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Validation & Praise

Growing up with abusive parents is a truly horrific experience.  The abuse takes a deep root inside of you & does a tremendous amount of damage.  One common way that damage manifests is the need for validation from other people.  If you think this doesn’t describe you, then please read on anyway.  You just might learn something about yourself.

External validation is great.  It’s always nice when other people praise you or say that something that was done to you was wrong.  However, adult children of abusive parents often take the desire for such things to an extreme.  It is quite clear that is what is happening when a person displays certain behaviors.

Someone who drops hints about something good they have done or a good quality they have may be seeking external validation.  The praise that other people give them in such situations is very welcomed since it tells this person that they really are OK, good, smart, attractive, valuable, etc.

Similarly, exaggerating a person’s good deeds or qualities is another cry for external validation.  As the saying goes, you don’t see commercials for Rolls Royce cars because they know their worth & value.  They don’t need to convince others they are great.  Anyone who feels they must magnify their good qualities is doing so in the hopes of gaining praise & external validation.

Excessive posting on social media can be a sign of someone looking for external validation.  Someone who shares a lot about their life on social media may be seeking “likes” & positive comments as a way to gain some external validation.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying a person who mentions something positive they have done, a positive quality they have or who shares on social media is completely dysfunctional.  Not at all!  I’m simply saying these things when done in excess can be a sign of someone who is seeking external validation & that is unhealthy.

External validation is great, but it truly shouldn’t be extremely, over the top important to anyone.  If it is, this is a sign of something wrong, such as low self esteem or envy.  It also can be a sign of a personality disorder.  Narcissists clearly take this to an extreme since they demand approval & praise from others, but those with Borderline Personality Disorder may also seek external validation frequently.

Being hyper-focused on external validation can be truly disruptive to a person’s life.  It can damage or ruin relationships with its neediness.  Even the most patient people get tired of feeling as if they constantly must reassure someone at some point. 

If you feel a strong need for external validation, you can fix this problem!  I know, because I once felt that need but no longer do.  I hope what I did helps you too!

The first step for me was to turn to God.  I asked Him for help, to show me what I needed to do to be healthier & to help me understand who He says I am.  I also studied what the Bible says about believers.  There are a lot of Scriptures about what God thinks of His children!  It’s very eye opening!

I watched my behavior, too.  If I realized I was starting to seek validation from other people, I stopped myself.  I asked myself why I felt this was necessary.  I also asked myself why I felt I needed the approval of this particular person.  If that person was dysfunctional, I realized that their approval truly wasn’t important.  They naturally would only praise dysfunctional behaviors so why would I want their validation?!  I also realized that those who are functional won’t make me feel I have to beg for validation.  They offer it freely.

Rather than turning to people for validation, I turned inward.  I acknowledged my feelings & thoughts.  If I felt that I did something well, I praised myself.  If I recognized something I’ve been through was wrong or bad, I told myself that.  My validation became good enough for me.  That took some time but it did happen & was well worth the wait!

I hope if you are seeking external validation in excess, you can change your ways.  People are fallible human beings, which means they will fail you sometimes.  Constantly looking to them for validation is setting yourself up for disappointment.  Instead, turning to God for it & learning to validate yourself will be much more fulfilling for you!

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Blaming Abusive Parents Versus Holding Them Accountable

Life isn’t easy for adults who were abused by their parents.  The judgment of other people, often those who don’t know much if anything about the situation can be particularly painful.

Society as a whole says things like blood is thicker than water, forgive & forget, you only get one mother or father, they tried their best, & other such drivel.  Basically, this makes victims feel like holding their abusive parents accountable for their behavior is unfairly blaming them.  This is so wrong!

Blaming someone & holding them accountable are very different things!

Blame assigns responsibility for something done.  It is very critical & basically, the exact opposite of praise.  Blame is accusatory, & unwilling to listen to or consider anything other than the perception of the person doing the blaming.  It also implies shame, saying someone who did something is intrinsically bad.  Consider how narcissists speak as an example.  They blame others for making them act badly, for upsetting them & pretty much anything.  It also puts the person doing the blaming in a superior position, even if only in their mind.  Suddenly they become “good” & the other person becomes “bad.”

Holding someone accountable is different.  It states responsibility without the shame factor that is implied in blame.  It also means that you are responsible for your actions & you also are liable for them.  The person being held accountable is responsible for their actions, & can give satisfactory reasons for them.  Both people in this equation are equal, no one is “good or bad,” “superior or inferior”, unlike when blame is present.

I have spoken with a LOT of victims of child abuse as well as being one myself, which has taught me a tremendous amount about how adult victims of child abuse think.  One constant I have noticed is the lack of blame most victims have for their parents.  They don’t hate them, or feel superior to them somehow.  They would like to know why their parents treated them as they did. 

They also grew up believing that they were responsible for their parents somehow.  Abusive parents, in particular narcissistic ones, often engage in parentalizing behaviors, expecting their children to care for their needs instead of them caring for their children’s needs.  Or, the abusive parents looked to their children to fix some problems in their lives, such as their failing marriage.  These abusive behaviors led these children to feel as if they were betraying their parents if they blamed them for anything.  They excused the abuse or assumed responsibility for it themselves.

Once these children grew up & recognized their parents were abusive, they often still have trouble blaming their parents.  Instead, they hold their parents accountable, which is much more rational than blame anyway. 

Holding one’s abusive parents accountable for the abuse is perfectly reasonable.  It allows someone to have empathy for the struggles the abusive parent had that fueled their abusive ways while also allows this person to realize that setting boundaries or even removing such a parent from their life is sensible & reasonable.  This is what I did with my parents.  I recognized their dysfunction & why they were as they were.  My heart went out to them but since they weren’t willing to change their toxic ways, I had to set boundaries to protect my mental health. 

Narcissists clearly don’t handle blame or even holding them accountable well, in particular when this comes from their child, but their response isn’t your responsibility.  By holding them accountable in a reasonable way rather than angrily blaming them, any emotional reaction they have is their responsibility, not yours. 

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Why Narcissists Feel They Must Know All About Their Victims After The Relationship Is Over

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My publisher is offering 30% off all of my print books until Tuesday November 29, 2022. Simply use code JOYFUL30 at checkout.

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A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It’s Still Abuse If..

Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused.  A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her.  A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men.  Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was. 

Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse.  I did it myself.  Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me.  I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.

I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life.  I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it!  Once you face it, you can start to heal.  The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.

