as cognitive dissonance.  Rather than face this miserable feeling, many people in this situation will do their best to shut down their spouse.  They don’t want to hear about the bad things their mother is doing, so they will tell their wife they don’t believe her, she is over sensitive, she just doesn’t understand Mom, that’s her problem so she needs to leave him out of it & more.  They refuse to confront their mother on behalf of their wife.

Naturally, the wife in this position feels rejected, unloved & hurt.  She wants to fight for her marriage, but it seems whatever she does is wrong, & whatever his mother does is right.  Her trying to save her marriage only causes more problems.  The reason for this is she doesn’t know that when you’re dealing with a narcissist, normal ways to cope don’t work.

For anyone in this position, you need to think of this situation more like a game of strategy than a relationship.

As always pray.  Ask God to help you to know what to do & to give you whatever you need to enable you to do it.  Pray for your husband to see the truth & for God to enable him to be able to cope with it, too.

Cope with your emotions as best you can by journaling, talking to a safe friend, pray.. whatever works for you.  Whatever you do, don’t hold in your emotions!

Don’t focus on your mother in-law’s bad behavior when it can be avoided.  Instead, focus on being the loving wife that you are.  Don’t neglect to remind your husband how much you love him.  If he complains about his mother to you for any reason, don’t join in.  Listen quietly to him & give him objective advice if he asks for it.  The reason being, the mindset of many people in this situation is they can complain about Mom, but if anyone else does, they jump to her defense.  This would only cause more problems in your marriage.

Along those lines, if you discuss his mother’s behavior with him, stay calm.  State your issues in a matter of fact way, lacking emotion.  If you rant & rave, that too will make him feel he must defend his mother, which only will hurt you & possibly your marriage.

Limit your exposure to your mother in-law as much as possible, but especially alone.  No narcissist wants to abuse their victim in front of the person they want to think well of them, so stay glued to your husband’s side as much as possible.

Keep your emotions in check around your mother in-law.  Narcissists love to twist a victim’s normal reaction around to prove how mentally unstable or even abusive the victim is to other people.  In her presence, stay calm.  Vent later when you’re away from her as needed though, so you don’t hold in all the bad emotions.

Having to deal with toxic, narcissistic in-laws is tough.  I know, I’ve been there.  But, with prayer, love, patience & wisdom, you can survive it with your marriage in tact.

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The Consummate Victim

Some covert narcissists are what I think of as the consummate victim.  They are the ones who are always wronged, always the victim, & never at fault for anything.  Some examples of their behavior are as follows.

 

The narcissist says something cruel.  You get angry, & rightfully so.  She claims she never meant to hurt your feelings.  She was just trying to help & had no idea what she said would upset you.  She then stops speaking to you for weeks, even if you apologized.

 

The narcissist tries to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do.  Naturally, you refuse to do it.  She claims you don’t love her.  How could you refuse to do this one little thing for her, especially after all she’s done for you?!

 

The narcissist is your elderly parent who expects you to come at their beck & call.  You tell your parent you only are available one day a week to do what she needs.  She tells your family how you refused to help her, & they attack you for being a bad daughter, ungrateful, a spoiled brat & more.

 

Narcissists who claim life is so unfair to them or that they are mistreated when people confront them on their abusive behavior are also consummate victims.  There are also those who blame their victims for their abusive behavior.  They are also consummate victims, as are those who complain about their problems, yet refuse to do something to change the situation.

 

Dealing with these people is incredibly frustrating, I know.  My late father & late mother in-law were both covert narcissists & consummate victims.  I repeatedly asked my father not to call after 9 at night.  When I refused to take his call when he called at 10 one evening, he called my in-laws & a cousin who lives almost 500 miles away.  He told both he was so concerned about me for not answering the phone, & asked them to have me call him immediately.  Another time, I was angry with my mother in-law because she had snooped through my purse yet again.  She asked my husband why I was angry, & he told her.  I overheard the conversation.  She claimed not to know what she did would be upsetting to me.

 

Both situations were similar.  As a result of my father’s & mother in-law’s actions, my husband & I got into an argument about his mother & my cousin & I argued about my father.  Being the typical consummate victims, their obnoxious behavior caused problems for the real victim while making themselves look good.

