Tag Archives: mental health

Narcissists Miss Out On So Much

For years, one thing that has bothered me about the relationship with not only my narcissistic mother, but also narcissistic grandmother & narcissistic mother in-law is the waste of it all.  I was pretty much nothing but a bother to my narcissistic mother.  When I was one of the caregivers for my narcissistic grandmother, she ordered me around like the hired help & was constantly hateful & cruel to me.  We should’ve been close since I spent so much time with her, but instead I was nothing but a servant to her.  As for the mother in-law, she hated me since we met, never giving me a chance.  I’m just the woman who stole her son.

This is so sad to me.  It seems like nothing but waste. Narcissism stole any chance at me having a decent, at the very least civil, relationship with any one of these women.  On top of the damage it causes, such as stealing joy & destroying self-esteem, narcissism also steals relationships.

It’s also sad to me to think about what these narcissists in my life missed out on.  Admittedly, I still have issues with self-esteem, but even so, I realize I’m not a bad person.  I have a good (albeit warped) sense of humor.  I like to help people.  These people have missed out on that, & it’s a shame for them.

Have you ever thought about that?  About what your narcissistic mother has missed out on by treating you the way she has?

It’s common I think to be so focused on what we, the victims, missed out on, but I think contemplating what they, the abusers, missed out on too can be helpful.  It helps you to realize you aren’t unworthy, as you were made to believe.

If you really think about it, your narcissistic mother missed out on a lot.  You have many great qualities, & it is her loss not to be able to enjoy those.  What good qualities do you have?  Are you loyal?  Compassionate?  Fun?  Helpful?  She also missed out on so many of those lovely mother/daughter moments, such as picking out a prom dress, planning your wedding, or helping you pick out paint colors for your first home.  So many mothers & daughters are very close friends- she missed out on your lovely friendship.  You aren’t the only one who missed out on those- they would’ve been a blessing to her as well.  She missed out on watching you grow & appreciating you in each phase of your life.

Your narcissistic mother has missed out on so much with you.  You are truly a gem, & it’s her loss that she’s been so involved with her narcissism that she missed out on that.  Do you know that?

If you’ve never thought like this before, I’d like to encourage you to think about it.  What has your narcissistic mother missed out on with you?  Think about the wonderful qualities you bring to a relationship.  When you do, you’ll see that your mother has lost a special gift in you.  You’ll also see that just maybe, you aren’t as terrible as she always tried to make you believe.

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Handling People Who Don’t Believe You

So many people I talk to that have survived narcissistic abuse tell the same story about how people in their lives responded to them discussing the abuse.  They were met with invalidation (“It couldn’t have been that bad!”  “Other people had it way worse than you did.”), scolding (“How can you say those things about your own mother?!”), disbelief or being accused of being unforgiving or needing to “get over it”.

 

Especially in the early days of awareness of narcissism & learning what you went through really is abuse- you aren’t crazy or to blame like you were told- this sort of behavior is devastating.  The more you heal, the better you can handle it, but I don’t think it ever stops hurting at least some to be met with such indifference to your pain.  It can leave you bitter & angry if you allow it to.

 

In all fairness, you certainly have a right to be angry at people who say such things!  It’s heartless & hurtful!  So get angry!  Get it out of you so you can forgive.  You don’t deserve to live with that anger inside of you, stealing your joy!  Whether the other person deserves your forgiveness or asks for it is irrelevant.  You deserve better than carrying around anger inside of you!

 

That being said, there are other ways to cope.

 

Journalling is a wonderful thing. It is a completely safe way to get your feelings out, especially if you use a password protected journalling website.  This will help you to let go of all the negative feelings.

 

Focus on the positive.  Just because one person mistreated you doesn’t mean everyone will.  Appreciate your good friends & let them know you appreciate them!  What other good things are in your life?  Maybe start a gratitude journal- daily, write down at least 2 things you’re grateful for.

 

Accept the fact that not everyone will understand what you’ve been through.  In all honesty, narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around, especially if you’ve never been exposed to it.  (Even if you’ve been through it, it’s hard to grasp!)  And sadly, some people have no desire to even try.  With people like this, it’s just smart not to discuss the topic of narcissism.  They won’t be convinced of anything you say because they lack the desire to understand.  When that wall is up, it stays up, & nothing you say can make a difference.  Stick to more neutral topics with this person, & if you need to discuss something you’ve been through, then seek out someone who understands.

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Are You Oversensitive?

Something I’ve noticed about survivors of narcissistic abuse is many become very sensitive.  The smallest thing can hurt or devastate them.  It’s quite understandable, really.  After being verbally abused so much, they probably have reached their limit, & just can’t tolerate any more insults, invalidation, etc.

 

Unfortunately, they are often also very sad people, feeling abused or mistreated when no such thing was intended.

 

Does this describe you?  If so, then I urge you to consider making a change!

 

Try to remember to respond rather than react.  What I mean is stop for a moment before feeling or saying anything.  Think- did this person say something hurtful to you just after losing a loved one?  Being fired?  Stubbing their toe on the coffee table?  Then they aren’t trying to hurt you out of maliciousness- they’re in a bad mood.  It’s nothing personal!  Remind yourself it’s nothing personal- the person is just in a bad mood & you just happened to be there.  If you aren’t sure, then ask God to tell you the truth.  Is it you or is the other person having a bad day?

 

On the other hand, if the person is deliberately trying to hurt you & you know this, then you know what?  It’s also not personal.  This person has issues & for whatever reason, finds you a good victim.  You haven’t done anything to deserve this- the other person simply has problems.  I’ve reminded myself of this with my narcissistic mother repeatedly.  She got mad at me when a friend of hers complemented me once, & spent the rest of our time together making me miserable.  It hurt, but I reminded myself this is how she is!  She is so insecure, she can’t handle anyone in her presence getting any positive attention from anyone, so she will do her best to ruin the positive attention by being demeaning & hateful.

 

I know this can be hard to do with narcissists, but it does get easier in time.  The more you learn about NPD, the more you understand that they have big problems, & you are NOT one of them!  I’m speaking from experience- this really is true!  I feel like thanks to realizing my mother has problems, I’m a narcissistic abuse navy seal by now.  It takes quite a bit to phase me anymore.  After my mother spending hours & hours screaming at me, telling me what a horrible person I am, really, what else is there?!  A stranger flipping me off in traffic isn’t going to upset me for more than a moment.  Someone obviously hating me & trying to bully me?  Yea, whatever…. I’ve dealt with bigger & badder & survived.

 

Most of all, keep a good relationship with God as your top priority.  Know you can go to Him anytime, asking for help.  In fact, ask Him other ways to help you not to take things so personally.

 

If you’re over sensitive, then there isn’t something wrong with you.  It’s just proof you’ve been through way too much pain.  But, you deserve better than going through life hurt all of the time just because someone acted insensitively to you!  Please, for your own sake, Dear Reader, try to put into practice what I’ve mentioned here.  Your life can be much happier for it!

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Speak Out Or Stay Silent?

There are conflicting messages for victims of abuse.  Some people encourage victims to speak out.  Help raise awareness!  Confronting your abuser will be good for you!  Others encourage victims to keep quiet.  Stop dredging up the past.  Forgive & forget.

 

Rather than stating what I think victims should do, I would like to encourage you to decide what is right for yourself.  After all, being vocal about being abused can be very challenging.  Being vocal about it means you’re reliving some of the most painful experiences of your life.  It also means some will criticize you harshly.  You may lose friends & family who side with your abuser.  Is this something you can deal with?

 

There are pros & cons for speaking out as well as staying quiet.  You need to consider them seriously before making any decisions.

 

Silence isn’t always good, as it can encourage an abuser to continue abusing.  Knowing the victim won’t tell anyone what is happening gives the abuser free reign to do as she/he pleases without fear of consequences.  It also means things can stay pretty much the same for the victim in that her friends & family will continue treating her as they always have.  Silence allows the victim to continue in the familiar place that she is accustomed to.  This can be a good thing, to a degree, especially if she does not feel strong enough to confront her abuser or even discuss what has happened, & if this is only a temporary place.

 

Telling her story can empower the victim.  She takes back the power that her abuser stole by forcing her to stay silent.  She realizes it’s her story & she can do as she sees fit with it.  She can help & inspire others who have been through similar circumstances if she opts to go public with her story (such as blogging about it, for example).  By speaking openly about what happened, she also can give her family the opportunity to grow & to heal.  However, telling also means that she can be setting herself up for criticism, even from those closest to her.  Those she believed were on her side may turn against her.  They may refuse to believe her, tell others she’s lying, or invalidate her pain if she speaks to them about the situation.  And, if she opts to confront her abuser, that can open up a new world of pain.  Abusers hate confrontation, especially narcissistic abusers.  The abuser may turn the entire situation around, blaming the victim for what happened or denying they did anything wrong.  Often, the one telling the truth is demonized by abusers as well as those who may have known about the abuse but did nothing.  Many people can’t live with what they have done, so they vilify the victim.