It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical.  Abuse comes in many forms.  Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you.  Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.

It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized.  Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again.  For a while, they don’t.  Things are good.  Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns.  An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.

It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you.  Abusers claim to love their victim.  Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.

It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child.  The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior.  Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.

It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness.  There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong.  Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.

It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser.  No relationship is completely abusive.  If so, abusers would be much easier to identify.  Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent.  People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are.  Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative.  Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other.  I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members.  Family members can be the worst abusers of all.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive.  You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior.  Exercise that right!  Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship.  If you don’t know what to do, pray.  Ask God to help you.  Learn all you can about toxic relationships.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books.  Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation. 

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How To Respond To Criticism About Being Estranged From Abusive Parents

Estrangement from abusive parents when initiated by the adult child comes with a great deal of torment.  Many people have no problems adding shame to that adult child’s torment whether or not they know the adult child, the parent or anything about the situation.  They share a lot of really ludicrous comments very freely.  My goal today is to offer some responses adult children in these situations may use when exposed to these popular & heartless comments.

“You just need to get over the past & move on.”  It is perfectly reasonable to point out to the person who says that that you don’t just get over trauma & abuse.  You can do all of the right things to help yourself but chances of complete recovery from an abusive & traumatic childhood are virtually non existent in this lifetime. If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, your chances are even slimmer because the trauma physically broke your brain.  Trauma in your past won’t let you go.

“You only get one mother or father!”  Yep.  That’s how that works.  Everyone gets one mother & one father.  So what is the point?  They only got one of you, so why not tell this person to remind your parents of that & tell them to treat you like a human being?

“Nobody’s perfect.”  That is true.  But, there is a huge difference between mistakes made & being deliberately hurtful to your own child.  Knowing your own parent did things to traumatize & hurt you on purpose is devastating, especially when that parent refuses to change their behavior even knowing how much pain they cause.  Why tolerate being treated badly by anyone, let alone someone who thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain?

“He or she had a bad childhood.  He or she doesn’t know how to be a good parent.”  Someone who was abused as a child may not know exactly what a good parent should do, but they absolutely know what not to do.  When they do things that were done to them knowing exactly how it makes a child feel, that is proof they aren’t simply damaged.  They are cruel & wicked.  How does it make sense to tolerate that treatment?

“You need to figure out how to make this relationship work!”  No.  Just no.  When most adult children are at the point of severing ties with their parents, they have tried for a long time to make the relationship work.  Eventually they realized nothing they did could fix it, because to fix a damaged relationship, both parties must work together.  When only one person tries, the relationship is doomed.  Either the one trying will stop trying & tolerate any abuse from the other person, or that one will end the relationship.

“What if your parent died tomorrow?  You’d regret this!”  Possibly the ultimate in guilt trip, shaming & disapproval comments said by a person pretending to care & be helpful.  It isn’t helpful or caring, & is a cruel thing to say.  Anyone who thinks someone who has severed ties with their parents hasn’t realized this is a possibility is an idiot.  Also, children die before their parents sometimes.  Why isn’t it ok to remind abusive parents of this & tell them they should treat their children better?

“You’re not honoring your parents!”  One of my least favorite comments because it twists Scripture around into something completely ungodly!  To honor someone means to pay them respect due to their position & to want what is best for them.  There is nothing good or holy about tolerating abuse & allowing someone to continue to engage in sinful behavior.  Where is any honor in that?

I hope I have helped you to have some comments at the ready when people say these awful things to you.  I wish you the best when these situations arise!

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When One Parent Is Abusive & The Other A Bystander

So many times over the years, I’ve gotten comments on my blog or by email from people who recognize they had an abusive parent.  They discuss how cruel that parent was, often explaining terrible tales of brutality that no child should have to face.  At some point, they mention their other parent.  From their description, you would think that parent borders on sainthood.  They say things like, “Mom knew Dad was a monster, but she gave me pointers on how to stay out of his way & not make him angry.”  “Dad was such a good guy.  He wouldn’t see the bad in anyone, even Mom.  He dealt with things by telling me that’s just how Mom is, she can’t help it, & encouraged me to forgive & forget what she did to me.”

Stories like this just break my heart.  These people truly believe what they say, & don’t realize that a passive parent is just as bad as an abusive parent.  Long ago, I was one of these people.

My mother was an overt narcissist.  Her abuse was undeniable.  It was loud, obvious & cruel, especially when I was in my late teen years.  I cried on my father’s shoulder about it many times.  The majority of those times, he turned the situation around to how painful it was for him & how helpless he was to stop the abuse.  Those times ended with me trying to comfort him.  Other times, he simply didn’t care.  I remember one time he gave me a pat on the knee & walked off.  He didn’t say anything but his attitude was one of “Wow.. glad I’m not you!”

For years, I thought this behavior was ok.  Normal even.  He was a great guy, & simply a victim of my mother like me, which is why he couldn’t (well, wouldn’t) help me.  In fact, I felt it was my duty to care for & protect him.  Yes, I am serious.  I honestly believed that it was my duty, as his child, to take care of & protect my father while not expecting him to care for & protect me.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Sadly, many other adult children with abusive parents grew up believing the same things I did, which explains the many comments I’ve heard from adults who believe the same faulty way I once did.

The problem is this thinking is incredibly dysfunctional.  It’s not facing the truth, & the truth really will set us free!

Believing that one parent is good while the other abusive in these situations creates distrust & confusion about love & loyalty in children.  They think love & loyalty involve sacrificing not only your identity & beliefs, but even your children if need be.  If you’re unwilling to do that, you must not love that person.  This sets the stage for very dysfunctional & even abusive relationships in that child’s life. 

It also makes a child question themselves.  It’s normal for that child to grow up excessively angry at the overtly abusive parent because they simply don’t have the courage to be angry with the passively abusive parent.  One day when they realize this, they wonder what is wrong with them for not being able to accept both parents were abusive.

This type of thinking also happens a lot with people who can accept that their fathers were abusive, but not their mothers.  Admitting a father is abusive is easier than a mother.  Many mothers in such situations play up the appearance of being helpless victims who need their children to protect & coddle them.  Their children get so caught up in taking care of them, they seem to forget that it isn’t their job.  It’s their mother’s job to protect & care for them instead.

