Tag Archives: narcissistic personality disorder

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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Illness In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Many of us who survived narcissistic abuse have trouble with being sick or injured.  We repeatedly have heard statements like,  “Others have it worse so you should stop complaining!”  “That’s no big deal.  What I have is so much worse!”  “You have a bad back?  It’s nothing compared to mine..”  These kind of things sink in.

As I’ve mentioned here before, last February, I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & when I passed out, hit my head, resulting in a concussion.  Since that time, I haven’t fully recovered, & may never do so.  In spite of that knowledge & the symptoms I live with on a daily basis, there have been plenty of times I wonder if I’m faking it.  My husband was floored when I told him that, & he said it’s impossible- I even look different when the symptoms are really bad & I can’t fake that look.

I firmly believe my irrational behavior is a direct result of being raised by a narcissistic mother.

As a child, I rarely saw a doctor or dentist, not even when I experienced anorexia when I was around 10 years old.  Fevers didn’t mean anything, I was fine according to my mother.  She made sure I knew it was hard on her if I had a problem.  Mother’s Day, 1986- I was on crutches & my father had hurt his back.  She has complained since that she had to sacrifice her Mother’s Day waiting on us hand & foot, it was such a hard time for her.  As an adult, any problem I have, she doesn’t believe.  I have had arthritis in my knees since 2002.  I told my father that was why I couldn’t do more to help my parents out sometimes around their home.  He told my mother & her response was to call me later & ask if that was even true.  Have I even seen a doctor?  Did she say I need a knee replacement?  That’s all I need- to get my knees replaced, it’s no big deal.  For 10 years I lived with back pain she caused, yet she accused me of faking.  She would slap me in the back or hand me something heavy every time she saw me.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  If so, please know I understand your pain & frustration & that you are ok!  This is a normal reaction to an abnormal lack of empathy.

I know it is maddening when you are raised this way & as an adult, you don’t even believe yourself that you are sick or injured.  The doctor said you have a problem or you feel the pain, so why do you doubt it?  Then add in feeling that you don’t deserve to take it easy when you need to because someone else has it worse, & you really feel awful.

It’s time to start rejecting what the narcissist says.  Remember, they say nothing to help others- everything they say & do is about themselves.  Your narcissistic mother accuses you of faking your illness?  That’s because she is projecting her bad actions onto you.  She’s faked an illness before.  She says what you’re experiencing is no big deal?  It’s because she doesn’t want to be bothered with your problems, because it doesn’t provide her with the coveted narcissistic supply.

Trust the symptoms are real.  How could you fake them anyway?!  You aren’t doing this for attention or sympathy!  Narcissists do that, not normal, mentally stable people.

Another helpful tip is to read about the disorder or disease you have.  It helps make it more real.  Once I read about Edgar Allan Poe’s experiences with carbon monoxide poisoning, it helped me tremendously!  I realized that someone else felt the exact same way I did, I wasn’t crazy & I wasn’t making anything up!

While you are coming to accept what is happening, also don’t forget to ask God to heal you as well.  He wants you to be happy & healthy!  Allow Him to do that for you!

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

Why Does It Feel Wrong To Tell Your Story?

Those of us who have been through abuse tend to feel that we are doing something wrong by telling our story.  We may even wonder if we are making things up because so few people truly believe what we’re saying.  (Having your feelings invalidated or told you’re exaggerating truly can make you doubt the reality of what happened to you.)  Things like this tend to keep us quiet.

However, the fact is that we have every right to tell our stories, & by the way, no, we didn’t make it up.  So why do we feel this way?

Victims are groomed by their abusers to keep the abuse a secret.  To tell anyone about it would incur a terrible wrath.  We learned early on that it is better to stay quiet than to talk about it.  When my mother suspected me of telling someone what she was doing once, I was shamed deeply for “airing our dirty laundry.”  When I got myself into therapy to figure out how to deal with her, she demanded to know everything that I talked about with my counselor.  It became much easier not to talk about it than to deal with her wrath!

Abusers also groom their victims to doubt themselves, while only believing the abuser.  It’s called gaslighting or crazy making.  Abusers do their best to determine their victim’s reality.  This makes it easier for the victim to accept abuse, because although a part of them realizes it is wrong, they are told it is acceptable so much that eventually that false belief overrides their belief it is wrong.

Being too afraid to tell your story when you feel it’s time to share it also means you are carrying your abuser’s shame.  It’s not your shame!  You have done nothing wrong by being abused!  The one who abused you is the one who should be ashamed!  It is not your job to feel the shame for her even if she refuses to feel it herself.  Remind yourself of that often, & the shame will lift.

You have every right to tell your story if you want to do so.  It is your life & your story.

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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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The “Good” Parent, aka The Covert Narcissist

Many adult daughters of narcissistic mothers I’ve spoken to say something like, “My mother was terrible, but my dad was a great guy” or, “He was the perfect dad- I couldn’t have asked for better.”  They also say things like he didn’t stop Mom from abusing them.  It wasn’t his fault though – he traveled for work, worked long hours, she was awful to him too or she was in charge.  The roles also can be reversed with narcissistic fathers where the adult children say their mother was a great mom, she couldn’t stop him, but it wasn’t her fault, etc.

 

They fail to realize that both of their parents were narcissists.

 

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying all people who marry narcissists are bad people or are narcissists!!  However, many times when a narcissist gets married, it’s to another narcissist.

 

Narcissists come in two forms – overt & covert.  Most familiar are the overt narcissists, since they are the bold type.  They are loud, boisterous & cocky.  They demand to be the center of attention at all costs, even if it means making them look ridiculous.  Covert narcissists are much harder to spot.  They tend to fade into the background, look innocent, naive, generous even to the point of martyrdom.  If someone is upset in their presence, they claim innocence & turn the situation around to where they are not only innocent but the real victim.  Often they expect their adult children to cater to them, even after that child has a spouse & family.