 

What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?

 

Before you answer that question, I urge you to pray.  Let God give you advice on which way to go, & how to go about it.  Also, allow Him to give you the strength you need, because either way is very challenging.  You will need His strength.  And remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”  (GNT)  God will empower you to do anything you need to do!

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When They Accuse You Of Being Abusive

One tool narcissists love to use is calling their victim abusive.  Whether overt or covert, this tactic is a favorite of the more extreme narcissists.

 

My overtly narcissistic mother & I were having an argument once when I was 17.  As usual for that time, she had been screaming at me, literally in my face.  Finally she backed off.  She then balled up her fist & pulled back like she was going to hit me.  I immediately closed my eyes & threw the first punch.  Even as dysfunctional as I was then, I was NOT going to let anyone hit me.  When I felt that I’d hit her, I opened my eyes.  She was shocked I hit her, obviously since I’d never really stood up to her before.  Immediately she said, “You hit me in the breast!  Now I’m going to get breast cancer & die & it’ll be all your fault!!”  When my father entered the room a moment later, he asked what was happening.  My mother started to cry (she can turn her tears on & off like a faucet) & said I hit her, failing to mention what she did leading up to that.

 

My late mother in-law was a covert narcissist & extremely good at the covert part, having everyone close to her convinced she was a great person.  She used to go through my purse every time I left it out of my sight when it was at her house.  One time when my husband & I were at her home doing some laundry, she snooped through my dirty laundry, coat pockets & purse.  She left $40 in my purse.  I got my husband alone & absolutely flipped.  I told him I was sick of her crap- there is NO reason for her to snoop through my things & I don’t want her $%^& hush money.  YOU talk to her- she doesn’t listen to me & right now she doesn’t want me talking to her anyway.  He did.  The little bit I heard of the conversation, she was whining about having “allllll this cash just lying around the house” & she didn’t know what to do with it, so she wanted to do something nice for me.  She claimed she had no idea why I was upset.

 

See what I mean?  Narcissists can turn themselves into victims in pretty much any situation, no matter what craziness they have done to you.  The worst part is while you are yelling or crying, they maintain complete calm.  This makes you look & feel absolutely insane.  Or, they pull out the tears, which makes you feel incredibly guilty.

 

When this kind of thing happens, remember, narcissists gain narcissistic supply from this sort of thing.  They feel powerful when they can make a normally calm person act crazy.  Strong emotions, whether positive or negative, make them feel powerful too because they know they have an effect on someone.

 

This is also good for them because if they can prove to you that you’re crazy, over reacting, etc., you will be willing to change your behavior.  You’ll be ashamed of how you acted, so you’ll be more likely to listen to the narcissist’s advice on how you should act.  This tactic makes a victim more pliable.

 

When you confront a narcissist, be as calm as humanly possible, asking God for help.  The more emotion they see in you, the more they will push your buttons & the more likely their victim side will come out.

 

And, before confronting a narcissist, think & pray.  You really need to pick your battles wisely.  It’s not a good situation- narcissists need confrontation to know they can’t get away with the things they’re doing, yet confronting them often is incredibly frustrating.  Sometimes, they behave worse after the confrontation because they know how to provoke a reaction from you.

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Do You Have Something That Is Just Yours?

A little while ago, I was listening to some music from the 80’s.  Being a teen in the 80’s, it’s often my go to genre.  I was really enjoying the songs & a thought crossed my mind.  Most people who listen to their childhood music are transported back to happy days of their youth.  I’m not. My childhood wasn’t happy.  Even so, I still love the music of the era.  As I wondered why, & didn’t even have a chance to ask God why, He gave me the answer.  My taste in music was the first thing that was just mine, that my narcissistic mother couldn’t ruin for me.

 

My mother likes 50’s music & country music by the Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys & similar sounding artists.  My father is mostly into outlaw type country- Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt.  Neither likes 80’s music.  When I first got into it, my mother harshly criticized it, yet she didn’t spoil my love of it in spite of her valiant efforts.

 

She tried to squelch my love of other things over the years too- my taste in cars, other types of music I like (such as Southern rock & metal/hard rock), my love of feminine clothing & perfumes, knitting, scary movies & books. I’m positive her motivation was to make me dislike these things & replace them with things she likes or approves of.  (Narcissists love to change people into what they think they should be, rather than allowing people to be individuals.)  It hasn’t worked, however, & these things all bring me a great deal of joy, even when she insults them or me for liking them.

 

When you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, holding onto something that the narcissist couldn’t ruin for you or take away from you is precious!  It makes you feel strong.  In spite of every hateful thing she tried, she couldn’t take this from me!  There was one thing she couldn’t destroy about me!  YAY ME!!

 

Do you have something that is just yours, that your narcissistic mother couldn’t take from you?  What is it?  Whatever it is, I urge you to celebrate it!  Enjoy it to the max!   Relish in the fact she couldn’t take it from you no matter what.  Be proud of yourself for having the fortitude to hang onto that thing!

 

If you can’t think of anything, that is ok too!  Find something!  Try something new- a new hobby, a new type of tea, listen to a different genre of music.  You’ll find something that is so special to you, that even the meanest narcissistic mother can’t take away, & you will thoroughly enjoy it.

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Narcissistic Parents Don’t Want Their Children To Grow Up

When the child of a narcissistic parent is very young, the narcissistic parent is often at her happiest in her role as a parent.  Young children are easier to control & manipulate.  They also don’t want independence.

 

Unfortunately for the narcissistic parent, children don’t stay little forever.

 

As children grow up, many narcissists feel threatened or even betrayed.  The reason being, I believe, is that the harder the child is to control, the worse this is for the narcissistic parent. They want that young child to make them look good by behaving properly, being interested in what the parent wants them interested in, etc.  The younger a child, the easier the child is to control.  This is why the teen years can be extremely hard for narcissistic parents & their children.  Teens are growing up & naturally want more independence.  This is unacceptable to the narcissist, so they use whatever means they can to keep their teenager a young child.  Some weapons they use are:

 

  • Disapproval.  This can be either in the forms of disapproving looks or questioning your choices.
  • Criticism.  Insulting your choices or tastes, usually done under the guise of helping.  The narcissistic parent is trying to make you believe she knows what’s best for you, you don’t.
  • Interfering.  Telling you what you should do, who you should date or not allowing you to date, even sabotaging relationships with people the narcissistic parent doesn’t approve of.

 

Unfortunately, these behaviors don’t end when the child turns into an adult.  Often, they continue well into adulthood.  They certainly did with my parents.  My parents had very strong opinions on what I should do & who I should do it with.

 

There are no ways to get a narcissist to stop trying to infantilize their child, no matter the child’s age.  But, there are some ways you can handle this maddening behavior.

 

You’ll need to limit the amount of information you reveal to your narcissistic parent.  Any information they have can be turned into ammunition used to hurt you.

 

Use good boundary setting phrases, such as, “Thanks, but the situation is under control.”  “I’ve made my decision, & there is nothing more to discuss.”  “I didn’t ask for your opinion on this matter.”

 

Changing the subject may work too.  Often with narcissists, you can’t simply change the subject & expect them to respect that the first time.  It may take doing this a few times or doing it over & over in a short span of time, but it usually works- they get tired of fighting to talk about the topic.  The often short attention span of many narcissists can work in your favor.

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

Feelings Can Die

If someone has hurt you repeatedly & deliberately, your good feelings or even love for that person can die.  It isn’t a matter of hating that person, or wishing them bad things.  It’s a matter of feeling complete indifference towards them.  If you hear that person is suffering, you feel nothing- no pity, no desire to help them, no concern.

 

It sounds strange if you haven’t experienced it, I’m sure, but I would guess it happens more often than people care to admit.  After all, saying it makes you sound bad or un-Christian if you don’t care about the pain of another human being.  In spite of how it sounds though, I don’t think it’s abnormal to reach this place in certain bad relationships.

 

People say the opposite of love is hate, but I believe it to be indifference.  If you love or hate someone, you have very strong feelings for someone. If you love them, you are glad when good things happen to them or sad when bad things happen.  If you hate them, you are sad when good things happen to them & rejoice when bad things happen.  If you feel indifferently towards a person though, you literally feel nothing for that person.  No joy or sadness at their blessings or trials.

 

I felt indifference towards my mother in-law, even when she was diagnosed with serious health problems then later died.  Does that sound awful to you?  I’m sure it does, but consider some background information before judging..

