Tag Archives: parents
One thing that every adult victim of narcissistic parents I have spoken with has struggled with is forgiving their parents.
So many people, particularly Christians, think that these victims need to forgive & forget. They often quote Ephesians 4:26 which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” When victims struggle with forgiving & forgetting, they are shamed & even shunned by the very people who should support them, creating even more pain, guilt & shame in the victim.
I want to give you a new perspective on forgiveness that I think can help you today.
If you look at the definition of forgive, nowhere does it say you don’t feel anger. According to Merriam-Webster.com, to forgive means:
1 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : PARDON; forgive one’s enemies
2a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; forgive an insult
b : to grant relief from payment of; forgive a debt
It’s possible to forgive someone while still feeling anger for them. What I mean is when you forgive someone, you decide that they don’t owe you an apology or repentance. You won’t try to collect that “debt” from them. You have released that person from paying you the debt that they owe you. This is what I try to do any time someone mistreats me- give up expectations of an apology immediately. That way, I have forgiven that person, as God wants me to do. Yet, even forgiving quickly doesn’t mean I may not still feel some anger for that person for a while. See what I mean? You can forgive while still feeling anger.
I also firmly believe that releasing the anger you feel can be a process. If the waitress makes a mistake on your order or a clerk is rude, those minor incidents are easy to forgive. Big issues though, it takes time to work through the anger. Processing anger from years of abuse takes a lot of time & work, especially if you learned early in life to ignore your anger which is the case with most children of narcissistic parents.
There is also the fact many people think to forgive your abusive parents is a one time thing. You just forgive everything in one fell swoop & *poof* you’re not angry & you never will be angry again with them. As anyone who has tried to forgive their narcissistic parents knows, that isn’t how it works. You have to work through many different traumas individually, not lump them all together as one big trauma.
I honestly can say I have forgiven my narcissistic parents. However, there are still some times I feel anger at them.
When a repressed memory comes back to mind, I feel anger at my parents about the incident. When I have flashbacks, nightmares, the anxiety & depression get bad, I also feel anger. It’s their fault I have C-PTSD, after all. Plus, when I told my father about having it, he ignored me then changed the subject. Sometimes I also feel anger when others talk about what a great relationship they have with their parents. I wanted that with mine, but wasn’t able to have it, because their narcissism was more important to them than me.
Do you think this means I haven’t forgiven my parents? If so, I’d have to respectfully disagree. I have released my parents from any responsibility to apologize or make amends with me, which is the definition of forgiving.
Yes, there are times I still feel anger at them, as I admitted, & I think it’s very normal. I also work through the anger & release it quickly. That is the best I can do, & I know God honors that I am trying. That’s all He asks of us, to try our best.
If someone tells you you’re wrong for not forgiving your narcissistic parents, Dear Reader, please remember what I said in this post. If you don’t expect your parents to apologize or repay you for the trauma they inflicted on you, you already have forgiven them. The more you heal, the less anger you’ll feel towards them. It just takes some time.
Most people assume there is only one type of grief, the grief that happens when someone you love dies, but there are other types as well.
People also can grieve when they move, get a divorce or lose a job. There is also something known as anticipatory grief, which happens when you know someone is dying. This is especially common in families where someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s due to how this terrible disease destroys a person’s personality before it destroys their body.
Unconventional grief is different. It is grief that is triggered by unique circumstances. I experienced it when learning about the many new limitations because of how damaged my brain was after surviving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It also can happen when someone is diagnosed with mental illness or when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Unconventional grief also can happen as a result of trauma & abuse.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or two, & you finally learn about narcissism, although it is a great thing, it can trigger grief. Suddenly you realize that you aren’t the problem, which is certainly good news of course, but realizing what your parent was is difficult & painful to accept. It hurts that the one person who was supposed to love you unconditionally didn’t, & lacks the ability to do so. You also realize how much your parent took from you, such as your childhood & self-esteem. And, it suddenly hits you that there is no hope for your relationship. Prior to learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, most people have some hope that one day their parent will realize what she did, apologize & change for the better. Learning about NPD squelches that hope completely. That is a tough pill to swallow!
Facing these ugly truths absolutely can cause a person to grieve, & it’s extremely painful. It’s also difficult to understand because of the limited view of grief that most people have. How can you grieve when the person in question is still alive?! Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do actually.
When my father died in October, 2017, I didn’t cry. I cry easily especially when losing someone I love, but I didn’t cry. I barely have felt sad at all since he’s been gone. No doubt any of my family that may be reading this thinks it’s because I’m a cold, evil person, but that isn’t the case. It’s because I grieved him enough when he was alive that his death didn’t have a very profound effect on me. And you know something? Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with have said that they felt the same exact thing when their parent died.
Unconventional grief can be incredibly difficult, but you can get through it.
Pray & pray often. You will need the wisdom, guidance & comfort of God to get through this.
Don’t judge your emotions. Accept them. Examine them without judgement or criticism. Feel them. Pray, talk or write about them to cope with them.
Anger is an especially common part of this sort of grief. If you feel a lot of anger, it’s normal! I know, you probably grew up like most of us with narcissistic parents did, believing you aren’t allowed to be angry. Stop that now! Why are you angry? Face it head on & deal with your feelings. The pain will lose its power over you if you face it.
You also may start to remember only the good times. They are good to remember, but don’t forget the bad as well. Embrace the good & heal from the bad.
Write in a journal. Writing is very cathartic, plus it will help you to have documentation. You may even decide that you enjoy writing, & opt to start a blog or write a book.
Find online support groups & websites. Learning that others are experiencing similar things to you is very helpful.
Don’t expect this grief to end entirely. It will get better, but it may never end entirely. It’s like losing a loved one- you grieve most right after the person died, but even many years later, the pain is still there, just not as intense as it was at first.
If you’re experiencing unconventional grief, Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone. You can survive this! It will take hard work & won’t be easy, but you can do it!
When the adult child of a narcissist decides to go low or no contact with the abusive parents, people are often surprised. Narcissistic parents do their best to create an image of a happy, functional family to outsiders, & many people believe this false image to be real. They don’t realize how much serious thought & prayer went into the adult child’s decision. Those people are shocked by the low or no contact decision. They say things like,
- “You were always such a good child!” (children of narcissistic parents are often incredibly obedient in order to please their parent or avoid abuse)
- “You never said anything was wrong.” (abused children rarely do- abuse is normal, & they don’t often realize it’s wrong. Or, if they do know, to survive, they know they must keep the abuse a secret)
- “Your mother/father never said one bad thing about you!” (abusers don’t show their abusive side to everyone- they hide it from those whose opinions they value. Besides, if the abusive parent appears good to everyone, & the child claims this parent is abusive, people are more likely to believe the parent than the child if the child speaks out)
Other people react with guilt, urging the victim to continue the abusive relationship. Often, these people came from abusive backgrounds themselves, & are in denial about it. You facing the truth makes them feel bad for not doing the same, so often, people like this try to bring you down to their level. They say things like,
- “They did the best they could!” (So? Even on the highly unlikely chance the abuser didn’t realize they were being abusive, that doesn’t make the abuse less damaging)
- “Your parents won’t be around forever!” (True, but neither will anyone. It’s entirely possible their child could die first, so why not tell the abusers this fact? And, the Bible says you reap what you sow in Galatians 6:7-8. People can’t abuse someone & expect that someone to tolerate it indefinitely. Everyone has their limits)
- “Your parents gave you everything!” (providing food, clothing & shelter is the job of parents. They may have done these things, maybe even spoiled their child with “stuff”, but that doesn’t make them parents of the year. It also doesn’t mean their child owes them for doing what a parent should do for their child.)
- Some people refuse to discuss the topic with the victim because they have chosen the side of the parent. They often make their displeasure with the victim obvious in snide comments or disdainful looks rather than using their words.
These things can hurt a victim by further invalidating or not believing their pain. These types of responses also send the victim the message that she isn’t important, only the narcissistic parent is.
Dear Reader, if this is your situation, I’m sure you’re hurting. I’ve heard similar comments & know first hand how painful they are. Know you aren’t alone! There are so many of us who understand! This may be a good time to reach out to other survivors of narcissistic abuse. There are online support forums (I have one on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FansOfCynthiaBaileyRug/ ). There are also so many informative websites & blogs available.
When faced with these conversations, it’s best for you to simply walk away. People who blindly defend a narcissist most likely never going to see the light about what she is really like. Defending yourself will only lead to frustration for you. Tell the person you don’t want to discuss the matter, & change the subject. If the person continues to force their opinion on you, walk away.
