Tag Archives: narcissistic abuse

Speak Out Or Stay Silent?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?

 

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

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

Do You Have Something That Is Just Yours?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Do Narcissists Change As They Age?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Envy In Narcissists

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Do You Protect Your Narcissistic Parents?

I believe many of us raised by narcissistic parents are very protective of those parents.  We try never to hurt their feelings, or we don’t discuss how they abused us, keeping their dirty little secret.  While very common, this can be very damaging to do!  It angers you, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure or even diabetes.  Mentally, it takes a toll on you as well.  It can leave you feeling depressed, angry or damage your self esteem because putting abusive people as a priority over yourself makes you feel worthless.
While I’m not saying yell a laundry list of their sins from the rooftops or cuss them out every time they abuse you, I am saying it isn’t your job to protect your narcissistic parents.  Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  (KJV)  People need to receive consequences of their actions, both good & bad, so they can learn & grow.  Consequences teach a person & help them to learn & grow.  Admittedly, narcissists aren’t exactly fans of self-improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the opportunities for such shouldn’t be there.  Interrupting the natural laws of sowing & reaping doesn’t help anyone in the long run.  It only enables their poor behavior which teaches them they can continue to mistreat you, & can cause you physical or mental health problems.
So why do it?  Why would anyone protect their abusive narcissistic parents?  I think there are a few reasons.
Narcissistic parents train their children from the moment of their birth to take care of them.  Children are supposed to be their narcissistic parents’ emotional caregiver (emotional incest).  Protect that parent from any kind of discomfort or pain at all costs.  It’s OK if the child is hurt, that is not important, but never the parent.
Part of protecting narcissistic parents is to pretend the abuse isn’t happening.  The child always knows that she is never to confront her mother about being abusive nor is she to tell anyone about it.  Secrecy becomes deeply ingrained in the child.  So much so, secrecy is second nature for her.
Narcissistic parents destroy their children’s self-esteem.  Their children grow up believing they are nothing, they don’t matter & they have absolutely no value to anyone.  This means they also believe that they have zero rights.  These children believe that the abusive parent is much more valuable than they are, so they can’t speak up.  They don’t have the right to do so.
I believe these three things work together to create a perfect storm, if you will, where the adult child of narcissistic parents grows up willing to do anything to protect her narcissistic parents in any way possible.
How do you replace this dysfunctional pattern with a healthier one?
First & foremost, as always, ask God for help.  Pray for guidance, wisdom & anything you may need to change this pattern.
Work on improving your self-esteem.  Don’t forget that you have just as much value as anyone else.  The better your self-esteem is, the more willing you are to make yourself a priority & to take care of yourself.
Remember the law of sowing & reaping.  That law is God’s law- it is NOT your place to interrupt it for anyone, not even your parents.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with telling your narcissistic mother you will not tolerate her abusive behavior.  There is also nothing wrong with answering someone’s questions truthfully if they ask about your relationship with your mother.
If you feel the desire to discuss the abuse you endured, that is OK.  You aren’t doing something bad or wrong.  I aim to discuss my experiences in a matter of fact way so as not to be disrespectful to my parents.  If they ever read anything I write, as angry & hurt as they may be, at least I can have a clear conscience that I was not cruel or trying to hurt them.  Talking about your experiences shouldn’t be done out of revenge or desire to cause pain, but instead to help yourself & maybe others as well.
It isn’t easy to stop protecting your parents after a lifetime of doing so.  Chances are you are going to slip up sometimes.  Don’t beat yourself up for that!  It happens.  We all make mistakes!  Just keep on trying, & the more you try, the easier it will get for you to behave in a more functional, healthy fashion.

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The Fear Of Hurting Other People

Many adult children of narcissistic parents have an issue with being overly concerned with hurting the feelings of other people.  I wonder if it’s because early on, we learned that we were not to make any waves.  Just silently serve our narcissistic mothers when needed, & otherwise we were to blend silently into the background.  Speaking up & hurting someone’s feelings would make us more human & less “tool like”, which would make using us wrong.  And we all know, narcissists can’t be wrong!

As a grown woman, I still have a problem in this area.  I would rather do something I am unwilling to do than say no & potentially hurt someone’s feelings.  I would rather ignore my own hurt at someone’s thoughtlessness & tell them that it’s ok rather than speak up about how wrong what they did is, even knowing that they need to realize their actions were unacceptable.

This sort of behavior is unhealthy.  Keeping things inside rather than speaking up isn’t good for your physical or mental health at all.  High blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease & diabetes can result as well as depression, anxiety, bitterness & self-destructive behaviors.

I’m not saying you have to spew forth every bad thought that comes to mind or even be harsh with your words.  However, there are times you need to say something, & there is nothing wrong with that.  You need to have a healthy discernment of when to speak up & when to stay quiet, as well as the courage to speak up when necessary & wisdom on what words to use.

I know it sounds difficult (or even impossible), but it can be done.  I’m working on improving in this area myself.

Prayer is of the utmost importance.  Asking God to help you in this area, giving you what you need to accomplish what must be done.  He will do it!  Just follow the promptings He places in your heart.

Also, the more you heal, the more dysfunctional you realize this behavior is, & the more willing you are to change it to get away from the dysfunction.  That willingness helps to give you courage to make the appropriate changes.

Work on your self esteem.  The better you feel about yourself, the more willing you are to make yourself a priority, & to take care of yourself.  You will realize you do have the right to have reasonable boundaries, & if someone hurts you either deliberately or accidentally, it’s perfectly fine to speak up to them about their actions.

You also need to know that there is a difference between hurting & harming.  Hurting someone is temporary.  They’ll get over that pain quickly.  Harming however, the damage goes much deeper. Hurting comes from facing painful truths (such as admitting that something you did hurt someone else).  Even so, it can make a person learn & grow.  Harming, however, causes damage.  So, if you tell someone what they did hurt you or set a boundary, there is nothing harming in either of those things.

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Feeling Ashamed Of Being A Victim Of Narcissistic Abuse

Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is often a very shameful  feeling.  If the narcissist was our parent, we are often ashamed of the fact that our parent didn’t love us & that our childhood was so different than other kids’.  If it was a spouse, that too is embarrassing because we feel stupid- how could we not know how bad a person he was?  How could we be so stupid, we ask ourselves.

While feeling this way is understandable, that doesn’t mean it is right.

As the victim, you had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.  You are innocent.  What was done to you was done because of someone else’s dysfunction, not because of anything you did.  Damage was done to that person long before you came along.  Nothing you did could have made that person do what was done to you.

As you are healing, rather than hiding your problems, why not discuss them?  Be open with safe people as you feel able to discuss things.  Again, you have nothing to be ashamed of.  You are damaged because someone deliberately hurt you.  Would you be ashamed of yourself for having a broken leg if someone hit your leg with a tire iron?  Then why be ashamed of having C-PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc. after surviving narcissistic abuse?  You reacted normally to a very abnormal situation.