 

From the moment we met, I knew she didn’t like me.  She was civil & even pleasant sometimes in front of others, but when we were alone, she was cruel.  She constantly insulted me, my family, my pets, my car, everyone & everything that meant anything at all to me.  She talked to me like I was stupid & not good enough to be a part of her family.  Not long after we got married, she told me how terribly disappointed she was that Eric married me instead of an ex of his.  (A woman who cheated on him & treated him badly, mind you).  She told me I needed to get rid of my pets- I had too many.  She called my granddad stupid for living on his own at 84 years old, even knowing how important he was to me & never having met him.  Upon seeing me replace a burn out turn signal bulb in my car once, she told me I needed to get rid of it- it cost me too much money.   (The new bulb cost $.97 & had been in my car for the entire 9 years I had it at that time.  It was the only repair my car had needed in a long time.).  One evening in 2002, she called to talk to my husband, but he wasn’t home from work yet.  She screamed at me for this because she thought he should’ve been home at that time of night.  She also yelled at me because his allergies were bothering him.  This conversation made me realize she wasn’t someone I could work things out with, no matter what I did.  She blamed me for things I had absolutely no control over- how could I work things out with someone like that?  Anything I felt for her died then, & I cut ties with her shortly after.

 

So after reading that story, doesn’t it make sense that in extreme circumstances like this, your feelings for someone can simply die?

 

If you’ve experienced this, please know you’re not alone & there is nothing wrong with you.  This simply means you’re human & have been through some unfair, cruel things.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or even a bad Christian.

 

In spite of feeling this way, I started praying for my mother in-law a few months before she died.  I didn’t want to, I frankly didn’t care about her salvation or anything else going on with her.  However, I felt in my heart God wanted me to & doing so helped me to feel a deep peace.  I would recommend you do the same, Dear Reader, for that person you feel nothing for.  Praying for them may bless them as well as you.  It can be difficult at first, but I promise- it gets easier the more often you do it.  I believe it will give you peace in your heart as it did me.

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It Couldn’t Have Been That Bad! Just Look How You Turned Out!

When people learn that someone has been abused as a child, they often say the dumbest things, I think because it’s hard to know what to say.  Simply saying, “I’m sorry for what you went through” would be fine, but many people don’t seem to agree with that.  So, rather than saying that statement, they can come up with some pretty hurtful & stupid comments.

 

One thing some folks say is, “It couldn’t have been all that bad!  Look how you turned out!”  Bless their naive little hearts.  This actually makes sense to them!

 

People who say this fail to realize that when you grow up with narcissistic parents, you learn early on to hide your problems so as not to “bother” them.  Narcissistic parents have no time, energy or desire to deal with their child’s problems, so when their child comes to them with a problem, they ignore, trivialize or even shame the child for having the problem.  This teaches the child it’s just best to hide their pain, illness, hurt feelings, needs & anything really from their parents.

 

This behavior carries over into adulthood.  Out of habit, the adult child of narcissistic parents continues to hide their problems.  As a result, some people look at us & assume we have it all together when the truth is that we don’t!

 

No one can escape narcissistic abuse unscathed.  Every single person who was raised by a narcissistic parent or two has had issues from it.  Some end up with C-PTSD or PTSD.  Some end up with crippling depression or anxiety.  Some turn to self harm or self destructive behaviors.  Some end up with addictions to drugs, alcohol or food.  Some end up overachievers who work themselves so hard, they end up very sick from it.  Some even turn into narcissists themselves, continuing the cycle of dysfunction & abuse.  Almost all end up with some type of health problems- MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, digestive problems, heart problems, etc.

 

 

 

We are often able to function quite well too, in spite of the problems.  Growing up as we did, learning early to hide our problems from our parents, we learned also how to function normally in spite of problems.  I went through my life normally for many years even though I was suicidal.  No one knew it.  I got good grades in school (honor roll, graduated in the top 10% of my class).  I held down jobs.  I laughed.  I lived my life normally, in spite of wanting to die, & not one person had a clue how I felt.  Even now, no one, including my husband, has any idea exactly how bad the C-PTSD is when it flares up because I hide it so well.  The habit of hiding things is so ingrained in me, I do it without even thinking about it.

 

If someone says to you that what you went through couldn’t have been so bad since you turned out so well, then please feel free to show them this post, if you think it will help.  Narcissistic abuse is a serious problem with life long, life changing problems affecting victims.  People need to understand this so they can start supporting victims!

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When People Tell You How To Feel & How To Heal

From the narcissists’ flying monkeys to even the most well meaning of people, people like to tell victims of narcissistic abuse how to feel.

 

  • “You’re too negative.  You need to be more positive.”
  • “You need to let that go/get over it.”
  • “Aren’t you over that yet?”
  • “You need to forgive & forget.”
  • “You shouldn’t have let them abuse you.”
  • “You need to stop thinking about it.”
  • “You haven’t prayed enough.”

 

Early in healing, such statements add to the toxic shame you already feel stemming from the abuse.  You feel ashamed of yourself for not being over it, not forgiving your abuser & forgetting their awful deeds or being so “negative.”

 

Later in your healing, after you’ve gained some wisdom & experience, such comments really just get under your skin.  You know that there is no way to “just get over” the horrible things that have been done to you.  It takes a great deal of prayer & work to heal, & even then, you may never be “over” the abuse you endured.  If you live with PTSD/C-PTSD, you live with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression & more every single day because of the abuse.  As long as you have the disorder, you are forced to live with the abuse every day, like it or not.  And forgive & forget??  HA.  Even if you are able to forgive your abuser, you don’t forget abusive things done to you.  It also makes you angry people tell you how to heal, as if they know what you need better than you do.  So presumptuous & arrogant!

 

No one has the right to tell you how to feel or how you need to work on your healing.  You know what you need more than anyone else.  Besides, what may have worked for them doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too.  Different things work for different people.

 

No one has the right to blame you for being abused, saying things like “you allowed the abuse.”  No, you didn’t.  Abusers abuse, period.  No matter what you did or didn’t do, the abuser planned to abuse you & did so, all of his or her own free will.

 

No matter what happened to your abuser, that does NOT give him or her the right to abuse you.  Many people who grew up in a toxic environment became good, caring people as adults.  Anyone that tries to excuse their abusive behavior because they had a bad childhood or other lame excuses is toxic.  Avoid these people as much as possible!  If you can’t avoid them entirely, at the very least have strong boundaries when you’re with them & refuse to discuss the abuse you endured.

 

You have the right to protect & care for your physical & mental health however works best for you.

 

You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries by whatever means work for you.

 

You have the right to limit or end contact with people who are detrimental to your healing, no matter if those people are friends or even family.

 

You have the right (& obligation) to take care of yourself, to rest on bad days, to cry when you’re sad, etc.

 

You have the right to feel whatever you feel.  If you’re angry, you have the right to that anger.  If you’re sad, you have the right to those tears.  Feel the emotions so you can process them & heal, no matter who says you’re wrong for feeling such things.

 

You have the right to decide with who to share details of the abuse.   You don’t have to share your story with everyone.  Even if someone asks you what happened, you don’t have to tell them if you don’t feel comfortable with it.  Besides, sharing with just anyone isn’t wise, since some people will use the information to hurt you.

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Do Narcissists Change As They Age?

I’ve read so many times that narcissists never change, but I have to disagree with this.

 

Narcissists can change for the better, because with God, all things are possible.  This is quite rare, but it’s certainly something to hope & pray for.  (I believe in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst)  It happened with my husband’s father- he improved so much.  I don’t know why he changed, but it was wonderful.  He was caring & kind to my husband instead of his usual behavior- critical, bossy & generally nasty.  Unfortunately though, he later developed dementia, & returned to his old ways.  (Dementia & Alzheimer’s can exacerbate narcissistic tendencies.  Sadly, this is quite normal.)  After his wife (a covert narcissist) died in 2016, he returned to his much better behavior.

 

More commonly though, narcissists do change as they get older, & they get much more devious & creative.  They have to change because as they age, they have to use different tactics if they want to remain in control.  In my teens, my mother was a very intimidating & imposing figure.  When she screamed at me, as she did so very often, I was always afraid she’d physically hurt me.  If she tried this today at age 77, I wouldn’t be so intimidated.  How could I be?  She is much older & frailer now.  Screaming at me now wouldn’t have the desired effect, so she has changed her tactic from screaming to speaking in a soft tone & saying the most vicious things she can come up with.

 

Narcissists are smart- they know what will be the most effective way to accomplish something they want to accomplish.  They are experts at reading people, as they have to be to figure out the best way to use them.   They also are smart enough to realize what worked well for them when they were 35 most likely won’t work as well at 75, & they must adapt accordingly.  Besides, their children aren’t as easily pushed around at 40 as they were at 10.  They have to find new ways to manipulate them if they wish to continue using their children.

 

Many older narcissists also like to reminisce.  They like to talk with you about the past.  Often it’s the usual narcissistic rhetoric- bragging about their great accomplishments at work or the vast numbers of people they’ve helped.  But, narcissistic parents also can do something very hurtful- brag about the amazing childhood you had.  My mother has done this many times.  She talks about all the great things she did for me when I was a child.  Some things were simply a parent doing what she should for a child, & some things never happened at all.  When this happens, it used to hurt me a great deal.  She was invalidating & denying abusing me!  Instead she made me look like a screw up who needed her.  Finally though, God showed me something that has helped me tremendously.  This behavior is a coping skill.  Dysfunctional as it is, this is how my mother copes with the guilt she feels for being so abusive.  Rather than take responsibility & apologize to me, she reinvents the past to make herself look like a good mother.  She also even tries to get me to agree with her stories, in the hopes of convincing herself & I both that the stories really are true.  Once God showed me this, it made perfect sense to me.  I no longer was so hurt by her stories, because I knew they weren’t a personal attack (even though they may feel like it sometimes).  I knew instead they were a dysfunctional coping skill.  It is her right to use that skill if she wants.  It’s also my right not to validate her stories if I am so inclined, & I never do validate them.