Know that you don’t have to tolerate any abuse from anyone. Invalidating & dismissing a victim’s pain is abuse! You have every right to protect yourself from it! You don’t need people who treat you this way in your life, & are well within your rights to cut them out of your life if you feel it’s the right thing to do.
My maternal grandmother was a narcissist. She neglected & abused my mother until she died. However, my grandmother didn’t limit her abuse to only my mother. She continued it with the next generation.
This scenario is very typical. I’m sure it happens with male narcissists too, but it seems to be more common with female ones, so we will discuss female narcissists in this post.
Rather than narcissistic mothers becoming loving grandmothers, they simply become narcissistic grandmothers. Sadly, many children of narcissistic mothers think the abuse they endured won’t happen to their children, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Many people say that narcissists never change, but I disagree. The methods they use to abuse change & they often get even more vicious with their manipulation & criticisms. If they have grandchildren, they are simply new targets for their abuse rather than happy additions to the family.
Narcissistic grandmothers have zero trouble criticizing their children to their grandchildren. This not only can affect how your child sees you, but it also can affect your relationship with your child negatively & hurt your child. When I was quite young, my grandmother would tell me how lazy my mother was as a child & what a terrible person she was. It really hurt to hear her say those things, but she wouldn’t stop.
Not only will narcissistic grandmothers criticize their children to their grandchildren, but they also will criticize their children in front of their grandchildren. This hurts both the parent & child, & teaches the child that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat Mom &/or Dad like dirt. After all, Grannie Dearest does it, so it must be ok.
Since narcissists believe they always know best & boundaries aren’t for them, a narcissistic mother will run roughshod over her child’s rules with her grandchildren. If you don’t want your child to have a cookie nearer than an hour before dinner, you can guarantee that Grannie Dearest will give your child 18 cookies 10 minutes before dinner if she has the chance! As if this isn’t frustrating enough in & of itself to have your own mother break your rules, this also teaches your child that it’s ok to disobey Mom & her rules mean nothing.
Much of the dysfunction you grew up with at the hand of your narcissistic mother will continue with your children. If you had siblings, & all of you have children, your children will be treated much like you & your siblings were growing up. There will be a golden child & a scapegoat, & whichever you were, you can count on your child being in that role. In my mother’s family, her sister was the golden child & she was the scapegoat. While my grandmother was abusive to all of her grandchildren to some degree, I believe she saved the worst of her abuse for me.
If you have children & a narcissistic grandmother, it is your job as their parent to protect the children. Obviously, you don’t want her hurting your children like she’s hurt you! I believe the best place to start protecting them is to pray. Ask God for wisdom on how to handle the situation & how to best protect your children.
Also limit your children’s contact with your narcissistic mother as well as yours. The less contact anyone has with a narcissist, the better. Limited contact may evolve into no contact at some point. The less time spent around a narcissist, the clearer your thinking becomes concerning that person. You may realize no contact is best for you & your children when you hadn’t considered it an option before.
Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything & you won’t get mad. Help them to feel safe knowing that if Grannie Dearest says or does something that upsets them, they can tell you about it, you won’t be upset with them, & you will handle the situation.
Do not leave your children alone with their narcissistic grandmother. Make sure that you or your spouse or both of you are with them at all times in her presence. Not only will this help your children feel safer, chances are good that your narcissistic mother will behave better. Narcissists don’t like witnesses to their abuse, after all.
If you’re in this situation, I believe these tips can help you & your children. I wish you the absolute best! xoxo
Have you ever wondered why people so incredibly self centered as narcissists have children? I have. God showed me a couple of reasons why my parents had me, but I’ve also wondered about narcissists in general, not only my parents, have kids. I think I have figured out some of their “logic”, if you can call it that.
The narcissist who was abused or neglected as a child often has a root of shame, I believe, which is why they work so hard to convince people they are so wonderful, amazing, etc. They’re also trying to convince themselves that they are so wonderful, amazing, etc. By becoming a parent, this proves to themselves & everyone else that someone found them desirable. Someone took this big step with them, so they must be pretty fantastic, right?!
If the narcissist grew up feeling or being told she was abnormal somehow, having a child can be a way to prove to the world that she is normal. Having children is a perfectly normal step for many people, so if she can have a child, it proves to her & other people that she must be normal.
Children are also made to make their narcissistic parent look good, & we know all narcissists are obsessed with appearances. If the narcissistic parent can mold their child into whatever she wants the child to be, that parent can then take credit for the child’s talents, successes, good looks or anything. And, if this child is perfect, he or she will prove to the narcissistic parent that her abusive parents were wrong about her, that she really isn’t bad or unlovable as her parents told her she was.
This “perfect” child also can gain the narcissistic parent attention for being such a wonderful parent as to raise this perfect little human being. People notice exceptional children, so as long as this child is perfect, the narcissistic parent will lap up all of the praise & admiration she receives for her amazing parenting skills. What the narcissistic parent fails to realize is that no child is perfect, & expecting the child to be is putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the child. Trying to meet impossibly high standards creates a great amount of anxiety in anyone, but especially a child who just wants his or her parent’s love.
Often, if two narcissists have children together, one will take the main role in raising the child. That parent gets to enjoy being in control in this capacity as well as looking self-sacrificing & martyr like by doing everything all by herself with virtually no help from the other parent.
Because children need their parents, this also feeds the narcissistic parent’s narcissism. They rely on their child’s dependency because it makes them feel valuable & good to be needed. They don’t take into consideration that at some point, that child is going to grow up & move on. It’s as if that thought isn’t even a possibility to the narcissistic parent, so when that happens, they feel betrayed by their child. How dare that child do something normal by growing up! Doesn’t the child know that their role is to stay a child as long as the parent wants?!
Some parents also have children because they foolishly believe that will repair their relationship or force the partner to stay with them so they can raise the child together. They mistakenly believe that if they have a child together, their partner will start treating them right or love them more, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Along those lines, the narcissist who was abused as a child may think that having a baby will fix her relationship with her abusive parents. She may think no grandparent couldn’t love their grandchild, so if she gives her parents a grandchild, she finally may have her parents’ love.
There are countless reasons people want to start a family, but when it comes to narcissists, you can be sure all of their reasons will be unhealthy. They will be entirely self-serving to the narcissist, & the child will suffer because of it.
I recently read an article about Father’s Day. In it, the author gave valid reasons why we should honor our fathers. It was a very good article, but one thing about it bothered me- the author didn’t mention how exactly to honor our fathers. I thought I would discuss it here. Actually, I’ll refer to honoring parents, not only fathers.
When you have good & loving parents, you don’t have to have strict boundaries. Your parents respect them naturally, so boundaries aren’t a concern. However, with narcissistic parents, you have to have & enforce very strict boundaries. This is very honorable, because these boundaries encourage your parent to behave in a healthier manner.
When Mother’s Day or Father’s Day comes around, if you have good parents, you can be a blessing to them, enjoy yourself & have zero fear of repercussions. You can spend time with them, give them nice cards & gifts. Narcissistic parents? No. Doing those things for your narcissistic parents basically tells them their abuse is OK. You’ll show them love no matter how awfully they treat you. This is why it’s important to give more minimal gifts & rather neutral cards- you are recognizing them as your parents but at the same time, you’re not praising them for their great parenting skills. You never want to reward bad behavior!
Even going no contact can be very honorable when it comes to abusive parents. While many people think that no contact is dishonorable, it really isn’t. By severing ties, you are removing the opportunity for an abusive person to abuse you & commit sinful acts. You are also encouraging that person to change their behavior for the better, because you won’t have them in your life if they are abusive. You’re also removing the temptation from yourself of going off on the abuser.
Dear Reader, there is never, EVER anything honorable about tolerating abuse, & that includes tolerating it from parents. If you still have doubts, read this…
Psalm 101:5 (AMP)
“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will silence;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud (arrogant) heart I will not tolerate.”
This verse tells me that God has no patience for narcissism. Since as His children we are called to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4), then we should have no patience for narcissism either, no matter who that narcissist is! If people disapprove of your refusal to tolerate your narcissistic parent’s abuse, well, that is their problem. Your job is to live a life that pleases God, not man…
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (KJV)
Some very naive people think that being a Christian means some pretty awful things. One of those awful things is that as a Christian, you are to tolerate any & all abuse because calling people out on it is “un-Christian” or unloving. These ingenuous people actually think that removing yourself from an abuser’s life isn’t Godly behavior, especially if that abuser is a parent. It’s much better to allow that person to abuse you indefinitely! After all, the Bible says you should honor your parents, & it’s honorable to tolerate anything they dish out!