Talking about what you have experienced helps you & it also helps others.  It puts a face to narcissistic abuse.  It shows that the victims aren’t crazy, drama queens (or kings), or overreacting like so many people think.  It also shows that narcissistic abuse can happen to anyone, no matter how intelligent or how strong they are.

I’m not saying it’s necessary to talk non stop about narcissistic abuse.  That isn’t good for anyone to focus constantly on something so negative.  I’m saying though to be more balanced.  There is nothing for you to be ashamed of.  You have nothing to hide.  Don’t carry the shame of what was done to you for another day.  That shame belongs on your abuser’s shoulders, not yours.  Let him or her carry the shame & refuse to carry it any longer!

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It’s Not All Your Fault

Like many survivors of any type of abuse, one thing I have struggled with my entire life is thinking that everything is my fault.  It’s very easy to see why this has happened…

  • My mother blamed me for making her abuse me.  She claimed she was “saving me from myself”, if I wasn’t so bad she wouldn’t have to do the “tough love” thing on me, & I was too upset to drive after a fight with her when I was 19 so her solution was to throw me into a wall & hurt my back.
  • On our third anniversary, my ex-husband started a big fight.  I needed time to calm down & think, so I left.  When I came back, his mother (we lived with his parents) chewed me out for making him punch her wall after I left, & told me how I needed to fix this.  I needed to apologize to him & never leave during an argument again.  She also wanted me to apologize to her husband for making my husband so angry.
  • My current in-laws blame me for stealing my husband from them & keeping him from his family, according to my husband’s sister.  They also don’t understand why I have a problem with how my mother in-law has treated me (she’s a very devious  covert narcissist).
  • When talking about problems with my parents, I have been told that I need to make things work with them.  It’s my job to fix things, period.

You simply can’t survive things like this without learning that everything is your fault, and you deserve whatever you get.  It’s your fault for making people act that way.  You need to try harder.  If the relationship is going to work, then you have to be the one who makes it work.

This type of behavior is extremely common among adult children of narcissistic parents.

Can you relate?  If so, read on..

I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is no way that everything is your fault.

It is simply impossible for one person to do every single thing wrong in a relationship while the other does every single thing right.  Even people with the best intentions & good relationship skills will make mistakes sometimes.

It’s also not one person’s responsibility to make a relationship work.  Relationships are not a one way street- they are a two way street.  Both people need to be willing to work on the relationship, no matter what kind of relationship we are talking about.  Whether the relationship is husband & wife,  friends, relatives, co-workers or parent/child, both parties need to work on the relationship if it is to be a successful.  One person simply cannot make it work, no matter how hard they try.  Sure, one person can make the relationship work briefly, but it won’t last long.  The one with all of the responsibility will become resentful quickly at best, or feel like a complete failure when it falls apart.

You need to know today, Dear Reader, that not everything is your fault or your responsibility!  You have your own voice, your own feelings, & your own needs.  Never let anyone convince you otherwise!  You have your own worth & value, no matter what anyone else says.

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For Anyone Considering Writing About Narcissism

Since I began writing about narcissism, surviving narcissistic abuse & the awful effects on its victims, some people have told me I need to focus on writing about lighter, more pleasant topics.  It’s too negative.  People need to think about positive things, not just the negative.  I only write about what I do because I’m wallowing in the past.  I need to forget it & move on.

The truth is, I do agree with the fact that people need to focus on positive things, not just the negative.  That is all I agree with in the above statements however.

In all honesty, writing about narcissism isn’t easy.  I’m often learning something new, & it can be depressing just how pervasive narcissism & narcissistic abuse are.  I get tired of it all.  It’s a very emotionally draining topic & can be triggering for my C-PTSD.  I have to take time to deliberately refuse to focus on it to help me not to get mired down in the depressing negativity that is narcissism.

That being said, I don’t plan to quit anytime soon.

For one thing, I believe God wants me to write about this topic.  He has given me the ability to write & also to understand quite a lot about narcissism.  Not that I know everything on the topic of course- I don’t think anyone does- but I do know a lot.  My personal experiences have taught me a great deal as well as things I have read.

For another thing, when someone thanks me for teaching them something they’ve been searching for an answer for, it is incredibly rewarding.

It’s also rewarding to let people know they aren’t alone.  Since narcissistic abuse makes its victims feel so alone, learning they aren’t is a really big deal!

There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you helped to improve someone’s life.  That alone makes it all worth while!

And, in all honesty, writing helps me as well.  I’m finally validated!  Seeing things in writing somehow helps me to realize that what happened to me was real, & it was terrible.  It makes it more real than just remembering things, probably since I dissociated so much as a child.  It also helps validate me when people believe me & offer support & understanding.  That almost never happened until I started writing.  So please forgive my selfish motive but I need this validation!

If you are considering writing about your experiences with narcissistic abuse, just know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

Remember that if you opt to write about it, narcissism is a terribly negative topic.  You will need to counter the negativity with positive.  Indulge in things you enjoy often, such as a favorite hobby.

Do nice things for yourself to reward yourself after writing.  Even a short blog post like this one can be surprisingly draining sometimes- reward yourself for putting forth the effort.

Make time where you flatly refuse to think about NPD or anything related to it.  Deliberately focus on something else.  Anything else.

If you opt to write a blog, write posts in advance & schedule them to publish without your assistance.  That way, if you feel inspired, you can write several posts at once, or if you feel uninspired, you can take a break.  Your blog will post anyway.  I have a lot of posts ready to go- over 3 months into the future.

Don’t feel bad for taking frequent breaks.  It’s good for your mental health!

If you choose to write a book, be forewarned- that is much more challenging than writing in a blog.  Blog posts are usually short which makes them easier to handle.  Writing a full book, however is different.  Chances are, you’ll go on a bender & end up writing a lot in one sitting, probably often, which will exhaust you.  You may plan to write for only half an hour but end up spending your afternoon in front of the computer.  Trust me on this one- been there, done that!  Writing a book about narcissism, especially if it is about your personal experiences, is an emotional roller coaster.

So if you are considering writing about narcissism, I strongly urge you to pray about it.  Ask God if this is the route He wants you to take, how He wants you to write (blog, books, etc) & if it is, to enable you to do it.  Ask for strength, courage & wisdom, because you will need all three & more.

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Being Too Responsible

One thing that is very common among those who have experienced narcissistic abuse at the hands of a parent is an extremely overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

Narcissistic parents are extremely demanding of their children.  They expect their child to please them, no matter what. The child must take care of the narcissistic mother emotionally (emotional  incest).  The child must anticipate her narcissistic mother’s every whim, preferably even before she knows she has the whim, & meet it perfectly.  If she doesn’t, the mother believes she has every right to rage at her child.  This scenario makes the child extremely responsible.  Not only for her narcissistic mother, but for anyone in her life.

Thank God for helping me, because I was absolutely terrible in this area.  If someone was upset & I knew it, I thought it was my responsibility to make that person happy.  If the person  had a need or want, it was my responsibility to meet it, even if they could take care of it themselves.  This was an awful way to live.  So much pressure!  I thank God for getting me away from that.

