Tag Archives: mental
A recent conversation with my husband gave me an interesting revelation.
He said when I talk about the traumatic things I’ve been through, it’s almost always what my parents did rather than how I feel or how things affected me. He’s right. I immediately chalked that up to having C-PTSD. The disorder means sometimes I have to talk things to death to come to some sort of terms with them. However, I felt there was something I wasn’t realizing about this. God revealed to me what it is.
Surviving growing up with narcissistic parents instills a need for constant validation in a person. That is why I talk more about the things they did rather than my feelings. I can handle my feelings just fine on my own. What I need help with is understanding exactly how bad my parents have been to me.
When you’re raised by narcissists, your reality is much different than real reality. In my case, I learned my mother was always right & should get whatever she wants even if that means hurting me. I learned my father is very helpless, & couldn’t do anything to take care of me or protect me from my mother’s abuse. I also learned very early in life that my parents’ emotional needs were my responsibility. I was to have no needs or feelings of my own since that could be a distraction from them & their needs & feelings.
Pretty messed up, huh?
Thankfully, as an adult, I’ve learned how wrong, dysfunctional & abusive these things are. Even so, I still battle them to a degree simply because these beliefs were very deeply instilled in me. If I tell someone about some awful thing my parents did to me & they get angry & say things like, “That was terrible! It was wrong to do that to you!” their outrage helps to validate my pain & tear down those false beliefs. An objective third party seeing that they were wrong & I wasn’t to blame (as I always was with my parents), is a huge help to me!
Are you like me? When you discuss the abuse, do you discuss more about the events than how you feel about them? Or, do you seek validation frequently by asking people if your perception or feelings are OK? If so, know there is nothing wrong with you, even though it may feel that way. It’s just one more thing that narcissistic abuse can cause in a person. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept it for what it is, & ask God to help you heal.
Triggers are things that remind you of something else. Sometimes, they can be good such as the sound of whipped cream being sprayed from that can reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who loved it & would do a little dance for a spray of whipped cream.
Often though, when you come from an abusive past, triggers aren’t so nice. Certain scents, sights, sounds or situations can take you right back to a traumatic event, making you feel like that scared child you once were.
Triggers are easy to understand when they are obvious. The scent of a perfume that your abusive mother wore when you were a child or a cruel nickname that your father called you are obvious. Not all triggers are so obvious though.
Some triggers appear to have absolutely nothing to do with why you feel the way you do. Those triggers are what we’re going to talk about today.
Some triggers on the surface seem innocuous, yet you end up feeling just as bad as you did as a child in a traumatic situation. Talking to someone who shows no empathy may enrage you because it makes you feel like it did when you were growing up with your narcissistic parent, for example.
When this happens, it can be confusing. Having a strong reaction to something that isn’t really a big deal can make you wonder about your sanity. It’s a horrible feeling, but it can be dealt with.
As soon as you can, go somewhere where you can be alone & pray. Ask God to show you what is going on, what’s the root of this feeling? He will show you, & from there, you can begin to heal. It may be something that you thought was small, but apparently it wasn’t since it’s still causing you problems. Or, it may be a big, ongoing issue. Either way, once you know what the problem is, then ask Him to help you to heal & show you what you need to do in order to heal. Write your experiences & feelings in a journal. Talk with a therapist or trusted friend. Work on this however helps you, & the trigger will lose its power.
A couple of years ago, two of my wonderful readers told me about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (aka MBTI) personality test. Since, I’ve become utterly fascinated with it!
This test gives you a four letter description of your personality. I found it to be incredibly accurate for myself & my husband. Here is the link if you want to try it: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
While I realize not everyone is as fascinated with psychology & what makes people “tick” as I am, I still recommend taking the test & learning as much as you can about your personality. This is especially important to survivors of narcissistic abuse, I believe.
Whether the narcissist in your life was a parent, sibling or spouse, narcissists do a tremendous amount of damage, as you no doubt know all too well. One thing they all try their best to do to their victims is to turn the victim into what they want that person to be. Narcissists want victims to lose their natural, God given personality & become someone pleasing to the narcissist. Before you realize that is happening, chances are you lost a lot of yourself thanks to the narcissist.
Learning about your personality type can help you to regain the part of you that was lost. It also can help you to learn about things you never understood about yourself. For example, I always thought I was weird. I’ve been told it often enough! I constantly try to understand people’s motivations & solutions to problems, when many people don’t bother with such things. My mother used to criticize me as a child for “always thinking” because of this. I took that to mean that something was wrong with me. Once I learned of my personality type, I learned that there isn’t something wrong with me. It’s just my natural personality, which happens to be the rarest one.
Another benefit of learning about personality types can happen when you learn the types of those in your life. Since I learned my husband’s type, I understand him even better now than I did before he took the test. And, as a bonus- he got interested in learning about his type as well so he’s developed a better understanding of himself.
Dear Reader, I hope you will take the test & learn about your personality & those of your loved ones as well. The test only takes a few minutes & is free, but it can be very beneficial.
A common criticism from narcissistic parents to their children is calling them lazy. I can’t count how many adult children of narcissists have said their parent constantly called them lazy. I’m also one of them. These parents don’t allow their children to rest when sick or simply relax after a long day without criticisms.
While being called lazy & not being allowed to rest & relax doesn’t really sound like a big deal, it actually is.
Being treated this way is surprisingly damaging to a child. It can cause a child to carry a tremendous amount of guilt & even shame until the child dumps the dysfunctional false belief put on her. Many so called lazy kids show the following characteristics that stem from being called lazy…
- Feeling as if you never should rest or relax.
- Feeling intense guilt &/or shame if you need to rest, such as when sick or injured. Along those lines- resuming activities quickly, not giving your body time to recover.
- Feeling unappreciated.
- Feeling as if you never can do enough.