 

There are some things that you can do that can help you if you must deal with this behavior in covert narcissists.

 

Always rely on God to help you in this situation. He will be glad to help you discern the truth & strengthen you to do whatever you need to do!

 

Remember the type of person that you’re dealing with.  No matter what you do, this person will twist the situation around to make you look bad & them look like the innocent victim of your cruelty.  Expect nothing else because this person has no desire to behave any other way.

 

Also remember that there is nothing wrong with you setting boundaries or confronting this person on their abusive behavior.  Both of those are good things to do.  They are healthy & show you have self respect.

 

Consummate victims are very skilled at recruiting flying monkeys.  When you set those boundaries or confront the narcissist about her behavior, no matter how gently & reasonably you do so, it’s a safe bet someone will tell you how cruel, unreasonable, wrong, etc. you are.  When this happens, ignore whatever these flying monkeys have to say.  They don’t know the truth, only what the narcissist has told them.  Also, it’s best to refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.

 

Lastly, it’s also important to remember that consummate victims may project their status on their real victims.  It can be easy to believe their lies since narcissists are talented actors who give very convincing performances.  To avoid believing their lies, remember that you are NOT a consummate victim if you are angry about being abused, setting healthy boundaries or refusing to be manipulated.

 

If you are faced with a covert narcissist who portrays herself as a consummate victim, you can cope.  You have the knowledge & strength to handle this ugly situation.

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Narcissistic In-Laws & Exes

Since I’m working on a book about narcissistic in-laws, it’s certainly gotten me to thinking about them.  Not exactly a fun topic since I’ve been through a LOT at the hands of narcissistic in-laws, but it’s also a topic that needs to be addressed.  I’ll share a blog post when it’s published as well as add the link to my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

 

One thing that recently has come to mind about these dreadful people is how they are with exes.  I’ve heard of & read so many stories of narcissistic in-laws who keep in touch with their son’s or brother’s ex, even after he has moved on to another woman & there were no children created in the relationship.  They may even have the ex’s picture hanging up in their home or a picture of him with her when they were together.  They may invite her to family functions, whether or not the new lady is present.

 

I’ve been down this road.  A woman my husband broke up with in 1991 is still a bigger part of my in-law’s family than I ever have been.  In 1997 at an in-law family party, my two sisters in-law spoke a LOT about her (when it was just the three of us together, no witnesses, of course), talking about what a great person she was & how they should hang out with her soon.  They never wanted to hang out with me, mind you.  Not long after we were married in 1998, my mother in-law told me how disappointed she & my father in-law were that my husband married me instead of this person.  Over the years, I learned that at least one of the sisters in-law not only kept in close contact with this ex, but kept my husband abreast of what was going on in her life.  Then, when we ran into her in a store two months to the day after my husband’s father died, I saw how comfortable & friendly she was with my husband.  It was painfully obvious she’d seen him recently, so I later asked what was going on with her.  Turns out not only had she been to my father in-law’s funeral, but also my mother in-law’s & took one of her sons to visit my mother in-law in the hospital.  She also lives only a few miles from my late in-laws’ home & attends the church they attended.

 

As if all of this isn’t awful enough, I also realized when we saw this woman that she obviously is still very attracted to my husband.

 

This whole situation got me to thinking about these types of situations.  If you’re in it, you’re going to need a lot of wisdom on how to cope with it.

 

I’m not saying all friendships between people & their exes or even their family & their exes are bad.  Sometimes they work out just fine or are necessary because of children or other ties to each other such as owning a business together.  When narcissistic in-laws are involved though, it’s a whole different situation.  This relationship isn’t because these people were genuinely fond of each other.  Like everything else, there is a self-serving purpose in it.  Never ever doubt that!  Your spouse may think his family’s behavior is normal but it isn’t!

 

If you wonder, watch how this relationship is handled.  Your feelings should be considered.  Your in-laws should not flaunt this person to you.  This person shouldn’t be frequently discussed fondly in front of you or her picture shouldn’t be in a predominant space in the in-law home (especially if it also includes your spouse).