Learning about boundaries is what helped me the most.  Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend’s book “Boundaries” literally changed my life.  Boundaries show you where you end & others begin, which helps you to know what you are & are not responsible for.  Once you know that information, you realize it is truly NOT your responsibility to do certain things.  It takes a great deal of the burden off of you.

Leaning on God is a tremendous help too.  Ask Him to show you what to do, then wait for the knowledge that you should or should not help that person & how to go about it.  He truly will guide you & enable you not to feel guilty if He doesn’t want you to help someone for whatever reason.  God does not want you to suffer with feeling you have to fix everyone.

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Narcissists Are Predators

Like true predators, narcissists are very good at knowing when & how to attack their prey in the most efficient way possible.

One of their tactics is waiting until their victim is tired or sick.

If you’re tired or sick, you are less likely to be able to defend yourself properly.  You don’t think as clearly, so your boundaries may be more lax. Unclear thinking also means you may not know how to handle the situation, so you automatically slip back into old, dysfunctional habits.  You may tolerate a lot more than you normally would since you don’t have the physical or mental energy to argue.

When I was sick in bed with the flu a couple of days after losing my cat, Vincent, my mother called.  Knowing that Vincent had been my granddad’s cat before he died, she mentioned this.  She said she heard Vincent died (my father must’ve told her), & he’s better off.  He was so much happier with Granddad than he ever was with me.  He never was happy with me.  Normally, saying such incredibly cruel things would’ve caused me to completely lose my temper & say bad things I would need to repent for later.  Instead, since I was exhausted, feeling horrible & grieving, I just cried.  I couldn’t even speak.  Not only had I lost my beautiful baby, but it was kinda like losing my Granddad again since Vincent not only was his cat, but was a lot like him.  It was devastating, & her words made it more so.  I gave my mother just what she wanted with my reaction- proof she hurt me.

Another time several years ago, my parents came by for a visit.  My anxiety levels were so bad, I kept vomiting.  My mother didn’t care, even when I told her I was sick & needed to rest.  Instead, she treated me like dirt & insulted my furbabies while refusing to leave my home.

These are just two of many, many examples I have.  I bet if you think about it, you can think of several times your narcissistic mother treated you the same way.

So how do you deal with this obnoxious problem?

The best way I’ve found is to avoid your narcissistic mother when you are sick or tired.  Also, don’t forget to prepare- if you know you’re going to see your mother tomorrow, rest up today.  Rest & pamper yourself however you like.

When that is impossible, do your best to set a time limit on your visit or call with your mother.  If you’re having trouble with that, have a friend call you at a prearranged time telling you she needs you now.  Admittedly, this isn’t the best solution, but so you aren’t lying, tell your friend you would like to hang out for a little while or grab some lunch or whatever you feel up to.  Also, have a code word.  For example, if she calls & you say, “My mother is here” she knows it’s time to tell you she needs to see you immediately.  If you say “My mom is here” she knows you’re ok & she doesn’t need to intervene.   It’s a good “in case of emergency” solution if nothing else works.

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God Gives Families To The Lonely

So many of us who have survived narcissistic abuse end up abandoned by those closest to us once we start to open up about what we experienced.  Family & friends don’t believe us.  They accuse us of being overly dramatic, attention seeking, vindictive & other awful & untrue things.  They abandon us.  I’ve experienced it, too.  As a teen when my mother’s abuse piqued, her friends who once liked me no longer would give me the time of day.  My own friends offered me no support.  I also lost all friends except one once I opened up about what I experienced with my ex husband.  Most people thought he was a great guy, & I was the ungrateful, evil wife who mistreated him so.

There is good news though!

Psalm 68:6  “God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.  But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”  (NLT)

It’s true!  When you feel abandoned & lonely, God will send the right people into your life.  He certainly has done it to me!  In 2000, I finally began to face my issues with my upbringing.  At the time, I had no real friends & no family I could talk to about such things, & it hurt.  I prayed a lot during that time, more than usual.  I eventually felt I should contact my granddad who I hadn’t spoken to in years due to my mother & ex telling me my grandparents hated me.  We ended up very close for the first time & he quickly became my best friend, not only my grandfather.  He even gave me a computer because I’d said I wanted to get one, & thanks to that, I met some wonderful friends online.  For the first time, I had a family- not all blood related, but I was very close to them nonetheless.  In fact, I’m still close to many of them.  God sent me even more wonderful friends into my life since, including old friends I had lost touch with many years ago.  Truly, He has given me a family!

God can do the same for you.  He loves you & wants to bless you.  All you need to do is trust that His word is true, & ask Him to give you that family.

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Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

One thing I learned in the relationship with the narcissists in my life, in particular my mother, is that I am nothing but a screw up.  My writing was never taken seriously.  In fact, my mother told me once it’s “nothing but a waste of time.”  She told my father that “no one wants to read that trash I write.”  I’ve also heard comments like all I do is play on the computer all day, & even been laughed at when I mention working (as if being an author isn’t a job).  I always heard, too, how I never did enough for anyone, & am too selfish.  My mother used to tell me that to have a friend, I had to be one, & by that she meant do anything for others & let them use me.  I had so-called friends who would get very angry with me if I wasn’t available when they wanted me to be or do whatever they wanted me to do.  These narcissists also always made sure I knew that I was wrong because my personality was very different than theirs, I liked things they didn’t like or I disliked things they liked.  They liked to either say outright or imply that I was crazy for such things.  My mother’s favorite phrase was, “You need help” (implying I was in need of psychiatric help) accompanied by a pitying look.  She even threatened to have me committed many times.  (Interestingly, she never once sought counseling for me, so started counseling on  my own at 17).

All of these things were devastating to my self-esteem.  I’ve wasted so much time thinking I was a complete & utter failure in every possible way- a terrible friend. awful girlfriend then wife, lousy pet mom, & even a lousy author.  Depressing doesn’t describe how this felt.  But, I’m sure I needn’t tell you this if you too have been subjected to narcissistic abuse.  You know all too well how this feels.

There is good news though!  You can be healed from this pain & dysfunctional way of thinking!  Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”  And, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV)

God’s word is very true!  I gave my life to Jesus in February, 1996, & from that moment, I began to change & heal.  God has been healing me from all the abuse in my life since then, & definitely has made me a new person.  The wounded old me who was convinced she was crazy, worthless, stupid, & more is long gone.  Thanks to God, I am healing daily, & have no doubt I’ll never return to that miserable, dysfunctional mess I once was.  I may not be totally free of low self-esteem, but it is now much better than it once was & continues to improve.

God can do the same for you.  All you have to do is trust Him to take care of you, & He will.  He loves you so much & wants to bless you.  He wants you happy & peaceful.  He wants to heal you from the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse.  He certainly has done so for me.  Sure, I still have a long way to go, but I also was extremely damaged.   God, being the gentle, loving Father He is, heals me little by little, as I am able to handle it.  He’ll do that for you as well- only give you what you can handle, as you can handle it.

Are you willing today to claim God’s promises for your healing?

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The Silent Treatment- One Of The Narcissist’s Favorite Weapons

Narcissists have a large variety of weapons in their arsenal, but possibly the most favorite weapon is the silent treatment.