- Developing OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), & being fanatical about cleaning your home or doing your job.
- Going in the opposite direction from OCD & being extremely messy.
If any of this sounds familiar, then it’s time to make some changes.
I have found that looking objectively at myself was a good place to start. I looked at what I do & realized I do quite a bit. Granted, in the past few years, my health has forced me to streamline my routine so I don’t do as much at a time as I once did, but I still do quite a bit.
I also looked at my mother objectively. She is rather lazy. She’s never been one to keep her home spotless. Since marrying my father she put him in charge of not only maintaining her car but cleaning it as well. She doesn’t cook often & never has. She hasn’t held a job since before getting married, other than a part time job for a week or two in 1989. This tells me that her calling me lazy was simply projection rather than fact. (Projection is when a person behaves in a certain way, then accuses another of being that way when they truly aren’t. It allows the accuser to get mad about the flaw without taking responsibility for it. It’s a very common tool used by narcissists.)
I began to tell myself I’m not lazy. I believe in working smarter not harder, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was starting to sink in, until I got sick in 2015 with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It took every ounce of energy out of me for months on end, & I felt like the laziest human on the planet since all I could do was lay around. As I lay there recovering, I watched a lot of TV. One evening, out of the blue, God spoke to my heart & told me why He allowed me to get sick. One of the reasons was I needed to rest more. In spite of starting to realize I wasn’t lazy, I still pushed myself too hard. Now I have to rest sometimes- my body just can’t work as hard as it once did. He said if I continued pushing myself too much, it would kill me eventually. It had to stop.
I can’t believe I’m the only person God would do this too, so I’m including it as a warning to you, Dear Reader. If you are that typical adult child of a narcissistic parent who pushes yourself too hard, it’s time to stop. If you don’t, what’s to say God won’t allow something to happen to you that causes you to need to rest? It’s much better to rest on your own terms! Try what I did- look at your situation objectively & you’ll see you aren’t lazy, & there is nothing wrong with resting & relaxing! You also deserve to have joy in your life, & how can you do that if you work non stop? Take better care of yourself, Dear Reader! You deserve it!
When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.
When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms. I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events. Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.
Not even close!
I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012. And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma. Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter. I honestly wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through? It seemed completely bizarre to me.
Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had. The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.
I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.
I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.
If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone. Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.
As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you. Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings. They’re never random, even though they feel that way.
Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well. They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of. They also can simply help you because your brain is processing some information. The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.
If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start. Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.
A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too. I use a website (there are many to choose from). They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams. Write them down & look them over from time to time. That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come. It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.
Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them. Colors, objects, people, feelings. Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant. It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times. It could benefit you as well
When you begin talking to people about experiences with narcissistic abuse, it can be tempting to compare your experiences. Especially in online groups, it’s very easy to see people in different levels of healing. It can be discouraging seeing people who are obviously in a better place than you.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader. Stop comparing your healing with that of other people! Nothing good comes from comparison! It only makes you feel badly about yourself!
Instead, remember- people are very different. We all respond to things differently, we feel things differently & we process things differently. Even if you & another person have very similar experiences with narcissistic abuse, those differences mean your healing will be unique to each of you.
One area in particular I struggled with is anger. I think many people struggle in this area. I used to feel badly because I’d see so many others who weren’t angry. Yet, there I was, livid every time I thought of certain things my parents had done. Others had experienced similar situations, yet obviously weren’t as angry as I was. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. I went to God with my concerns, & He shared some interesting things with me.
If you weren’t allowed to show anger as a kid, as is the case with most narcissistic parents, you’re going to be very angry as an adult. The anger built up over the years because you had no way to release it. Some children of narcissistic parents are fortunate enough to find outlets for their anger, so they don’t feel as angry as adults. I was never allowed to show anger, not even simple frustration, as a child. I was shamed greatly if I got angry, so I learned to avoid showing anger at all costs. It’s only natural that I have a bigger problem with anger than someone who found outlets for their anger as a child.
There are also folks who continue to hold in their anger. They deny feeling it, because they are still convinced that anger is a terrible thing that should be avoided at all costs. These people may even be shaming towards others who feel anger, although unintentionally. For example, they often try to be extremely positive in order to deny their anger, which makes someone who is angry feel bad for not doing the same, even though being too positive isn’t mentally healthy. (Being realistic is much healthier)
I hope you see that comparing your healing journey to that of other people is a complete waste of time. There is truly no good that can come of it! Walk your individual path proudly. God has a unique plan just for you! xoxo
No contact is often the only solution preached when a victim of narcissistic abuse looks for advice. People make it sound like once you get that narcissist out of your life, everything will be peachy keen. However, this is not the case!
No contact is a wonderful thing. I am very much in favor of it since often it is the only solution that can help a victim keep their sanity. It creates the distance needed to help the victim have clarity of thought that is impossible while involved with a narcissist. That being said, though, there needs to be more to it than simply cutting the narcissist out of your life.
If your parents are narcissists, chances are you find yourself in friendships & romantic relationships with narcissists. You can end the relationship with your parents, but if that’s all you do, you’ll continue to find yourself in these toxic relationships.
Rather than cutting ties only, you need to learn all you can about narcissism. Doing this will help you to spot narcissists easily, before they lure you into their dysfunctional web. It also will show you that you are not to blame for anything they did to you. Narcissists love blaming their victims for the abuse they dish out, which leaves victims feeling guilty unnecessarily. Learning about narcissism will help you to get a revelation on the fact that their abuse was all on them. You truly aren’t the problem, a bad person or anything else they said you were!
Also, focus on your own healing. Grow stronger & healthier emotionally. Get to the root of your issues so you can truly heal. As you get healthier, your self esteem will heal too, & you will find yourself attracted to & attracting healthier people into your life. You also will find you can handle yourself with the abusive ones that are impossible to avoid.