 

Just be forewarned, Dear Reader.  As your narcissistic mother ages, she may not mellow out like many folks do.  She may seem a bit easier to handle in her golden years because she isn’t screaming, but don’t be fooled- just because she isn’t screaming or physically abusive doesn’t mean she isn’t still capable of hurting you a great deal.

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To Those Who Are New To Learning About Narcissistic Abuse- It’s OK, Even Necessary, To Talk About It!

When you grow up with narcissistic parents, the fear of divulging what they do to you is very real.  Narcissistic parents don’t always use threats- they don’t need to.  They have a certain look that can instill sheer terror into their child.  That fear often stays with the child into adulthood.  This benefits the narcissistic parent, because she knows her secret is safe.  However, it hurts the child.

 

Not talking about the narcissistic abuse you endured can cause many health problems, such as ulcers, high blood pressure or digestive problems.  It affects your mental health too.  Depression, anxiety, PTSD & C-PTSD are very common, even under the best of circumstances- a good therapist & caring support system.  Without those things, depression, anxiety, PTSD or C-PTSD are pretty much a given.

 

You need to talk about your experiences!  I’m not saying you need to publish books or write a blog like me, unless you feel that is the direction God is leading you, but you do need to talk for the sake of your physical & mental health.

 

I know talking about your experiences can be a scary prospect.  It also can feel like you’re being disloyal.  That is not true, however.  Telling the truth isn’t being disloyal.

 

Guilt happens too.  I think it’s pretty much impossible not to feel guilty at first.  You’re talking about something you were told your entire life you shouldn’t talk about, after all.  My mother used to tell me not to “air our dirty laundry.”  It took me a long time to realize it wasn’t “our” dirty laundry I was airing, it was hers.

 

If you’re considering talking about the things that have happened to you, please know that it’s OK to talk about it.  If you don’t feel up to talking, how about writing in a journal at first?  Writing is very therapeutic- there is something validating in seeing your experiences written out.  Also, if you take precautions, no one will see what you write, so you can feel free to let it all out.  I love http://www.my-diary.org, as it is a password protected, private online diary.

 

If you aren’t comfortable talking to another person, why not pray?  God is a great listener, & will comfort you like no one else can.  You can be completely open with Him without fear of judgment or criticism- it’s very freeing.

 

If you opt to try therapy, be sure you find a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse.  Not all therapists do, so it may take trying a few before you find one you’re comfortable with.

 

And, if you opt to talk about your experiences with those closest to you, use wisdom with deciding who to open up to.  If you share a person with the narcissistic parent who abused you, they may not want to hear about your experiences.  They may be very fond of the narcissist, &not want to hear anything bad about her.  They may not believe you.  It is better to find someone to talk to who isn’t close to the narcissist, such as a friend of yours who doesn’t know your parent(s) well.  You also need to speak with someone who is caring, supportive, objective & close to God.  You need someone who is honest enough to tell you the truth, but caring enough not to be brutal & painful with it.  If this person also gets mad for you about what you have experienced, that helps too.  I had a friend who in many ways was like a mother to me.  She was a very special lady, always had a ready smile & some encouragement.  But, when I told her some of the things my parents did to me, she would get angry on my behalf.  If this good, Christian lady who was utterly patient & held no bad feelings towards anyone was getting mad, it must be really bad.  Her anger helped to validate my pain.

 

Talking about the painful experiences you endured will help you to heal.  It will get the toxicity out of you, preventing further damage to your physical & mental health.  It also will help you to keep the blame on the abuser instead of on yourself, which is a battle for many victims of narcissistic abuse.  So please, open yourself up to talking about your experiences.  You deserve the freedom it brings you.  xoxo

 

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Envy In Narcissists

When dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there is one important point you must never forget- they are extremely envious.

 

Narcissists want what you have, whether what you have is a loving marriage, a great job, talents or a nice home or car.  I think it is because narcissists feel so badly about themselves, that your good thing, whatever it may be, is perceived as a threat.  By you looking good, they think it makes them look bad, as if people are constantly comparing them to others.  They simply cannot stand someone else looking better than them in any way or doing something they are unable to do.

 

One example of this that comes to mind is my mother in-law.  She’s never driven- always had to rely on others to take her where she needed to go.  From day one, my car was always an issue with her, even knowing I love cars, especially mine.  She started by accusing me of driving too fast in her neighborhood.  I thought it was odd, but slowed down.  Not long after my husband & I got together, she suggested we go out to lunch one day.  I said fine, let’s figure out when to do this.  She said, “You WILL be taking Eric’s car, right?”  I was baffled & said “No, I have my own car.”  She dropped the subject.  A couple of weeks later, she suggested we go out again, & again she asked if I was taking my husband’s car.  Again I said no.  This happened once more & by then I was getting angry.  My car wasn’t good enough for her to ride in?!  Someone who doesn’t drive or know the first thing about cars thinks she’s too good for my car?!   Anyway, a few years later, my husband & I had both of our cars at his parents’ house.  I’d been helping him work on his, then when he didn’t need my help, I replaced a burned out turn signal bulb on my car.  When I was alone, my mother in-law took this opportunity to tell me my car was costing too much money- I needed to just get rid of it.  (a $.97 bulb that burned out after 8 years was too expensive?)  She also made fun of me for “liking to get dirty & greasy” because I had car dirt on me after working on hubby’s car.

 

At the time, I knew nothing of NPD.  I did realize though that all of this nastiness boiled down to one thing- envy.  My mother in-law envied the fact that not only was I independent enough to drive, I could even fix my car if need be.  She has created this dependence on my father in-law by not driving, under the guise of helplessness, yet at the same time, she envied me for not being so dependent on my husband as she was on hers.  Obviously she was trying to hurt me not because there was something wrong with me, but because there is something wrong with her.

 

Sadly, this is typical narcissistic behavior.  Narcissists attack things that mean a lot to you for two reasons- because it causes you a great deal of pain or because of envy.  Often, for a combination of both reasons.  In the situation with my car, my mother in-law used both reasons, I believe.

 

When the narcissist in your life viciously criticizes something about you, or even simply tries to instill doubt in you about it, you can bet she envies you.  Don’t let her cruel words or actions make you feel bad about whatever it is she’s criticizing about you!  In fact, remember that whatever it is, is a good thing.  If it wasn’t, she wouldn’t care enough about it to criticize you so viciously.  Don’t let her cruelty make you feel badly or as if you’re doing something wrong.  It is simply proof that you are doing something very well & that you are blessed!  Remembering these things will help you to not be hurt by her verbal abuse.

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A Possible Cause Of Panic Attacks

I read an interesting article about anxiety:

 

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/clinical-psychology-says-hiding-from-anxieties-makes-it-worse

 

To sum it up, the author, a psychologist, suggests that anxiety & panic attacks are a result of not dealing with emotions for too long.  The attacks are the mind & body’s way of releasing enough pressure so we don’t get overwhelmed.

 

This makes sense in a way to me.  Feelings do have a way of demanding to be heard.

 

My first panic attack happened the night before my grandmom’s funeral in 1996.  I’d never heard of panic attacks & thought I was having a heart attack.  My husband had them before & figured out quickly what was going on, thankfully.  Anyway what triggered the attack was thinking about seeing my family.  I hadn’t seen them in a few years at that point, because my mother then later also my ex husband told me my grandparents hated me.  Since my family was close at the time, I figured if my grandparents hated me, everyone else did too.  I pulled away from them in 1992.  I thought if I showed up 4 years later at the funeral, these people who hated me would kick me out or show their hatred of me in some other way.  I didn’t feel capable of dealing with losing my grandmom, who I loved, in addition to being hated.  Thinking about that was painful.  I tried to push all my thoughts aside because I felt overwhelmed.  Then, a panic attack started.

 

Other times, panic attacks have started in similar ways.  Trying to push aside fear of going into a public place or ignoring anger rather than facing it can trigger panic attacks for me.  Before I stopped speaking to my in-laws, knowing I was going to see my mother in-law triggered panic attacks.  I knew she hated me & if we were alone for any length of time, was going to say or do something hateful.  Trying to ignore the anger I felt at being forced to deal with her triggered panic attacks.

 

I don’t know if this psychologist is right about all panic attacks, but when I thought about it, I realized it’s definitely true for at least some of my panic attacks.  Does this describe yours too?