The silent treatment usually plays out in a similar scenario:  You say or do something that offends the narcissist.  Chances are, you’re unaware of it, but she certainly isn’t.  She suddenly refuses to speak to you.  You ask what’s wrong, & she ignores you, sends one of her flying monkeys to “talk some sense into you” in an effort to make you feel guilty, or she says some ridiculous comments to you such as, “you know what you did!”  or (my personal favorite- my mother used this one in my teen years) “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,”  You are tormented wondering what you did that was so wrong.  You are baffled.   Then eventually, she graciously allows you to apologize.  And, you may never know what your crime was.

I went through this many times with my narcissistic mother when I was growing up.  It used to upset me terribly.  It’s very unsettling. I’m a sensitive person & not knowing what I did that was so bad, it made my mother stop speaking to me was very hard.  it was confusing, & made me feel like a bad person.

As time went on, though, I began to see that this silent treatment was less about what I did, & more about my mother trying to manipulate me into doing what she wanted.  This knowledge was very freeing to me.  Once I realized this, I stopped worrying when my mother would give me the silent treatment & stopped trying to fix it.  I knew that in time, if I left her alone, she would start speaking to me again, & act like nothing ever happened.  This has become her routine.  In fact, I’m getting the silent treatment as I write this.  My mother’s barely spoken to me in months.  Why?  I have no idea.  The last I heard from my father, she was mad because I don’t come to her house to visit.  Interestingly, I haven’t been invited to come over since my father had problems last December & January, so I really don’t understand the logic.

If you deal with a narcissistic mother who gives you the silent treatment, I encourage you to do as I have done.  Stop asking her what is wrong when she gives you the silent treatment!  Let her pout & act like a spoiled child since that is what she wants to do. Instead of asking her what is wrong, ignore her & go on about your life.  Enjoy the break from the drama.

If your narcissistic mother’s flying monkeys come to talk to you (triangulation is another weapon of narcissists), refuse to discuss the topic with them.  Nothing good can come of it, so simply refuse to discuss that topic.  Tell them you won’t discuss this topic & change the subject.  Repeatedly if need be, but stick to your guns.

Your life can be much more peaceful if you do these two things when you’re given the silent treatment.

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Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is just one of the many things that is stolen by narcissistic abuse.  It can be devastating & causes a great deal of problems in one’s life.  The good news though, is that you can learn to love yourself, & repair the damage the narcissist in your life did to you in this area.

The first step to take is to have a close relationship with God.  Lean on Him & ask Him to help you in this area.  He is a proud father, & has PLENTY of good things to say about you!

Study your Bible.  There is a lot of good information in it regarding who you are as a child of God.  I made a list & put it on my website.  You can see it here:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php

Always remember- when someone criticizes you & it isn’t constructive criticism that is meant to help you, what they say most likely reflects what they feel about themselves, not what they think about you.  Chances are good she is criticizing you in order to make you feel as bad about yourself as she does about herself.

Listen to what people say to you when they complement you.  People don’t complement others just to hear themselves talk.   They complement because they mean it.

Sometimes even an especially unfair incident can make your self esteem kick in.   Last February when I got very sick, only a few people close to me cared.  I lost friends & some that stayed had no desire to hear it if I wasn’t feeling well.  It hurt tremendously, but the unfairness of the situation woke me up.  I realized how wrong this was- I had been there for them repeatedly, yet they couldn’t be bothered with me after facing a life-threatening illness.  It was cruel & unfair.  I realized I deserved better than that, & suddenly my self-esteem was better.  Sometimes being abused, mistreated or taken for granted can work in your favor in that way.  Not that they are good things of course, but sometimes something good can come out of it at least. God really can work good out of bad situations!

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Some Information About Living With Mental Illness

Society has skewed so many mental health issues badly.

  • “I about had a panic attack!” is said when someone was really nervous, with no clue to how awful panic attacks really are.
  • Some people think remembering unpleasant things & flashbacks are the same thing.  They fail to realize that during a flashback, it can be almost impossible, or sometimes it is impossible to tell reality from flashback.  You have to fight with every fiber of your being to stay in reality instead of being lost in the awful flashback.
  • They even joke about something upsetting giving them Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dismissing the fact PTSD is caused by extreme trauma.
  • Saying “I’m so depressed” when the truth is they are just sad.  The person has no idea how debilitating depression can be.

Ignorant comments such as this along with the lack of compassion for people with genuine mental illness has done much to create a terrible stigma about mental illness.  The mentally ill are thought of as weak, wallowing in the past, stupid & more.  Even some in the medical field are not immune to having  these warped views.

Living with mental illness & putting up with this cruel stigma is not easy!  If you too have a mental illness, I applaud you!  As if the disorder isn’t bad enough, putting up with the ignorance of others makes it even harder.  It can create so much shame in you that you shouldn’t be forced to carry!

My hope is that writing about my experiences with C-PTSD helps to show that just because a person has a mental disorder doesn’t mean they are crazy, stupid, drama queens or even “less than.”  I’m a normal person who happens to have an illness, that is all.  It doesn’t mean I am weak- quite the opposite, as I’ve always been strong. The fact I have C-PTSD means that I’ve been through repeated traumatic experiences, not that I’m weak or feeling sorry for myself.

That is what you are too, Dear Reader.  If you battle mental illness as well, don’t tolerate people making you feel badly about yourself.  You are fine- you just have an illness.  Would you be ashamed of your illness if you had diabetes, cancer or heart disease?  Then why be ashamed of having a mental illness?  Why should mental illness be something to be ashamed of when physical illness is not?

If you’re like many who read my work & have PTSD or C-PTSD stemming from narcissistic abuse, I also want you to know that you are not alone.  I know it can feel that way sometimes, but it’s not true!  Unfortunately, many others have survived narcissistic abuse only to develop PTSD or C-PTSD as a result.  Sadly, they are normal results from abnormal circumstances like narcissistic abuse.  No one escapes narcissistic abuse unscathed.  Anyone who says they are completely fine is lying, especially to themselves.

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A Way To Help Yourself Heal From Narcissistic Abuse

I’ve learned that being objective can be a helpful tool regarding your healing from narcissistic abuse.

When you grew up abused by a narcissist, the abnormal was your normal.  Not much phased you, because you were used to so many outrageous & horrible things.  Plus, your narcissistic mother made sure you knew that you never had any real problems- she was the only one who knew suffering.  You were accused of faking being sick or in pain to get attention.  On the off chance you were really sick or had a problem, hers was much worse than yours ever could be.  You also knew you weren’t to bother anyone with your “petty” problems.

The result of growing up like this means that even after you’re aware of narcissistic abuse & its devastating effects, you still don’t think you have the right to be affected by it.  The dysfunctional beliefs your narcissistic mother put on you as a child are naturally deeply ingrained in you.

The truth is though, that these beliefs don’t serve you well.  In fact, they hurt you.  You can become very depressed, because you know you have problems resulting from the abuse you endured, but you feel deep down that you don’t have the right to be affected.  You may even wonder if you’re faking it or exaggerating your problems.  You may even think you’re being too hard on your narcissistic mother.  You feel guilty or even wonder if you are going insane.