If you are considering going no contact, then please keep these points in mind! Going no contact can help you a great deal of course, but you don’t need to stop there. Learn about narcissism & focus on your healing as well as going no contact, as these things will benefit you immensely!
Some time ago, I got caught up in comparing my success as an author to other authors. I realized many who write about similar topics to me are much more well known. Their blogs, Facebook pages or groups have thousands of followers. Mine? Not nearly so many. This used to make me sad, but God told me something. It helped me a great deal, & I think it may help you as well.
“When stars burn extremely brightly, they burn out quickly. Stars that don’t shine as brightly burn much steadier & for longer periods of time.”
If you’re feeling frustrated in your ministry or calling, like you don’t measure up to others, then it’s time to stop comparing yourself to other people! Dear Reader, God has given you a unique calling, so focus on enjoying where you are with it. If you compare yourself with others who seem more successful than you, remember what God told me about stars. Maybe those bright stars have a lot more success than you do at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of success as well!
Every single person has an individual path to walk in life. God’s ways are perfect, so why not focus on enjoying your path, enjoying where you are right now rather than comparing yourself to others? Doing that has taken an incredible amount of pressure off of myself & enabled me to enjoy what I do a lot more than I had been enjoying it. It will do the same for you!
When victims of abuse first tell their story, people often ask why they didn’t tell someone when it was happening. They figure it couldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t even tell anyone.
This thinking is incredibly faulty! Nothing could be further from the truth!
Abusers of all types have some things in common. One of those things is they love secrecy. They don’t want people to know what they are doing to their victim, so they threaten & scare their victims into silence.
Some abusers tell their victims things like, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill your child/parents/sibling.” Others beat their victims upon finding out the victim told someone what the abuser has done. Narcissistic abusers usually aren’t so obvious with their intimidation, but they value secrecy nonetheless. When I was growing up, my mother used to scream at me when she thought I was “airing our dirty laundry” as she called talking about her abuse. She would shame me for needing to talk about things, like there was something incredibly wrong with me- everything she did was completely normal, I had no right to think otherwise or talk about her behind her back. I stopped talking. It wasn’t worth the screaming & berating.
Then sometimes if we tell, people either don’t believe us anyway or they think we’re exaggerating. When I was a teen & told some people about my mother, no one believed me. One school guidance counselor said “it didn’t sound so bad.” When my mother threw me into a wall, I went to my friend’s parents’ home to see if I could stay with them. Her father laughed at me. 26+ years later & I still don’t get the joke.
Reasons like this are why victims don’t tell someone when the abuse is happening. We’re terrified the abuser will follow through on their threats or hurt us in some way, or afraid no one will believe us. As painful as staying quiet about what’s happening is, it’s easier than facing the wrath of the abuser or apathy of someone we turn to for help.
Many people truly have no grasp how incredibly difficult the process of healing from abuse is. As a result, they often provide some unasked for & useless advice.
- “Just get over it.”
- “Just let it go.”
- “That happened a long time ago. You need to get over it already!”
- “Don’t think about it.”
- “Think happy thoughts.”
These messages all say the same thing- “Don’t talk about it. Sweep it under the rug & pretend it didn’t happen.” What a horrific message to give to someone who is suffering!!
Never allow this awful unasked for advice to get inside you! If you follow it, your pain will manifest in awful ways such as depression, nightmares, high blood pressure, digestive issues, diabetes & more. Emotions demand to be heard. If not given a healthy way to process, they will find other ways to come out.
People don’t realize that victims *do* need to think about it. Want to? No. Need to? Yes. Only when you face things can you heal. You need to remember what happened & feel all of the emotions connected to it- anger, hurt, etc.- before you can release them & be healed. This process often involves talking about it. A lot. There is nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong or wallowing in the past. It means you’re processing the event so you can move on.
Many times, victims have PTSD or C-PTSD. Intrusive thoughts come with the disorders. This means that thoughts go through your mind whether or not you want them to. Sometimes it’s impossible to “think happy thoughts.” There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, things just suck! It’s OK to admit that. A while back, God showed me that at times, being positive isn’t always a good thing. You can read about that at this link for more details. Are You Too Positive Or Too Negative?
Narcissistic abuse is especially complicated & insidious. It permeates every part of you. It takes a long time to heal from it because of its complexities. There is nothing wrong with you for taking a while to heal. I haven’t spoken with one victim who was able to fully recover, let alone do so quickly. I am in my 40’s & regularly still deal with things that happened to me in my childhood.
The next time someone offers you useless, unasked for advice such as “just get over it”, do your best to ignore it. Chalk it up to someone being ignorant of the complex road that is healing from abuse.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn many things early in life that most people don’t, such as you aren’t allowed to have feelings. Often if you are happy, a narcissistic parent will ask you what you have to be so happy about, shaming you into hiding your joy. If you are sad, you’re told you don’t have anything to be sad about because other people have it way worse than you. If you’re angry, you’re told you have a bad temper & are crazy.
Because of such things, you learn early on to ignore your emotions. Stuff them down deep inside & pretend they aren’t there. Eventually though, after years of doing this, enough is enough. You can’t physically or mentally handle this stress any longer, & you have to start learning to express yourself. It feels so strange at first. Sometimes, I still feel like I’m waiting for some sort of backlash for sharing my emotions, because I’m doing something I learned as a child was absolutely wrong. It has improved over time, but is still there to a degree.
I think though that anger is the hardest emotion to handle when you learn to share your emotions. Aside from the messages of shame for feeling anger that you must get rid of, anger seems to have a mind of its own.
When first getting in touch with your anger, it may feel as if there is an infinite pit of it inside you, which is pretty scary. You must realize that if you’ve been stuffing it inside you for your entire life, there is going to be a lot of anger in there to deal with. There is an end to it all, but it’s going to take a while to deal with it all.