 

Unfortunately the author didn’t offer suggestions on ways to cope with these panic attacks.  I’m guessing though the best way to do so is to face the feelings that accompany them as soon as you can.  Pray, talk to a supportive friend, journal… whatever way works best for you to cope with your feelings.  I also wonder if writing in a journal on a daily basis could help.  Daily recognizing your emotions & dealing with them seems like it should cut back on panic attacks.

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Forgiving Narcissists

Many people have very definite opinions on the topic of forgiving narcissists.  Usually it’s one of two extremes- either you forgive & forget, or you refuse to forgive because narcissists don’t deserve forgiveness & aren’t sorry for the damage they cause anyway.

 

I am a firm believer in forgiveness, but not in the “forgive & forget” sense.

 

In a relationship with a narcissist, if someone confronts a narcissist, they can count on any of a variety of possible, ugly scenarios happening:  The narcissist denies everything, the narcissist blames the victim for “making” her act that way, the narcissist turns the tables so she is the victim & the real victim is mean/unreasonable, or the narcissist recruits her flying monkeys to talk some “sense” into the victim while taking attention off the narcissist’s actions & making her look like an innocent victim.

 

When this happens, many people end all contact or greatly limit their contact with the narcissist.  Often, especially in Christian circles, this is mistaken as the victim hating the narcissist or holding a grudge.  That can be true of course, but in my experience, it’s seldom the case.

 

Using myself as an example, I’ve had to end friendships.  The hardest was with an old friend I’d had for over 20 years.  I’d prayed a great deal before doing so, & knew in my heart it was the right choice.  Not because I hated my friend, but because I knew I deserved to be treated better than I was being treated.  I forgave him for his actions, but since I’d seen him changing, realized I would be hurt again if I continued the friendship.  I didn’t trust him anymore.

 

I’ve seen many scenarios with adult daughters of narcissistic mothers that are very similar.  The daughters go no contact because of how awfully their mothers treated them, & they learn their mothers are trash talking them to other people which shows they don’t want to fix things.  It also shows they have no desire to apologize or accept responsibility for what they have done.  These daughters are seldom angry about what their mothers have done, & almost never say they hate their mothers.  I would guess that 99% of the daughters I’ve spoken with in these situations don’t harbor anger.  They have forgiven their mothers, but they also know they have to have her out of their lives for the sake of their own mental health &/or to protect their husbands & children.

 

Unfortunately with narcissists, a normal, functional, healthy pattern of working problems out doesn’t happen.  Normally, someone is approached about the hurtful action they did, that person apologizes & if necessary, changes their actions to regain your trust.  Since that won’t happen with a narcissist, many times very limited or no contact is the only option left.  If you are in that situation, please don’t allow others to make you feel badly for making that choice or accuse you of being unforgiving or un-Christian.  Do what you believe you need to do!

 

And, remember- forgiveness isn’t about the narcissist.  It’s something you do for yourself because you deserve better than carrying around anger or bitterness.  That is all.  It can be done whether or not you’re in a relationship with your abuser.  Reconciling the relationship & learning to trust the abuser require that person’s participation, but forgiving her does not.

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Pity, Sympathy & The Covert Narcissist

When narcissism is discussed, often it is the behavior of the overt narcissist.  Very little is discussed about covert narcissists.

 

Covert narcissists are much more devious & sly in their actions, yet they are just as abusive if not moreso than overt narcissists.  Because their actions are so covert, their victims are often very hesitant to admit what was done to them was abusive.  They often doubt what was done to them was done out of maliciousness, taking the blame on themselves for being over sensitive or reading too much into things.  One way this is accomplished is by the covert narcissist using pity & sympathy.

 

Pity & sympathy are tools covert narcissists often use.  If they can make you feel sorry for them, chances of you calling them out on their actions or setting boundaries are very slim.  If you do either, you are going to feel very guilty for being so mean & unreasonable.

 

One way covert narcissists acquire that pity is by acting as if they aren’t very smart.  Whether or not they are educated is beside the point.  Covert narcissists like to give the impression that they’re very naive & innocent.  Do NOT be fooled by this act however!  There is absolutely no way a person can be stupid & extremely devious at the same time.  Someone who is genuinely not very smart won’t know how to abuse people while appearing innocent.  They also wouldn’t know what they are doing is wrong & it needs to be hidden.

 

Another way they acquire sympathy is by being married to an overt narcissist.  Very often, overt & covert narcissists marry.  It’s the perfect dysfunctional match.  The overt narcissist can do anything, gaining all the attention, without anyone standing up to him or her.  Meanwhile, the covert narcissist is able to abuse quietly, behind the scenes.  No one really notices because the overt narcissist is gaining all the attention.  The covert narcissist enjoys this because compared to the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist doesn’t look so bad.  In fact, they tend to play the role of the good spouse very well.  They look long suffering, patient, even martyr-like in the fact they can tolerate so much from their spouse.

 

Because of this appearance, many people, particularly empathetic ones, are extremely hesitant to set boundaries with or confront covert narcissists.  I was the same way with my late mother in-law who was clearly a covert narcissist.  I noticed she was especially mean to me after a disagreement with my father in-law.  I felt bad for her- sometimes he said some really hurtful things to her.  I thought, naively, maybe she was just getting out her frustrations.  And, I didn’t have the heart to say anything to her because she had enough to deal with.  As time went on though, I realized she got meaner & meaner, whether or not they had a disagreement.  Not saying something wasn’t helping her or me.

 

Most people like getting a little sympathy or pity periodically.  If you have a bad cold, doesn’t if feel good if someone says they’re sorry you’re sick & brings you some soup?  Covert narcissists take that normal thing to an extreme, though, using it to get away with any abuse they can.

 

Overt narcissists may use sympathy & pity too, but not nearly as much as covert narcissists do.  Plus, their methods are much easier to spot.  They often can turn on & off their tears as easily as most people flip a switch, for example.  I’ve seen that with my overtly narcissistic mother.  She has back problems, & uses that for sympathy.  If she isn’t getting enough attention, she has burst into tears, claiming to be in pain.  Yet interestingly, when I didn’t rush to her side, after a moment she stopped crying & went on with her activities.

 

If you notice someone in your life constantly wants pity or sympathy, be forewarned, chances are, you’re dealing with a narcissist.

 

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Is Narcissism Really A Disorder?

We all know the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it doesn’t take long witnessing someone with it to wonder if it is truly a disorder.  The word “disorder” implies their behavior is beyond their control, such as in the case of someone with schizophrenia.

 

This term also makes victims of narcissistic abuse feel as if they can’t do anything to protect themselves or even be angry about what is done to them, because the narcissist’s behavior is beyond their control.

 

None of this really sits right with most victims, because we have seen the narcissist in our lives go from screaming lunatic to nice person when the “right” person came along.  I witnessed it with my mother growing up.  She could be screaming at me, telling me how worthless I was, until the phone rang.  She was normal on the phone, then after she hung up, could resume screaming at me.  Although she no longer screams at me, she still controls her behavior just as well.  She can say something incredibly hurtful to me then smile at the person who enters the room a moment later as if nothing happened.

 

Calling behavior like this, so clearly controlled & planned, a disorder always left a bad taste in my mouth.  It was great to finally have a name for what was being done to me, but disorder?

 

Thankfully I found an answer a while back in reading Dr. Karyl McBride’s facebook page.  (In case you don’t know, she wrote an incredible book on narcissistic mothers entitled, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?”  I highly recommend it- it’s chock full of wisdom!)  She said that personality disorders are different than other mental disorders in that they describe a means of behavior rather than an actual physical illness.  For example, someone with PTSD has brain damage caused by trauma whereas someone with NPD is behaving in a dysfunctional way.  This means people with personality disorders can change their behavior if they desire to do so & learn healthier ways to behave, whereas someone with PTSD can’t change their behavior so easily (if at all) because their brains is physically damaged.

 

Interesting, no?

 

In a way, I found this information to be very freeing.  It means that my narcissistic mother’s behavior isn’t beyond her control & I really do have every right to set & enforce healthy boundaries.  It was also a bit discouraging learning that she could change if she wanted to, but she doesn’t want to.

 

The best way I have found to deal with this knowledge & the conflicting feelings that follow is this: I am grateful that the awful behavior has a name, because it means it isn’t my fault!  I didn’t make my mother abuse me, as she claimed.  I also didn’t force my ex husband to punch walls when he got mad at me.  These people have issues, & that isn’t my fault!  As for knowing they can change but refuse?  Well, that is their right.  Everyone has the right to live as they see fit, & some people make very bad choices in how they live.  Having that boundary in place will help you accept the fact that your narcissist may never change, while still hoping for it.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.  Certainly pray they change & hope for it, as it does happen (albeit very rarely), while accepting the fact it may not.

 

And, never forget- you also have the right to protect yourself from abusive behavior however you believe is right for you to do.  Just as someone has the right to be abusive, you have the right to protect yourself.

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Mental Illness: Normal Consequences Of Abuse Or Something Wrong With You?

Something crossed my mind recently.

 

People with PTSD/C-PTSD, depression or anxiety that stems from being abused are referred to as having a mental illness, or mental health problems.  It occurred to me though that this is, in a way, false.