The first step to healthier thinking is to recognize both the good & bad aspects of both of your parents.  Writing these things out may be especially beneficial since written words have the ability to bring clarity that the spoken word often lacks.  Seeing your parents realistically is a healthy thing to do, & sets the stage for your healing.  This isn’t “wallowing in the past” or “blaming parents for everything.”  It is a legitimate & healthy step to take towards healing.

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

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For Those Who Blindly Support Parents Whose Children Severed Ties With Them

Severing ties with one’s parents is becoming a more common activity.  Sadly, many people abuse do this because of very valid reasons such as their parents are abusive.  Even more sadly though is it seems the parents in these situations get so much more love & support than their children.

Abusive parents in these situations are often very loud with their feelings, anger, lies, justifications but not the truth.  The closest they come to the truth is stating half truths, such as their child severing ties with them.  They fail to share the reasons why their adult child severed ties, only that they did.  That half truth combined with their lies & false accusations mean people listen to them & support them, often blindly.  They pity these poor people who are now getting older, & their own children won’t even help them out.  How selfish & entitled their adult children are, they say.

These same devoted supporters offer not one iota of concern or care for the adult children in these situations.  In a way that makes sense since they believe that the adult children in question are such horrid people as to abandon their own parents for no reason whatsoever.  It makes you wonder if these people have any desire to know the truth about what really has happened.

I want to ask these devoted supporters some questions today.

Did it ever occur to you that there are other sides to this story beyond the side you heard from the abandoned parent?  You have heard ONE side to this story only.  Why is that acceptable to you? 

Do you realize that abusive people create a false persona that they show to other people & only their victims see their abusive, evil side?  It’s true.  Look at well known serial killers.  Ted Bundy was described as charming, Jeffrey Dahmer as quiet & John Wayne Gacy as a pillar of the community. 

Did you ever take two seconds to question why any child, no matter their age, would abandon their parent?  While it’s true, some people abandon people in their lives for no valid reason, they are in the vast minority.  The majority of people have valid reasons for ending relationships, in particular those closest to them.

Did it ever occur to you that someone ending a relationship, in particular such a close one as the parent/child relationship, almost never does so on a whim?  When people end relationships of any sort, thought goes into it.  The closer the relationship, the more thought is going to go into ending that relationship.  The adult child who goes no contact with a parent may have done so in a way that appears sudden, but rest assured, PLENTY of thought went into that action prior to following through with it.  Sometimes what triggers no contact isn’t the worst act the abusive parent has done.  Instead, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If the parent in this situation is so upset about their child “abandoning” them, why did they not treat that child better in the first place in the hopes of preventing this from happening one day?

Do you realize that no contact is different than the silent treatment?  Someone who gives the silent treatment will speak to that person they swore never to speak to again, then stop speaking to them, then start speaking to them, & stop, & the cycle repeats.  No contact is as its name states – no contact.  When someone truly goes no contact, they block all access to someone & refuse to interact with them on a permanent basis.  This is done to protect themselves.  The silent treatment is so wishy washy because it is all about manipulation.  It is done to punish someone, & when they have begged & pleaded enough, they will be allowed to return to the person’s life until their next transgression.  If you look at the person’s behavior that has stopped speaking to their parent, you can tell the difference very easily.  No contact is a healthy & even Godly option, unlike the silent treatment.

Where is your concern for real victims?  Do you have any?  It would do you well to spent less time trying to shame victims into returning to an abusive situation & more time showing them compassion & love.

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One Way Evil Manifests In People

When people hear the word evil, all kinds of things come to mind.  Serial killers, psychopaths, monsters with glowing red eyes & of course the devil himself.  What people usually don’t think of when they hear the word evil is those people who portray themselves as good, caring, generous & often a bit naïve, yet who always have something snide to say to or about other people while maintaining their good appearance somehow.  I’m referring to covert narcissists.  In my opinion, people like this are among the most evil people of all.

Covert narcissists are masters at appearing to be good while they are truly nothing but pure evil.  They are manipulative but claim they are just trying to help.  They cause pain while claiming they didn’t know what they said or did would hurt the person they hurt.  They gossip & spread lies under the guise of being concerned about someone.  Whatever happens to them was never their fault.  They are the perpetual victims of the world who don’t deserve anything bad that happens to them.

Elderly narcissists are especially good at behaving in this manner.  It’s human nature to want to care for those weaker than us, & they exploit that as much as they possibly can.  Many will fake, exaggerate or even lie about an illness if it will get them attention or punish someone, usually their adult children, who they perceive has done them wrong somehow.  They demand their adult children’s time even when it’s unnecessary & their adult children have other more important responsibilities.

Flying monkeys to me are the worst of the worst of covert narcissists, second only to elderly ones.  Flying monkeys often claim they are just trying to help or be supportive, yet these contemptible fiends are actually enjoying hurting the victim.  Either they get a thrill from abusing the victim on behalf of the narcissist or from spying on the victim & reporting what they learn to the narcissist.  I have a couple of them who spy on me, & very few things in life disgust me as much as these people.

These vile monsters leave a path of destruction in their wake that isn’t obvious to most people, many times including their victims.  They don’t scream, rage or hit their victims.  Instead, they quietly manipulate & disparage their victims with no other witnesses.  This even happens when multiple people live in the same house.  They carefully maintain their fake image of being a good person to everyone but their victim, so when their victim tells others about the covert narcissist, no one believes the them.  In fact, often they defend this monster & their horrible behavior.  This allows the covert narcissist to continue abusing their victims quietly, & often the victim tolerates it because they think something is wrong with them for being upset by the narcissist’s behavior.  Covert narcissists are absolutely disgusting, despicable & vile human beings.

I’m sure by now you think I’m angry about them, & you would be absolutely correct.  Covert narcissists infuriate me with their “Poor pitiful me!  I’m always the victim!  I need people to coddle me!” act.  I have dealt with more of them than I care to admit in my family, my husband’s family, former friends & even my ex husband.  The more stories I hear similar to mine, the more disgusted & more angered I am by these people. 

Many people think that since I am open about being a Christian, I’m wrong for feeling this way.  I should forgive them & love them.  I’ve been called out on my supposed “anger issues” & “ungoldly behavior” on this topic.  They are wrong, though.  Romans 12:9 in the Amplified translation of the Bible says, “Love is to be sincere and active [the real thing—without guile and hypocrisy]. Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good.”  The behavior of covert narcissists is absolutely evil!  Don’t think so?  Then consider John 10:10.  In the first half of the verse, Jesus discusses the devil.  He says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy…”  That is exactly what covert narcissists do!  They steal, kill & destroy anything they want from their victims, usually their time, peace, reputation, mental & sometimes physical health, self esteem, joy & often their will to live.