 

How do they handle this relationship regarding your spouse?  Do they keep your spouse up to date on his ex’s life?  If your spouse wants no parts of the details of that ex, do they force him to listen anyway?  Do they forward her emails to him so he not only knows but has her email address as well?

 

These behaviors are all red flags, & you are going to need a lot of wisdom on how to handle this situation.

 

As always, I recommend prayer as the best place to start.  Luke 12:12 says, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (KJV) & James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)  Seems to me prayer is the best place you can start!

 

Also never give your spouse an ultimatum.  People who do this almost always end up losing because no one wants to feel controlled or manipulated.

 

Stay calm when you must discuss the situation.  If you act angry or hurt, chances are your spouse will discuss the conversation with someone in his family.  From there, it would be very easy for your in-laws to convince your spouse that you’re unreasonable, paranoid, even crazy.  And, no doubt if he sees his ex, she is on good behavior.  She will look even better to him & you even worse.  So stay calm during the discussion for the sake of your marriage!

 

Do NOT tell him what you think his family is up to.  Coming from a narcissistic family does quite the number on a person’s psyche as most people know.  One thing I’ve noticed is men in these situations have a lot more trouble facing the truth about their family than women.  (No guys, I don’t hate you or think you’re stupid.  It’s just an observation.)  If you’re in this position with your spouse, I know it can be frustrating.  You see the truth so clearly but your spouse doesn’t.  Don’t work hard trying to convince him of the truth.  You telling the truth will come across to him as you criticizing his family, which in turn will make him very protective of them & angry at you.  It will drive a huge wedge between you two.

 

You can, however, gently, let your spouse know that you are very uncomfortable with this situation.  Tell him how you feel, & don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.  Better for your spouse to see that side of you than the angry side, because it won’t make him defensive.  He will be more willing to listen to you & relate to your perspective if you aren’t angry.

 

Also, what about the ex?  Is she obviously still attracted to your husband?  This is tough, I know.  I really feel your pain.  The best I know to do with this is to focus on your spouse.  Make sure you don’t stop doing things that he loves or finds attractive about you.  Do nice little gestures for him to show him you love him, like slipping love notes into his lunch box, sock drawer, coat pocket or even taping them to his steering wheel while he’s in the shower.   If you tell him what a terrible person his ex is instead, you’re only making him defensive of her & angry at you.  Yes, I know this one is HARD.  After seeing my husband’s ex, every fiber in me wanted to say exactly what I think of her & his family.  But, I knew that he wouldn’t believe what I said & would end up passionately defending them while simultaneously being very angry with me.

 

Lastly remember, all of this isn’t about you.  It’s about some pretty dysfunctional people doing what dysfunctional people do.  If the ex is still interested, well, she should have tried harder to keep him & is being foolish for not giving up.  He moved on & she should too.  As for your in-laws, they are getting something out of this relationship.  They probably want to split you & your spouse up or at the very least cause trouble between you two.  Maybe they think because she’s wealthy or in some sort of position in society, she makes them look good.  Who knows?  But you can be sure of one thing… whatever sick mess is happening in this relationship, it has nothing to do with you.

 

I wish you the absolute best in this situation!  xoxo

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Narcissists & The Gifts They Give

Like everything in the life of a narcissist, the gifts they give are all about them.  They give what will benefit them in some way or what they think will make you change according to what they think you should be.  This is why so often, people dread receiving gifts from narcissists.

 

If they’re trying to win you over somehow such as in the early stages of dating or after an argument, narcissists may give a good gift.  That gift is supposed to help buy your love or forgiveness.  That gift may be extravagant or something you mentioned wanting.  My ex husband gave me only 2 nice gifts in our entire relationship.  The first one was about 2 months after we met, for my birthday.

 

Narcissists also may give a gift to make you indebted to them.  Maybe you are supposed to give them a gift in return.  Maybe the gift they gave you is very expensive so you feel obligated to tolerate their abuse because they spent so much on that gift.   Maybe you showed signs of wanting to end the relationship & this gift was supposed to make you want to rethink that move.

 

Often, narcissists give terrible gifts.  They lack the desire to be a blessing, & that shows in the gifts they give in particular on days like birthdays or Christmas.  They’re only giving gifts on these days because they have to in order to look good, not because they want to.  As a result, no thought or consideration goes into the gift.