 

Yes, C-PTSD/PTSD, depression & anxiety are proof of damage in the brain, so they are in that sense mental disorders.  But, such things are also normal reactions to highly abnormal circumstances.  The truth is actually that these disorders were brought about by an abusive person determined to hurt you.

 

Having C-PTSD, PTSD, depression or anxiety aren’t signs that you are weak, a failure, stupid or anything else.  They are simply proof that you have been through some traumatic things, & you survived!  You are strong!

 

Rather than being ashamed of yourself for being “mentally ill”, why not instead embrace the fact that you are a normal, mentally healthy person who has been through some terrible things?

 

I’m not saying embrace your disorder- I doubt anyone could enjoy flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks & more.  Instead, I’m saying see your disorder as proof of your strength & that you have been through trauma.  Not everyone survives being abused.  Many victims develop terrible addictions & still others commit suicide.  You haven’t done those & should be proud that you haven’t!

 

 

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How Accepting The Narcissist “As Is” Can Benefit You

One thing I have found to be very helpful when dealing with narcissists is to accept them as they are.  Accept that they are immature, competitive, envious, jealous, vindictive with no desire to change & will not hesitate to hurt you if it accomplishes their goal.

 

Accepting them as they are does NOT mean you have to tolerate their abuse, however.  You always have absolutely every right to protect yourself from any & all abuse!!

 

Accepting them does means you understand that the narcissist is this way, & you can’t change them.  You can’t even inspire them to want to change with good, healthy actions on your part.  The only hope you have of genuine change from a narcissist is God being able to get through to them somehow.

 

So why accept the narcissist as they are?  Because it can help you.

 

It seems to be a normal reaction for the victims of a narcissist to hope next time will be different.  Next time, she’ll actually care about me.  Next time, maybe she won’t be so critical.  This overly optimistic thought process only sets the victim up for disappointment.  Narcissists rarely change for the better, & when they do, usually it’s only temporarily to benefit them in some way.  (I believe with God, all things are possible, even a narcissist seeing the error of their ways & changing their abusive behavior.  However, from what I have seen, it seems to be a very, very rare occurrence.)  If you can accept that truth & accept the narcissist as she is, you won’t subject yourself for being disappointed when she doesn’t change, doesn’t apologize for hurting you, etc. You know what is coming, so you aren’t disappointed that this time wasn’t different.

 

Also, accepting the narcissist means you won’t be hurt so often.  You know they are a certain way, & you know what to expect.  Knowing such things means that their usual actions can’t devastate you like they do when they catch you off guard.  You know what is coming, & can prepare for it.  This is a good thing!

 

Dealing with narcissists is never easy, but there are ways to make it less painful & frustrating for you.  Accepting the narcissist is one of those ways.

 

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Encouraging Others To Abuse You

No one knowingly encourages people to use or abuse them.  However, some people, in particular those who have been abused before, unwittingly do so.

 

To prevent this from happening, you need to “…be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16, NKJV).  You need to be observant & exercise wisdom.

 

Narcissists are particularly observant of their victims, & are very good at understanding body language.  They can pick up on your mood, your strengths, your weaknesses & anything else by watching you.  This enables them to know the most efficient ways to get what they want from you.  If you must deal with a narcissist, you need to do the same- observe them.  You will be able to pick up on their mood,  etc. & this will enable you to figure out the best way to deal with them at that particular time.  Unfortunately, dealing with narcissists is much like playing a chess game that you don’t want to play.  You have to be two steps ahead of them if you are to deal with them successfully.

 

You also need to have & enforce good, healthy boundaries.  Be very aware of what you are willing & not willing to tolerate.  Be creative in enforcing those boundaries.  Pray for God to help you if you need creative udeas.  Simply saying, “It hurts me when you do…” won’t work with a narcissist.  They will realize they can hurt you & continue to do the behavior.  Change the subject if they’re being critical.  If they are trying to control you or bully you into doing something, refuse to do it.  If it’s something you want or need to do, tell them, “Of course I’ll do it since you asked so nicely!”  I’ve done this with my mother, while wearing a smile, & she stopped bossing me around.  Instead, she started asking me to do things.

 

Always maintain your calm demeanor in their presence, especially when setting boundaries.  Any show of emotion will help narcissists understand what to do to hurt or use you in the most powerful, effective way.  If you can avoid showing them that you’re angry or hurt, their task will be much harder.  Once you’re away from them, though, you need to get your anger & hurt out of you.  It’s never healthy to hold it in, but it’s necessary to do so temporarily when around narcissists.

 

Lastly, keep all conversations superficial.  Don’t share anything important or personal with a narcissist, ever!  If they ask how you’re doing, reply “fine.”  What have you been up to lately?  “Nothing much.”  The less information they have, the less ammunition they have to hurt you with later.  This is easier to do when the narcissist isn’t a parent.  Keeping things from a parent feels like you’re going against nature at first.  But, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, especially when you realize your narcissistic mother has less & less to criticize about you.

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“I” Statements

I’ve always used “I” statements in conflict.  For example, “I feel hurt when you….” rather than, “you hurt me!”  During my first marriage, I read about the importance in always using “I” statements when trying to work out marital conflict.  I stepped up using them, because we didn’t need any more reasons to argue.  I tried avoiding any further conflict & thought that would help.

 

Then I realized something.  I’ve taken these “I” statements too far.

 

I’ve caught myself saying “I was abused” rather than “my mother abused me”.   “I was screamed at daily” rather than “My mother screamed at me daily.”  “I was thrown into a wall during a fight with my mother” replaced, “My mother threw me into a wall.”

 

See the problem?  “I” statements absolved my abusive mother of the responsibility she should have had for abusing me.

 

I still believe “I” statements have their place.  If a close friend said something hurtful, I’m sure they’d be more receptive to “I was hurt that you said that” over “You hurt my feelings!!”  But that is the only place I think they are appropriate.  If you’re talking about your experiences with narcissistic abuse or abuse of any kind, they are very inappropriate.

 

Whether you realize it or not, saying things like “I was abused” over “My mother abused me,” subtly removes responsibility from the abuser, at least in your mind.  For a long time, I wrestled with what my mother did to me being my fault, & I believe saying those “I” statements helped me to feel it was my fault instead of hers.

 

It also seems to soften the story a bit when you say you were abused over naming your abuser.  I’ve noticed people respond differently to me saying “I was abused” over “My mother abused me.”  Naming my mother as my abuser often shocks people.  Compassionate people seem to feel more compassion for one naming her abuser over simply saying, “I was abused.”

 

I think people respond this way because “I was abused” sounds less personal somehow than saying, “My mother abused me.”  It seems to take the human element out of abuse, I think.  It also makes you sound more detached from the abuse, which I would think would mean people would be less likely to understand why you’re still having problems stemming from the abuse.  Just my random thoughts on this..

 

I also think many victims of narcissistic abuse wrongly use “I” statements as I have, & as a result, may struggle more with accepting that the abuse was the narcissist’s fault, not theirs.  If this describes you, it’s time to make a change!

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “I” statements in the right context, but if you’re discussing being wronged or abused, place the blame where it belongs- on the person who wronged & abused you!  There is absolutely nothing wrong, disrespectful, dishonorable, selfish, etc. about doing so.  Abusive people need the blame placed squarely on them, especially in this age of blaming victims.  And, victims need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being abused was never their fault.

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Benefits Of Journaling

 

I swear by keeping a journal.  In fact, I write in mine daily, & have a reminder on my cell phone to do so.   It helps me to vent when I’m upset & to remember the many things for which I’m grateful for.  It also helps me to keep track of when events in my life have happened.

 

I’ve also realized that a journal can help you heal from narcissistic abuse & keep your sanity while you’re in the midst of it.

 

There is something about seeing things in writing that brings such clarity.  It makes things more real.  It validates your experiences.  It shows you that yes, that really did happen & it happened that way.

 

Keeping a journal can help you to keep track of the truth, so when the narcissist in your life insists that a situation isn’t the way you remember, you can look back on your journal & see the truth.

 

If you’re considering going no contact, it may help you to decide what to do by seeing events in writing.  As I said, seeing things in writing brings clarity, & you need that when trying to decide if no contact is the right solution for you.

 

Journaling gives you a safe place to share your feelings without judgment.  What you write is between you & God only.  Sharing with people, even the most well meaning ones, can sometimes lead to hurt feelings.  That is something you don’t have to worry about with a journal.

 

I’ve found a website for a free, online, private journal that I just love.  www.my-diary.org  allows you to keep your journal private or make it public.  You can change the colors of the “pages” to personalize it if you like.  (No, I don’t get any bonus for recommending this diary site- I just like it & thought you might too).

 

I hope if you don’t currently keep a journal, you’ll consider doing so, Dear Reader.  It really can be a very useful tool for keeping mentally healthy.

 

 

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When You’re Suffering…

I read a wonderful quote recently & unfortunately I have no clue who said it.  It reads,

 

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.”

 

Not only are those lovely words, but it’s very true.