Anyone reading this today, please know that I mean every single word I’ve said here.  Covert narcissists are pure evil.  They easily can ruin your life & relationships.  They love causing misery & pain while somehow managing to look magnanimous.  Never underestimate them, as it’s never wise to underestimate an enemy.  Protect yourself from them.  Stay away from them whenever possible.  If you must deal with them, never do so alone, because they will use that alone time to victimize you & no one will believe you about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Your Family Refuses To See You As Anything But A Dysfunctional Child

When you grew up in a dysfunctional family, one of the most frustrating parts of it is that your family never sees you as a mature, independent adult.  If you have done your best to escape the dysfunction & live in a healthier way &/or have decided to live your life for Jesus, this is especially common & frustrating.  The dysfunctional family never will see you as a healthy, God fearing adult.  Instead they only see you as the dysfunctional child you once were.

This is so incredibly frustrating!  Even when you know that they’re content remaining in their dysfunction, it seems like they could at least acknowledge that you have changed.  Even if they disagree with your changes, that doesn’t seem like to much to ask, yet sadly it really is for the most dysfunctional of people. 

People who are content living their dysfunctional lives hate those who are a threat to it in any way.  Anyone who doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction obviously is a problem.  Anyone who is a part of this toxic family & doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction is especially problematic for such people.

A member of such a family who dares to live their life in such a way as to be different from the family or the family’s expectations for them is absolutely a problem for these people.  That behavior is seen as being rebellious or even betraying the family.  It’s as if they think, how dare someone be so arrogant & think that they’re so much better than the family as to live life on their own terms rather than fit onto the mold the family has made for them!

Even Jesus faced this problem.  His own family didn’t take Him or His work seriously.  Imagine that.  The family of Jesus didn’t take Him seriously!  Isn’t that amazing?!  In Matthew 13:57-58 in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, “And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief.”

If you’re from a dysfunctional family & they treat you as they always have in spite of you growing up, getting healthier & even turning to God, then you are truly not alone!  Even Jesus experienced this.

I know it hurts when your own family treats you so poorly.  It can seem like the best choice would be to return to your old, dysfunctional ways so they stop mistreating you, but I promise you, that isn’t best!  I have been in this position since my family never saw me as anyone but the dysfunctional, blindly obedient & foolish child I once was.  Returning to those behaviors may have made them tolerate me, but I would have been miserable!  What is best is to keep walking the path that you know God has for you.

It also helps to remember that when people treat you in such a manner, it isn’t personal.  It literally has nothing to do with you, even though it certainly feels personal.  It has everything to do with the person behaving this way, their toxicity & their desire to avoid becoming healthier at all costs.  They are so truly toxic that they have zero problem with hurting another person if that will protect their dysfunctional ways & help them to avoid facing what made them this way.  That is pretty terrible!  There is no shame in being dysfunctional of course, so long as you are willing to work on it & improve yourself!  Being determined to live that way forever, no matter how much pain it causes other people, however, is absolutely toxic.

If at all possible, your best bet it to avoid such people.  If that isn’t possible, then do your best to minimize contact with them, stay true to yourself & your beliefs, & never forget to ask God to help you find creative & effective ways of dealing with such people.

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

Many people who were raised by narcissistic parents find themselves in other relationships with narcissists.  They work with them, they become friends with them & worst of all, they become romantically involved with them.  I am no exception.  I grew up with an overtly narcissistic mother & covertly narcissistic father.  There are a lot of narcissists in my family on both sides.  I married a covert narcissist that I divorced six years later.  I have lost count of how many covertly narcissistic friends I have had over my lifetime.

For a long time I wondered why this happened to me.  I thought maybe somehow I put out some sort of “vibe” that told people it was ok to abuse me.  Or, maybe narcissists just have some sort of sense for people that make good victims.  I think I have some ideas though & I hope they can help answer this question for you.

For those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents, we were born with a job.  That job was to take care of our narcissistic parents.  For some, it meant doing household chores well before an appropriate age such as cooking dinner or caring for younger siblings.  For others, it meant being a parent’s therapist of sort, listening to all of their woes, & comforting them when they were upset.  For still others, it meant protecting a covertly narcissistic parent from the rages & even physical assaults of the overtly narcissistic parent.  Whatever the scenario, the fact is being born with the job of caring for a narcissistic parent means you are used to caring for dysfunctional people.  This makes you gravitate to continuing that role in other relationships. 

This role often means getting into relationships with other narcissists.  If there is a narcissist in your vicinity, you will be drawn to that person like bees to honey.  You may feel sorry for this person because he or she has few or even no friends.  After some time passes, you see why that person had no friends!  Who wants to be friends with a narcissist?! 

Or this role could mean that you get involved with another child of narcissistic parents that isn’t facing that pain.  Maybe you fall in love with someone who seems great.  You’re comfortable together, & get along great.  They might even tell you they have this awesome family & can’t wait for you to meet them.  Then you meet his or her family & see the truth.  That awesome family is anything but.  There are narcissists everywhere!  If you say anything about the toxicity of this family, you are told you’re wrong, oversensitive, & more.  They are defended fiercely & you are left wondering how to help this person you love see the truth. 

If you have been in such situations, I know it can be frustrating.  Once you realize that you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you probably are going to beat yourself up a lot & question what is wrong with you.  That is normal!  It also is a waste of time & energy.  Instead, try to focus on healing from the abuse.  Healing naturally helps you to develop healthier boundaries, so when you meet someone without friends, you won’t try to befriend them immediately.  The more you heal too, the more healthy people will seem attractive to you & the more you’ll want to avoid the toxic ones.  As a bonus, the healthier you become, the more toxic people will leave you alone.  Toxic people want someone dysfunctional because that is someone they can use & manipulate.  Healthy people don’t tolerate such things.

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Subtle Signs Of Dysfunctional, Abusive Families

No family is perfect, but some families are less perfect than others.  Many of those “less perfect” families are downright dysfunctional & even abusive.  Today I’m sharing signs of the dysfunctional & abusive family.

Parentification is a big indicator of a dysfunctional & abusive family situation.  This is when the parent & child roles are reversed, & the child is supposed to care for the parent.  Children in this position are supposed to do things no child should have to do, such as being their parent’s emotional caregiver including such inappropriate things as listening to their parent’s woes about their marital problems or sex life, nurse them back to health after a hangover or overdose, or even care for younger siblings as a parent should do.  Parentified children are often described as growing up so fast because their role has forced them to behave as adults rather than allowing them to be children.  They also lack healthy boundaries, tolerate one sided relationships & continue to keep their parents as their top priority over their spouse, children & even themselves.  When they are growing up, people on the outside often think these children & their parents are close, & praise this relationship.  This leads the child to feel confused & even ashamed that they are unhappy with this role.

Unmet needs are another sign of a dysfunctional, abusive family situation.  Children have a lot of needs that go beyond the basic food, clothing & shelter such as nurturing, teaching & caring for their emotional health.  Many abusive parents meet those basic needs, yet neglect those other important needs.  Children who grow up this way have trouble with being inappropriately clingy in relationships & overly dependent or they go the opposite way & become very cold & aloof.  Either way causes problems in their relationships.

Unrealistic expectations definitely point to a dysfunctional & abusive family.  Some parents hold their children to higher standards than adults.  Those children are never allowed to be in a bad mood or fail a test, yet their parents are allowed to yell or even hit the child just because they had a bad day at work or someone cut them off in traffic.  This puts incredible stress on the child who feels they must be perfect as a way to earn their parent’s love.

Parents who often fight in front of their child are creating a very dysfunctional & abusive situation.  I grew up this way, & can tell you from experience it is a horrible way to grow up!  I felt so insecure when my parents fought & also like I should do something to help them stop fighting.  This is so typical of how children in this situation feel.  It leads to these children feeling intense anxiety at any hint of conflict & also feeling overly responsible for the other people in their lives, as if they must take care of those people.

People who grow up in such environments grow into dysfunctional adults with a lot of relationship troubles.  They may become controlling people who will do anything or hurt anyone they deem necessary to avoid further pain.  More commonly though, they also may go the exact opposite way & become extremely submissive.  They become people pleasers who will do anything for anyone even at the expense of themselves. 

If any of this describes you, please remember some things.

You are only responsible for yourself.  You are not responsible for meeting the needs of other people.  Yes, you can help them, but doing so to the extent of harming yourself is dysfunctional. 

There is nothing wrong or bad about caring for yourself & having reasonable boundaries.  You need to take care of yourself just as much as & even more than you are willing to do for other people.

Family shouldn’t demand all of your time, energy, finances, etc.

Healthy relationships are a two way street.  Toxic relationships are not.  They take while giving nothing or almost nothing back.

Love should be unconditional, never conditional.  In other words, someone should love you based on who you are, not what you do for them.  Conditional love is one of the hallmarks of abusers.

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

My publisher is having yet another sale! 15% off all print books when you use code PUMPKIN15 at checkout.

My print books can be found at the following link:

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

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Feeling Burdened By Others After Growing Up With An Emotionally Incestuous/Enmeshed/Parentalizing Parent

Growing up with a parent who treats you more as their romantic partner rather than their child is extremely traumatic.  It is referred to as emotional incest, enmeshment, covert incest, parentalizing & parentification, & it’s a form of sexual abuse whether or not sexual contact is a part of this abuse.  It creates a LOT of serious problems in the lives of victims.  Today, we will focus on only one of those problems – feeling burdened by other people.

The person who grows up with an emotionally incestuous parent has spent their entire life focused on their parent.  Their parent is their top priority in childhood, & even into adulthood until they recognize this is a problem.  They listen to their parent’s woes (in particular about their marriage or relationship), they try to cheer them up when they are sad, fix their problems, protect them if the other parent is abusive, & basically anything else their parent wants them to do no matter the personal cost.  After a lifetime of this dysfunctional caregiving, it is natural to feel burned out on doing for other people.  The problem is that natural or not, it is damaging to other relationships.

No one wants to be in a relationship with another person that is totally one sided.  Whatever type of relationship this is, whether it is romantic, family or friendship, this type of relationship is miserable & dysfunctional.  Doing with receiving nothing in return is fine once in a while, but when it is the norm, it is depressing, will lead to a lot of resentment & most likely the relationship will end.

Similarly, no one wants to be married to someone knowing that their parent always will be more important to them, that the demanding parent’s needs always come first, that they are looked at as an intruder & feeling like anything they want from their spouse is a huge burden while anything the parent wants is done without complaint.  It is a miserable way to live, & the majority of people will divorce a spouse like this.

If you are a victim of emotional incest, please know that by continuing to tolerate this abuse from your parent, this is what you are doing to those people in relationships with you.  I am not telling you this to hurt you, only to open your eyes of the damage being done & the unfairness of it all.  People who love you don’t deserve to feel this way.  It’s not fair to them.  It also is not fair to you for your parent to treat you so badly & for that parent to do so much harm to you that you are damaging relationships with people you love. 

And, if you are still in this situation with your parent, please do your best to put an end to it.  Start setting limits & boundaries on what you will & won’t tolerate from your parent.  It can be intimidating to do this at first so start small.  Don’t take their call or reply to their text right away.  It’s a baby step that helps you to take back some of your power.  Do more & bigger things as you feel able to do them.  It may take some time, but you will become able to stop tolerating their behavior.  The more you do this, the less burdened you will feel in general, which means the more you will be able to give back in your relationships.

Get to know yourself better.  Chances are, you didn’t have much time for that because caring for your parent took up too much of your time.  It’s long overdue.  Get to know the real you, not the person your parent wants you to be.  It’ll help you in many ways, including learning what you are willing & unwilling to tolerate in the relationship with your parent.

Get angry about what your parent has done to you.  You have every reason to be angry, because treating anyone this way is simply cruel & wrong!  You never deserved it!  Allow yourself to feel that anger & vent it in healthy ways like prayer, talking to someone close to you, journaling, or even talking to a therapist.

And never forget that you do have one loving parent.  God is the most loving parent you could hope to have.  Talk to Him about what is going on.  Lean on him to help you heal, figure out the best way to handle this relationship with your abusive parent, & to help heal damaged relationships.  He absolutely will do it.

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How You Can Help Victims Of Abuse

During the 1970’s, a young woman from Texas moved to Pennsylvania to attend college.  While living there, she fell in love.  The man was several years older than her & did not share her & her family’s conservative beliefs.  He convinced her to move in with him, much to the dismay of her family who disapproved of living together before marriage.  Eventually, the boyfriend killed her, stuffed her body in a steamer trunk & put her in a closet in their apartment!  Since the family lived so far from this young woman, they had no idea what happened to her.  The boyfriend was no help obviously, saying she left him, he didn’t know anything.  Eventually, the truth of his deeds was discovered.  

Aside from the obvious horror of this story, something struck me especially interesting.  The victim’s sister said that they had no idea until after her death that the boyfriend abused the victim.  She never told her family anything about his abusive ways, & living so far apart, they never saw her covered in bruises & injured.  The sister said if someone had just said something, this young woman might still be alive.

That is such a valid point!  Speaking up can make all the difference in the world!  Having survived an abusive upbringing & an abusive first marriage, I can tell you, when someone said, “How that person treats you is wrong”, it helped me tremendously.  Finally, I saw that I didn’t deserve what was being done to me.

I’m not saying every single person has to write about abuse like me or even try to change the laws.  I am saying though that if there are signs someone you know is being abused, speak up!  Physical injuries are obvious signs of course, but there are other signs.  If you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse, you know those signs all too well.  Low or non-existent self esteem, constantly doubting one’s self, afraid to do anything the narcissist may disapprove of, doing nothing without the approval of the narcissist, depression, anxiety, being hyper-vigilant are some examples. If you see these signs in someone you know, talk to them when you can get them alone.  Ask if how their parent or partner treats them, if they are abusive.  Many victims will say no, yet be unable to explain why they act like they are being abused or excuse their abuser’s behavior.  They may say he is tired from working long hours, or she has been stressed lately so she’s been drinking a lot which explains her behavior, or some other lame excuse.  Many even blame themselves for making the abuser treat them so badly.  It’s so important to let a victim know that there is no excuse to abuse, & the abuser is in the wrong.  Tell them that they don’t deserve to be treated this way, too.  If you’ve been in a similar situation, tell your story.  Sometimes seeing things from a slightly different perspective can be very enlightening.

Whether the victim is trapped in an abusive marriage or the abuser is a parent, offer to help them escape.  Offer to let them stay with you anytime they need to get away.  If the victim is a child, check into what it takes to become an emancipated minor in your area & help them if they want to do that.  Offer to hide money & belongings for the victim until they are able to leave permanently.  Most importantly, pray for the victim.  Leaving an abusive relationship is so hard!  That person is going to need all of the prayers, support, love & help they can get!

If you see someone in need, maybe God put that person in your path so you can be the one to help them.  I know many people don’t want to get involved in these situations but if you don’t, it could cost someone their life, like the young lady I mentioned earlier in this post.

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Regarding Snooping Narcissists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Helpful Tool For Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

Whether you are currently suffering at the hands of a narcissist or have suffered narcissistic abuse in the past, chances are you have questioned yourself.  Whether they are questions like, “Was the narcissist right about me?” or, “How could I have not seen what this person was really like before we got married?!” I will guarantee you have had many questions.  Pretty sure that is just a part of the experience of narcissistic abuse.  After all, narcissists want their victims to question themselves & never the narcissist. 

You can deal with those questions though & in such a way that it helps you to heal.  If you’ve followed my work for long, you know I always recommend starting with prayer.  I’m suggesting an effective addition to prayer, not a replacement for it.  I’m talking about using simple logic.

Whatever your question is, I strongly recommend asking God to help you to see the truth about the situation before you do anything else. Then, consider your question not from any emotional standpoint, but instead one of stone, cold, logic.  For example, let’s say you asked yourself how you could’ve missed the signs pointing to narcissism before you married your narcissistic spouse.  Consider the relationship as if you were watching someone else in this situation rather than yourself.  Are there any tell tale red flags of narcissism?  And, what was known about narcissism at that time?  If nothing, it is perfectly normal not to recognize the red flags.  It is also normal to be swept off your feet by a narcissist.  They are in their best behavior when in the beginning of a relationship.  They can be so skilled at seduction that even one who knows a great deal about narcissism can cast caution to the wind.

This type of thinking is also very useful when it comes to the narcissist’s criticisms.  Don’t think about how it makes you feel.  Instead, ignore any emotions attached to this for a few minutes.  Then, ask yourself what evidence there is that what this person says is true, & look at the situation objectively.  Is there evidence that you are as terrible as the narcissist says you are?

How about when the narcissist tries to convince you that your friends & family want nothing to do with you?  Is there evidence that this is true or is the only so-called evidence what the narcissist has told you?

By taking some time to pray, calm down, consider your situation without emotions to skew your thinking & look at it objectively, you can see the truth in the situation.  The truth is incredibly freeing & healing, which is why that is the goal.

Also, when I say you should ignore your emotions while considering your situation, please keep in mind I only recommend it temporarily.  Ignoring emotions isn’t a healthy thing to do for any length of time as a general rule.  They don’t go away but instead manifest in unhealthy ways.  Ignoring them for a very brief period of time to focus on truth & healing, & then dealing with the emotions once you learn what you need to know, is a healthy thing to do.

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Admitting Your Relationship Is Abusive

People often struggle with admitting a relationship they are in is abusive.  They may say they don’t get along with someone, or that person is difficult, but the word “abusive” may be too hard for them to say. 

Although it may sound strange, I certainly understand it.  Admitting something makes it more real in the mind, & sometimes that thing is so painful, you don’t want it to be real.  When my granddad died, for a year after his death, I couldn’t say the words that he had died.  It hurt too much, & I didn’t want that to be real.  I wanted things as they had been, when we had such a loving & close relationship.  Losing what had been hurt tremendously, & felt like it was too painful to face.  Admitting a relationship you are in is abusive is very similar.  You want things to be like they once were, when things were good.  It hurts so much to admit that now, things aren’t like that anymore & in fact, they are really bad. 

I want you to know today that it’s ok to admit you are in an abusive relationship.  In fact, it is a good thing.  It is your first step to freedom from the abuse.

Being in an abusive relationship or even several abusive relationships doesn’t mean there is something terribly wrong with you.  Many other people have been in abusive relationships in their life.  It’s perfectly ok to admit that someone you love abuses you.  It is not a bad reflection on you!