Also, when you’re not allowed to express anger, it comes up later, even years later. I get angry with my parents for things that happened 30 years ago sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m living too much in the past. It can be so frustrating! Unfortunately it’s also very normal. You can’t simply expel all of the anger you feel inside at once. You mentally couldn’t handle that. Instead, it comes out in manageable doses. This means you’ll probably have to deal with an incident at a time. Since narcissistic parents dole out such a great deal of abuse to their children over the course of their lives, there are obviously going to be many, many incidents to deal with, even going back to your very early life. It’s an unfortunate & frustrating fact of being raised by narcissistic parents.
Sometimes the anger comes up later because you were so busy trying to survive the abuse that you didn’t have time to cope with it at the time. I had a terrible relationship with my husband’s mother. Then, my husband defended her to me which caused many problems in our marriage. I had to fight with him as well as her, & didn’t really have time to process what was happening, because I was trying to survive both of them with my sanity in tact. It wasn’t until I cut her out of my life that I could finally deal with the things she had done to me as well as the anger at my husband for taking her side no matter what she did.
You need to realize that all of these feelings are normal.
You also need to realize that you have a right to your anger. Being abused isn’t fair. No one deserves it! You have every right to feel anger about that.
You have every right to learn to deal with your anger in a healthy way. It’s well overdue.
There is nothing wrong with anger in & of itself, so please don’t buy into the lies you heard about that. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions aren’t bad. It’s what we do with that anger that can be bad. Trying to get revenge on someone out of anger is bad, but feeling anger is not. Anger is a good thing since it lets you know something is wrong.
I know anger is a very scary thing when you never learned how to handle it in healthy ways. However, you can learn healthy ways to deal with it. Prayer is the absolute best place to start, I believe. Ask God to show you what to do, how to handle it. He certainly will answer that prayer!
Why is it when someone has either set boundaries in or ended an abusive relationship, people try to convince that person to “forgive & forget” or “be the bigger person” & fix the relationship? Have you noticed how commonplace this is? Think about it…
If a daughter in-law is constantly belittled by her mother in-law, she is told to be the bigger person. Let it go. She is only trying to help by criticizing everything about you!
If your abusive parents have been out of your life for some time, then they become ill or worse are dying, chances are someone is going to tell you that you need to make things right with your parents. You need to be there for them & take care of them! You owe your parents that much!
A wife whose husband has beaten or raped her is told to forgive him since he was drunk. He didn’t know what he was doing. Stop making a mountain out of a molehill!
This is a major pet peeve of mine. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to expect an innocent victim to repair an abusive relationship. Why don’t people tell abusers to fix the relationship instead? Why not tell them to stop abusing?!
I think some people simply don’t want to face the fact that there is a lot of ugliness in the world. They prefer to think everything is unicorns & rainbows, when nothing could be further from the truth. Anything that interrupts their ignorance is met with denial or even hostility.
Some people, flying monkeys in particular, don’t want to believe that a person could be so bad. Maybe they know the abuser & have seen the “good person” show that he or she puts on. They would prefer to believe that facade is the real person, not the vicious, devious, abusive monster who has hurt you.
When this happens to you (& sadly it will at some point), it’s going to hurt. It’s going to make you angry. This is only natural since this type of thing is triggering & painful. You can cope, however.
If you see the conversation you’re in is taking this turn, then end it. Change the subject. Say you won’t discuss this topic with this person. Walk away if you must or hang up the phone.
Don’t buy into that “you need to be the bigger person” nonsense. You didn’t cause the damage, you don’t need to fix the damage. Fix only what you broke & apologize if you hurt people. Take responsibility for things you have done wrong only.
And really.. how is it a good thing to stay in an abusive relationship anyway?! Not only does that take a toll on your physical & mental health, but it encourages the abusive person to be abusive! While no one can make an abuser become a kind, Godly person, setting boundaries sets the stage for that person to change their abusive behavior. That is truly loving, Godly behavior! Tolerating abuse from anyone is NOT!
Rather than listening to that drivel about being the bigger person, do what you know God wants you to do. Stick to your boundaries. Don’t be bullied or manipulated into allowing an abusive person back into your life. Surround yourself with good, loving, Godly people who understand, love & support you.
When you grow up with narcissistic parents, it affects you deeply & in ways you aren’t even aware of. The chaos, abuse & manipulations are simply normal to you. Thank God He teaches us about Narcissistic Personality Disorder so we can get away from that dysfunction!
As you learn about narcissistic abuse & heal from it, naturally you change a great deal. While becoming healthier, you see things differently. You finally understand just how wrong so many things your parents taught you were. It’s empowering, this learning & growing, but something comes along with it that can be difficult. Constant reminders.
Some time ago, I realized that it seemed like everything reminded me of something awful about my relationship with my parents. For example, after becoming deathly sick in 2015, seeing families rallying around a sick family member can bring me to tears. I never told my parents what happened, because I know they would turn the situation back to them rather than care how I was, & it hurts! Reminders that others have loving parents brings that awful thought back to the forefront of my mind, & depresses me. Other times, I’ve seen reports on TV about a murdered person, & their grieving loved ones talk tearfully about what a wonderful person he or she was. I know if I died, my parents wouldn’t miss me in the least, but instead would enjoy the narcissistic supply they could get by portraying themselves as the grieving parents.
These things began to happen after I got sick in 2015. I chalked it up to the head injury & carbon monoxide poisoning I received at the time since both are known for changing a person’s personality. Somehow that didn’t feel right though. I prayed & God showed me what was happening.
The more a person heals from parental narcissistic abuse, the less they see things through the fog of gaslighting thrust on them. The clarity means they understand how things should be, not as their narcissistic parents say they are. Seeing healthy, normal situations is simply a reminder of how things were not when they were growing up. Unfortunately the reminders can hurt a great deal.
