Tag Archives: neglect

How Trauma Can Stunt Emotional Growth

Years ago, prior to learning about narcissism, I had a friend who counseled people at her church.  She told me how she believed many people were stuck emotionally at the age they were when they experienced deep trauma.  This makes a great deal of sense to me, especially knowing what I do now about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Looking at some of the narcissists I’ve known in my life, they were abused, neglected or both in their childhood, or faced something very traumatic such as a life threatening injury.  My father, for example, nearly died at only fifteen from a traumatic brain injury, thanks to some drunk driver hitting his car head on.  Although he was a mature adult in ways such as keeping a full time job, maintaining & repairing his own car & home, in some ways, his behavior was very immature.  He seemed to think he should have whatever he wanted, just because he wanted it.  That is entitlement but it’s also a very immature behavior.

My late mother in-law grew up in an extremely dysfunctional environment.  At 15, she got pregnant & married my father in-law.  By all accounts, their marriage was not a happy one for many years.  Her behavior was quite immature, & often reminded me of a teenager.   Like my father, she seemed to think she should have what she wanted simply because she wanted it.

Obviously, not everyone who has experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their childhood is like this.  However it seems to me that many narcissists are.  So many act very immature, & if you look at their lives, many also had some sort of trauma in their childhood.

I’m not telling you this to excuse the abusive behavior of narcissists, of course.  There is no valid excuse for abuse!  However, understanding them can help you a great deal.  It can help you not to be as hurt or angered by their abuse because you see it’s something wrong with them.  (This information is always a good reminder since they love gaslighting so much.)  It enables you to predict their behavior so you can protect yourself.  It also can help you to remember that basically, you’re dealing with a bratty child in an adult’s body & deal with them accordingly.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Toxic Shame Resulting From Narcissistic Abuse- There Is A Way Out!

As of yesterday, it’s been one month since I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & a concussion.  It’s been quite an interesting month, too.

My recovery is a slow one, but at least it is giving me a much needed break from life.  It’s also given me more time to think & pray.  

Shortly after returning home from the hospital, God showed me that I had a big problem with toxic shame, which stems from emotional neglect & criticisms in childhood.  (it’s why I felt I didn’t deserve any help from the ER staff, even though that is their job, & my husband shouldn’t help me recover- I should do it all on my own.  That’s pretty bad, especially considering the severity of my illnesses!)  I believe this is a very common problem for adult children of narcissistic parents, so I thought I would share a bit about this past month’s journey with you.

When God first revealed this to me, I was happy & sad.  Happy because I finally understood what was wrong, why I felt I deserved nothing.  Also sad because, well, let’s face it- this is pretty depressing realizing I was made to feel so poorly about myself.  I also had no idea how to cope with this problem, & had to ask God to show me.  He gave me some really good  ideas, which I shared in the post I originally wrote on this topic.  Please read that post at this link.  I’ve been trying to do the things I mentioned in that post. I also have been doing other things, such as paying more attention to my dreams, which have been revealing a great deal to me about how much I need to take care of myself.  (Almost nightly, I’m having dreams that show me that, so obviously God thinks it’s important!)

I also told God I want to change this problem- I want to be rid of this toxic shame once & for all, & I want to learn to take care of myself too instead of only everyone else.  Was that a powerful prayer!  He has been helping me tremendously!!

About a week after I got sick, I got an email from a jewelry company.  They had a lovely ring on sale that reminded me of one my paternal grandmother had when I was a kid.  This wasn’t a real diamond like hers, but it was still beautiful.  I felt that instead of thinking it’s pretty & ignoring it, I should ask hubby if we could get it.  That took a lot of guts for me- I hate asking him for anything, let alone something frivolous.  He said sure, go ahead & get  it.  When I got on the website to order it, I saw they had an identical ring with a much larger stone that I liked even more.  I ordered it, even though it cost a bit more.  For once, probably the first time in my life, I realized I deserved something special & felt no guilt about it.   Getting myself that prize was a big step towards shedding the “I don’t deserve…” mindset of toxic shame.  Now the company has failed to fulfill my order, but I’m not giving up- I will just get that ring from another company .  🙂

Also, I’ve had trouble with my recovery.  I need to relax, avoid any strenuous physical activity & stress until I am healthy again.  This means hubby gets to do the bulk of housework.  It’s been hard just laying around while he works, then comes home & does laundry & cleans.  Every time the guilt comes up, God reminds me to relax.  I need to recover- I’ve been poisoned by carbon monoxide & have a nasty head injury.  Anyone in that situation would need to relax & recover so stop beating myself up!  Besides, hubby has never really had to take care of anyone before, so this is good for him, having to prioritize another person’s needs.