Abusive people are known for making themselves irresistible to those they lure into romantic relationships.  They can appear charming, kind, & caring.  They can appear to share your beliefs, morals, likes & dislikes.  They claim their chosen victim is the one they’ve been waiting for their entire life, they have never met anyone as wonderful as their victim, & generally sweep their victim off their feet quickly, leaving them little or no time to recognize signs pointing to how toxic they truly are.  They are extremely skilled at just how to make themselves the most appealing to their victims & hiding their true selves.  By the time the abuser reveals his or her true self to the victim, the victim is head over heals in love with the abuser.  The victim doesn’t want to see that horrible true self or admit their abuser is truly abusive rather than the wonderful person he or she was at first.  Feeling that way is completely normal.  It still doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with or bad about admitting this relationship you are in is abusive, though.

Abusers also are extremely skilled at convincing their victims that they are the true problem in the relationship, not the abuser.  Abusers work very hard to get their victims to believe this so they can continue being abusive & their victims won’t protest.  Victims often believe that this is the case, that somehow they make the abuser hurt them.  That is never true however!  No one can force anyone to abuse them.  The choice to abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers, never on victims.  Since you have nothing to be ashamed of, this means it’s perfectly ok to admit your relationship is abusive.

If you are in a bad relationship that you are hesitant to admit is abusive in spite of evidence of abuse, I want you to know it’s ok to admit it is abusive.  I know it will hurt by making that fact seem more real, but it will be worth it.  Once you accept that reality, you can decide what to do about the relationship from there & begin to heal.  The truth really does set us free in so many ways, & this is one of those ways.  Set yourself free & admit that your relationship is abusive. 

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When Abused Children Trust People Too Easily

When a child is abused by their parents, that child naturally grows up with plenty of issues.  They lack a healthy foundation as well as good teaching, so this is understandable.

One area in which abused children tend to struggle greatly is when it comes to trusting people.

Many abused children grow up distrustful of others, in particular adults.  Considering the only adults in their lives have caused them pain & suffering, it’s totally understandable.  It’s also a very common occurrence. 

What is less common is when abused children go the exact opposite but equally dysfunctional direction, & they trust people very easily.  The constant gaslighting, being told everything you believe, think & feel is wrong will do this to a person.  The burdens narcissistic parents put on their children of feeling like your purpose in life is to do for others & be responsible for their happiness adds to this problem.  I know, because this is how I grew up.

This abuse convinced me that any instincts I had were wrong.  If I felt someone wasn’t a good person or simply disliked a person, my mother would tell me I was wrong.  On the opposite side of the same coin, if I liked someone she didn’t, I was also wrong because she clearly knew better than me.  If I had a falling out with a friend, she told me, “to have a friend, you have to be one.”  Basically that translated to, “You’re always wrong!  You need to let people treat you however they like without complaint or protest.”  This taught me that my instincts were always wrong, that other people were always right, it was my job to blindly obey them, & tolerate any treatment, even abuse, without complaint.  So as a result, for years, I blindly trusted people. 

One former friend of mine said, upon first meeting, “We’re going to be best friends!”  I accepted that, & we were close for quite some time.  I did like her, but our personalities were very different.  She also was a rather needy friend.  Too needy for my introverted self, but I hung in there for years because I felt obligated to do so.

A few months before marrying my ex husband, I broke up with him.  People told me how miserable he was without me & that I should get back together with him.  He would call me at work & tell me the same thing.  I relented, & married him in spite of not being in love with him, & wanting to marry someone else.

Do my scenarios sound at all similar to situations in your life?  If they do, then I want you to rest assured, there is hope!

Prayer truly is the best place to start. Talk to God about whatever you feel, & ask Him to guide you.  Ask Him for healthy relationships & to spot red flags quickly so you don’t waste time with toxic people.

Start listening to your gut feelings.  If something feels off about someone, pay attention to that!  Observe this person & in time, you will understand what triggered this feeling. 

And, if something feels especially good about someone, the same thing goes.  Observe.  Their actions will tell you why that feeling was there. 

The more you learn to observe others & listen to your instincts, the healthier your relationships will be & the more wise you will be when it comes to trusting people.

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When A Toxic Relationship Shifts

In various relationships with the narcissists in my life, I remember a shift in their attitude with me.  It was always subtle, but I noticed it anyway.

My ex husband & I started dating during the second semester of eleventh grade.  By the end of the first semester of twelfth grade, he had become a bit distant.  We wrote notes often as many kids in the 80’s did, & suddenly his went from at least one or two a day to one every few days before suddenly stopping entirely.

Later in life, when I began pulling away from my parents & setting some boundaries, their attitudes became different.  My mother was obviously furious with me, but didn’t admit to it.  My father became controlling for the first time. 

I met my late mother in-law some months before my husband & I began dating, when we were just friends.  One day I was going to drive him to pick up a car he was buying.  I picked him up at his parents’ home, & although I could tell his mother didn’t particularly like me, she seemed somewhat friendly.  Once she realized we were dating, she became ice cold.  After we got married almost 4 years later, she became extremely vicious with me.

This sort of behavior is very common with narcissists.  No matter the type of relationship, at some point, there is a change in their attitude with the victim.  That change often comes about when the narcissist realizes the victim doesn’t want to lose the narcissist.  It also can happen when the victim starts to set boundaries or the narcissist sees the victim as a threat in some way.  Either way, narcissists want to make sure their victim behaves as they want.  What better way to do this than to abuse that victim?  They may make their victim feel so insecure, as if the relationship is bad & it’s all the victim’s fault.  They also may become controlling & manipulative, trying to make the victim feel as if they need to earn the narcissist’s affections.  They may make the victim feel as if it’s best to do whatever the narcissist wants rather than displease the narcissist & face their wrath.  The type of wrath naturally varies between overt & covert narcissists, but in either case it’s best not to face it, so many victims will do absolutely anything to avoid it.

The really horrible part of this is while this abuse happens behind closed doors, the narcissist continues to wear their mask to convince everyone else they are a wonderful person.  When a victim looks for advice & support, those who also know the narcissist often tell the victim how lucky they are to have such a wonderful person in their life.  That person loves the victim so much!  It must be nice having someone so loving in their life.  They’re lucky to have a parent or significant other care so much about them.  Such responses can leave a victim baffled & feeling as if they are the problem in the relationship. 

The result is the victim often stays in the relationship.  The victim feels utterly alone because no one believes them.  They believe the narcissist’s good guy/good girl act instead.  Victims learn quickly there isn’t any point in discussing the abuse because no one believes them.  Meanwhile, the abuse gets worse & worse.