 

Many times, an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist will get married & have children.  This situation is a nightmare for the children.

 

When you grow up with two narcissistic parents, it is incredibly difficult to accept the fact.  Accepting that one parents is a narcissist is bad enough, but both?!  That is just too much.  Besides, growing up with an overtly narcissistic parent, a child is so starved for love, she often can’t accept that neither parent genuinely love her.  So instead, many people accept that the overtly narcissistic parent is a narcissist, & put the other parent on a pedestal.  This isn’t healthy!

 

Being in that situation, you naturally will be closer to the “good” parent than the narcissistic one.  The overt narcissist will take this as you & the other parent being against her, often taking the rage she feels out on the child, & the covert narcissist will gain narcissistic supply from your attention.

 

This situation also sets the stage for emotional incest, a psychologically abusive & damaging situation where the child is responsible for the parent’s emotional well being instead of the other way around.  It leads to a great deal of stress & anxiety, guilt, an overdeveloped sense of responsibility & more in the child, even into adulthood.

 

Covert narcissists are extremely good at creating an emotionally incestuous situation with their child.  They come across as needing protection, & often their children feel it is their job to protect them, even protecting them from their other, overtly narcissistic parent.  That creates more friction between the child & the overtly narcissistic parent, especially when the child intervenes in their problems.  Sometimes the overtly narcissistic parent responds by creating their own emotionally incestuous relationship with the child, & the child is stuck in the middle.  This is how it was for me as a child, & my parents still do this to this day.  I have to set boundaries by changing the subject or suddenly saying I have to go or hang up the phone to put a stop to it.  Even as an adult, it’s still extremely stressful, & has triggered some flashbacks.

 

When you see that your “good” parent isn’t as good as you thought, it helps you to stop the covertly incestuous situation with him.  You see it for the unhealthy relationship it is & learn to set healthy boundaries.  You also take that parent off the pedestal & see him in a more realistic light.  You accept that you are not responsible for catering to any & every need that parent has especially at the expense of your emotional or physical health, finances or your immediate family.  You can relate in a healthier way with that parent, even if he doesn’t like your new boundaries.  You no longer fall for the subtle guilt trips  & manipulations, possibly even noticing them for the first time.

 

Although this realization is very good for you, it isn’t easy.  I started to get very angry with my father when I realized he wasn’t the great dad I always thought he was.  I began to see he had no trouble throwing me under the bus to my mother if it meant he was protecting himself.  He has lied to her about me a few times, & she got mad at me for what he said.  I also realized he uses me to dump on when he’s angry with my mother, which really makes me feel stuck in the middle.  He also wants my comfort, even if I’m having a problem.  For example, when my husband’s job eliminated his position a few years back, he said he was scared.  How would we keep our home?  What would we do if we lost the house?  Where was he going to find another job?  This is bad & upsetting him!  Upsetting him?!  He wanted me to reassure him that we’d be ok, when I wasn’t sure if we would be or not.  This really added a lot to my anxiety at first, then made me angry.  I realized I was the one in need of comfort yet he demanded it from me – how dare he?!

 

Those revelations made me VERY angry & hurt.  It took a long time to process my feelings, but it did happen in time.  It took me writing a lot out in my journal, complaining to God about how unfair it was & sometimes talking to understanding friends.  Realizing how my father was also showed me how many people have no idea how he can be towards me.  They buy his act of innocence & naivete, & accept nothing else.  I realized I have to be careful who I talk to about our relationship because some people will get angry with me for not “being more patient” with him.  After all, he needs me!  He’s married to my mother & needs someone to support him.  I’m his daughter so it’s up to me to take care of him, I’ve been told.

 

This type of situation could easily happen to you too.  If you too have come to realize that your “good” parent is a covert narcissist, then by all means, be careful who you discuss the topic with!  When this discovery is new, you feel very sensitive & emotionally raw.  People who don’t believe you or shame you for exaggerating, lying, etc. will hurt you more than normal when you are in that sensitive state.  Make sure to share your feelings only with non-judgmental, supportive people.  Maybe even someone who has been through a similar situation.

 

Even being careful, you may be invalidated or shamed as I have been by those you trusted.  If that is the case, I’m so sorry.  It’s very painful, I know, to be invalidated, but especially when it comes from someone you didn’t expect to behave that way.

 

Being invalidated on this topic also may make you doubt your judgement.  You may wonder if you’re being too harsh or judgmental.  After all, since you learned about narcissism, you feel like you see it everywhere.  Maybe you’re reading too much into things.  When you feel this way, talk to God.  Ask Him to tell you the truth!  He truly will!  And when He does, stand strong in that truth!  Don’t let others make you doubt!

 

Also ask God what you need to do in this situation.  Now that you know just how dysfunctional it is, you’re going to need to respond differently to that covertly narcissistic parent.  Naturally, you’re going to need to set & enforce good boundaries, but since each narcissist is an individual, what works for one may not work for another.  God can give you creative & effective ideas.  All you have to do is ask & listen.

 

As painful a time as this is for you, it truly is for your best interest to learn this information.  Continuing in the dysfunction only will make you miserable.  Use this painful situation as an opportunity to learn & grow.  Be gentle & understanding with yourself.  Don’t get mad at yourself for slipping into old, dysfunctional patterns, but instead understand this happens sometimes.  Remember it so you don’t do that again, & go on.  Vent your feelings as you need to in a safe way, whether to God, a trusted friend or in your journal.  Don’t bottle them up as it will only hurt you to do so.  Most of all, trust God to help you get through this painful time.

 

 

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No Is A Valid Answer

Closely related to yesterday’s post about boundaries, today I want to tell you about another aspect of boundaries that not everyone is aware of.

No is a valid answer.  Really.

I know it can be hard for some of us when we first learn to set boundaries.  Saying no means we often feel like we need to explain every single reason why we’re saying no & make sure those reasons meet the other person’s approval.  That is often a by product of surviving narcissistic abuse.