 

Devastating events are painful, & no one wants to go through them.  Unfortunately though, they are an inevitable part of life.  Trying to focus on the good that can come out of bad things will help you get through them.  I admit, that can seem impossible at the time, but it really is possible.

 

Getting sick last year, I quickly gained a new perspective.  I stopped sweating the small stuff.  I abandoned friendships that were one sided or superficial.  I realized I had to stop putting up with being mistreated, & say no or stand up for myself.  I cared less  what others thought of me & my beliefs, & became  a bit more outspoken about them.  This chased some people out of my life.  The symptoms forced me to rest often, which I truly needed to do but didn’t do before.  (Although I still struggle in this area, it has improved somewhat)  So in a strange way, I’m actually glad for what happened- it caused me to become mentally healthier & take better care of myself.

 

I know this isn’t easy to do, especially in the throes of a painful situation, but look for what you are learning or how you are growing.  If you feel unable to do so, ask God to help you.  While doing this may not seem useful, it really can be.  You’ll gain wisdom you didn’t have, which can help you to heal & maybe even to help others as well.  Learning about narcissism was that way for me.  I was devastated by narcissistic abuse my entire life, then suddenly I learned I wasn’t the problem- NPD was!  That knowledge helped pick me back up after being knocked down, & eventually to help other victims too.  I can’t say I’m grateful for the abuse I’ve gone through, but I am grateful that God brought good from it.  It means that suffering counted for something!

 

The same thing can happen to you, too.  Why not make a decision today to allow God to work good things out of your pain?  Ask Him to do so, & He will.

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Is Feeling Compassion For Narcissists Good Or Bad?

I’ve read quite a few times lately that victims of narcissistic abuse should never have compassion on narcissists.  Narcissists don’t deserve compassion.  Feeling sorry for them only opens the door for you to fall for their gaslighting & abuse.

 

Honestly, I don’t totally agree.

 

While it’s true having compassion on someone can lead you to tolerate things you normally don’t allow, that isn’t the case 100% of the time.  For so many of us who have been abused by narcissists, we have learned what narcissism entails.  We can predict the gaslighting & crazy making they will do, so we know how to deal with it when it happens.  We also realize how healthy boundaries look, & have no trouble enforcing those boundaries.  We are  often also able to feel pity for the narcissist who abused us- after all, whatever made them the way they are must have been pretty terrible.  Their behavior is so dysfunctional.  It’s very sad.  We can balance compassion for them with maintaining healthy behavior on our part.

 

God has enabled me to pray for my parents daily, even on those days I am so hurt & angry, I don’t care where they spend eternity.  Sometimes, my prayers are very insincere, but I pray anyway because God understands how I feel & honors the fact I’m trying.

 

So why bother praying for them, especially during bad times?   Why care at all for people who have hurt me so deeply, & who won’t even acknowledge I live with C-PTSD?  They don’t deserve it!  They’ve done too much while refusing to acknowledge anything they’ve done!

 

One reason is because God wants us to pray for other people, even those who have abused us.  I also believe is because having compassion helps me to remember that I am NOT like them.  Some examples of ways they are different than me are:

 

Narcissists don’t care about anything about anyone.  People are nothing more than items to be used to benefit the narcissist.  They are not entitled to normal human feelings, needs, wants, likes or dislikes.

 

Normal people though care about other people.  Even people who have hurt us- we don’t wish awful things on those people.  We may not actively wish the best on those people constantly, but we also don’t wish the worst on them.

 

Feeling compassion, even periodically, for the person who abused you, who made you experience indescribable pain,  I think, can be a good thing.  It’s a reminder that you are NOT like them!  You instead have escaped what is meant to destroy you with your humanity in tact.  That is really a big accomplishment!  Definitely something to be proud of!  Escaping narcissistic abuse without being bitter isn’t an easy task.

 

I truly believe that this is an individual thing though.  Just because I’m good with feeling compassion for the narcissists in my life doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too.  And you know what?  That’s OK!  God has very individualized plans for each person, even those in similar situations.  I’ve met some people with narcissistic mothers who feel no compassion for them, only disgust their mothers chose this dysfunctional, abusive way of life.  It doesn’t mean they’re carrying around bitterness or anger, only disgust for the poor choices their mothers have made.  This works for them just fine.  It enables them to keep firm & healthy boundaries in place or to stay no contact.  It doesn’t hinder their healing process, either.   So if you feel that having compassion for your narcissistic mother is wrong for you, don’t feel bad!  That may just be the path for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everyone Has Individual Paths To Take In Life

Recently, I was talking with a dear friend.  She’s been having trouble with her sister, & handling the problem very well.  She’s showing God’s love & grace in this difficult situation.

 

I felt bad as we spoke, because I knew if that was me in her shoes, I’d be very angry.  I felt like I wasn’t being a good Christian because of that.  Immediately, God spoke to my heart.

 

This friend has told me that growing up, she spoke up to her narcissistic mother.  She never stifled her anger.

 

I however, was her polar opposite- I learned early on never to show any anger.

 

Growing up, my mother would holler at me for my “Bailey temper” even if I was simply frustrated.  I learned very young it was better to stifle my anger rather than show it & be shamed.  It’s only been the last couple of years I’ve been letting myself show anger.  In fact, I can’t stifle it any longer.  I get over it & forgive the other person quickly, but it still feels somewhat foreign to get angry.

 

I can’t really compare myself to this lady because we’re so different.  God wants me to show my anger, I believe, so I’m not wrong when I feel it or show it.  For her, she chooses not to get angry with her sister & that is what’s right for her.  Neither of us are wrong or bad.  We’re simply doing what is right for us.  And, both of our solutions are Biblical.  Matthew 5:44 tells us to love our enemies & forgive them, which is what my friend is doing in her situation.  Various Scriptures tell of times when Jesus Himself got angry (Mark 10:13-16, Mark 11:15-17, etc).  Being angry is not a sin!  It’s what you do with your anger that can be sinful.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and do not sin” do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” (NKJV)

 

Realizing all of this was so freeing!  It helped me to feel I’m on the right path for me, just as she is for her.  It also helped me to stop feeling shame for when I get angry like I did at first (old habits truly die hard).
This situation also goes to prove that we all have very individual walks with God. Sure, there are some basic things He wants from all of us, like following the 10 commandments. But beyond that?  We all have very unique & individual paths to take. Don’t compare yourself to another person.  Instead, enjoy your own path, & enjoy the freedom there is in that.

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The One Good Thing About Triggers

Anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD knows about triggers.  Triggers are those things that send us rocketing into a flashback or emotional flashback, or at the very least, remind us of some painful trauma we’d just as soon forget about.  They also can trigger a panic attack or dissociation.

 

As painful as triggers can be, they also can serve a good purpose.  They can show us the areas in which we need healing.

 

I have a very hard time going into the neighboring town where my parents live.  It is full of awful memories for me, so I avoid the town as much as possible.  Going past the library is the worst though.  That was where my first job was, & where my mother did some very abusive & hurtful things to me.  She once screamed at the top of her lungs at me in the parking lot in front of my now ex husband, the patrons & my coworkers.  She humiliated, belittled, shamed & degraded me there too.   Repeatedly.  When I see the library building, even just driving past it, I either get a panic attack, flashback or dissociate.  I’ve done them all.  The one time I went inside that library a few years ago, I had to leave immediately because of having a panic attack & flashback at the same time.  Naturally, I haven’t gone back to that library since.

 

One good thing about this is I realize that I need further healing in the area of the things my mother did to me at that library.  I have dealt with so many things my mother did to me, but not the events that took place at that library.  I know I have repressed some of them, but not all.  I need to deal with what I do remember.

 

Have you ever thought about triggers this way, Dear Reader?  As painful as it can be, it is a good thing when you learn about some area where you need further healing.  You can’t heal from what you don’t acknowledge, so you need to know what areas you need to work on.  Every event you heal from brings you one step closer to wholeness, one step further from the trauma you have endured & fills you with more joy & peace than you had previously.  If you can look at triggers as a sign that you need healing in a certain area, they truly can help you.

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To Heal It, You Have To Feel It

So many of us who have suffered narcissistic abuse are simply tired.  Tired after years of walking on eggshells & trying to please the unpleasable.  Tired because the experience gave us C-PTSD or PTSD, which are both exhausting disorders for many reasons.  Tired of working so hard, trying to heal & feel normal for once.  It’d be so nice if we could just forget what has happened.  Put it away like an unloved Christmas present from the mother in-law somewhere in the back of a closet where it wouldn’t see the light of day again.

 

Unfortunately though, that is completely unrealistic.

 

If you want to heal from any traumatic situation, you have to deal with it completely.  This means to heal, you have to feel.  Feel what, you ask?  Feel the anger or the hurt.  Get angry.  Cry.  Scream.  Cuss.

 

Sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  That is partly because narcissistic mothers shame their children for having any emotions, society shames victims for not “getting over it” immediately & the church often shames people for not “forgiving & forgetting.”