None of this is good for you!   You need to be able to look at the situation objectively, without emotion or dysfunctional beliefs if you want to see the truth & begin to heal.  It can be easier than you think to do.

Simply consider your situation differently.  Imagine that a good friend has come to you with this horrible story of growing up with an abusive, narcissistic mother.  What would you tell her?  Would you tell her to get over it or it wasn’t so bad?  Or, would you offer her compassion, telling her she has nothing to be ashamed of, it was terrible what she had been through & other caring things?

Treat yourself as you would treat that good friend of yours, with deep compassion.  Accept that you have been through some serious & traumatic things.  Once you do that, you are validating your pain & you can truly begin to heal.  You most likely will begin to grieve- grieve for your lost childhood, for the pain you endured, for the unfairness of the situation,  for the fact your father didn’t protect you & for the loss of hope that your mother will change into a loving mother one day.  This is a vital step towards healing.  It isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile to go through it.

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Being Feminine Or Masculine

Since I’m female as are the majority of my readers, I’ll write this directed mostly at the ladies, but the information is important for you gentlemen as well.

Narcissistic mothers love to destroy everything they can about their children, right down to destroying their femininity or masculinity.

I’ve always liked so many of the stereotypical girly things along with some more masculine things (like cars) & while growing up, my mother criticized me for them.  I wasn’t feminine enough because I preferred cars to baby dolls, but I was too girly for liking soft, feminine clothing.  I wasn’t really allowed to wear anything too feminine either, & my mother had to approve all my clothes until I moved out.

The result was stifled femininity.  It’s only been the last few years I’ve been letting my feminine side come out, & I feel so much more comfortable!

Can you relate?  Did your narcissistic mother try to destroy your femininity too?

If so, Dear Reader, I’d like to encourage you to take back your femininity!  You won’t regret it!

While I realize some women are naturally less “girly” than others, & there is nothing wrong with that, I’d like to encourage you to take back your femininity as well.  Whatever your level of femininity, it’s yours, & you need to be in control of it, not your abusive narcissistic mother!

So how do you take it back?

For me, I started paying attention to how I felt about feminine things.  I realized some things were more attractive to me when I ignored my mother’s views on femininity.  As an example, my mother only thinks clear, soft pink or mauve nail polish is appropriate.  I started experimenting with other colors.  I now wear almost every color except yellow, red or orange & only because they aren’t good colors for me.  Wearing so many different colors is something I enjoy.

I also realized the stereotypical masculine things I like don’t detract from my femininity.  I love classic cars & drag racing.  I also have no trouble fixing my own car when need be.  I don’t think this affects my femininity at all.  There is nothing wrong with being diverse in your interests!  (Besides, knowing how to fix my car means if I have car trouble, I can make it home, which isn’t a bad thing at all.)

Lastly, I thought about what being a woman, especially a feminine woman, means to me which is what I strive to be.  I think a woman is:

  • Caring
  • Nurturing
  • Generous
  • Loving
  • Helpful
  • Empathetic
  • Encouraging
  • Has integrity
  • Open minded
  • Doesn’t compromise her principles
  • Willing to work hard when needed
  • Has the wisdom to know when she needs to help others & when to step back
  • Appreciates softness
  • Appreciates beauty in all forms
  • Takes care of herself & her appearance
  • Maintains a clean, inviting, cozy home
  • Is always there for her husband, children & others in her life that she loves
  • Is self-sufficient but not too proud to ask for help when needed

Now it’s your turn- what does being a woman (or man) mean to you?

I hope this helps you to let the wonderful man or woman inside you come out!  God made you the way you are for a reason, so why shouldn’t you enjoy every aspect of yourself?

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Why Don’t People Care About The Feelings, Needs & Wants Of Children Of Narcissistic Parents?

I’ve realized just recently that all my life, many people have acted like my happiness means absolutely nothing.  It’s like they think I am here to serve, & do so without any feelings or needs of my own.

When I broke up with my ex husband before marrying him a few months later, many people told me I should go back with him because he was miserable without me.  Not one person cared how miserable I was with him, however.

When my father was in the hospital a few years ago, & my mother wouldn’t tell his family or friends, I did via facebook.  (I also provided my parents’ phone number & asked people to tell other relatives what was happening.)  There are a lot of us Baileys, & I don’t have many people’s phone numbers or emails, so facebook was simply the easiest way for me to reach the most people.  One person called my father in the hospital & told him I was a “spoiled little brat” for not calling her personally about this matter.  Other people got upset & chewed me out for using facebook instead of calling them personally.  No one got mad at my mother for failing to tell them anything, even though it was her responsibility to do so.  No one took into consideration the anxiety I was under daily or how exhausted (mentally & physically) I was.

There have been countless times over the years I was going to spend time with a friend & that friend either stood me up or ran very late, without letting me know what was happening, causing me to wait & worry about them.  When I finally did contact them (mind you they didn’t contact me!), no apology was given or any sign that they felt guilty at all for wasting my time or disappointing me.

Do any of these situations sound somewhat familiar to you?

I am reasonably sure that these kinds of situations happen quite a bit to those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents.  The only reason I can come up with is because we are groomed from day one to be subservient.   Our narcissistic parents firmly believe (& instill the belief in us) that we are put on this earth to take care of & please our narcissistic parent with absolutely no regard to our own feelings, wants or needs.  As we grow up, naturally that relationship stays this way, but we extend this dysfunctional role to include others.  Because we believe this is what we are supposed to do, we show others that we believe we deserve to be used & ignore ourselves.  Often even good people will treat us the way we believe we deserve to be treated simply because it’s natural to treat people how you see they expect to be treated, good or bad.

By saying this, please don’t think I’m saying we get what we deserve when people mistreat or use us!  Not by any stretch.  It’s still on an individual to control his/her behavior.  Ultimately, it is the other person’s fault if they are abusive, period.

To deal with this super annoying problem, I have found that getting healthier & increasing my self esteem has done wonders.  I think because I no longer give off that “It’s ok to abuse me” energy.  As I’ve gotten healthier & my self esteem improved, I no longer have any patience for being abused, & I think people pick up on that.

Prayer is extremely helpful as well.  Asking God how to deal appropriately with people who want to abuse me & how to set & enforce healthy boundaries has helped to give me wisdom & strength in bad situations.

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It’s Hubby’s Birthday!

Today is Eric’s birthday!!  Like many other adult children of narcissists, it’s a day he’s just as soon forget.  But, I’m hoping we can do something to make it a special day.  He certainly deserves to enjoy his birthday!  Feel free to wish him a happy birthday in the comments if you like- I’ll be sure to share with him.  🙂

Keeping along with the birthday theme, I thought I’d take a moment to remind you, Dear Reader, to remember something.  Your birthday is just that- YOURS.  When it comes up, you need to celebrate it however you see fit.  Please don’t treat the day as your narcissistic mother did.  So many made their child’s birthday miserable in some way, & if you experienced that, don’t continue that pattern!  It’s your day- enjoy it however you see fit!

If you can, do something special for yourself on your birthday.  Even if it’s just grabbing a bouquet of flowers for yourself or taking a bubble bath.  It doesn’t have to be on the exact day either- if you can’t take off work, then do something special the following day or over the weekend.

If you’re like my husband & I & prefer to forget your birthday, please know you’re not alone.  I tried for a while to enjoy it, but it didn’t last long.  My birthday last April was awful.  It was just one of many bad ones, & now I’d just as soon forget my birthday completely.  While I’d like to encourage you to at least try to enjoy your day somehow, I understand sometimes that just isn’t going to happen.  Rather than feeling bad about that, try to keep in mind that at least your birthday is still done on your terms.  Ok, admittedly it’d be a lot more fun to do something special for your birthday, but if you don’t feel you can, at least you still are doing your birthday your way.  After all, it is your day, so you are allowed to treat it however you like.  Nothing says you have to have a big celebration for your birthday or even acknowledge it if you aren’t inclined to do so.  You are free to do whatever you want, & that includes doing nothing.

However you wish to handle your birthday, I would like to encourage you to do one thing- refuse to take any phone call or see your narcissistic mother.  Make sure you take this one day for yourself, minus drama, minus snide criticisms, minus guilt trips about how being pregnant with you made her incredibly sick for nine months… give yourself that one day a year without all of that nonsense.  You truly deserve that.

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Is It Self Pity Or Self Compassion?

It seems to be a big thing these days to take pride in not feeling sorry for yourself.  Pick yourself up by your bootstraps!  If you can do that, yay you!

It seems to me though, that this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Compassion is a wonderful thing.  If you are hurting, & someone lets you know that they care or they try to make you feel better, it really helps ease your pain.  Even if the person knows nothing they can do can take away your pain, so they offer you a silent hug or just listen to you talk, these loving gestures can mean the world in times of trouble.

So why is it such a bad to offer yourself these kind of loving gestures?

If I had a friend who had recently experienced something traumatic, I would try to offer her comfort as best I could.  I would tell her to relax while I cleaned her house if she wasn’t feeling up to it or take her to dinner. So why is it any different if I was the one who lost someone to do similar things for myself?  That is NOT self pity- it is self compassion, & I fail to see how it is a bad thing.

Of course, balance must be had.  You can’t feel sorry for yourself 24/7 or you’d be utterly miserable.  That being said though, I think it is quite healthy to feel bad for yourself after experiencing trauma, disappointment, loss or heartbreak.  Basically, you’re telling yourself that you love yourself, & you care about the fact you’re going through a tough time.  What could possibly be so bad about that??

Aside from society’s foolish view on this topic, being someone who has survived narcissistic abuse, it can be difficult for you to give yourself any compassion.  When you are raised by someone who makes it very clear that your pain means nothing, it is very hard to care about yourself.  The more you heal from narcissistic abuse though, the easier it becomes.  The more you finally gain the realization you are worthy & you are lovable, the more self compassion you have.  You finally understand that your narcissistic mother isn’t the only one to have problems.  You have genuine problems too sometimes, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself when you are suffering because of them.

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Your Mistakes Can Minister To Yourself & Others

Since I’ve learned so much about narcissistic abuse & started writing about it, I’ve had many people contact me looking for answers.  Some I simply can’t help, because helping others is hard on me emotionally.  It’s a tremendous responsibility helping people, & I take it very seriously.  When people ask me for help, I try to offer it to the best of my ability.  Even if I’m writing books or blog posts like this, I want to provide good, helpful, truthful information.

As a result, people look to me as if I have all the answers sometimes.  The fact is though, I don’t.  I also make mistakes.  Lots of them.  And often.

When I first started writing about narcissistic abuse, I was loathe to admit mistakes I’ve made.  Frankly, it can be embarrassing sometimes.  I’ve done some amazingly dumb things!  As time has passed though, I realized that people have more respect for someone who is real, willing to admit their shortcomings & mistakes, than they do for someone who acts as though they never slip up.

So many people in positions like mine seem to be afraid they’ll lose popularity if they admit their flaws.  So instead of being open about themselves, they present a false image of perfection.  This can be extremely discouraging to people following their teaching.  It was for me.  I felt like a failure, like I didn’t have enough faith or not praying the right way.  I felt “less than.”

There are three preachers on TV that I absolutely love & have loved since I first became a Christian- Jesse Duplantis, TD Jakes & Joyce Meyer.  Aside from the fact their preaching makes so much sense to me, they also admit their mistakes & shortcomings.  They’re real!  Listening to them or reading their books never makes me feel bad about where I am in life.  Quite the opposite.  They make me realize I’m OK while encouraging me to continue learning & growing.

Another bonus to being open is you lose the shame over your flaws.  Bringing them into the open loosens that shame much like sunlight destroys vampires in the old legends.  Hiding them gives them power over you.  Power to keep you feeling embarrassed & even ashamed of yourself.

The reason I’m telling you this, Dear Reader, is to encourage you.

No doubt that as you recover from narcissistic abuse you will begin to share some of your experiences.  Maybe only with those very close to or maybe you will feel led to write about it like I have.  In any case, I want to encourage you to be open about it.  People will respect you for your transparency.  So few people in the world are genuine these days, & the few that are, are greatly appreciated.  And, if you end up in a position of helping others, they will be encouraged when they realize you, someone who is teaching them, have made mistakes & are able to learn from them.  They also will feel comfortable enough to approach  you.  You may be the only person they tell about their painful experiences, & opening up can help them tremendously.

It’s funny… sometimes your mistakes really can be a part of your ministry to others!

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The Narcissistic Apology

Narcissists rarely apologize for anything, but when they do, you can be certain it isn’t a genuine apology.

A genuine apology doesn’t include excuses. Someone who is genuinely sorry for their actions won’t say you made them act that way. That person also will try to change their ways as they don’t want to hurt you like that again.

All of these are foreign concepts to the narcissist.

Narcissists hate to admit they are wrong, & will go to great lengths to avoid it. They will offer excuses as to why what they did was not their fault, or even blame you for making them do what they did. They love to offer the passive/aggressive type of apology- “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry you think what I did was wrong/unfair/hurtful.” All of these actions show that the narcissist is not genuinely sorry for what she did. Most likely, she doesn’t care that she hurt you & only cares that she accomplished whatever it was she wanted to accomplish.

I also realized recently another trick of the narcissistic apology. My father has done this one many times & it wasn’t until recently I caught onto it. He recently apologized to me for not being there enough for me in my life. I was touched- there was no blame or excuses so I assumed it was a genuine apology.  He apologized for missing my fifth birthday because he had to travel for work. I told him it’s fine- not a big deal, it was just a birthday. He went on to say how terrible it was of him, he shouldn’t have gone on that trip. Again I said it was no big deal. I pointed out how many other birthdays he was there for. It was only one birthday. Plus he did other things for me. By the end of the conversation, he was happy.