Unless you’re being interrogated by the police, you do not have to explain yourself to another person if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.  People don’t need to know every single thing about you if you don’t want to share every detail.  Really!

If the person you feel you must explain yourself to is a narcissist, then for your sanity’s sake, just say no instead.  Offering explanations only gives a narcissist more ammunition for embarrassing or hurting you at some point, providing them their coveted narcissistic supply.  For example, let’s say you can’t take your narcissistic mother to her doctor’s appointment on Thursday because you have a doctor’s appointment for yourself.  If you tell her this, she probably will demand to know why you’re going, & do you really feel comfortable telling her it’s for renewing your prescription for birth control pills?!  How awkward would that be?  Or if it’s something more serious, you know she’ll spin it around to how it would affect her if you were very sick or, God forbid, were dying.  Do you feel like dealing with that while you’re afraid yourself?  No?  Then remember to tell her no, without any explanation.  If you really feel the need to elaborate, simply say “I can’t, because I have an appointment (or plans) at that time that can’t be changed.”

And, don’t let her push you into telling you either!  Ignore when she hints around, wanting to know why you can’t help her.  Pretend you don’t grasp that she is hinting for you to tell her anything.  If she demands to know, change the subject.  If she offers guilt trips (“I guess you have better things to do than take care of your mother…”), IGNORE!!  You have every right to your privacy, & don’t let her convince you otherwise.

Always remember that no is a valid answer, & you have every right to use it as you see fit.

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Do Narcissists Really Know Right From Wrong?

I’ve found many people wonder if narcissists truly know right from wrong, since they do so many cruel, evil acts without regard for how they affect other people.  This often means narcissists get a free ride since many people assume no one could be capable of knowingly causing so much pain & suffering.  Besides, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a disorder after all- they can’t help themselves for acting this way, right?

I believe that is very wrong.

Personality disorders are different from other mental disorders.  PTSD, for example, is actual physical damage to one’s brain that causes the flashbacks, anxiety, memory problems, etc. Schizophrenia also is brain damage that causes a person to experience hallucinations & delusions.  Personality disordered individuals have no physical brain damage.  Instead, their disorder describes a means of behavior rather than an illness.  Physically, the brain of a narcissist is just fine unless they have sustained an injury.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder only describes their behavior.

Another argument that I believe proves narcissists know right from wrong is their behavior.  They save the worst of it for behind closed doors.  Narcissists rarely abuse in front of other people.  In fact, my mother rarely abused me in front of my father.  He only saw her abuse me a few times when the fact is, she abused me many more times than I can remember.  She also warned me many times not to “air our dirty laundry” which meant I was not to tell others what she did to me in private.  My narcissistic mother in-law was much the same way- she would treat me like absolute dirt when we were alone, yet as soon as someone came into the room, she was sweet as could be.  I guess it’s no wonder so few people believed me about how horribly these two treated me- they put on quite the show in front of others.

Those who know right from wrong hide their actions.  Consider the following Scripture:

John 3:20-21   “20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”  (NIV)

I firmly believe that yes, narcissists do know right from wrong.  They choose to do wrong because their thinking is so skewed.  Sadly, they don’t want to improve themselves like most people do.  Maybe they are too afraid of what they would find if they did some soul searching.  After all, their low self esteem is at the root of narcissism.  They may be afraid that what they would find inside is too hideous for them to deal with.

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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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About No Contact

I think many of us who stay in a relationship with our narcissistic mothers have been asked repeatedly, “Why don’t you go no contact with her?”  Often,  good points follow such as, “You don’t deserve to be treated that way” along with stories of someone else they knew who had a narcissistic mother & has never been happier since she went no contact.  I have been called foolish & accused of trying to be a martyr as well.

This conversation really can make you doubt your decision.

The truth of the matter though, is that ending a relationship, any relationship, is no one else’s business.  Ending a relationship is a very painful decision, but perhaps ending one with your mother is the most painful of all.  Ending a relationship is also a very individual decision.  You are a unique individual with unique feelings & responses to things.  You may be more willing or able to tolerate certain things than another person.  That doesn’t mean you’re wrong & the other person is right or vice versa- it simply means you’re different.

If you’re considering going no contact with your narcissistic mother, then please do NOT let anyone else influence your decision!  This is one that you need to make by yourself, & have absolute peace & certainty with your decision.  You need to be sure that whatever your choice, you will have no regrets.  To do this, I strongly suggest a great deal of prayer.  Ask God to help you make this choice & how to handle it whichever way it goes.  He will not lead you wrong.

If you opt to go no contact, then you need to remember to stick to your decision.  Don’t call your mother up to wish her a happy birthday or ask her advice after telling her you want her out of your life.  This only goes to show you have weak boundaries, & a narcissist naturally will use that against you.  If you & your mother share relationships, then tell those people that you don’t want them to discuss you with your mother or her with you.  It’s just best to keep others out of the situation that should stay between you & your mother so that person doesn’t feel torn between you two.  Also, beware of flying monkeys- the people your mother sends after you to “talk sense” into you.  They will work hard to make sure you know how badly you’ve hurt your mother & what a terrible daughter you are.  Tell these people that the topic of your & your mother’s relationship is not up for discussion.  Don’t try to explain your side or defend yourself or your decision- it will not only fall on deaf ears, it will hurt you to be so invalidated.  Simply do not engage these people.

If you opt to stay in a relationship with your narcissistic mother, there are ways to manage it.  I opted to go limited contact, which means I don’t talk daily to my parents as I once did.  I talk to them & visit them as I feel able, not always on their time schedule like it used to be.  Continue to work on your healing, not only for yourself, but also because it will change the relationship with your narcissistic mother.  The healthier you are, the less interest narcissist will have in you because you are harder to use & abuse.  Focus on setting & enforcing healthy boundaries too.  Most of all though, remember that it won’t be easy.  There will be times you slip up & fall into old, dysfunctional patterns.  Don’t beat yourself up for that.  These times happen.  Just learn from it, try not to let it happen again.

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Can Narcissists Change?

One thing I’ve  been asked repeatedly is can a narcissist ever change?  I believe they can, if only briefly, contrary to popular belief, & I’ll tell you why.

Narcissists are the ultimate in selfish.  Everything comes back to them & getting their precious narcissistic supply.   If it will benefit a narcissist, if it will make her look good or gain her that supply, she definitely can change.

If you don’t believe me, then watch a narcissist in action.  When she is around someone she doesn’t care to impress, such as her spouse or child, they will be treated like dirt.  But, let someone “special” enter the room & she changes her entire demeanor.  I  remember  a couple of times in my late teens, my mother & I were home alone & she was screaming at me, telling me what a terrible person I was.  Then, the phone rang.  Once she answered it, she was a nice, normal person.  The person on the other end never would’ve suspected that the moment before she answered, she was a raging lunatic.  My mother in-law was much the same way.  If we were alone, she would insult everything about me, my furbabies & my family, even tell me how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of someone else.   When someone came back into the room though, sweet as pie.  In fact, after telling me that she was disappointed he married me, the next time I saw her, she introduced me to her sister as “my beautiful daughter in-law.”

My mother also changed several times in the last couple of years.  There have been times we got along just fine.  She didn’t play the usual head games or verbally tear me apart.  I don’t know why they started or ended, but they were nice while they lasted.  The first time it happened, it lasted for several months.  I thought maybe things were finally going to be normal between us.  Suddenly, she went right back to her narcissistic ways.

I don’t know if a narcissist can ever change permanently, but I do know this much.  For a narcissist to change, even for a moment, the change has to benefit the narcissist in some way.  That is the only thing that will make a narcissist change.  If you hope that she will change because she doesn’t want to hurt you any longer, then you will be disappointed.

I also learned something else.  When my mother changes for the better, I have come to accept that those times don’t usually last long.  I pray they will, but prepare myself for them ending quickly.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.  I’ve found it to be a good idea to determine to enjoy them for however long they last.  If it’s an hour or a month, I don’t want to waste the time dreading the change back.  I try to stay in the moment & enjoy the good times as much as possible.  And, by knowing it’ll probably end soon, when it does end, I’m not devastated.  I strongly advise you to think this same way, Dear Reader, if you have to deal with a similar situation with your narcissistic mother.  It’s much healthier for you to do than getting your hopes up that this time, it’s really going to be different, then having them destroyed.

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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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New Book For Parents Of Children Affected By Narcissistic Abuse

Good morning, Dear Readers!

 

A few days ago, I finished a book for parents of children affected by narcissistic abuse.  I believe it will help those of you in that painful position, including those of you co-parenting with a narcissist.

 

The book is available in both ebook & print format, as usual.  The ebook version can be found here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595614

 

The print version can be found here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/children-and-narcissistic-personality-disorder-a-guide-for-parents/paperback/product-22456038.html

 

Within a few weeks, both also can be found on amazon, Barnes & Nobel & other websites as well as my own site, www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

 

The book is shorter than my other books, but please don’t be discouraged by its size.  I would rather print a small book full of good information than a much larger one filled with fluff.  And, I’m sure readers prefer that as well.

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Body Memories- Yes, They Are Real!

Today, my lower back began to hurt after a long time of no pain.

 

I hadn’t pay attention to the date.  This time of year in 1990 was turbulent for me.  I was 19 & had moved out of my parents house immediately following my first nervous breakdown that May.  I had been engaged to my now ex husband, but broke up with him shortly after.  I dated two other men over the next few months, one of which I moved in with.  We were very ill suited for each other, & on our third month anniversary, November 23, I told him I was moving out.  He spent most of that night screaming at me.  (Sadly, I was so used to my mother screaming at me, I fell asleep during his ranting- he wasn’t nearly as volatile as she was).  I moved back in with my parents the next day.  That arrangement lasted until the 28th (yes, 4 days) before I had to leave my parents’ house again.  That was the evening my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back during an argument.

 

Over the years, I’ve tried not to think much about that time in my life.  The man I lived with has since committed suicide, & after 10 years of back pain, God healed me.  It all seemed over & done with.  Apparently not, though since my body is acting up.

 

This is what a body memory is like.

 

Your mind may not remember a traumatic incident, but your body remembers everything.

 

I think body memories can be a good thing, although they certainly don’t feel good at the time.  They make you question what is happening, which can reveal a repressed memory.  Once a repressed memory is revealed, you must deal with it or continue to repress it.  The best thing I have found to do is deal with it.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, it’s painful.  However, I believe memories come back to the conscious mind at a time when you are most able to deal with them.  I think God allows things to be hidden when you simply cannot deal with them, then brings them back to your remembrance when you can.

 

If you experience sudden pain, anxiety or depression with no known cause, you too may be experiencing a body memory.  Often, body memories are physical but they can be emotional too.  Today  before my back began to hurt, I realized I’ve been extremely emotional, mostly anxious.  If such things happen to you, you aren’t crazy.  You are simply experiencing a body memory!

 

I would urge you to ask God what is happening, then listen for His answer.  That’s what I finally did, this afternoon when my back began to hurt.  I am glad He showed me what was going on!  Now I know I haven’t physically injured my back & I’m not crazy for being so emotional!

 

Once He shows you what is happening, then it is time to work with Him on your healing.  Ask God to show you what you need to do.  He truly will!

 

Also, you need to get your feelings out.  If you can, tell God how you feel.  Sometimes, talking out loud can be too difficult when the subject matter is especially painful.  During those times, you can pray silently, write in your journal or write a letter to the person who abused you.  I urge you never to send that letter- chances are, it’d only cause a great deal of trouble- but writing it then throwing it out, burning it or even keeping it hidden where it can’t be found can be surprisingly helpful.

 

Rest assured, Dear Reader, if you experience body memories like I do, you really aren’t crazy!  What you are is someone who has experienced trauma, & that is nothing for you to be ashamed of.

 

 

 

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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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You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself To Anyone

One thing many people, in particular survivors of narcissistic abuse, seem to have a problem with is over explaining.

If someone asks you to do something that you are unable or unwilling to do, most people will explain in great detail exactly why they can’t or won’t do what is asked of them, even if they have to lie.  The truth however, is that is unnecessary.  And, sometimes it can cause disagreements between both parties involved, especially if the one doing the explaining feels compelled to lie which is often the case.

Did you know that no can be a complete sentence?

Matthew 5:37 states, “Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (AMP)

While you may be thinking that you wouldn’t lie, think about how many times you were free yet told someone you had previous plans to avoid doing what they wanted you to do?  I think all of us are guilty of doing this at some point.

Instead of that, why not just say no?  You owe no explanations- a simple no should suffice with most people.

Granted, with narcissists, they feel entitled to a detailed explanation of your “terrible” refusal to serve them, so no doesn’t always work.  Instead, there are some slightly more elaborate answers you can give without offering a long explanation.

“No, I can’t.”

“No, I don’t have time.”

“No, I won’t.”

“No.  It goes against my personal beliefs.”

Whatever you opt to say, remember not to give many details or much personal information.  Narcissists love to use what you say against you or to hurt you, so it’s best to keep details to yourself whenever possible.

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Should You Be In A Relationship With Your Narcissistic Mother?

God doesn’t want you to be a martyr & stay in relationship with your narcissistic parent if you feel you can’t do it.  It’s not His will you be miserable, but to be happy.  However, that doesn’t mean going no contact is the only option.

No contact is a very drastic move, & one that should be made only after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter.  It is also not one that you should let other people tell you to make.  You need to decide on your own whether or not it is the right decision for you, & have absolute certainty in your decision.

In 2001 I went no contact with my mother.  She contacted me in 2007, & I decided to allow her back into my life at that point.  I figured I had learned & grown enough that things would be better.  They are, although sometimes they are still extremely hard & painful.  Those times often make me think about going no contact again.  I have prayed about it many times, but I haven’t done it.  In 2001, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was what I had to do.  Now, I have yet to feel that certainty.  I firmly believe that our instincts are given to us by God, so if my instincts aren’t clearly telling me it’s time, then I won’t do it.

If you too feel no contact is not your answer just now, you are not alone!  I talk to many women who are either unwilling or unable to go no contact with their narcissistic mothers.  There are several things you can to do help you manage this painful relationship.

  • First & foremost, lean on God.  Ask Him to help you to know what you need to do, when you need to do it, & how you need to do it.
  • Keep your expectations of your narcissistic mother realistic.  She’ll never be the caring, loving mother you wish she was.  Accept her where she is.  Don’t try to change her. At the same time, refuse to tolerate her abuse.  Accepting her does NOT mean you need to tolerate being abused!
  • Enjoy whatever positive comes out of the relationship.  My mother has times where she is super pleasant & we get along well.  It started in 2013, lasted for I think two months, & shocked me.  It’s happened a few more times since then, & usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days.  Even so, I decided to enjoy them when they happen, & accept the fact they will end soon or that she may never be so nice ever again.  Acceptance means I am not devastated when the niceness is over.
  • Keep conversations as superficial as possible.  Telling your narcissistic mother about your problems, feelings or opinions is like giving her permission to crush you with her words, so keep conversations light.  If she asks what’s new in your life, you say nothing.  How are you- fine.  Brief, uninformative answers are your friend!
  • Show her NO emotion.  Keep all emotions, good bad or indifferent, in check around her, because if you don’t, she will feed off of them.  She will know what buttons to push to hurt you, & repeatedly push said buttons.  Don’t give her the satisfaction.  Then, once you’re away from her, tell God how you feel, write about it in your journal, or talk to a supportive friend.  Holding in emotions isn’t healthy, unfortunately doing so temporarily is a wise thing to do with any narcissist rather than let them see how you feel.
  • Have time limits.  If you only feel strong enough to deal with your mother for an hour visit once a week, that is fine.  Respect it.  Don’t push yourself to stop by her home every other day or talk to her on the phone daily.  It WILL hurt you physically & emotionally.  You’ll be very depressed & sick as the stress compromises your immune system.
  • Remember to pat yourself on the back when you enforce your boundaries & handle dealing with your narcissistic mother well.  Dealing with a narcissist is never easy, so be proud of your successes!
  • Learn from your mistakes.  There will be times you slip up.  You fall for your narcissistic mother’s manipulation or you show her you are angry when she insulted you.  Those things are inevitable, unfortunately.  Rather than beat yourself up for them, learn from them.  How could you have handled the situation better?  Do that the next time.  And you know there WILL be a next time.  Since she saw it upset you this time, she will do it again & again unless you let her know it doesn’t upset you anymore.
  • Take care of your emotional & physical health.  Dealing with any narcissist can take a toll on you, but perhaps none more than your own mother.  If you know you have to see her on Monday, take time on Sunday to relax, to pray, to strengthen yourself in preparation for the visit the following day.
  • Check your motives for staying in this relationship on a regular basis.  Are you doing so because it feels right in your heart, after much prayer?  Or, are you doing so because you’re afraid she’ll tell people you’re a bad daughter or she’ll start some kind of trouble for you?  If your motives are good for you, then you know you’re doing the right thing, even if it is painful sometimes.

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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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Help For Dealing With Narcissistic Parents

My parents came by for a visit on Thursday.  I didn’t expect it to be a good one.  My mother is always angry with me, & my father was upset I postponed from last week.  For days,  I prayed & worried.

Wednesday, I suddenly got very angry at the fact that my parents have done so much to me, yet believe they are entitled to come into my home anytime & treat my furbabies & I so nastily in our own home.  Mind you, I’m not particularly good with anger.  Growing up, my mother accused me of having “that Bailey temper”, shaming me, if I was angry or even simply just frustrated. I learned early to ignore anger.  It’s only been recently I’ve been trying to deal with anger in a healthy way.  Even so, it still feels awkward to be angry, so Wednesday was a somewhat difficult day.