 

Dear Reader, I’ve been working on healing from narcissistic abuse since 2000.  I bought into those lies for too long.  I ignored the gentle promptings in my heart from God saying it’s OK to feel my emotions.  I tried forgiving & forgetting.  I tried getting angry & just couldn’t do it- I was afraid of getting angry & losing control.  I also could hear my mother’s voice in my head scolding me for having “that Bailey temper.”   I couldn’t even cry or grieve because I thought I was feeling sorry for myself & needed to pick myself up by my bootstraps & get over it.  And, I was miserable.

 

I ignored God’s promptings for years until early last year.  After nearly dying from carbon monoxide poisoning & suffering a concussion when I passed out from the CMP, I changed.  Both of these things can change one’s personality, so it’s not a surprise that happened to me.  I was surprised how I changed though.  I suddenly was less able to control my emotions.  I had no choice but to feel angry or sad or happy or whatever.  And you know what?  It’s been a blessing!!

 

I have been able to heal more since that happened than in the many years prior.  Feeling things has enabled me to release those emotions.  It’s enabled me to purge myself of the yukky emotions buried inside of me & heal.  It’s much like healing an infected wound.  You can slap a bandage on it, but that won’t heal it.  The wound has to bleed to get the germs & infection out first, then it can heal.

 

Another bonus of feeling my emotions has been I’ve learned how to make anger work in my favor.  My mother couldn’t stand me to be angry, even simple frustration was a problem for her, so she would shame me if I displayed even mild irritation.  As a result, I learned early to stuff anger deep down inside, & carried this dysfunctional behavior into my adulthood.  Now, I no longer do that.  I feel the anger, & when it is a righteous anger (such as when she is hateful to me), I let it give me the strength to set boundaries, walk away or even call her out on her bad behavior.  Righteous anger truly is a good thing for giving you strength & motivation to make changes!

 

Dear Reader, don’t wait until something life altering happens- decide today that you are going to feel your feelings so you can heal.  Give yourself permission to do so.  Talk to someone safe & trusted about how you feel.  Also, you can try the chair technique, where you place an empty chair in front of you, pretend your abuser is in it, & yell, scream, cry or whatever you want to do to vent your feelings.  If you don’t feel comfortable verbalizing them, then write them down somewhere safe from prying eyes.  You can pray silently too- God certainly will listen!

 

And, when you’re feeling your feelings, get it all out!  Don’t worry if your language is bad.  Do you think God’s never heard those words before?!  He gets that you are that hurt, angry or frustrated!  It’s much better to get that ugliness out of you than let it fester inside of you.

 

Please remember, to heal it, you have to feel it.  You can do this!  I know it’s scary at first, but do it anyway.  Ask God to give you the strength & courage to face those ugly, scary, traumatic things head on so you can heal from them.  Once you do this, those awful memories will feel more like a bad dream than something you’ve actually lived through.  That is how you know that event has lost its hold over you.

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Being Sensitive

I’ve come to realize that sometimes, I’m oversensitive.  Mostly, I’m pretty thick skinned.  Growing up with a narcissistic mother basically turned me into what I think of as an insult Navy seal.  lol  But there are some times when any little thing can make me cry or very angry.  It was bothering me, being this way, so I did some praying & thinking about why this happens.  I believe what I learned may help you too.

 

Hormones can affect your mood.  I’m currently in my mid 40’s, & my hormones go all over the place on a regular basis.  Part of the joys of mid life… lol  Fluctuating hormones aren’t just limited to mid life, though.  Particularly in women, they happen all the time, & can affect your mood & sensitivity.  If you feel your moods or sensitivity are just too much, it might be time to see your doctor.  It’s very possible they could be in need of some help.

 

Going through something very upsetting can make you feel more sensitive than usual.  You just don’t have it in you to let things roll off your back as you normally might. After losing one of our cats then having a big fight with my parents at the beginning of May, I’m still much more sensitive than normal.  Although I’m feeling some better as far as grieving my loss, I’m still very hurt & angry at my parents’ awful disregard for my feelings.  Both events happening so close together was too much for me to deal with at the same time.  I had to try to grieve my loss first, then cope with what my parents did.  I’m still trying to process my hurt & anger, so yes, I’m very sensitive to everyone & everything right now.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder can make it harder to cope during certain times of year.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I have the reverse SAD where I get depressed in the summertime (most people feel that way in winter).  I have a harder time coping in the summer than winter, & get my feelings hurt easier in summer.

 

Other mental health problems can make you more sensitive than usual.  Anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. might make you more sensitive because your brain isn’t working quite as well as it should be.

 

Head or brain injuries can create problems in this area.  Have you ever had a concussion or any type of brain injury?  If so, that may cause you to think & feel differently than you did pre-injury.  Some people are fortunate & can be symptom free after a traumatic brain injury or mild TBI like a concussion.  Others have a mild injury yet live with a plethora of nasty & debilitating symptoms.  TBI’s are very unique- everyone seems to react differently, & severity of the injury isn’t always going to determine the symptoms you’ll have.  My concussion was mild enough the hospital missed it after a CAT scan, yet I live with a ton of problems from it.  One of those problems is I get hurt or angry much faster than I once did.  It’s harder for me to let things slide now than it was pre-TBI.  If you’ve had a TBI too, this could be happening with you as well.

 

Missing out on time with God can create problems in many areas.  As a Christian, spending time with God is vital to your relationship with Him as well as your mental health.  If you feel as if you’re overreacting to things or generally being oversensitive, it might be a sign you need to spend more time with your Heavenly Father.  Spending time with God helps you to keep focused, maintain your peace & joy & also the ability to not care so much about what other people think.  God’s opinion of you matters more than people’s after all!

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Why Do Narcissists Care More About Strangers’ Opinions Than Loved Ones?

One of the hardest things to understand about narcissists & their awful actions is why they care more about what strangers think about them than the opinions of those closest to them.  I believe there are several reasons for this.

 

Narcissists can’t bond.  Most people automatically form bonds with those they love, but narcissists don’t even love in a normal, healthy way.  Everything they do is about getting their coveted narcissistic supply (what makes them feel good about themselves), so they may love what you do if you provide it, but that doesn’t mean they love you.

 

Narcissists don’t do deep, meaningful relationships.  They want superficial relationships, where there is no real responsibility.  They simply want to be adored.

 

Strangers providing narcissistic supply thrill narcissists. It’s easy to show strangers what the narcissist wants them to see, & hide the bad parts.  Strangers can provide instant supply.  This is very gratifying to narcissists.  Strangers are much easier & more fulfilling to get supply from than those close to them.

 

Narcissists don’t get their narcissistic supply from their own actions.  Most people feel good about themselves when they do something well, but narcissists aren’t that way.  They only feel good about themselves when another person provides their narcissistic supply.  It’s relatively easy to get supply from strangers.

 

I hope this helps you to understand a little about why narcissists care more about strangers than those closest to them, Dear Reader.  It truly isn’t about you or something you’ve done wrong- it’s all about them & their dysfunction!

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Give Up On God- He Hasn’t Given Up On You

Growing up, I really had no knowledge about God.  My mother said if you’re good you go to Heaven, bad you go to Hell.  No explanation of what was good or bad, & I had no idea how Jesus fit into the equation.

 

As things got worse with my mother as I got older, I decided I had absolutely no use for God.  Obviously He didn’t care about me since I was going through so much at home.  In fact, I believed He couldn’t even exist.  How could a loving God exist & let me go through the things I did?

 

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties I realized how faulty this thinking was.  I finally realized God did indeed exist & cared deeply about the pain I went through.  That is when my healing began

 

If you are being or have been abused, I understand it can be very tempting to give up on God, or at least to think He doesn’t care about your pain.  The truth though, Dear Reader, is that God hurts when you hurt.  He is angry about what has been done to you, too.  He knows all too well the unfairness of it all.

 

That may be hard to believe when you’re hurting, but it’s very true.  Please don’t give up on God for not saving you from bad situations.  The truth is He doesn’t force people to do anything, even when it’s in their best interest.  God is a gentleman, never forcing people to do anything.  He may suggest things, show evidence that certain things are a good idea & others bad ideas, but He never forces anything.  He leaves the final decision on what to do up to each person & unfortunately many people make bad decisions.  They ignore God’s promptings & do whatever they feel like.  That is NOT God’s fault- the blame lies squarely on their shoulders.  Why get mad at God for people making bad choices since it’s not His fault?

 

Dear Reader, God is in your corner.  He always has been & always will be.  If you wonder where He was when you were being abused, He was there, crying over your suffering.  He was angry for you.  He was distraught that your abuser didn’t pay attention to His promptings not to do these things.

 

Now that it’s over?  God is there by your side, wanting to hug you & make it all better.  He wants to help you through your pain.  Let Him.  Don’t get mad at God & shut Him out.  Let Him help you instead.  He will show you how to heal & how to make your pain count for something good.  I know that sounds impossible, but it’s very true.  He has done this for me & will do the same for you, too.

 

 

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