Realizing your parents are narcissists is a painful experience, partly because of the grief that is involved. You grieve the fact your parents never loved you, weren’t & will never be there for you, & even can’t be the kind of parents you would like them to be. (I personally believe this is a lifelong grief, although it gets easier over time.) It’s much like when someone you love dies- the initial grief can be debilitating, but in time it mellows to something more tolerable, only occasionally bringing you to tears when something reminds you of your loved one. I remember right after my granddad died.. one day my husband & I ended up following a car that looked identical to his. I cried because seeing that car made me miss him. Almost 14 years later, I still shed some tears if I see a car like his last one or even vaguely like it. Seeing something that reminds you of what your parents did or didn’t do for you can be like that- a sad & painful reminder.
If you are experiencing something like this, then Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone & you aren’t broken. I know it’s frustrating & painful, but I firmly believe it’s completely normal under the circumstances. All you can do is understand these things happen, be gentle with yourself when they do & pray, pray, pray! God will help you to get through! Let Him do that for you! xoxo
Well, finally I did it, Dear Reader! I started my YouTube channel. After much anxiety & prayer & distractions, it’s now ready to go. 🙂
It’s now available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyHVkrFotB51_ZKqh7BqAXg
I recently was watching “Dr G: Medical Examiner” on TV. The show fascinates me in a morbid way. She discusses various cases that come into her medical examiner’s office in Florida.
Well, this particular episode had a strange case. A lady had been found lying on the floor of her bedroom by her son. She was badly burned, yet nothing in the house was burned. Suddenly the paramedics came & transported her to the hospital where she died 11 hours later. It turned out she committed suicide.
The lady wanted her fiancee to commit suicide with her. He didn’t take her seriously. They got into an argument & he left. She then grabbed a lighter, drove to a nearby field & lit herself on fire! Apparently she had a change of heart & drove herself home. She called 911 & after she hung up is when her son found her.
The story was heartbreaking to me. I’ve been suicidal in my life & let me tell you, it is a horrendous place to be. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone! It’s torture feeling as if no one cares & the world would be a better place without you.
Many people who are truly suicidal show very subtle or no clues that they are feeling this way. People are often shocked when they die because they say there weren’t any signs. Or, they say something like, “I didn’t think he really meant it when he said he was tired of living.”
Dear Reader, please pay attention to the people in your life. Many people are suicidal, especially if they have mental illness. Did you know there’s a 15-20% suicide rate among those with Bipolar Disorder? PTSD is even higher, estimated to be around 50%.
Even those without diagnosed mental illness can become suicidal. Everyone has a breaking point. Losing loved ones (through death, divorce, moving, etc) can take a huge toll on a person’s level of joy. Losing a pet can trigger suicidal thoughts in many people. Even losing a job can be devastating. Men in particular have a hard time with job loss. Medical problems can trigger depression. The fear of the unknown can be utterly terrifying, especially when it comes to one’s health. Or, sometimes having surgery can trigger depression due to the changes in one’s body.
The point is all kinds of changes, sometimes even positive ones, can trigger depression in a person. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to offer support to those you love if they have faced changes or difficulties. I’m not saying you have to fix their problems for them. I am saying that it is a good idea to be there for someone. A little support or show of your love for them can go a long way. Many suicidal people believe no one cares about them. Letting a person know you care may make all the difference.
If someone wants to talk about a problem, listen to them without offering advice unless they ask. Many times, people just need to vent. They may know how to fix the problem or there may be no solution to it, & they just need to talk about their feelings.
When talking about their problems, sometimes people’s emotions get overwhelming. They may burst into tears or get angry out of the blue. Don’t take that personally! It happens when people are extremely stressed & upset!
Avoid saying things that are going to upset the person further:
- “I understand exactly how you feel.” No, you don’t. You aren’t me.
- “I went through the same thing.. I did ____ & felt better.” Well, good for you, but that won’t work in my situation!
- “You’re being too negative.” Not everything in life is about puppies & rainbows. Negative stuff happens too & it needs to be dealt with!
- “You’re wallowing in the past.” Sometimes to move forward, you have to step back a bit. Arrows don’t shoot forward without going back a little!
- “Get over it” or “Don’t be sad/angry/hurt.” Do NOT tell someone how to feel! Ever!!
- “I don’t get why you’re upset. It’s no big deal.” Maybe not to you, but it is to me!
- “I’m sure she didn’t mean it that way/was just kidding.” So that means I shouldn’t feel bad she did/said something cruel?
Rather than saying something stupid, be honest. Tell the person you don’t know what to say to help other than you’re sorry she’s hurting or sorry that happened to her. Tell her you’re here for her & you love her.
If there is something you can do for the person, do it! Don’t just say, “I’m here for you” then bow out if asked for something. Mean it!
Offer to pray for &/or with the person. Praying with someone often can bring a great deal of peace.
Check in often. Call or text as often as you think the person is OK with. Don’t harass them every 15 minutes of course, but once a day should be good.
If your friend mentions suicide, please think carefully about what to say! Never tell the person she’s being selfish or stupid, or that their child/spouse/parent needs them. Shaming a suicidal person just makes them want to kill themselves even more. Ask why they feel that way, then listen to what they say. Cry with them, hug them, pray for them, tell them you love them.
If you are the suicidal one, Dear Reader, there are people who will listen. There are suicide hotlines. 1-800- SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) is a national one that will direct you to your local hotline.
Although I’m sure you don’t feel this way, there are people in your life who love you. Your family & friends, even your pets, love you more than you realize. And, God loves you so very much. When you hurt, He hurts. Turn to Him, & tell Him how you feel. He will understand!