While there are times I am more than willing to reassure someone who hurt me, this was not one of those times that was a good option. If someone accidentally hurt me once, fine. Bad things happen sometimes. But this was different. My reassurance would have been providing narcissistic supply.  Unfortunately, I realized this after the conversation, & then I felt conned into telling him he was a good father.

Whenever you hear a narcissist apologize to you, remember- it is NOT a genuine apology! Don’t get your hopes up thinking they might finally see the error of their ways & change. The narcissist’s apology is like every other thing they do- it’s only about narcissistic supply.

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Narcissists Love To Determine Who You Are- Don’t Let That Happen!

Abusive, narcissistic people somehow believe they have the right to tell you who you are, what you like or don’t like & to determine your worth & value in this world.  When this happens, you can lose yourself if you are not aware of what they are doing.

This happened to me. I really had no idea who I am my entire life.  I was only aware of a very few things that I genuinely felt strongly about.  Everything else was a result of being told that I felt a certain way.  I realized this was happening when I was in my early 30’s, & tried halfheartedly to learn who I really was, who God wanted me to be for a while after that.  Once I hit 40 though, I decided I had to get to know the real me, & I am very glad I did.

I’ve come to learn that the real me is a much more interesting person than the dysfunctional, mousy person that the narcissists in my life tried to make me into.  I have no tolerance for abuse & nastiness, & will call people out on it now.  I have more varied interests now that others are not telling me what I like & don’t like.   I also have learned to trust God, to listen to what He says I am, rather than listen to the warped views of dysfunctional, evil people.

You can find these things & more out about yourself too!

Stop listening to what dysfunctional, selfish people have to say about you.  You have a great deal of value!  You are a unique, special person created by God Himself to do great things!  Start listening to what God says about you & reject what others say.  The motives of any narcissist are always self serving, & not for your best interest at all, so why would you allow someone so dysfunctional to determine anything about you?  Instead, listen to God & listen to your heart.  You’ll discover you are an amazing individual!

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Validate Yourself

Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is not an easy thing.  You go through the abuse & somehow survive, only to be victimized further by people who invalidate what you have gone through.

I have heard comments such as…

  • “That doesn’t sound so bad…”(from my high school guidance counselor, referring to my mother screaming at me for hours in my teen years)
  • “You just need to understand her better.”
  • “Nobody’s perfect!”
  • “You need to fix things with your parents.  Get into counseling!”
  • “You need to work things out with your parents.  They won’t be around forever yanno!”
  • (from a different counselor after meeting my mother) “I can’t see you anymore- you’re a terrible daughter!”
  • “You need to find things you have in common with your parents!”
  • “You’re too negative!”
  • “I can’t believe they are that bad!”
  • “Are you even sure that happened?  That’s a pretty serious accusation.”
  • Various excuses as to why my narcissistic parents or mother in-law treated me so poorly such as she isn’t intelligent (she isn’t educated- big difference), her mother in-law didn’t like her, etc.
  • Laughing at my story of being abused.

After hearing such things, I felt victimized all over again.

Victim blaming is very common in today’s society, so it’s not surprising these cruel words & more are said to victims of narcissistic abuse daily.

Unfortunately I don’t believe there is any way to avoid them entirely.  All you can do is use wisdom on who you share your story with.  Even when you do this, sometimes people may hurt you by invalidating your pain.

The fact is though that you can validate yourself.  You can heal from narcissistic abuse even if there is no one to support you but God.

To do this, you need to lean on God.  Talk to Him about how you feel.  He can handle it all & wants to be there for you!  Let Him be!

As for you.. you need to trust that what happened was bad.  Admit it to yourself.  No more excuses, no more telling yourself you’re oversensitive or weak.  Narcissistic abuse permeates every part of a person’s being.  It can destroy one’s self-esteem, perception of reality or even sanity.  It is nothing to take lightly!   If you’re having trouble with this, write your story out.  When I wrote my autobiography “Emerging from the Chrysalis” a few years ago, it was hard.  Very hard.  For the first time, I realized just how bad the abuse I have survived really was.  Yet, as hard as it was to see things in black & white, it was very freeing too.  It gave me a new perspective.  I realized I’m a very strong person.  I also realized God must love me a great deal to have gotten me through all of that.  It also helped me to see my parents as they truly are, instead of making excuses for their behavior or thinking I was the one with the problems- I really wasn’t oversensitive, overreacting, reading too much into things, etc.  They have some serious problems & one of those problems is NOT me!

Once you are able to accept the truth about what you have gone through, healing will come.  You will grieve, you will be angry, but these are necessary steps to freedom from narcissistic abuse.  And, the more you validate yourself & heal, the less other people’s invalidation will bother you.  I’m not saying it won’t hurt sometimes- it’s only human to be hurt when your pain is trivialized- but it won’t devastate you as it once did.

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Making Some Changes With My Writing

Recently, I had an interesting dream.  It showed me that I need to change direction slightly with my writing.  I’ve been sensing I need to do this for a while, but I think now is the time to do it.

While definitely narcissism & what I learn about it as I go will be a priority, I believe it’s time to include other, lighter topics as well.  What those topics are, I’m not sure yet.  God will lead me, as always.  I’m open to suggestions though- you can comment on this post or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com.  I’ll pray about the suggestions I receive before writing about them, so your suggestion may appear a while in the future or may be tweaked a bit when I write about it.  Please don’t take that personally- I lean on God a lot with what I write, much more than people.

Anyway, I think this is a good idea to lighten up some.  The simple fact is writing & focusing about narcissism so much can be pretty overwhelming for me, & I don’t need the C-PTSD triggered any more than it already is.  I think reading about it can have the same overwhelming effect on many people.  Learning about narcissism & the damage it causes is essential to your healing from narcissistic abuse, of course.  It helps you to heal & gives you the answers you’ve been wanting.  However, it is also an extremely negative topic & can take a toll on your emotions.  Physically it can drain you, too.

I find it’s best to have balance- times where you learn about narcissism & related topics, time where you focus on your healing, but also times where you refuse to think about such things, instead focusing your energies into more positive, lighter endeavors.  Not doing so, but instead focusing constantly on it brings you down badly.  I’ve noticed it on various Facebook pages or groups for adult daughters of narcissistic mothers.  So many people obsess, & you can tell just by how they write that they aren’t happy.  They spend all their time thinking about the horrors they have been through or abusive people- how could they be happy??

Instead of doing that, I would like to encourage you today to take breaks.  You’ll know when you need one- you’ll begin to feel your emotions starting to sink.  You’ll catch yourself thinking of your own awful experiences or you’ll be angry at your narcissistic mother often.  You’ll think mostly about narcissism.  These are signs it’s time to take a break.  Take an afternoon or even a few days where you deliberately refuse to focus on anything related to NPD.  Indulge in your favorite hobbies, read a new book, hang out with close friends.. do things that you enjoy & make you feel good.  Then, you can get back to a more balanced approach.  You’ll feel much better about it after your break.