I am certainly not claiming to have all the answers to all things Christian. I am well aware that I don’t. But, I have been a Christian for 22 years now & have learned a few things.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you are better than other people or that you’re perfect. Far from it. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And, just because we have Him in our lives & hearts doesn’t mean we’re perfect. No matter how perfect an artist may be, if the canvas is flawed, even the greatest artist can’t paint a perfect picture on a flawed canvas.
Another important thing I have learned is that being a Christian also means we need to love God’s way, which is very different from loving people’s way. God’s love wants what is best, not what is easiest. Confronting abusers is best because it encourages them to make appropriate changes in their behavior. Granted with narcissists, the chances of them making positive changes is very slim. However, it is not your place to force them to change. It is your place to encourage them to change, which is much different than forcing someone to change.
But it’s certainly NOT easy! Tolerating bad behavior & even abuse is much easier than standing up to someone about their behavior. As painful as tolerating abuse is, at least you won’t lose your friends & family so long as you tolerate it. Once you stand up to an abuser, chances are excellent that you will lose people you love. They will call you unreasonable, unloving, cruel, abusive, a bad son/daughter/friend/etc. & yes, even attack your faith by saying you aren’t a real Christian or are a bad one. People who stand up to abusers find out quickly who really loves them & who doesn’t.
I believe many people, Christian or not, have misinterpreted the Bible when it comes to love. Yes, love is patient & kind & other wonderful things. However, love also must be tough sometimes. God proves that! He doesn’t let His people get away with any old kind of behavior. He lets us suffer consequences of bad actions or be blessed with good actions. As His children, we are supposed to behave like God- Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (KJV)
Dear Reader, if your faith has been judged & criticized because you have removed an abuser from your life, you are most certainly not alone. Many people have been, including me. When this happens, I try to remember Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (AMP) As painful as it is when people side with your abuser over you, & even shame you for no longer tolerating abuse, it can bring comfort when you remember God is all too aware of what is being said to & about you. He will reward you one day! Those who said such cruel things however?? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes…
2 Thessalonians 1:8 “dealing out [full and complete] vengeance to those who do not [seek to] know God and to those who ignore and refuse to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [by choosing not to respond to Him].” (AMP)
Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (AMP)
One especially devious, creative ways narcissists abuse their victims is cementing facts in their brains. What I mean is, a narcissist can imply something once, then reinforce what they said by their actions instead of words. The result is you feel a certain way, & if you say anything to the narcissist, they will say they don’t know what you’re talking about or deny that they ever said anything in the first place.
As one example from my life, I have a terrible time admitting when I don’t feel well, taking time to recover or asking for help. I feel like I need to be OK at all times so I don’t upset anyone or burden anyone by asking them for help. I even question myself, wondering if I really have whatever problem I am dealing with at the time, even when my symptoms are glaringly obvious.
Do you have some false belief cemented in your mind too? If so, you’re not alone! This sort of thing happens all the time to children of narcissistic parents. There are some ways to cope.
As always, I recommend praying as the first step. Ask God for wisdom, to help you heal & anything else you can think of.
When it comes to healing, I firmly believe in getting to the root of the problem. It’s the most effective way to resolve the problem permanently. To do this, try to remember the earliest time in your life when you felt a certain way, & then deal with it from there. To explain it, I’ll tell you what I did.
When considering how hard a time I’ve had admitting I have health problems, I thought back over my life, present to past, during times I was sick or injured. I remembered many, many times when my mother didn’t believe I had a health problem unless it was something very obvious, like a bad case of the flu. As a child, she complained when she had to take care of me when I was sick. When I was only 5 years old, my mother woke me up one morning by tickling me. In trying to get away from her, I slipped & hit my head on the big wooden headboard. Long story short, the result was a trip to the ER & several stitches in my scalp. Afterward, my mother took me to the mall & bought me a coloring book & crayons, something she complained about buying for years. During the experience, my mother didn’t comfort me. She was upset & I felt completely responsible for that.
These experiences taught me that I shouldn’t burden anyone with my health concerns, I should be “ok” at all times so as not to upset anyone & my problems aren’t important.
To undo this warped thinking, I found it very helpful to look at things very logically, ignoring feelings for the moment. Here are some things I came up with:
- Why did my mother take me to the mall after a trip to the hospital?! I had a head injury! I should’ve been home, resting quietly. She could’ve called my father & asked him to pick up the coloring book & crayons on his way home from work, or asked a friend or neighbor to do it.
- My mother should never have complained to me about how hard that incident was for her or having to take care of me when I was sick. That is what parents do. It’s a part of the job.
- Why has my mother not believed me or blamed me about health issues as an adult? Since narcissists love projection, it makes me think it’s because she has either exaggerated or even faked her own health problems & thinks other people do the same
I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% ok now. I can say though, that since thinking about these things, I’ve already gotten better at admitting when I don’t feel well. I haven’t needed to ask anyone for help yet, but I am certain that will be easier too. It seems to me that when you face things, they lose much of their power over you. When you examine them & realize how wrong they were, they lose even more power.
What false beliefs are cemented in your mind? I would like to encourage you today to face them. No, it isn’t easy, but it is possible. The things I mentioned earlier did hurt me when I first thought about them, & made me angry. However, I’m still glad I did because that enabled me to remove the false beliefs I’ve carried around my entire life & replace them with healthier beliefs. I firmly believe the same thing can happen to you!
Being raised by a narcissistic parent or two causes a person to act differently than people raised by healthy, functional parents. Aside from the most obvious common problem, C-PTSD, being raised by narcissists creates certain unique behaviors that almost every victim exhibits. This post addresses those behaviors.
Being afraid to say no. Narcissists don’t allow their children to have boundaries. “No” can be met with abuse- name calling, scathing criticisms, guilt trips & even physical violence. Children use “yes” as a survival skill as a result. They learn early in life that it’s easier to do whatever their narcissistic parent wants than to say “no” & face the consequences. This behavior becomes such a habit that it is often carried into adulthood. While it served a good purpose as a child, it no longer does as an adult. Being a healthy adult means having healthy boundaries. You need to start asking yourself why are you saying yes? Are you saying yes because you want to or because you’re afraid of disappointing someone if you say no? Start saying no when you’re saying yes when you don’t want to. Some people won’t like it, but one thing to keep in mind- healthy, good, caring people respect boundaries. Users & abusers don’t. If someone gets upset with you for having a healthy boundary, that isn’t the kind of person you need in your life.
Apologizing too much. Narcissistic parents blame their children for every single thing, so their children learn to apologize for everything, whether or not it’s their fault. This dysfunctional survival skill also carries into adulthood, & needs to stop. When you feel the urge to apologize, pray. Ask God is this truly your fault? Should you apologize or are you only doing so out of habit?
Being unable to express emotions in a healthy way. Narcissists can’t handle the emotions of other people, including their children. They force their children to stifle their emotions, often by shaming them for having them. This tells children their emotions are bad. To cope, may continue to repress their emotions while others express them in inappropriate ways such as getting angrier than is appropriate for the situation. It can be hard, I know, but you need to learn to get in touch with your emotions & give them a healthy outlet. Ask God to help you to do this, because it will get scary, especially showing anger after a lifetime of stifling it. Journaling can be helpful, too- seeing things in writing brings clarity.
Not trusting your intuition & perception. Constant gaslighting is possibly the most cruel form of abuse there is, & also a favorite of narcissists. Gaslighting makes a person second guess everything about themselves- their instincts, perception, feelings, thoughts- because it makes a victim feel that they are wrong about everything or even crazy. The fact is though that you aren’t wrong or crazy- you are FINE! The gaslighting made you doubt these things but it doesn’t mean that they are actually wrong or flawed somehow. Your instincts, perceptions, feelings & thoughts are just fine. They are trustworthy! Ask God to help you to learn to trust yourself. Pay attention, too. You’ll see that the more you you’re right about little things, the more you learn to trust yourself.
Over explaining yourself. Narcissistic parents demand their children behave in certain ways that are acceptable to them, no matter how their child feels about it. When the child fails to meet the impossibly high expectations, the parent demands an explanation for the failure. One more dysfunctional survival skill children of narcissists learn is to explain anything & everything, & again, this often continues into adulthood. It feels strange at first to stop over explaining yourself, but if you stick with it, it gets more comfortable as time goes on. Always remember, not everyone needs an explanation for what you do.
These behaviors, although dysfunctional, don’t have to be permanent. With prayer & work, you can make healthy changes.
As anyone with experience with narcissists knows, you can’t avoid them entirely. Try as you might, they are everywhere. Because this is a sad fact of life, everyone needs to have some effective weapons in their arsenal.
Below is a list of things that can help stop narcissists in their tracks. While I always recommend prayer as the best place to start, these are some useful tactics I have found that can be helpful as well.
- Show no emotions when in the presence of a narcissist. Narcissists feed off the emotions of their victims. If you act happy, they will do their best to make you unhappy. If you’re sad, they’ll try to make you sadder. Angry? They will push your buttons to attempt to make you even angrier. In the presence of a narcissist, show NO emotions. You aren’t happy, sad, angry or anything. You simply are. This gives them nothing to work with.
- Ask the narcissist, “How does that make sense?” It is best to ask this question logically, minus any signs of emotion aside from confusion. Narcissists are highly illogical beings, so when you ask them to explain their actions, it can stop them in their tracks. It also can cause a narcissistic injury, but not one they usually react to with narcissistic rage. They know if they do, they’ll end up looking ridiculous, & that fact stops them in their tracks.
- “No.” Simply, no. No explanation, no excuses. If they continue to try to pressure you for more information, simply continue saying no. Narcissists don’t know what to do with this, especially when you refuse to explain your no. They may try to intimidate you with their anger or make you feel guilty for your no, but if you stay dedicated to your no while showing no emotions, they will give up fairly quickly.
- Make eye contact. People who have nothing to hide or are honest have no problems making eye contact. Narcissists have plenty to hide & are very dishonest. Eye contact will freak them out. They don’t know what to do with a person who meets their gaze.
- Let them know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Narcissists expect the world to center on them. If you let them know this isn’t the case where you are concerned, it will fluster them. To do this, you can refuse to do something for or with them because you have other plans at that time. “I can’t.. I have plans that day” without any explanation is a perfectly acceptable response. “Oh” when they cry to you about how mean someone was to them also works.
- Let them know they don’t scare you. Overt narcissists in particular love to intimidate their victims. Intimidation means a victim will do whatever you want, & overt narcissists rely on that fact. But think about it- what can this person do to you? Chances are, not much. If that person belittles or criticizes you, remember that narcissists project their flaws onto their victims & do their best to tear a person down. That doesn’t mean what they say is true! If you remember that & show no fear or even act a bit bored, you aren’t showing fear.
- Let them know their guilt trips don’t work on you. If the narcissist is a covert narcissist, rather than try to intimidate you, chances are very good they will use guilt. Guilt can be difficult to fight. Instead of accepting their guilt trips, ask yourself if what they say makes sense. Should you feel guilty for what they say you should? Was that truly your responsibility?
- Show your self-confidence. I adopted a chow chow mix dog in 2002 for my husband for his birthday. What I didn’t know about Bear at that time was that chows are known for having a very dominant nature. Combine that with the fact he obviously had been abused, & it was a recipe for disaster. It took a lot of work to turn him into the wonderful, loving, kind dog he turned into. The main thing that helped was to let Bear know he was NOT in charge. Dominant dogs need a very strong leader or they will take over, & Bear was no exception. Narcissists are much the same way. If you show any sign of weakness, narcissists will take over. If you refuse to believe the awful criticisms they say or be manipulated, & make your feelings know, narcissists will back down. Bullies are at their heart cowards, & since narcissists are usually bullies, this applies to them as well.
Nothing is guaranteed to stop any narcissist from abusing you for good, but using these comments can stop them at least temporarily. They may even stop the narcissist for good on specific topics. I wish you the best with the narcissists you face, & hope these tactics help you!
I admit it.. I have another big pet peeve: people who label those of us without children as selfish. After seeing a post on Facebook a little while ago that labeled someone else without children as selfish, I thought I would write a blog post about it.
Many people quickly judge people without children. I’ve been called selfish, immature, told “the reason you don’t want kids is because of your mother” & also told I’d regret not having children one day. None of that is even close to the truth, as is so often the case with those without children.
Some things to consider before judging are…
- Maybe a person doesn’t have children because either she or her mate are infertile. Infertility is an extremely painful thing for couples to experience. It’s especially cruel to judge & criticize these people for not having children! You’re plunging a knife into their hearts when you do that!
- Some people don’t have children because they grew up in a dysfunctional environment & realize they don’t know how to be good parents. If you grew up in an abusive or at least dysfunctional home, it’s hard to know how to be a good parent! How is it selfish for someone who doesn’t know what it takes to be a good parent not to have children?
- Some people always have felt more comfortable in the company of adults. That is also me. I preferred the company of adults, even as a child. There are a surprising number of people like me.
- Not everyone can relate to children. Some people who may not have spent a lot of time around children when they were growing up or were the youngest in their families may not be able to relate well to children due to not a great deal of experience around them.
- Not wanting children doesn’t mean a person hates them. A common belief for those of us without children is that we hate kids. Sadly, some folks do feel that way. That isn’t always the case though. Personally, I don’t hate kids. I just can’t understand them well. Big difference between that & hating kids.
- And, people who don’t want kids aren’t selfish! We have given this serious consideration before coming to the decision not to have kids. Another common misconception of childless folks is we’re just selfish jerks. Nope. We have given the topic of children a LOT of thought! I even tried talking myself into wanting kids several times in my life, but it never felt right even as I said I wanted kids or dated men who wanted them.
If you speak with someone who doesn’t have children, please consider the things I’ve said & don’t judge or criticize them. Everyone has different callings on their life. Not every person feels called to be a parent.
There is a lot of information out there about going no contact, but not a lot of it is good, in depth information. It isn’t always helpful for those who are seriously considering going no contact with their narcissistic parent. The purpose of this post is to provide a deeper look at things to consider when going no contact.
No contact is a very serious decision, & never should be entered into lightly. Never, ever initiate it unless you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s the right thing for you to do. Never initiate it during the heat of the moment such as during an argument. Only initiate it after a great deal of serious prayer & consideration.
No contact also is a permanent decision. If you resume contact with a narcissist, chances are excellent that this person’s behavior will be a LOT worse than it was before you started no contact. If you let that person suck you back into a relationship or if you are the one who initiates contact again is not important. The important thing is you’re back. The narcissist will start out behaving with you to test the waters, but that won’t last long. They see you as being weak with weak boundaries (easy prey in other words), since you allowed this relationship to be reconciled. Also, since you set that boundary of no contact, you must be punished for that as well. This is why no contact must be a permanent decision! Once ties are severed, accept no communication from the narcissist at all. Block all emails, phone numbers, social media accounts.. any access that person can use to contact you. If they find ways around it, block that access too. You may need to change your email address, phone number or name on your social media accounts.
No contact isn’t easy. You lose people you never expected to lose from your life, even family members. That is incredibly painful, but it’s very common. It seems to me that the majority of people would rather side blindly with the narcissist than stand up for what’s right. Maybe they’re afraid of facing the narcissist’s wrath if they side with you. Maybe they think it’s easier to get you to change than the narcissist & they’re just looking for an easy way out of this situation. Or, maybe they’d rather think of you as bad, wrong, crazy, etc. than admit to themselves that you were abused & they didn’t protect or help you. Whatever their “logic”, it’s still going to hurt you a LOT when they abandon you in favor of your abuser. On the good side though, you do find out who your real friends are. Those who stand by your side even if they don’t understand the situation are your real friends. Those who don’t judge you or tell you that you need to “forgive & forget” are your real friends. Those who refuse to give your abuser the time of day are also your real friends.
Your emotions are going to go haywire for a while. I believe this is because your mind is finally free from constantly having to think about the narcissist. They seem to take up all the room in any relationship, leaving no room for you or even for you to think about things other than them. You are to find ways to appease & please them, avoid their wrath, anticipate all of their needs & wants, prop up their ego at all times & more. Then, once you realize how messed up all of this is, you need to find ways to stop providing them with narcissistic supply, battle their gaslighting so you can keep your sanity & avoid them as much as possible. Any relationship with a narcissist is a LOT of work! Once that is done, it’s like your brain finally realizes it’s free of that, & decides now is the time to start dealing with that stuff it couldn’t deal with when in the relationship with the narcissist. All kinds of memories come to the surface & with them, a ton of emotions. Even when memories aren’t popping up, your emotions can go haywire because finally you can feel instead of only focusing on the narcissist.
If anyone tells you that no contact is taking the easy way out, don’t listen to them. No contact is usually the necessary step to take, but that doesn’t make anything about it easy!
For many people, the holiday season is a glorious time of year. The time to enjoy friends, family & celebrations. For others like me who have survived demanding, controlling, entitled or even narcissistic parents &/or in-laws however, the mere thought of the holidays brings about a feeling of dread.
My first & current mothers in-law both always demanded my husband’s & my presence every Thanksgiving & Christmas, no matter what. Divorcing my ex & cutting my current in-laws out of my life in 2002 naturally ended their demands for me at least but the damage was done. The enjoyment I once felt for the holidays was gone. Years of spending holidays with people who obviously hated me or alone while my husband spent the day with his family destroyed all pleasure I’d once had in holidays.
I know that my story isn’t all that unusual. So many others have been through very similar situations that I thought sharing some thoughts I’ve had on this topic might help you, Dear Reader.
When you develop this holiday bitterness, people aren’t always understanding. Most people seem to want everyone to look forward to holidays with enthusiasm & joy, & if you don’t, they can be shaming. Many others I know & I have been scolded for not trying to enjoy holidays, told they need to just focus on the joy of the day, everyone loves holidays, etc etc. What these people fail to realize is this holiday bitterness didn’t happen over night. We have tried to enjoy the holidays repeatedly, but demanding people ruined it by commanding us to do what they want us to do & treating us badly when we didn’t do it (well, often worse than usual since bad treatment is the norm with narcissists). It came about when in-laws demand we ignore our own family in favor of them, & treated us badly & acted like something is wrong with us for not wanting to spend a holiday with them. They also shame us for wanting to spend a holiday with our immediate family- our spouse & kids- rather than with them. These people think shaming us & ordering us around is OK. Really, how does that make any sense?
I’m not saying holiday bitterness is a good thing. Frankly, it stinks! I miss looking forward to the holidays & hate how I dread what was once a time of year I looked forward to. What I am saying though is that there is no shame if you feel differently about holidays than the average person does.
Sometimes, too many bad seeds have been sown to overcome. Something unpleasant is the only possible harvest when that happens. Of course it’s a good idea to try to counteract the bad feelings, but if nothing works, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that you’re a bad person. If you can’t conquer holiday bitterness, it just means that some really bad things have been done that caused you to feel this way.
Dear Reader, I’m sorry you feel this nasty holiday bitterness. I hope you can conquer it by starting your own traditions, avoiding negative people around the holidays, suggesting holiday gatherings with extended family on a different day near the actual holiday while you spend the holiday with your immediate family, etc. If you can’t however, then at the very least, please don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s simply a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances, & it happens more often than you might think.
So many people are quick to defend abusive parents. They may say they did the best they could, or you should forgive & forget what they did to you since they were abused as children so they didn’t know any better. Others simply refuse to believe the abuse happened, accusing you of lying or exaggerating.
Why does this happen so often anyway?! I have some thoughts..
If you notice, people who came from truly loving, functional upbringings aren’t the ones doing this. They know what real, Godly love is, so this means they also know what it is not. When you tell them horror stories of the abuse you endured, they normally are shocked & horrified that a parent could treat their own child that way. Their parents never would have done such a thing to them, & they know that. They won’t make excuses for the abuse or try to normalize it. It’s wrong & they call it wrong. They offer you love & support because they know that is the right thing to do. They may not understand how you feel since they never endured such things, but even so, they empathize with you, & it hurts them you have been so mistreated. I have two friends that I’ve known since Kindergarten & first grade. One male, one female. Both were raised by loving mothers, she had a very kind wonderful father & the his father physically abused his mother. They have no personal experience with being abused narcissistic parents, yet they are very supportive & kind to me.
People who come from dysfunctional upbringings however act much differently. They are the ones who are quick to say, “But those are your parents! They won’t be around forever!” “I’m sure they did the best they could!” “They just don’t know any better!”
I can’t help but think this is because these people are triggered by your openness. You discussing your painful childhood makes them think of theirs, & they aren’t willing to face theirs at all. If they can shut you up, they can resume their denial of their own pain. For years, my husband thought I should try harder with my parents. Ignore their cruelty. He made excuses for what they did. At the same time, he was doing just that with his own abusive parents. It took him many years before he would say anything even remotely negative about his parents, let alone admit his parents were abusive.
Some people also may recognize their own behaviors when you describe the abuse you endured, & they don’t want to face that either. They may be abusing their child the same way you were abused, & don’t want to admit they are abusive or wrong. They like the control they have, & don’t want to lose it.
There are also others who can’t handle anything negative. These are the same people who expect every book & movie to have happy endings, & they want the same from real life. My mother is that way. She hates anything negative. These people don’t want to hear about your problems. They want to hear only about light, fluffy, happy topics, ignoring anything bad or negative. These people don’t seem to have good coping skills, so they avoid anything that is even mildly upsetting. You discussing your pain is upsetting, so they don’t want to hear about it. Unless you can share something light & happy with them, they don’t want you to talk about it with them.
Whatever the reason someone defends abusive parents, take it as a warning for you that this person is NOT safe to discuss your painful experiences with!
While I write in the hopes of helping those who are still in a relationship with their narcissistic parent(s), this doesn’t mean I am for staying in that relationship no matter what. I firmly believe everyone has the right to make their own individual choice on whether or not to stay in that relationship, & should not be pressured on what to do. People are different in what they can & can’t handle, plus narcissists are on a spectrum- some are downright dangerous while others are much lower on the spectrum, therefore easier to deal with. Each situation is very unique, so there are no one size fits all answers.
That being said…
Ending relationships is very difficult, but especially when the relationship is with your parent(s). It shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment, such as during an argument. It should be done after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter.
If you believe your physical & mental health is in danger, you are certainly well within your rights to sever ties with your parents.
Sometimes, people don’t feel ready to go no contact although they want to. Until they do feel strong enough, going low contact may be a very good option. You don’t have to spend a lot of time visiting or on the phone with your narcissistic parents. You have the right to limit your time with them. You may even learn that low contact works well enough for you.
Low contact is also a good solution when no contact is impossible for various reasons.
If you are unsure what to do, pray. God may ultimately leave the choice up to you, or He may tell you what is best to do in your situation. Either way, it is a very good idea to talk to Him about this important decision.
God also can help you to find creative ways to handle the relationship with your parents if you stay low contact or help you end it if you go no contact. And, He can enable you to be stronger than you are when you need to deal with them. You simply can’t lose with God helping you in this situation.
Many people have a very skewed view of what it truly means to honor someone, especially their parents. They’ll throw around “honor thy mother & father” while conveniently forgetting the Scriptures directed at parents (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). They falsely believe that honoring parents means you have to sacrifice yourself or your principles. You must do what they want, no matter what it costs you, or else you aren’t honoring your parents.
Honor isn’t always what people think it is. http://www.merriam-webster.com defines honor as follows: “a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>” I interpret this to mean basic things like treating a person with basic respect. Using manners, being considerate of them, disagreeing respectfully rather than cussing them out, & the like. Nowhere in this definition does it sound to me like honoring someone means you must cater to their every whim.
Spoiling someone by giving them everything they want or doing everything for them isn’t honorable. It teaches the person nothing at all. It doesn’t help them to learn & grow, which is NOT good for a person. In fact, many people believe some narcissistic adults were once spoiled children. They became entitled, selfish adults by having all of their whims catered to.
Allowing someone to control you isn’t honorable either. All that does is teach a person how to be manipulative, entitled & bossy. There is no honor in that!
Tolerating abuse is certainly not honorable. It encourages awful behavior while hurting you. How could that possibly be an honorable thing?
People need to have boundaries & consequences for their actions. Such things are honorable, especially when done in a respectful way. There are ways to state things in a respectful manner, such as stating in a calm but firm tone, “I’m not going to discuss this with you. If you keep talking about it, I’ll hang up this phone. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? No? OK, good bye.” *hangs up phone* That is just one example of being respectful while setting boundaries & giving consequences.
In 2002, I stopped speaking to my mother for several years. Coming to that decision wasn’t easy at all for me. I knew I needed to do it to heal, but I believed it wasn’t honorable. I struggled with this decision & prayed a lot. One day, I told God how conflicted I felt. He spoke to my heart so clearly & said, “Where is the honor in the fact your very presence stirs up strife with your mother?” It made sense to me. Being with my mother meant she acted up. She verbally abused me. She insulted every tiny thing about me & those I cared about. She bossed me around like I was the hired help & not her daughter. There was NO honor in that. Going no contact at that time was the most honorable thing I could do. It enabled me to have time to myself to heal, & it put an end to much of her horrible behavior since she doesn’t treat anyone else like she does me. It also showed her that I was done tolerating her abuse. If she chose to abuse me she would have consequences for doing so, like me leaving her life. In situations like this, even going no contact with an abusive parent can be the most honorable thing you can do.
If you struggle with honoring your abusive parent, I would encourage you to pray, Dear Reader. Ask God to show you the truth on this matter. He will, as He has done for me. You will rest much easier when you know the real truth about what it means to honor your parent.
Recently I was involved in a discussion about how little information there is available for those with elderly narcissistic parents, including caring for them. It gave me an idea- write a book on the topic.
I have already started writing an outline & have some ideas. But, I’d like to hear from you, Dear Reader. I don’t want to miss anything on this topic. If there is any topic you’d like explored or if you have stories to include, please let me know. I won’t divulge your name to protect your privacy. You can comment on this post or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you! x0xo
One thing I have learned in the past few years is that people do NOT like unpleasant subject matters, & will go to great lengths to avoid them. Many people with terrible health problems know this all too well- they lose friends & even family after receiving a diagnosis of a dreadful disease. The people who once were closest to them suddenly have no time for them any longer.
This also happens with adult children of narcissistic parents.
It’s happened in my own life. Once I started learning that my mother was abusive when I was seventeen, & talking to a few people about it, my circle of friends became smaller. I talked less about it until many years later, once I started learning about narcissism. Then, I began to talk more & also to write about it. While my writing career suddenly began to take off, my personal relationships changed, especially when I also admitted to having C-PTSD. Some of my relationships became closer, especially with those who also survived a narcissistic upbringing, but many did not. Some people suddenly became very judgmental, telling me how I needed to just get over it, let it go, forgive & forget, stop living in the past, I use having C-PTSD for attention & even how I needed to be the one to fix things in my relationship with my parents.
This hurt & made me so angry! It’s not fair & it’s not right! I began to feel like I did as a child- everything wrong with my parents’ & my relationship was all my fault, I should fix it & if I didn’t, I was a failure. Not a nice way to feel at all!
If you too have experienced similar losses & invalidation in your relationships, you are not alone! I understand your pain & frustration!
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to completely avoid such situations. The fact is, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people don’t like unpleasant subject matters. They prefer light, fluffy, happy things, as the unpleasant things make them uncomfortable. Many people also cannot handle discussing unpleasant things about the parent/child relationship. They may come from a good home, & can’t comprehend that a parent would abuse a child, or they came from a dysfunctional home, & you discussing your own painful experiences trigger feelings they aren’t ready to deal with yet. Others may feel that you talk too much about your experiences. (Please see my post on taking breaks– not to make others more comfortable, but for your own mental health!) Whatever the reason, no one has the right to invalidate your pain!
To deal with the pain when this happens, please try to keep the last paragraph in mind. Most people aren’t trying to hurt you by what they say or do- they simply have their own issues or are even convinced they’re trying to help you. In any case, them treating you poorly isn’t about you doing something wrong, it’s about them.
Also, acknowledge your feelings. Yes, you’re hurt &/or angry, & it’s OK. Cry, talk to someone safe, journal or pray, but get your feelings out. Feelings are a natural part of life- respect them, don’t ignore them. Ignoring them never leads to anything good, only bad things like depression & health problems.
Be aware that part of the reason that what was said upsets you so much is it triggers old feelings that you experienced at the hand of your narcissistic mother. Narcissists demand their abuse be kept secret, so when someone else wants to silence you years later, that guilt for “telling” may show up. Or, invalidating your pain makes you feel as you did when your mother did it to you as a child- like you’re not allowed to have feelings because they’re only a nuisance to others. I’m not saying that these triggers mean you’re overreacting to being invalidated, of course. I’m simply saying that those triggers may make you less able to realize at first that you aren’t wrong for discussing this topic.
Be good to yourself afterwards. Once you get a firm grasp on your feelings & triggers, do something nice for yourself. A bubble bath, read a good book or some other little thing that makes you feel good.
And, ask God to help you let go of the hurt & anger you feel. You deserve better than to carry around those negative feelings. Besides, you have too much already to deal with considering you’re recovering from growing up with a narcissistic mother. That needs your attention much more.
Aging narcissistic parents are a very disturbing group of people. While most people mellow out as they age, narcissists often get more vicious. Not easy to deal with for their adult children!
As I write this, I’m waiting for my husband to come home. He’s at the hospital visiting his mother who was admitted today.
Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into much detail, so please bear with me a bit. Both my mother in-law & father in-law are narcissistic, her covert & him overt. As they are getting older & their health is failing them, they are making more demands on my husband. Also, he is facing the truth about them & how he’s been abused by them for the first time. It’s not an easy time for him. I’m very concerned how this situation is going to play out for him, & how he is going to deal with his own feelings.
I’m also a bit nervous about how I’m going to deal with my own feelings as well. You see, there were countless times I considered divorcing him earlier in our marriage because of the abuse his mother put me through & his failure to acknowledge it at the time. Honestly, sometimes I still get angry when I remember those dark days.
I’m sure there are others in similar situations, as many of us with narcissistic parents marry someone who also has at least one narcissistic parent. I’m writing about this to share what God has been showing me about how to cope.
Pray. About what? Whatever comes to mind regarding the situation. Personally, I’ve been praying for my mother in-law’s salvation (I’m unsure if she’s a Christian- I don’t believe she is), asking God to give my husband strength, wisdom & anything else he needs right now, & asking God to help me release my old anger at him. Prayers like this can truly help you as well as the recipients of your prayers! I admit, it isn’t easy to pray for my mother in-law, so sometimes I ask close friends to pray for her. It helps me know she’s getting prayer, plus I don’t have to do it at that time- I can do it later when I feel able to do so.
Distractions. I’m hoping to distract hubby when he gets home with a funny video that we love. We’re big fans of the old TV show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with its fun, warped humor, & since it always makes us laugh, I think watching an old episode could do us both some good. After all, it’s unhealthy to focus on the more serious issues in life 24/7. The brain needs a break sometimes!
Nice gestures. A little sweet, thoughtful gesture can go a long way when someone is going through hard times. Hubby will be greeted with raspberry herbal tea (we both love it) when he gets home. I’ll come up with other gestures once I gauge the kind of mood he’s in. Sometimes, he isn’t in the mood for interaction- he just wants to be left alone.
Listening. Before I start the movie, I’ll see if he wants to talk. Often when his mother is in the hospital, he comes home very frazzled. The hospital staff at this particular hospital isn’t the best (as I learned when my father was there last December), his parents are demanding & his sisters want constant updates until they come into town. It can be a lot for him to deal with.
I just thought I’d let you know that I am making some changes to my website. I’m finally stepping out of the stone ages & no longer using Microsoft Frontpage to make my site (please stop laughing, computer people.. I’m just not good with site creation! lol). As I was working on it today, I thought that it would be a good idea not simply to change the appearance of my site a little, but to ask you, Dear Readers, if there is any other information you’d like me to include on my website. I have quite a bit on there now about narcissistic & abusive mothers, mental health, Christian living & animals (you gotta get off the heavy topics sometimes!), but is there anything else you’d like me to include on my site? Or, any area I mentioned above that you’d like me to expand on?
I welcome your feedback! You can either leave a comment on this post or you can email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Have a wonderful evening! xoxo
I often get emails from adult daughters of narcissistic mothers who ask the same question: “The Bible says to honor my mother & father. How do I do this?” This is a very good question & on the minds of many people. My free ebook “How To Honor A Difficult Parent” is my most popular.
To start with, I believe people need to know both sides of what the Bible says about the parent/child relationship. Here are some Scriptures for your consideration..
Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (KJV)
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (AMP)
Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]” (AMP)
While yes, children should honor their parents, parents also need to be aware that they are being disobedient to God if they abuse their children. I find it quite interesting that so many parents who are quick to tell their child Exodus 20:12 never seem to remember Ephesians 6:4 & Colossians 3:21…
Also, we need to consider what the word “honor” truly means. Merriam-webster.com defines honor this way: “1 b: a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder> ” I take this to mean that to honor your parents means you speak respectfully to them (you don’t cuss them out if you’re angry with them for example), & you respect the fact that they are your parents.
Nowhere in this definition does honor mean that one should be a doormat or a punching bag for another. Tolerating abuse is not honorable. Having no boundaries is not honorable. Catering to your parents’ every whim is most definitely not honorable nor is it loving the way God loves. God’s kind of love wants what is best for people, & sometimes what is best isn’t necessarily what they might like to have at the moment. Giving into people’s whims creates spoiled, ungrateful people, not good, compassionate, generous people.
Below are some ways to honorably treat your abusive parents..
Set & enforce healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not only for your protection, but they encourage others to either accept your boundaries & change their hurtful behavior, or to leave you alone.
Say no. No is a complete sentence sometimes, & often a very beneficial one. You needn’t explain your no if you don’t want to.
Always remember the truth. Narcissistic mothers love to reinvent things to make them more palatable. They cannot handle the guilt or shame of what they have done to their children, & many create stories about their adventures as a wonderful mother to cover up the fact they were NOT good mothers. My mother does this on a constant basis. This is a natural coping skill for many narcissists, as sad as that fact is. While it is her right to use that skill, you do NOT have to reinforce your narcissistic mother’s delusions. When this happens to me with my mother, I listen to her stories, but never say anything that says I agree with her version of events. If she asks if I remember something, I truthfully tell her I don’t. I also don’t tell her the truth about what really happened. As dysfunctional as this behavior is, it’s her choice to employ it. I don’t feel it’s my right to shatter her delusion. I came about this decision through prayer. If you pray about your similar situation, God may tell you to handle it differently, but in any case, I strongly urge you to pray about how to handle it!
Distance is your friend. While I’m not necessarily saying sever all ties with your narcissistic mother (only you can decide if that is the right step for you to take or not), I am saying sometimes distance can be good for both of you. If your mother has said or done something especially hurtful, you may not want to be around her for a while, & there is nothing wrong with that. Take a little time off for yourself before you deal with her again. Besides, believe it or not, the narcissistic mother will think about it, & she is aware of what she’s done to upset you so. I wrote about this in more detail in the following post: Do Narcissists Really Know What They’re Doing?
Don’t always be available. Narcissistic parents seem to think their adult children are sitting by the phone with baited breath, waiting for the parents to call. Obviously, this makes no sense. Unfortunately, in this age of cell phones, most people can be reached at any time of day. If you are available 24/7 though, your narcissistic parents will expect you to be available 24/7 no matter what, & there will be hell to pay if you suddenly aren’t available. If you normally always answer your parents’ calls, stop right now! Skip answering the phone sometimes. If you feel unable to handle their drama, then don’t take the call. Later, your narcissistic mother may attempt to make you feel guilty, but don’t let her! You are an adult. You pay for your phone. It’s up to you when & for whom you answer your own phone! And, don’t offer any explainations as to why you didn’t pick up the phone. “I was busy” is a sufficient answer. Your parents aren’t entitled to know every detail of your life.
Keep conversations superficial. Narcissists are extremely judgmental, so make your life easier on yourself by keeping the topics of conversation superficial. Don’t discuss personal details of your life with your narcissistic mother because that just gives her ammunition for her criticisms of you later. If she asks “How are you?” say “Fine.” “How is work going?” “Fine.” “What have you been up to lately?” “Nothing much.” See the pattern? In fact, to make your life easier yet, turn the conversation back to her & off of you. She’ll be more than happy to talk about herself instead of you anyway! You can discuss your life with people who genuinely care how you’re doing instead.
Putting these skills into practice can be very helpful for you not only to cope with your narcissistic mother, but also to honor her God’s way. And honoring her I believe is very important. Not because your narcissistic mother deserves honor, because frankly, she doesn’t. No narcissist does. It’s important because God wants us to honor our parents, & doing it shows Him how much you love Him.
Good morning, Dear Readers!
Well, it isn’t really a good morning for me. I really do want to keep my posts as encouraging & as positive as I can, but I also promised you readers that I would also be real. That means some posts won’t be all happy & positive. This post is going to be one of those. In fact, I was going to write it only in my journal, but I felt I should write it in here. Maybe someone needs to read this today. It’ll probably be pretty long, longer than normal at least, so get yourself comfortable if you want to read this.. lol
The last few days have been really rough, & the C-PTSD is flaring up badly as of yesterday. My head is simply swimming. To start with, our little American Eskimo dog, Dixie, has been sick. Thankfully, she is well on her way to recovery now, but not recognizing her symptoms at first terrified me. My pets are like my children, so when they are sick, I get extremely concerned. Then my husband’s mother went into the hospital a couple of days ago. I’m not sure she didn’t put herself there for attention, to be completely honest about it. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s done that. I think it was last year just before Christmas my husband told me she said that she quit taking her meds for a few days prior to going into the hospital. Yep, I love narcissists.. NOT. *sigh*
And, as the icing on this crappy cake, my husband & I saw my parents yesterday.
Recently, my parents bought a new chair. Once it was delivered, my mother decided she didn’t like it, & wanted to exchange it for another one. She called to ask if my husband would mind picking it up with his truck, as she didn’t want to pay another $80 delivery charge. He said he’d be fine with doing it Saturday (yesterday). So Friday, I said I should call her to be sure of what time to meet my parents at the furniture store. He volunteered to make the call instead, which was fine with me at the time. Now, I’m not happy he did this at all & that will not be happening again as I have learned a painful lesson. Although I have told him many times, do NOT say anything about our furkids or his parents to my parents other than everyone is “fine”, he told my mother Dixie was sick & probably needed to see the vet in the morning, & also that his mother was in the hospital so we couldn’t make it a long visit. If my mother hears anything other than FINE about any of them, I will end up very angry with either her nasty comments about my furkids, or fake concern over my in-laws. The fake concern hurts me very badly, because she knows perfectly well I haven’t spoken to my in-laws since 2002 because of how cruelly my narcissistic mother in-law has treated me. And a side note here- I asked God once why my mother does this. He showed me that my mother thinks my in-laws have a perfect life- been married 60+ years, financially comfortable, nice home in a nice area, their children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren visit them often. She fails to see the mountains of dysfunction in their family, only what looks good on the outside. My mother, being a narcissist & naturally overly concerned with appearances, wants to impress them. By me refusing to tolerate my mother in-law’s abusive ways, I’ve embarrassed my mother. In return, she wants to hurt me as much as possible by showing concern for them, as well as showing them even though I’m a “terrible person,” at least she isn’t bad like me. She is good enough to care about them even if I don’t. This is also why she has sent them Christmas cards since I first told her how cruel the mother in-law is. Amazing what goes on in the mind of a narcissist..
Back to the original topic..
The visit started at the furniture store. My mother sat in the car, & my father approached us in hubby’s truck. He handed hubby a booklet about county services for seniors I’d given my parents a couple of months ago. He said it was because hubby’s parents probably needed it. Really? Hubby told my father no, they’re fine- my parents need it. My father said my mother thought they needed it more, so they should have it. Hubby grabbed the booklet & spoke to my mother, telling her SHE needs this, his parents are taken care of. I heard snippets of their conversation- she kept changing the subject, showing concern for his mother being in the hospital. ARGH! So while this happened, my father & I walked into the customer service area & gave them the receipt. We waited a few minutes for him to bring the chair outside for us, & chatted. Finally we were loaded up & ready to go. I moved the truck over to beside my mother’s car to get it out of the way. My mother said hi to me, I ignored her & waited for hubby.
At my parents’ house, my mother asked me how Dixie was. i said fine. She said “Oh? Your dad said she was really sick.” I said nothing further. (I feel somewhat bad about that, because knowing her, she’ll jump on my father for lying to her even though he wasn’t lying. But, not trying to be vengeful here, he has no problems throwing me under the bus with my mother. Why should I feel bad that I inadvertently did the same to him once, yanno?) So she then talked to hubby about his mother. I continued ignoring her, but was stewing inside. How dare she?! Plus i was also angry hubby told her about Dixie when I have said many times mention NOTHING about her or the cats to my mother.
My husband, father & I assembled the chair. While working on it, my mother brought out a plate of cookies & demanded we all eat one. I refused. All my life, my mother has insulted what I eat, how much I do or don’t eat, demanded I eat what she wants when she wants me to & ridiculed me for being fat no matter how little I may weigh. When she tells me to eat something now, I refuse in order to set a boundary. Plus, the emotional flashbacks I get make me feel like I did at around 10 years old when her abuse regarding food was so bad that I became anorexic then later bulimic: terrified of her anger if I didn’t do as was told or take her criticisms with a smile, angry, like I am too hideous & disgusting to live. This feels HORRIBLE & it makes me angry that at 43 years old, I quickly can revert to feeling like I did as a child.