Many adult children of narcissistic parents have trouble with anxiety. Those of us who live with it know the awful feelings of blind fear that anxiety can bring or the misery of a panic attack. But, did you know anxiety can bring other seemingly unrelated symptoms as well?
Are you clumsy? That can be related to anxiety. If you are preoccupied as many people with anxiety are, you can miss seeing that hole in the sidewalk that makes you twist your ankle or not pay enough attention to the item you’re holding so you drop it.
Forgetful? Also anxiety related. Being distracted by anxiety, you are less likely to concentrate on other things, so you may forget things easily.
Do you have unusual dreams? That also may be related to anxiety. The brain constantly processes information- good, bad or indifferent- even when we’re sleeping. Anxiety can make you overthink things, thus opening the door to unusual or even bad dreams.
Changes in how your voice sounds? Stuttering? That also can be related to anxiety. A person’s voice may change when exposed to higher levels of anxiety. Their voice may get shaky or higher pitched.
Difficulty finding the right words? Anxiety again, especially when in difficult situations. If you’re in a situation that reminds you of a traumatic experience in particular, finding the right words can be difficult because of the intrusive thoughts of the traumatic experiences.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you aren’t crazy! You’re anxious. Don’t panic! Easier said than done, I know, but try not to panic at least. Anxiety is a nasty problem but it can be managed.
As anxiety kicks in, try to relax the best you can. Slow down. Pray. Tell God what you feel & ask for help. Write in your journal. Talk to yourself- ask what are you so afraid of? Can things happening really hurt you right now? Breathe deeply & slowly. Hold something that offers you comfort, such as a soft blanket. Smell a scent that comforts you- lavender isn’t only a pleasant scent but it offers anti-anxiety properties. Tactics like this may help you to get through the intense moments.
There are medications available for those with anxiety disorders. Talk to your general practitioner for more information, or for a referral to a psychiatrist. If you prefer the natural, herbal route, there are alternatives. Valerian root, lemon balm & kava kava are plants that have anti-anxiety properties. I take valerian root supplements & drink lemon balm tea at night often as it helps me to sleep. In fact, I grow lemon balm plants in my yard- it’s easy to grow & to dry the leaves for making tea. It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before taking herbal remedies though to make sure they won’t interact with any medications you may be taking.
Many victims of abuse downplay what they have been through. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself, saying things like, “What I went through wasn’t nearly as bad as what you did!” “At least my mother didn’t beat me!” “It wasn’t so bad…” “My uncle only raped me that one time, & he was drunk…It wasn’t really his fault..”
The simple fact is though, that abuse is abuse. There is really no point in comparing your situation to someone else’s. Yet, victims do it often.
Many victims of psychological & narcissistic abuse were abused mentally but not physically or sexually. They often believe because there was “only” mental abuse, it wasn’t so bad. Psychological abuse doesn’t leave visible scars, which means many people don’t think it’s as bad as physical or sexual abuse. This is completely untrue! All abuse causes pain & damages a person’s mental health.
Often abusers have their victims completely convinced that they are so incredibly unworthy, that they don’t even deserve sympathy, understanding or pity for the pain they have survived. The lower a person’s self-esteem, the easier a person is to control, so obliterating self-esteem is a very preferred tool of all types of abusers.
Also, narcissists love to blame their victims. It doesn’t matter if you were absolutely 1,000% not responsible for the problem, they will still find a way to blame you. One year while working in the yard with my husband, he dropped a very heavy log on my foot, which broke my toe. My mother blamed me for him dropping the log on my foot!
Narcissists love to flaunt to their victims that they care about someone else’s suffering & not yours. If you experience the exact same thing as someone else, the narcissist will offer sympathy for that person while simultaneously letting you know they couldn’t care less about your problem. For example, in 2010, one of my cats passed away suddenly. Within a couple of days of losing her, my parents’ neighbors’ small dog passed away. My mother shed tears over the dog’s death, telling me how wonderful she was. Yet, when I told her about my cat, she responded with “Oh well.. at least you don’t have anyone sick anymore” then she changed the subject. This type of behavior makes a victim feel like anything they experience isn’t a big deal, yet what other people experience, even if it’s exactly what the victim is going through, is worthy of sympathy.
Narcissists also are professionals at invalidating their victims. After enough invalidation, you learn that you don’t deserve any validation. Nothing that happens to you is a big deal, & everyone else is much more important than you are.
If any or all of this sounds all too familiar to you, you need to know something. Dear Reader, what you went through was bad. The worst. No one should have to suffer any type of abuse! There is no comparison between you & anyone else. Every situation is different, & every person is different. It’s completely unfair to say someone else had it worse than you because of those differences.
Instead of comparing, how about validating your experiences to yourself? It’s OK & even healthy to admit that they were bad. In fact, if you hope to heal, then you need to admit & accept how bad things were. Once you do that, you can grieve or get angry or whatever you need to do to process what happened to you. Acceptance is an important first step.
If you’re having trouble validating your experiences, try thinking about things from a little different perspective. If someone you love came to you & told you their story that was just like yours, would you tell the person it was no big deal? Would you tell that person someone else had it worse, so they need to just get over it? Or, would you hug the person, say what they experienced was wrong, & try to help them cope? Guessing you would do the right thing & be there for that person. If you’d be good & understanding for someone else, then why can’t you do it for yourself?
If you’re having trouble being that good to yourself, then I would urge you to start praying. Ask God why you aren’t being that good to yourself. Let Him help you to see what the problem is, & help you to fix it. Also don’t forget to ask Him to help you to learn to validate yourself while you’re at it.
Since I have been no contact with my parents, strange but good things have been happening. One of those things is God has helped me to get in touch with the negative emotions I had stuffed inside for years.