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You, Too, Can Be Broken Yet Beautiful

Many of you know this story I shared several months ago that explains my love of butterflies.  So keep it in mind as you read this post.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in my living room when I looked out the big window to see a lovely yellow swallowtail butterfly fluttering around the tall plants outside the window.  Naturally it made me happy, as butterflies always remind me of my granddad, who I adore & still miss even though he’s been gone for 12 years now.  I kept watching the butterfly & realized something looked different.  I took a bunch of pictures from inside the house (was afraid if I went outside, it’d spook him away) & in the pictures, I could see the butterfly had a damaged wing.  A few more pictures revealed the other wing was also very damaged.  I was stunned!  The butterfly flew so much like any other butterfly, it was hard to notice there was a problem.  And, I realized that this butterfly was just as beautiful as his counterparts whose wings were whole.  Actually, to me, he was even more beautiful since he carried on in spite of his injuries.

I’ve been thinking of this butterfly off & on since that day.  Butterflies inspire me, as you can tell.  In fact, I created The Butterfly Project as a result of the inspiration.  (Please check it out.  I believe it will bless you.)

That butterfly was such a wonderful reminder that in spite of damage, one can still be beautiful.  This turned my mind to other victims of maternal narcissism.  So many of us feel ugly because we were told we were ugly.  Ugly inside & out.  That is not the truth though!  The only ugly person is the one who abuses other people, especially her own child.  You are not ugly, Dear Reader, in any way!  Your narcissistic mother was dead wrong about that!

Also, the butterfly with the damaged wings was still able to function.  Yes, he flew a little differently than others, but different doesn’t equal bad.  The same thing goes for you, Dear Reader.  You may be a bit different because of having survived narcissistic abuse, but that doesn’t mean you are bad.  It simply means that you, like that butterfly, survived something that was meant to destroy you.

Here are some pictures of my precious butterfly visitor that day for you to enjoy…

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 IMG_73164  IMG_7313

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Do People Tell You That You’re Crazy, Stupid Or Other Bad Things?

Narcissists love to accuse their victims of awful things.  Crazy, stupid, selfish & more- there is no end to the hateful things a narcissist will call you.  And, like everything else they do, there is a motive behind doing this.

Calling you these awful names doesn’t mean they actually believe you are crazy, stupid or selfish- instead, it gives them power & control.

How, you ask?  Because if you are told you are selfish, for example, you are going to work hard to prove that you are not selfish.  This gives the narcissist power over you because by saying what she did, she made you work harder for her.  She feels better about herself at this point because you working hard to please her shows she has power.  Plus, when she sees that she is able to make you do things, that makes her feel better about herself.

When someone tells you awful things about yourself, you need to think about it.  Constructive criticism is said gently & to help you.  Narcissists however, don’t say things nicely or to help.   They say things cruelly or they imply things rather than say them outright, so if you confront them, they can say something like “I never said you were *fill in the blank*”  “You read too much into things!”  “You have such a vivid imagination!”

The person saying these things.. do they often criticize you?  Do they often try to control you?

If you are having trouble determining what is really happening, ask God for discernment on the matter.

You do not deserve to be mistreated!  If someone is telling you terrible things about yourself that you know are untrue, always remember that it says more about her than you.  Normal people don’t tear down other people, but encourage & empower them instead.

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The Garment Of Shame

Psalm 132:18 says, “His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” (KJV)

I noticed something about this Scripture.  See how it says “will I CLOTHE with shame”??  That really is how it is when you live with shame- it’s like a garment you just can’t take off.  The only way to remove that garment of shame is with God’s help & the truth.

When you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, you know shame all too well.  You have been made to feel ashamed of everything about you- your thoughts, feelings, likes/dislikes are all wrong, according to the narcissist.  Even things beyond your control are wrong, such as your eye color or weight.  You know that you are a terrible person, wasting space on this planet, & the world would be better off if you hadn’t been born.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  It surely does with me.

Dear Reader, today I want to encourage you to tear off that garment of shame!  You deserve so much better than to feel this way!

It’s not your shame that you are carrying anyway!  You are carrying the shame that the narcissist who abuses you feels inside.  Remember, narcissists are extremely insecure people, ashamed of themselves.  That is why they act so confident, constantly trying to impress others- to convince others (& themselves) that they are in fact good, talented & beautiful/handsome.  They don’t want to feel the shame that they feel, so they try to get rid of it in any way possible.  They try to convince everyone of their awesomeness or they project it onto a target, usually someone that they admire or feel is a good person.  This means they try to make someone else feel as bad about themselves as the narcissist feels about herself.

Putting their shame on someone else means that the narcissist doesn’t have to feel it.  The other person feels that shame, carrying it with them constantly.  This also gives the narcissist a feeling of power since she can have such an effect on another person.

Why would you carry that narcissist’s shame for another moment?  You don’t need to!  The shame is NOT yours to carry, so refuse to do it a moment longer!

How do you go about doing this?  One thing that has helped me tremendously is constantly asking God questions.  “Am I bad for liking *fill in the blank*?”  “Am I ugly because of *fill in the blank*?”  “Please tell me the truth, Father- my mother said I am *fill in the blank*.  Is that true?  Am I really so bad?”  Then, I listen for the answer.  Usually it comes as a knowing feeling inside.  Doing this taught me that I’m really not the awful person I was always ashamed of myself for being.  Instead, I was carrying my narcissistic mother’s shame.

I also talked to other daughters of narcissistic mothers & wives of those married to narcissistic men (usually ex wives, by the way).  I learned their experiences were often quite similar to mine with my mother & my ex husband.  It was very eye opening!  So many narcissists use similar tactics!  That helped me to see that it’s abusive people who say such things, not normal people.

Once you realize the truth of what has happened, that you are carrying around your narcissistic mother’s shame, it is very freeing!  You begin to accept yourself & even love yourself.  You also stop taking her cruel words to heart, because you know that is how she feels about herself- it doesn’t mean that it’s true for you.  In fact, it can be educational too, because you learn just what she feels about herself deep down.  This can benefit you by helping you to learn how to deal with your narcissistic mother.

So please, Dear Reader, make a decision today to throw off that garment of shame & never put it back on again!  It’s not yours to wear, so refuse to wear it a moment longer!  xoxo

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“My” Truth vs. The Truth

Have you ever heard the phrase “my truth”?  I heard it again recently.  That phrase is said to describe what you believe.  Whether it is really true or not, however, is inconsequential.

This phrase is perfect for describing what narcissists believe.  Their truth rarely resembles the real truth.

I think it is used when someone is trying to convince themselves of something that they know is not true, which narcissists love to do frequently.  If they say something is their truth, it implies the thing is true, so it’s OK to believe.  As an example, my mother believes she was a good, loving, caring mother to me.  That is her truth.  She has convinced herself of it.  It’s how she copes with her guilty conscious.  She knows what she did to me was wrong & rather than accept responsibility for it, she reinvents the past & creates her own truth.  She has convinced others of her truth as well.

I know just how frustrating this is when you know the real truth & others insist that lies are the truth.  Never forget- their truth is just that, theirs.  It isn’t yours.  So long as you know what the real truth is, that is what matters.  Don’t let anyone sway you from what you know to be true.  If you have any doubts, ask God to help you to see what the truth really is.  He will do so!

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