Have you been in this situation?  Are you in it now?  If so, you’re not alone!  This is typical of relationships with narcissists. 

Don’t beat yourself up for getting yourself into this situation or tolerating too much from the narcissist.  Narcissists are experts at psychological warfare.  They can manipulate even the most brilliant of people because they are just that good at what they do. 

You also need to pray a lot.  God willingly gives wisdom to anyone who asks for it according to James 1:5, so ask for it!  He can help you to cope if you’re still in the situation or find ways to help yourself heal if you have escaped it.

Always remember that the treatment from the narcissist isn’t your fault.  Their actions are 100% their responsibility.  Don’t accept the blame for their behavior.  Don’t carry their shame for their actions.  Learn all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, healing from narcissistic abuse & about how to have healthy boundaries.  Take care of & protect yourself.

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Childhood Wounds That Can Affect People Into Adulthood

Childhood experiences help to form us into the adults we become.  Those of us with traumatic childhoods naturally turn into dysfunctional adults.  Hopefully we realize this & want to become more functional & healthy.  Sometimes though we aren’t sure where to start.  I firmly believe that getting to the root of things is best.  If you garden, you know that you can spray a weed with poison & it will vanish for a while, but it’ll come back again.  However, if you pull it up by the roots, it’ll never return.  Healing is the same way, which is why I tell people that getting to the root of issues is so important.

Relating to healing, I mean you need to look at what is causing the problem, not just the problem itself.  If something makes you angry when you remember it, for example, why does it make you angry?  Did you not feel heard?  Did you feel unloved, neglected or invalidated?  Recognizing your anger is only part of the process.  Once you identify how the event made you feel, you can truly start to heal.

Certain childhood wounds cause certain behaviors, which is what we’re discussing today. 

A childhood abandonment wound happens when a parent isn’t there for their child either physically such as if the parent dies or the parents divorce, but also happens if the parent isn’t there emotionally such as in the case of narcissistic parents.  The abandonment wound manifests as someone who hates to be alone, who is afraid of loved ones leaving them, & may be codependent. People who are emotionally unavailable or out of touch with their feelings are very attracted to those who have abandonment wounds.

A childhood neglect wound results from a parent neglecting their child’s needs.  The neglect can be as obvious as not providing the child with food or medical care, or it can be less obvious such as a parent regularly not caring that their child is upset.  This type of childhood wound manifests as low self esteem or even self hatred, a lack of boundaries, being quick to anger, & repressing emotions.  People who are attracted to someone with a neglect wound are the type who don’t appreciate them & often even make them feel invisible.

A shame wound is very common among those who have experienced childhood narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists use shame as a weapon because it is so incredibly effective.  Where guilt makes a person feel as if they have done something wrong, shame makes a person feel as if they are wrong bad or incredibly broken for doing whatever they did.  Shame damages or even annihilates self esteem.  A person with very low or non-existent self esteem is easily controlled & manipulated, because they lake faith in their decision making abilities & intelligence.  They look to others because they feel so ill equipped.  This wound manifests as an intense disdain for asking for help or for things, feeling bad or flawed, & lacking boundaries.  Narcissists are attracted to those who have shame wounds.

If any of these describe you, know that hope is not lost!  You can heal!  Now that you know the root of your problem, you can find the most effective means of healing.  It will take time & work, but you can heal!  I believe in you!

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Being The Family Scapegoat

Being the scapegoat in a narcissistic family is an incredibly difficult & painful role. 

Naturally it starts with the abuse from a narcissistic parent, usually an overt one.  This parent is quick with a cruel word, invalidation, mocking or even fury.  This parent may even say they treat their child as they do out of love or they blame their child for making them treat the child as they do.

The other parent is often a covert narcissist.  Compared to the raging, screaming & berating of the overt narcissistic parent, the covert narcissistic parent seems safe & possibly even loving.  Eventually though, that mask slips.  It usually happens as the child is growing up & starting to want some independence.  Covert narcissistic parents also often confide in their children about very inappropriate topics, such as their marital problems.  Overts do this too, but coverts seem to do it more often.  That parent may tell that child that they need protection from the overt narcissistic parent rather than protecting their child, as a functional parent would do. 

Eventually, this child realizes something is wrong with their parents’ behavior.  Maybe they learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or maybe not yet.  Either way, the child starts to set boundaries with their parents for the first time in their life.  This is where the real trouble often begins.

Aside from the obvious horrors of the abuse from their narcissistic parents, they suddenly are faced with even more horrors.  Many reach out to other family members for help, & rather than get the help they need, are shunned, mocked, called awful names like liars, spoiled brats, drama queens or kings, ungrateful & more.  Those who the child expects to help & support them often end up betraying that child & adding more pain.

When narcissistic parents find out their child has revealed the kind of parent they are, they usually release some sort of smear campaign.  Some insult their child, others accuse their child of being mentally ill or addicted to drugs.  Some opt to do the same but from a position of looking concerned.  They may say things like, “I’m worried about her.  She hasn’t been the same since she started hanging around with that guy.  I think he’s making her say these things about me, or maybe she’s on drugs!”  This is even worse, because it makes the child look bad while making the parent appear loving & concerned.  Either way, this child loses loved ones & feels completely alone.

The life of a scapegoat is incredibly hard!  Yet even so, there is hope!

After surviving such horrors, a person develops the ability to handle stress well.  Compared to narcissistic abuse, most crises seem pretty tame. 

After losing friends & family who believe a narcissistic parent’s lies, a person becomes very independent & self-reliant.  In this situation when you are left alone, you can learn you have skills & abilities that you never realized you had.

Losing people in one’s life often makes people turn to God, & that is never a bad thing!  That is the one relationship that will never disappoint or hurt you.  He also can help you to heal from all the damage done by the abusive people in your life.  And, as an added bonus, He can guide the right people into your life.    

If you’re the scapegoat in your narcissistic family, if you recently have been abandoned by foolish people who chose to side with your parents rather than help or support you, then please know it will get better!  You will find new, good, loving people who would never treat you as badly as your family has & who will love you unconditionally.  You will survive this pain & heal.  One day you will look back at all that has happened in your role as your family’s scapegoat & be shocked at how much happier & healthier you are without these people in your life.

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When Children Aren’t Allowed To Say No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another Good Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books when you use code INFLUENCE10 at checkout until May 27, 2022.

Print versions of my books can be found at the link below..

Cynthia Bailey-Rug’s spotlight on Lulu

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