I’ve had a lot of nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks to deal with, especially in the last few months. While it hasn’t been fun by any stretch, it’s been a very good thing. I’ve been able to remember things I hadn’t thought of in a long time, then deal with them. This has enabled me to make great strides in healing. I feel freer & even physically lighter, as odd as that may sound. I feel cleansed of things I didn’t even realized I needed cleansing from.
I can’t help but thinking that this is happening as a result of going no contact. I noticed this has happened to me after being no contact with my parents for several months & also years before after going no contact with my narcissistic mother in-law & sisters in-law.
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist- be they your parent, sibling, spouse or anyone- so much of your thinking is taken up by that person. Either you’re trying to find ways to appease her to avoid her rage, or survive the relationship with your sanity in tact. Either way, you simply don’t have time to cope with the constant wounds inflicted on you by her abuse. You’re functioning in survival mode.
Once the narcissist is out of your life, it takes some time for your mind to feel safe enough to stop functioning in survival mode. When it does though, finally, it seems to demand that you work on all those issues you weren’t able to face due to constant trauma.
If you too are faced with nightmares, flashbacks &/or repressed memories after going no contact, please don’t panic, Dear Reader. Your brain may be doing as mine has done- it stopped functioning in survival mode & wants to be healed. I would suggest going with it. Work on your healing from narcissistic abuse however helps you. Pray. See a therapist. Whatever works for you. After all, maybe one of the reasons for you being out of that toxic relationship is so you can heal.
Many adult children of narcissistic parents battle with shame. These awful parents raise their children to be full of shame about everything about themselves. Unfortunately this carries well into adulthood.
One area many adult children of narcissistic parents feel tremendous shame in is their younger days, when they may have done unwise things such as marry a narcissist. I understand, as when I look back, I have a hard time believing I did such stupid things once.
The thing that we all need to remember though is the things we did that we aren’t proud of were done by someone who didn’t know any better. Someone who was still in the fog of narcissistic abuse, & therefore unable to make good, healthy decisions. How could anyone make good, healthy decisions when they firmly believe they are stupid, unlovable, worthless & more? It’s impossible!
I look back at when I met then later married my ex husband & am amazed at myself. He was nothing like the kind of man I find attractive at all. He was narcissistic even at age 16 when we first met. Yet, I stood up to my mother for him repeatedly, even as terrified of her as I was, & took repeated emotional beatings from her because of him. Why?? He wasn’t worth it! He wasn’t good to me. But, at first he told me the things I was starved to hear, such as I was smart & beautiful. It’s embarrassing how desperate I was for such things, & what I did to get them. However, I know now my awful behavior wasn’t because I was a bad person or stupid or any of the other things my mother said I was. It was because I had no self-esteem because of being subjected to daily narcissistic abuse.
When you look back over your life & feel ashamed of the things you have done, Dear Reader, please remember that you too have nothing to be ashamed of! Narcissistic abuse does terrible things to people, especially when they are children & the narcissist in question is a parent. It causes those children to make bad choices & do foolish things. That is NOT the fault of the children. Forgive yourself for the things you did. It’s OK that you made some mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when raised by narcissistic parents. The important thing is now you know better.
Recently, God began dealing with me about something. I tend to say yes too quickly. I agree to help people or do favors when I’m tired or busy way too often. He put in my heart that just because something is good, doesn’t mean it’s good for me.
This makes a lot of sense to me. There have been plenty of times I decided to focus on my latest book, yet didn’t do it because someone needed something from me. Not that what they needed was anything bad, nor is it bad to help someone, but for me, I should have focused on my writing instead. Other times, I wasn’t feeling well & just needed to rest, yet didn’t because someone said they needed me.
Does this sound familiar to you, Dear Reader? Do you do the same things?
I’d venture to say it’s pretty common with adult children of narcissistic parents. We were trained from birth to put ourselves last, & that training doesn’t stop just because we’re grown up. We’re also told it’s selfish to put ourselves first. Taking care of others above ourselves has become such a habit, often it happens without even thinking. We simply do it automatically. We may do it even when everything in us says, “NOOO!!!” just because it’s what we feel we’re supposed to do.
Today I want to encourage you to have more healthy boundaries & balance. It’s certainly good to put others ahead of yourself sometimes, but only in balance. You deserve to be your priority too! There is no shame in taking care of yourself or your duties. In fact, it’s a must to do so.
Starting to do this can be difficult after a lifetime of being so out of balance, I know. I recommend prayer as the best place to start, as usual. Ask God to help you know what you should say yes to & what you should say no to. He will! That is what I’m doing, & so far, so good. I slipped up by not praying this immediately, as soon as I realized what God wants to teach me, & ended up saying yes to something I probably shouldn’t have. Since, I prayed for God’s help & things are going better.
And remember Dear Reader, just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you. xoxo
I have been toying with the idea of creating some youtube videos for some time now, but dragging my feet about it. Thanks to my “lovely” upbringing, I absolutely detest having my picture taken & being on a video.
However, I’m seeing there is such a need for information! I recently read an article that estimates narcissistic abuse affects over 158,000,000 people in the USA alone. That is a tremendous amount of hurting people in dire need of information & support! It breaks my heart!
While I know I can’t help all of those people, I can help some. After some prayer on this topic, I think a youtube channel is something I can & should do.
What sort of topics would you like me to cover on this channel? Do you think I should stick with teaching about narcissistic abuse or sometimes venture off into other areas I write about periodically such as Christian living or animals? How often do you think I should create videos? Any format in particular sound good? I’d love to hear your input. You’re welcome to either comment on this post, or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Song of Solomon 2:15 “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” (KJV)
This Scripture came into my mind recently. So often, little things can steal our joy. A good mood can be ruined easily by someone’s insensitive, cutting criticism. A financial blessing can be spoiled when a person learns how much they’ll have to pay in taxes.