Finally, the chair was done, & we were ready to leave. As I said goodbye to my father, my mother spoke to my husband about his parents again, feigning such great concern for their well-being. I could feel the anger inside me bubbling by this point. Then, as I moved to say goodbye to her before my head exploded, she said “Wait a minute.” My mother went into another room & came back with a plate of cookies & a get well card for my mother in-law!! She handed them to hubby. I was in shock at this point. She then hugged us both & told me she loved me as we left. I practically ran to the truck. I also realized when she has been especially cruel to me recently, she always says she loves me. No other times. In fact, I could probably count on one hand how many times she has said that in the last 30 years until this behavior began recently.
I cannot put into words how hurt I am by this whole episode. I know my mother is extremely angry with me because I set boundaries with her early last month. (See this blog entry) I’ve been expecting a narcissistic rage because of that as I mentioned in that post, which meant I was expecting her to say excessively cruel, hurtful things to me in a public place. But this betrayal & flaunting it? And to top it off, my husband basically handed her the weapon on a silver platter & doesn’t understand why I’m upset?
I am just depressed, hurt & angry today. I feel so alone in this situation, & am so tired of feeling that way. I can’t talk to my husband about it since he doesn’t really understand. I can’t talk to my father- he’s got his own concerns with how cruel she is to him, & those concerns are very valid. He also won’t speak on my behalf to my mother. I also feel like I don’t matter. Again. I am so tired of this feeling! My mother made me feel this way growing up. Being a typical malignant narcissist, I was only there to be an extension of her, meet her needs & please her. I wasn’t to “bother” her with having needs or feelings. Growing up, things haven’t really improved with her in that area. My husband’s invalidating “I wouldn’t give it any credence” comment about my mother’s actions yesterday have made me feel the same “I don’t matter” feeling. I’m so tired of it!!!
I’m also incredibly frustrated. Something must be done with my mother, but I am too frazzled at this moment to figure out what. If I speak up about her “Caring” about my mother in-law, it’ll feed her- she will be sure to show more concern for her just because she knows exactly how much it hurts me. If I remain quiet, she will show more concern to be sure she is getting to me. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t… So, I need to pray about how to handle this after I feel better.
Right now, I’m wallowing in the self-pity place. I know this all too well, & I don’t like it at all. But, I have learned some things since I’ve been here so many times in my life: this place is necessary, & it doesn’t last forever.
So many people will tell you things like “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” but sometimes you need to wallow for a bit, to feel sorry for yourself because you have been through something very painful. I think of it as feeling compassion for yourself. If someone told me what I just told you, my heart would break for them. I would want to tell them everything will be fine & somehow make it better if I could. So why not have that same compassion for myself?
I also think that the self-pity times allow us to process painful things, & we need to process painful things! Sweeping things under the rug or ignoring the pain they cause do no good at all! In fact, ignoring things can cause a great deal of harm. I never really dealt with the abuse I endured until I was around 30 years old. By the time I was 41, I developed full blown C-PTSD after living with many of the symptoms my whole life. I wonder if I had been able to deal with things earlier, if I would have C-PTSD now. Not dealing with things also can cause physical problems such as arthritis, heart problems, ulcers, high blood pressure, & much more.
If you made it this far, God bless you! Thank you for listening to me rant & rave. I hope somehow you were able to glean something helpful from this post.
I’m revising this post only slightly…..
I saw yesterday that the card my mother gave my husband for his mother wasn’t in a sealed envelope- the flap was just pushed in. Seemed odd to me, but I figured that meant my mother wanted me to read it. Knowing her, that just made sense in her dysfunctional little world. So, I finally gave in a few minutes ago. This is the card- nothing has been altered at all. This shows just how hell bent my mother is to hurt me- she is sending a nicer card to someone she can’t stand than she has ever sent to me. I honestly don’t even know if she’s ever given me a get well card…
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
Sunday was only my second day helping my parents, but it was a really rough one both mentally & physically. So rough in fact, I realized that I can’t keep doing this. I can offer some help, sure, but on a very limited basis. Mentally I’m not very strong anymore. Then physically, I have bad knees so a lot of things are just too painful for me to do. I’ve been doing my parents’ laundry, as my father is now unstable on his feet after his stroke, & my mother claims her back pain is too bad to go up & down those steps. She has been wanting to have the washer & dryer moved upstairs from the basement, but has been dragging her feet on the issue. The next time I see my parents on this coming Sunday, I am going to tell her it needs to be done soon, & if not, then I will arrange to have help come into their home that they can pay for.
In order to discuss this topic with my narcissistic mother, I was given some very valuable advice. Something I hadn’t thought of. Make it all about her. If I told my mother I wasn’t able to do certain things because of my knee pain, she wouldn’t care. But, if I tell her that my knees make me unable to do things, which could cause her problems, she’ll be more interested. And, this winter is supposed to be a bad one with a lot of snow here in MD. I live on a major highway, which means I get plowed in. The highway may be clear, but there is a wall of solidly packed snow created by snowplows at the end of my driveway that means I can’t get out quickly or easily. This would affect her! I’ll just leave out the part that it’s frustrating when I get plowed in. This seems like a very good way to handle discussing things of this nature with any narcissist, I think. Every child of a narcissistic parent knows their parent doesn’t care about them unless what happens affects them somehow.
I have begun researching getting some help to be prepared. I looked into their insurance to see if they have long term care coverage, which they don’t. Long term care coverage is a wonderful thing- it pays for health care workers or nurse to come into their home & help them out in various ways.
Since that didn’t work out, I then found this link which directed me to my local caregiver support network in my county.
This has been a very helpful place for me to start. They told me an evaluation would need to be done (free) by a social worker before help can be hired, & provided me that phone number. They also gave me references to local home health care workers (they’re the people who do chores, laundry, & such), a directory of various services available in this state for seniors, info on a caregiver support group & much more. I learned that certain injuries or illnesses may be entitled to specific benefits. For example, my father has a traumatic brain injury, & there are special services available for him.
Here is another link with some good information as well:
My father also gave me a paper with some information on it that he got from his last hospital stay, too. Apparently many medical records can be available online & this paper had all the information I needed to access it. This is very handy as I can read exactly what the doctors have said & how they are treating him.
As for myself, I’m realizing that I need to take a day off each week to recover physically & mentally. Tuesdays work well for this for me, so I now plan to goof off each Tuesday. It gives me something to look forward to.
I hope this information helps any other caregivers who may be reading this. ❤
Good evening, Dear Readers!
My father recently had a mild stroke, which in addition to other health problems, has made him much more frail than he was. My mother has some health problems as well, so they need some help. This is where I come into the picture.
Being my parents’ only child, I think it’s only right for me to help them. Plus, I’m good at caregiving. I think most children of narcissistic parents are- we learned early in life how to read people & detect their needs. I’ve promised them part of the day each Sunday for this. This already makes me nervous, since both are narcissistic. I was a caregiver for my mother’s narcissistic mother for about a year, & it was miserable! I’m hoping & praying my parents aren’t as bad as my grandmother was.
So far, it’s been more difficult, but in different ways.
My folks are lonely, & want company as much as they want help. They’re frustrated with losing some independence. And, the new issues haven’t fixed the dysfunction in their marriage- they still fuss at each other & play head games.
I feel sorry for them.
In the time I spent caring for my narcissistic grandmother, this never happened. I didn’t think it would happen with my parents. Imagine my surprise.
This has made me have to work hard on keeping my focus on God’s will for this situation & my boundaries.
These may be my parents, but they also are dangerous to my mental health. The C-PTSD flares up in their presence, especially the anxiety. I also realized how quickly I slip into old, dysfunctional, unhealthy mindsets around them. This taught me how I need to keep focused on God & what is true. I will frequently ask God to remind me of what He says about me & what is true.
My plan to help them & keep my mental health is to pray even more than usual. I’ll be praying prior to visiting them. And, asking God to help me have discernment when needed, & to remember His truth about me, so any criticisms don’t hurt me.
I also realize I’ll need to get better at having a self care routine, & remembering to take things one day at a time. Maybe one hour at a time on bad days…another thing to ask God to help me with.
I’ll be sharing some about my new “adventure” in this blog. I pray it’ll help you if you too are the child of a narcissistic parent. ❤
Good evening, Dear Readers! I hope this post finds you well!
I spent some time working on my new book about narcissistic mothers today. It’s coming along slowly but surely. 🙂
I’m trying to cover every aspect of maternal narcissism- symptoms, behavior, what can happen to someone raised by a narcissistic mother & how to cope, men married to these women, ways to deal with her, & more.
I thought I’d ask if any of you have a topic you’d like to see covered in the book. I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to comment on this post, or email me at: CynthiaBaileyRug@AOL.com. I look forward to your input.