I realized something though.  I was gaining confidence.  It really started to sink in that I have a right to be angry about the things they have done & continue to do to me.  That anger gave me the confidence to realize I do NOT have to put up with being abused.  If me having boundaries hurts their feelings, that isn’t my problem.

Shortly before they arrived, I remembered something that also helped me.  Years ago, I stopped speaking to my mother 6 years.  During that time, I had planned to visit my Granddad one Saturday.  The night before, he called & said my parents had just called to say they were coming by on that same day.  He said “If you want to do this another time, I’ll understand.”  I thought about doing that, but said no- I want to see him & if he wants to see me too, then I’ll be there in the morning.  He did so we agreed I’d come by the following morning.   That day of the visit, my mother was shocked to see me there.  (Years before, she had tried to ruin my relationship with my grandparents.  I had stopped speaking to them for several years, & at the time of the visit, only had began visiting him again a few months prior)  She did her best to frazzle me with some of her actions, but instead I let her know they wouldn’t work, much to the delight of Granddad who was quite proud of me that day.  I was proud of myself for handling things so well, too!

Remembering that successful event & being angry both helped me to stay strong when my parents came by & successfully, for the first time, limit the time of their visit!  For the first time, I told them when the visit was over, not them staying in my home until they felt like leaving!

My point (finally..lol) is these tricks can help you when it comes to dealing with your narcissistic mother as well.  I know many Christians think anger is from the devil or you’re a terrible person to feel anger, but I completely disagree!  Anger is a normal emotion & it is from God.  Yes, forgiveness is a wonderful thing & should be practiced regularly.  However, anger has its place too.  A righteous anger at injustice is a wonderful motivator for change.  What is the difference?  Being angry at the unfairness of being abused & being angry because you know you have done nothing to deserve abuse, those are examples of righteous anger.  Me being angry because my parents have abused me & think they still have to right to do so is also righteous anger.  God stirred that anger up in me for a reason on Wednesday- to help me be strong & able to set boundaries with my narcissistic parents the next day.

And, God also reminded me of a very successful interaction I’d had with my parents, which was extremely helpful as well.  Remembering how well that previous episode had gone helped me to see that yes, I could be strong.  Yes, I could handle things well.  Yes, I could even be composed when angry.  I could do it!

Dear Reader, what God did for me, He can do for you as well.  I prayed & asked friends to pray for me to have strength for this visit, & God certainly did not disappoint.  I would like to encourage you too, to think on similar things in your life.  Gain courage from your successes, & hold onto that righteous anger!  If you are having trouble, ask God to help you.  He truly will!

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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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Inner Faultfinder

Everyone has an inner voice.  That sense of pride when you do a job well is a part of it, as is that other voice that criticizes you when you make a mistake.  For most of us who suffered narcissistic abuse, that inner voice turns into the harshest, cruelest critic you can imagine.

Have you ever done something simple, like spill your drink, & then tell yourself how clumsy you are for doing so?  Or, did you show up late due to circumstances beyond your control such as a flat tire then berate yourself for being so unreliable?  Did your company let you go due to cutbacks, no fault of your own, yet you still told yourself you were a failure?  That is your inner voice turned inner faultfinder.

That voice isn’t naturally cruel.  It turns cruel because of your narcissistic mother.  Her constant put downs & judgments eventually turn inward, & you began to tell yourself the same things she did.  Maybe you use her words, or maybe not, but you become as abusive towards yourself as she is towards you.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a natural event for children of narcissistic mothers.  I wonder if it is because that inner voice stays stuck as a child.  It doesn’t grow up, but instead stays an abused child, wanting to please the impossible to please narcissistic mother.  When you fail  to please her (by making a mistake, spilling something, doing something she wouldn’t approve of, etc.), that inner voice simply repeats what your mother has said (or implied).  I’ve heard that some people who experience trauma at an early age never emotionally grow past that point.  They get stuck at the age of their traumatic experience.  Maybe for some of us who didn’t do that, our inner voice did instead.  It just got stuck in an abusive childhood, & wants so desperately to please the narcissistic mother, it will imitate her actions in an attempt to make it happen.

I have been this way my entire life- extremely critical of myself.  If I forget something, I tell myself how stupid I am.  If I’m feeling under the weather & my husband helps me with or worse yet, does all of the housework, I’m useless & a burden.  If I stub my toe, I’m stupid, clumsy & should’ve known better.  It’s not a pretty inner dialog.  Frankly, it’s gotten old.  I’ve heard enough unfair criticisms in my life to last ten lifetimes, & not only from the narcissists- from myself as well.  I’ve decided it’s time to change.  God has shown me some ways to change this, & I’ll share with you in the hopes they help you as well..

  • Ask for God’s help on the matter.  He will show you creative ways to handle it as He has me.
  • Tell that critic to shut up.  I’m going to say “shut up!” to that awful faultfinding, hyper-critical voice inside every time it says something hateful, then switch my thinking to something else.  Anything to take my mind off what it said.
  • Remind yourself the critic is only an echo of your narcissistic mother, & it’s wrong.  Just like your narcissistic mother, this voice has her best interests at heart, not yours.  Its opinions won’t benefit you.  Ignore it as you do your narcissistic mother’s useless opinions on your life.
  • Years ago, I saw Robb Thompson, a preacher on TV, give a wonderful visual for controlling bad thoughts.  He said they were from the devil, so when bad thoughts came to you, imagine taking the devil by the hand, walking him over to God & saying to the devil, “Ok, now tell Him what you just told me.”  Naturally the devil would be too afraid to say anything so cruel to one of His children in front of God & would back down.

I believe it will take time to make that cruel inner voice less cruel but I think it can be done.  After all, it was trained to be so negative- why can’t it be retrained to be less abusive?

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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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The Truth About Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an odd thing.  When I first became a Christian in 1996, I heard a great deal about forgiveness.  God wants us to forgive so we must do it. It’s easy.  Just ask Him to take it away & all will be right in your world.  Upon asking someone once to pray for me to help forgive, she said “I don’t know what your problem is.  God says to forgive & I just do it.”  That made me feel like God was disappointed in me & I was an awful person because I couldn’t “just do it.”

Nineteen years later,  I realize what rubbish all of that was.

While I most certainly agree God wants us to forgive since it says so in the Bible (Matthew 6:14, Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:31-2, etc), no one ever explained any other motivations to forgive.  Pleasing God certainly is a good one, naturally, but is that the only reason He wants us to forgive?  Some holy whim?

It took me years of being in relationship with Him & learning from Him to realize that forgiveness not only pleases God, but is good for the person doing the forgiving.  Carrying around anger & bitterness creates a plethora of health problems such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease & more.  It also can lead to a negative attitude (example- a wife’s husband cheats so she assumes all men are untrustworthy jerks) & depression.  The sooner you’re truly able to forgive, the better it is for your physical & mental health.

I had to learn too that forgiveness has nothing to do with the offender & everything to do with the one doing the forgiving.  It is very possible to completely forgive someone who is unrepentant.  To forgive someone requires you to want to do so.  It requires no actions on the other person’s part.  Certainly a repentant heart would make it much easier, but it’s not a necessity.

I also thought forgiveness meant to forget as well.  Forgive & forget as they say.  I disagree completely.  Sure, on small things such as your husband snapping at you after a bad day at work when normally he doesn’t do that, forgiving & forgetting is fine.  However, doing so with someone who is abusive?  Not smart.  That only sets you up for further abuse because you aren’t protecting yourself & also because you gave that person a free pass to abuse you by coming back for more.

No one ever told me that forgiveness takes time.  Ephesians 4:26 was quoted to me over & over in those early days of my walk with God.. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath,” (KJV)  I believed that I had to forgive my abusive mother & ex husband NOW or else I was not pleasing God.  It took many more years for me to learn that some things can be forgiven quickly & easily while others, such as suffering years of abuse, takes more time.  I believe that so long as you at least decide quickly that you will forgive, that is the most important thing.  It’s the first step towards forgiveness.

I didn’t know that to fully forgive, I needed to get angry, to feel that anger & get it out of me.  No one ever mentioned that tidbit!  I had to learn it from God.  Thankfully God helps me to do this.  He’s taught me different ways to get the anger out.  Journaling, writing it all out, works very well for me as does telling Him exactly how I feel & why.

Lastly, I learned that forgiveness doesn’t always mean you forgive everything someone has done to you- sometimes it means you may have to forgive them for some things individually.  For example, I thought I’d forgiven my ex husband for everything & was done with him.  Not necessarily so.. when someone wrecked her motorcycle in front of my house last June, it triggered a memory, something about my ex I’d totally forgotten.  I had my motorcycle learner’s permit when we were married.  After I had a small accident in 1994, which wasn’t my fault, he didn’t want me to go through with getting my license.  I was angry how manipulative he was about it, but had forgotten that until this lady wrecked her bike.  So although I was sure I’d forgiven him for everything, here I was, having to forgive him for yet one more thing…twenty one years later!

If you’re struggling with forgiveness & anger, Dear Reader, I pray this post helps you.  There isn’t a lot of really good, balanced teaching on the topic available, but if you ask God, He will teach you whatever you need to help you.  That is how I learned what I wrote here- God showed me all of these things.  🙂

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Self Doubt As You Heal From Narcissistic Abuse

Recently I had a dream.  After praying about it, God showed me its meaning.  I have a great deal of self doubt.  I knew I did, but didn’t realize just how bad it was until this dream.  As I heal from narcissistic abuse & learn & grow, it takes me further & further from the abuse & dysfunction I’ve always known.  While it’s certainly a good thing, it’s also awkward.  I have a lot of times wondering if I’m doing what’s right.  Am I wrong?  Worse yet, am I crazy like my mother has said I was so many times?

I think this must be a common thing for adult children of narcissistic parents.  We grow up hearing how wrong we are about everything.  Whatever we think & feel is wrong.  Having needs & wants is wrong.  Likes & dislikes are wrong, too.  We know whatever it is, we are wrong, period, & this dysfunctional belief carries over into adulthood.  Plus, narcissistic parents speak as if whatever they say is the gospel truth.  If your narcissistic mother says something, no matter how ludicrous, no matter what truth you see yourself, it is right & you need to accept that!  Don’t believe what you see or know- believe your narcissistic mother instead!

These two things lay the groundwork for you to grow up having a great deal of doubts about yourself, especially as you heal.

While I believe this is totally normal, that doesn’t mean it is comfortable or right.

As you heal & have so many doubts, I think this is a sign to lean on God more & more.  Ask Him to help you to heal, & to have the wisdom to know what is truly right.  Ask Him to help you see if you’re heading down the wrong path & to get back on the right one.  Ask Him to help you to have the confidence to follow Him rather than the dysfunctional beliefs of your childhood.

Learn to listen to your heart, your instincts.  I believe instincts are actually the Holy Spirit guiding us, which is why they are so accurate.  Listen to them, & you will know what is right for you.

Never forget- just because your mother says something doesn’t mean it is right.  Narcissistic mothers only care about themselves & what benefits them.  They will lie to you if it benefits them to do so.  In fact, narcissists are notorious liars.  Chances are your mother lied to you a great deal & regularly practiced gaslighting on you.  You need to form your own beliefs & opinions, especially when it comes to your healing, disregarding the things she has told you.

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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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The Butterfly Project

Recently I was inspired to create something to help inspire those who have suffered narcissistic abuse.  (Well, ok, I stole the idea but with full blessings of the creator of it.  lol)

I started making origami butterflies that I will be glad to give away to anyone wanting one.  The premise behind this is to remind victims of narcissistic abuse that they are like the butterfly- they may have entered a dark lonely place (narcissistic abuse) like a caterpillar entering the chrysalis, then like the butterfly, they emerged beautifully.  Just because they were once stuck in that place didn’t mean that they would stay that way forever.

My hope is that these little butterflies also will help to raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the serious damage it causes.

For further information & to learn how to get one, please click the link below.

The Butterfly Project

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Should Narcissistic Parents Reap What They Sow?

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Have you ever thought about how this Scripture applies to your narcissistic parents?

It seems to me that many adult children of narcissistic parents try to interrupt this natural event.  Many refuse to discuss the abuse they endured when they should be more concerned about the damage done to them than their parents’ reputations.  Others spend their entire lives trying to please the unpleasable narcissistic parent instead of setting healthy boundaries & ignoring the personal costs to themselves.  Still others will move their elderly narcissistic parent into their home, allow her to upset every member of the household & face no consequences for her actions.

Narcissistic parents train their children very well in many ways, but possibly the most impressive area is when they train them to take care of their parents at any & all costs.  No sacrifice is too big for many children of narcissistic parents. even though the parent acts as if no sacrifice is big enough.

This is not good!  People learn from reaping what they sow, which is why God wants us to reap what we sow.  And yes, even narcissists can learn from consequences.  They need to have consequences if there is to be any hope of them changing.  Giving them consequences is also good for you, because it breaks the unhealthy, dysfunctional patterns you have lived in for so long.

I know it can be hard to unlearn the lifetime of training you received from your narcissistic parent, but it can be done.  First & foremost, ask God for help.  Ask Him to show you what you need to do & how to do it & for the courage to do this.

When situations arise, remind yourself of the truth.  For example, the truth is that it’s not your job to protect your narcissistic mother’s reputation!  If someone asks you something about your mother & the truth isn’t necessarily pretty, tell the truth.  I’m not saying be disrespectful, bashing her, or calling her names of course, but you can tell the truth in a matter of fact way, even if the truth isn’t pretty.

Another situation could be when your narcissistic mother is elderly & in need of care.  The truth is it is up to you whether or not you are her caregiver.  Many adult children of narcissists don’t help their elderly parents & have peace about their decision while others feel the same peace about caring for them full or part time.  It is a very individual choice that only you can make.  (If you opt not to do hands on care, though, I would recommend helping them to find proper help. There are many great resources out there that can offer help through your local Department of Aging.)

Also, I have noticed that feelings are no exception to this rule of reaping what you sow.  My feelings have dwindled greatly for my parents after a lifetime of narcissistic abuse.  I used to beat myself up for this, telling myself I was a terrible person & a terrible daughter.  During prayer one day though, God told me they are reaping what they have sown, & I’m not a terrible person.  They haven’t sown many good, loving seeds with me so they are reaping a harvest of indifference in some ways from me.  It  is completely normal to feel the way I do.  If you feel the same, please know that you are normal!

Dear Reader, I urge you to let your narcissistic parents reap what they sow.  They won’t like it, but if God allows certain things to happen to them, it must be for a reason.   Let Him allow what He knows is best to happen.

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Stop Expecting Perfection From Yourself

I think all adult children of narcissists do is we expect perfection from ourselves, especially where our narcissistic mothers are concerned.

Once we learn about NPD, we become more aware of our narcissistic mother’s tactics.  We seem to think once we are more aware, we should never fall for her tactics again, we shouldn’t slip up or go along with her games.  Now, we know better & that will not happen ever again!

If only!

While that sounds good in theory, there are going to be times we slip up.  We’re only human after all, & we’ll make mistakes.

I’m not immune to this either.  I wish I was.

The last time my parents visited, I tried to distract my mother from some nastiness by showing her a tote I just crocheted.  I created the pattern myself & thought it turned out pretty.  So have others who have seen it. Plus, she loves crocheting- she’d just mentioned it a moment before, which is why I thought of my bag.  All she could say when she saw it was to ask what it’s for.  I said for shopping.  Then she said “I’ve seen women using purses that size- they’re going to regret it when their backs hurt later in life!”  I mentally kicked myself at this point.  How could I be so stupid?!  I designed it & it turned out well- of course she would have something nasty to say & to distract from my project!  I don’t think she’s ever created a pattern, I’ve created several- it’s natural for her as a narcissist to trash what I’ve done.

This happens all too often, & also too often, I beat myself up for failing.  I write about narcissism- I should know better!  People want to read what my experiences are & how I handle things, & it’s embarrassing to admit how often I screw up.  People expect better out of me because of what I write about.  How can they look to me for answers when I make so many mistakes??

I realized a few things though, & I pray sharing them with you will help you to stop beating yourself up like it is helping me.

Learning about narcissism is a fantastic thing.  It really can help you to become aware of what is truly abusive behavior & even ways to avoid it.  The fact is though, that learning about it isn’t a cure all.  If you still have a relationship with your narcissistic mother, there still will be times she hurts you or manipulates or controls you.  Thankfully those times will be less, but they still will happen occasionally.  When they do, you need to NOT beat yourself up over it!

Dealing with a narcissist is never an easy thing.  They are masters of gaslighting.  They are also masters of reading people & abuse.  If they realize one abusive tactic isn’t working, they’ll simply pull another out of their bottomless bag of evil tricks.  There is no end to the evil things they can do.  How can you expect to handle them perfectly when many times, they surprise you with their outrageous & hurtful actions?  Besides, your narcissistic mother has had your entire life to train you to behave as she wants.  You’ve only known about NPD a comparatively short while.  How can your brief time of knowledge compete with a lifetime of training?

You are NOT perfect!  If you were, you wouldn’t need Jesus.  Accept the fact you are going to make mistakes sometimes, even where your mother is concerned.  It’s ok! If you’re having trouble with this, ask God to help you.  He will help you to stop being so hard on yourself.

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