However, the reverse is true too. Something bad can be reversed by something small yet positive.
If you’re having a bad day, yet a handsome stranger smiles at you, does that not improve your day? It certainly does mine. Or, when you put your hand in your pocket to find a few dollars you didn’t know were there, would that not brighten your day at least a little?
When you’ve been through some awful things in your life, it’s easy to cling to the negative while ignoring the positive. Especially if you’ve grown up with at least one narcissistic parent. They are truly the most negative people you can meet- if there is a bad way to look at a situation, they’ll find it. And, they train their children to do the same thing. It can be a hard habit to break, but it is well worth it.
I’m not one to advocate being overly positive & optimistic, because people who are out of balance that way tend to be disappointed constantly. However, I do encourage people to be realistic & yet still positive. Sometimes, things just stink & nothing can make it better. However, there are also many more times when your situation stinks but there are tiny blessings around you that can help you to get through it.
God has been showing me lately that good can be found in a great deal of negative situations. Flashbacks & nightmares even have their purpose. Yes, they’re incredibly awful at the time they happen, but once they’re done, if I look at them, I realize they often show me areas where I need more healing. I believe they happen when they do because God basically says, “Now is the time to face this.” Every time I do, I make another step towards healing.
I’ve also noticed that when I’m very depressed or upset about something, my cats will do silly things or snuggle me more than usual. To me, that is a wonderful blessing because even in my worst moods, they can make me smile.
The point is, Dear Reader, that there are often silver linings in even the darkest clouds, & those silver linings can help get you through. Not to make us overly optimistic to the point of being foolish, but to help strengthen us when we need it the most. If you’re having trouble finding those silver linings, then by all means, ask God to help you to be aware of them. He will! Be sure to notice everything, even the tiniest things, because God has sent them to help you! Even something small like noticing the blooms on a majestic magnolia tree in the middle of summer.. as common as that is, it’s still a beautiful thing to see if you love magnolias. Maybe God put you in the path of that lovely tree to bring you a little joy at the specific time you needed it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. It’s a gift from God just for you.
Going no contact with a narcissistic parent (or two) is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It takes a tremendous amount of prayer, thought, discussion & energy to make that decision. Chances are you feel peace about your decision even though it hurts things came to this. You read about the smear campaign & flying monkeys, so you feel prepared, but the truth is, you aren’t. Other things can happen that no one warns you about.
One of the other things is the incredible influx of memories, nightmares & even flashbacks that happen.
I functioned my entire life with my parents in survival mode. It wasn’t until they were out of my life for almost one year (this past May 5) that survival mode finally stopped. I finally felt safe enough to let my guard down, not worry that at anytime they may show up at my home, may call or I may see them in a public place. It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders! At least until the nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks started.
While I’ve experienced them all for many years, the sheer amount was shocking. It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without something happening, often a few times a day, & frankly, it was overwhelming & scary at first. Upon praying about it, God spoke to my heart saying I no longer have my parents in my life demanding so much of my attention & focus, so now is the time to heal. When memories came up, or nightmares or flashbacks happened, pray, & He would enable me to heal. He truly has!!
Each time something happens, I pray about it. I feel the anger or hurt, & tell God about it. I often journal about it too, because something about seeing things in writing is so validating. It’s a good reminder that I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me & that none of it was my fault, as I was told.
Doing such things has brought me a tremendous amount of healing in a short time! Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been through much more difficult things. And, as a bonus, at least these difficulties have a purpose- to help me to heal. Thankfully, things have slowed down quite a bit. I can go a couple of days without a nightmare, repressed memory or flashback.
If this happens to you too after going no contact with your parents, Dear Reader, don’t be surprised. In fact, I would encourage you to go with it. This may be a time of great healing for you. If it happens, I would recommend you start by praying. I don’t even know why I didn’t pray as soon as things began to happen, but it was a mistake on my part. As soon as I did pray though, my healing started to make real progress. I’m sure yours will too! All you have to do is trust God & work with Him however He suggests.
Have you ever considered the similarities of cults & narcissistic families? There are quite a few similarities…
- Leaders demand unquestioning, blind devotion, no matter what.
- Leaders demand how those under them should act, think & feel.
- The leader is always right, period.
- Questioning leaders is discouraged, & often severely punished.
- Isolation is extremely important. Relationships with those not in the group is discouraged, often the leader demands others to sever ties in those relationships.
- Life outside of the group is discouraged.
- Leaving is looked at as a betrayal, & the person leaving is often spoken badly about.
- Mind games/gaslighting are the norm.
- Independent thinking is not allowed. The leader has done all the thinking necessary so those under him need only to submit to his will.
Don’t these characteristics of cults sound also like the characteristics of narcissistic families?
The above reasons are precisely why it is so hard to heal from narcissistic abuse. Living in this cult type environment is detrimental to your mental health! People who have escaped both cults & narcissistic families work on their healing for many years, often their entire lives.
When people say you should “just cut ties” or “just leave”, the above reasons are exactly why it is so hard. Not only are they talking about abandoning your family, but thanks to the cult mentality, leaving them is even harder than one might think. You feel as if you’re betraying your family, as if you’re committing some unpardonable sin by thinking of your own mental & physical health. You also may be afraid of the backlash because they will send out a smear campaign to destroy your reputation. Not to mention, the unknown can be scary! All you know is their warped mentality & way of life. Even though it’s awful, it’s familiar, & there is a degree of comfort in what is familiar. Things have to be really, really bad to take that leap of faith by leaving the familiar & treading into the unknown.
If you were raised in a narcissistic family, please understand that the damage done is incredibly severe. Never get mad at yourself for taking too long to heal, or having so many issues. Narcissistic abuse is incredibly insidious & pervasive. It’s only normal to have a lot of problems after being raised in such an environment, even well into adulthood.