 

Other times narcissists give awful gifts is when they try to change their victim.  For example, my mother gave me clothes for my birthday or Christmas for years.  While clothes in general aren’t a bad gift, they are when the clothes aren’t in the receiver’s taste, but are the giver’s.  Our tastes are extremely different & that was a problem for her.  My mother wanted me to like what she likes, & this was one way to try to force me to dress like she thought I should dress.  My late mother in-law did the same.  A few months before Christmas one year, I mentioned in passing that I hate to cook.  Yes, I do it because I don’t want us to starve, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.  For Christmas that year, she & her daughters all gave me a LOT of cooking paraphernalia.  Cook books, utensils, food, & a big ugly pasta dish I later used in the attic when the roof was leaking.. lol

 

Sometimes bad gifts are also a way for a narcissist to let you know they hate you without saying the words.  A narcissistic mother in-law who dislikes her daughter in-law will give her terrible gifts, as one example.  My late mother in-law gave me a Christmas sweater (I’m NOT into Christmas or Christmas sweaters), polyester slacks (not a fan) & other gifts that were clearly NOT my taste.

 

Sometimes they may “forget” to give you a gift at all.  This is just one way to let you know you aren’t important to them or the gift giving day (your anniversary, Valentine’s day, your birthday, etc) isn’t important to them.

 

Or, narcissists may give away a gift you gave to them either to hurt you or out of thoughtlessness.  My sister in-law gave me this cute little knick knack many years ago.  I thanked her & said it was cute.  She said she thought so, & was sure her mom would like it.  She gave it to her.  A few months later, her mother gave it to her & said something like, “I don’t know where this ugly thing came from.  You can have it.”  She said seeing it hurt her badly so she wanted rid of it.  Since I thought it was cute, I could have it.  My heart broke for her when she told me that story.

 

When you get an awful gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know how awful you think it is.  If you do, the narcissist can play the victim & tell other people how ungrateful you are, making you look like a jerk.  Rather than ask for the receipt so you can return or exchange the gift, simply thank her for the gift, then when you can, quietly give it to someone who you know would like it or give it to a charity.

 

Likewise when you get a great gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know you really like it.  If you do, the narcissist is going to get a ton of narcissistic supply from that, & feel that you owe her for giving you this awesome gift.  Simply thank her for the gift.

 

It’s always best to implement the Gray Rock method as much as possible when dealing with narcissists, including when they give gifts.

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A Little About Two Special Moms In My Life

The last couple of days have been difficult for me.  Lots of flashbacks & anxiety have been happening.  When I said something to my husband about it the day before Mother’s day, he said “Mother’s Day is coming.. that has to be it!”  Honestly I don’t know if that’s my problem or not, it sure could be, but anyway….

 

Part of one of my recent flashbacks was about when I was learning to drive.  I told hubby that my ex mother in-law taught me more about driving (including driving a stick shift) than my parents did, yet both of my parents always took credit for teaching me how to drive even though they barely taught me anything.  He said, “I think you should give your ex mother in-law a shout out!  She did a lot of good things for you.”

 

Although my ex mother in-law died in 2010 & this post is going to publish a day after Mother’s Day, I agree.  I also thought about another mom figure in my life who was so special to me, so I’m giving her a shout out too.  I pray God allows them to know about this because they both deserve to know the big positive impacts they had on my life.

 

A very big thank you to my awesome ex mother in-law!!  I appreciate the many things you taught me like how to drive & especially how to knit.  I appreciate the encouragement you gave me when I was learning things & your faith that I could do these things.  I also appreciate the fun times together, like going to craft & thrift stores, & your help picking out my first sewing machine.  (Even though I still can’t sew, I appreciate a nice machine like that little beauty!)  I appreciate all the laughs & your fun sense of humor, especially since it was pretty twisted like my own.  I appreciate your love, support & lack of judgement.  I also appreciate you trying to protect me from my mother when we lived together.  I wasn’t used to anyone doing that & it was a very nice surprise.

 

Most of all, a big thank you for being a wonderful example of your faith & praying for me.

 

I’m sorry our relationship ended on a bad note & for the things I did wrong.  I still remember the good things often & am so grateful for them.  Thank you for everything, W.  You’re very loved & missed.  xoxo

 

My other mother figure was a dear friend I called my adopted mom.  We met on a crochet message board & clicked.  She was a wise, beautiful, gentle, loving, compassionate person with a powerful & inspiring faith.  When I had an argument with my folks or just a rough day, she was the one I wanted to talk to.  She always knew what to say to make me feel better.  She also didn’t sugarcoat things- if she believed I was wrong, she’d tell me.  She was free with her praise & kind words, but still told the truth even if it wasn’t pretty.  She was also the one who got me started reading about Antisocial Personality Disorder which led to me learning about narcissism.  We had many laughs together, mostly talking about our furkids who we both adored.  She was an inspiration & one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.  Her death in 2009 still hurts, but I know I’ll see her again one day.  Thank you for the years of friendship, love & laughs, K!  xoxo

 

Those of us with narcissistic mothers know that a good mother is a beautiful gift.  If you have a wonderful mother figure in your life, please don’t wait til it’s too late like I did- let her know how much you appreciate her now.  She’ll love to hear what you say & it’ll make you feel good to tell her just how special she is to you.

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Holiday Thoughts

For many people, the holiday season is a glorious time of year.  The time to enjoy friends, family & celebrations.  For others like me who have survived demanding, controlling, entitled or even narcissistic parents &/or in-laws however, the mere thought of the holidays brings about a feeling of dread.

 

My first & current mothers in-law both always demanded my husband’s & my presence every Thanksgiving & Christmas, no matter what.  Divorcing my ex & cutting my current in-laws out of my life in 2002 naturally ended their demands for me at least but the damage was done.  The enjoyment I once felt for the holidays was gone.  Years of spending holidays with people who obviously hated me or alone while my husband spent the day with his family destroyed all pleasure I’d once had in holidays.

 

I know that my story isn’t all that unusual.  So many others have been through very similar situations that I thought sharing some thoughts I’ve had on this topic might help you, Dear Reader.

 

When you develop this holiday bitterness, people aren’t always understanding.  Most people seem to want everyone to look forward to holidays with enthusiasm & joy, & if you don’t, they can be shaming.  Many others I know & I have been scolded for not trying to enjoy holidays, told they need to just focus on the joy of the day, everyone loves holidays, etc etc.  What these people fail to realize is this holiday bitterness didn’t happen over night.  We have tried to enjoy the holidays repeatedly, but demanding people ruined it by commanding us to do what they want us to do & treating us badly when we didn’t do it (well, often worse than usual since bad treatment is the norm with narcissists).  It came about when in-laws demand we ignore our own family in favor of them, & treated us badly & acted like something is wrong with us for not wanting to spend a holiday with them.  They also shame us for wanting to spend a holiday with our immediate family- our spouse & kids- rather than with them.  These people think shaming us & ordering us around is OK.  Really, how does that make any sense?

 

I’m not saying holiday bitterness is a good thing.  Frankly, it stinks!  I miss looking forward to the holidays & hate how I dread what was once a time of year I looked forward to.  What I am saying though is that there is no shame if you feel differently about holidays than the average person does.

 

Sometimes, too many bad seeds have been sown to overcome.  Something unpleasant is the only possible harvest when that happens.  Of course it’s a good idea to try to counteract the bad feelings, but if nothing works, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re a bad person.  If you can’t conquer holiday bitterness, it just means that some really bad things have been done that caused you to feel this way.

 

Dear Reader, I’m sorry you feel this nasty holiday bitterness.  I hope you can conquer it by starting your own traditions, avoiding negative people around the holidays, suggesting holiday gatherings with extended family on a different day near the actual holiday while you spend the holiday with your immediate family, etc.  If you can’t however, then at the very least, please don’t beat yourself up over it.  It’s simply a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, & it happens more often than you might think.

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My Newest Book About Covert Narcissists Is Now Available

Hello, Dear Readers!

 

I just wanted to let you know that my newest book, “In Sheep’s Clothing:  All About Covert Narcissists” has been published in both ebook & print formats.

 

If you want to check them out, you can click on the links in the last paragraph, or go to my website at:  http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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