Although I haven’t told my parents about my illnesses, I’ve spoken with them a few times during my recovery.  Instead of the usual feelings of guilt, hurt or anger when they play their head games, God has reminded that they have problems.  For example, my father recently said I should call if I need anything or just want to talk.  I felt guilty for not calling more often, like a bad daughter, but only for  a second.  Almost immediately, I realized he only wants more contact with me to receive his narcissistic supply, not to spend time with me.  The guilt was alleviated immediately.  I realized I’m not a bad daughter, but instead am someone who doesn’t wish to be used.  Life is too short to be someone’s narcissistic supply!

Something else interesting just happened that made me realize what progress I’m making. I just had a good, long cry.  You see, when some of my pets have died, God has comforted me by telling me shortly after their death that a certain song reminds my recently departed of me- the song then becomes our song.  Aerosmith’s 1988 hit “Angel” just came on. That’s my lovely snowshoe Siamese cat Jasmine’s & my song.  When I heard the song, I started to cry.  I miss Jasmine so badly, & maybe because I’m very sensitive due to my illnesses, the magnitude of missing her hit me very hard.  As the tears finally came to a stop, I realized something- I felt no shame for them!  As much as I love my animals, because my grief at losing them has been so severely invalidated repeatedly, I’ve often felt shame for crying because of them & did my best to ignore my pain.  Especially years later, when I “should be over it”, according to many people. Today was different.  It was the first time I can say I honestly felt no shame, & was able to cry without holding back.  It was actually a very good feeling.  Jasmine was a very brave, amazing & special cat. She survived 4 strokes before she passed away in 2011 & fought hard to come back from each one.  She deserved the love & respect of being grieved properly, yanno?

I’m sharing these things with you today in the hopes of encouraging you.  If you too suffer with toxic shame, God can help you to heal as He is helping me.  He is breaking the hold of toxic shame in my life & will do the same thing for you!  Living with toxic shame is no way to live!  You deserve so much better than that, as do I.  God wants us to be happy & healthy- two things no one living with toxic shame can be.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Emotional Neglect & Critical Words

Lately, I’ve been reading some about emotional neglect & criticism, & their detrimental effects, especially on children.  They can cause anxiety & toxic shame, both of which are absolutely horrible to live with.

I’ve been seeing lately how much anxiety & shame I carry, & as I mentioned in this post, now I understand why I have them.  When a parent doesn’t care about their child’s feelings, acts as if the child is a bother &/or is overly critical, seeds get sown in the child.  The child becomes fearful.  She learns early that people will hurt her with their words or actions (or both), & no one will protect her, not even her parents.  She also internalizes the fact no one cares enough to protect her, & becomes deeply ashamed of who she is. After all, if her own parents don’t love her enough to care about & for her, she must be deeply flawed, unlovable, a terrible person.  Or so she believes.

These dysfunctional beliefs carry into adulthood.  It means she settles for dysfunctional or abusive relationships (friendships or romantic relationships), lives with extreme anxiety especially when dealing with other people, has a hard time asking for assistance, & doesn’t believe she is worthy.  Worthy of what?  Pretty much anything!  Anything from setting healthy boundaries to taking care of her health to getting new clothes because her old ones are worn out & more.

It is a miserable way to live, & no one should have to live like this!  If you recognize yourself in this post, then please read my other post I mentioned above.  In it, I offer some ways I think can help you overcome toxic shame.  As it diminishes, the anxiety should follow.  It has for me.

I’m praying for you, Dear Reader.  May God bless you, & help you to overcome the pain of toxic shame & anxiety!  xoxo

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

Father’s Day, 2014

Good morning, Dear Readers!

Father’s Day is upon us today.  To all of the great dads reading this, the dads who love, support, encourage & protect their children, I wish you a very happy day!

To those of you who are reading this & have been dreading this day, please know that I understand.

It is so hard to want to celebrate someone who has abused you or, possibly even worse, failed to protect you from being abused.  So many daughters of narcissistic mothers were not only only the victim of their mother, but their father as well.  Maybe your father didn’t belittle, criticize or hit you as your mother did, but by failing to protect you, or even turning her rage on you instead of him to protect himself, he is just as guilty of abuse.  In fact, most men married to narcissistic wives are covert narcissists. Things like this make it very hard to want to bless him on Father’s Day.

I just want you to know, Dear Reader, that I truly understand your pain & frustration.  I hope today that you will take good care of yourself, & only do for your father what you are able to do comfortably.  Remember- if you do not feel able to do much for your father today, there is a very good reason for that.  He is reaping what he has sown.   How could anyone want to bless a neglectful or abusive parent?  That is like planting apple seeds & expecting corn to grow.  It’s not going to happen. 

If you dread Father’s Day, or are feeling bad because you are incapable of fawning over your father today, know you are not alone!  And, think about the kind of father he has been.  I think you’ll realize there are very valid reasons you feel as you do!  ❤

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your Heavenly Father for all He does for you. He loves you so much, & does so much for you- why not take a few moments to thank Him & tell Him how much you love Him?

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism