Tag Archives: recovery

It Couldn’t Have Been That Bad! Just Look How You Turned Out!

When people learn that someone has been abused as a child, they often say the dumbest things, I think because it’s hard to know what to say.  Simply saying, “I’m sorry for what you went through” would be fine, but many people don’t seem to agree with that.  So, rather than saying that statement, they can come up with some pretty hurtful & stupid comments.

 

One thing some folks say is, “It couldn’t have been all that bad!  Look how you turned out!”  Bless their naive little hearts.  This actually makes sense to them!

 

People who say this fail to realize that when you grow up with narcissistic parents, you learn early on to hide your problems so as not to “bother” them.  Narcissistic parents have no time, energy or desire to deal with their child’s problems, so when their child comes to them with a problem, they ignore, trivialize or even shame the child for having the problem.  This teaches the child it’s just best to hide their pain, illness, hurt feelings, needs & anything really from their parents.

 

This behavior carries over into adulthood.  Out of habit, the adult child of narcissistic parents continues to hide their problems.  As a result, some people look at us & assume we have it all together when the truth is that we don’t!

 

No one can escape narcissistic abuse unscathed.  Every single person who was raised by a narcissistic parent or two has had issues from it.  Some end up with C-PTSD or PTSD.  Some end up with crippling depression or anxiety.  Some turn to self harm or self destructive behaviors.  Some end up with addictions to drugs, alcohol or food.  Some end up overachievers who work themselves so hard, they end up very sick from it.  Some even turn into narcissists themselves, continuing the cycle of dysfunction & abuse.  Almost all end up with some type of health problems- MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, digestive problems, heart problems, etc.

 

 

 

We are often able to function quite well too, in spite of the problems.  Growing up as we did, learning early to hide our problems from our parents, we learned also how to function normally in spite of problems.  I went through my life normally for many years even though I was suicidal.  No one knew it.  I got good grades in school (honor roll, graduated in the top 10% of my class).  I held down jobs.  I laughed.  I lived my life normally, in spite of wanting to die, & not one person had a clue how I felt.  Even now, no one, including my husband, has any idea exactly how bad the C-PTSD is when it flares up because I hide it so well.  The habit of hiding things is so ingrained in me, I do it without even thinking about it.

 

If someone says to you that what you went through couldn’t have been so bad since you turned out so well, then please feel free to show them this post, if you think it will help.  Narcissistic abuse is a serious problem with life long, life changing problems affecting victims.  People need to understand this so they can start supporting victims!

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When People Tell You How To Feel & How To Heal

From the narcissists’ flying monkeys to even the most well meaning of people, people like to tell victims of narcissistic abuse how to feel.

 

  • “You’re too negative.  You need to be more positive.”
  • “You need to let that go/get over it.”
  • “Aren’t you over that yet?”
  • “You need to forgive & forget.”
  • “You shouldn’t have let them abuse you.”
  • “You need to stop thinking about it.”
  • “You haven’t prayed enough.”

 

Early in healing, such statements add to the toxic shame you already feel stemming from the abuse.  You feel ashamed of yourself for not being over it, not forgiving your abuser & forgetting their awful deeds or being so “negative.”

 

Later in your healing, after you’ve gained some wisdom & experience, such comments really just get under your skin.  You know that there is no way to “just get over” the horrible things that have been done to you.  It takes a great deal of prayer & work to heal, & even then, you may never be “over” the abuse you endured.  If you live with PTSD/C-PTSD, you live with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression & more every single day because of the abuse.  As long as you have the disorder, you are forced to live with the abuse every day, like it or not.  And forgive & forget??  HA.  Even if you are able to forgive your abuser, you don’t forget abusive things done to you.  It also makes you angry people tell you how to heal, as if they know what you need better than you do.  So presumptuous & arrogant!

 

No one has the right to tell you how to feel or how you need to work on your healing.  You know what you need more than anyone else.  Besides, what may have worked for them doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too.  Different things work for different people.

 

No one has the right to blame you for being abused, saying things like “you allowed the abuse.”  No, you didn’t.  Abusers abuse, period.  No matter what you did or didn’t do, the abuser planned to abuse you & did so, all of his or her own free will.

 

No matter what happened to your abuser, that does NOT give him or her the right to abuse you.  Many people who grew up in a toxic environment became good, caring people as adults.  Anyone that tries to excuse their abusive behavior because they had a bad childhood or other lame excuses is toxic.  Avoid these people as much as possible!  If you can’t avoid them entirely, at the very least have strong boundaries when you’re with them & refuse to discuss the abuse you endured.

 

You have the right to protect & care for your physical & mental health however works best for you.

 

You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries by whatever means work for you.

 

You have the right to limit or end contact with people who are detrimental to your healing, no matter if those people are friends or even family.

 

You have the right (& obligation) to take care of yourself, to rest on bad days, to cry when you’re sad, etc.

 

You have the right to feel whatever you feel.  If you’re angry, you have the right to that anger.  If you’re sad, you have the right to those tears.  Feel the emotions so you can process them & heal, no matter who says you’re wrong for feeling such things.

 

You have the right to decide with who to share details of the abuse.   You don’t have to share your story with everyone.  Even if someone asks you what happened, you don’t have to tell them if you don’t feel comfortable with it.  Besides, sharing with just anyone isn’t wise, since some people will use the information to hurt you.

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Should You Listen To Your Emotions?

Ever since I became a Christian in 1996, I’ve heard preaching about not allowing your emotions to rule you.  Keep them in check & don’t let them run your life!

 

Basically, this made me feel bad when I would feel hurt or angry & couldn’t control how I felt.  I thought something must be wrong with me for not having a better grip on my feelings.

 

The truth though is everyone needs to have a healthy, balanced perspective on emotions.

 

Emotions are given to us by God to let us know when things are good or bad.  When something is good, you feel happy, content or pleased.  If something makes you sad or angry, you know this thing isn’t good.  Emotions are a good monitor in that respect.

 

Emotions can teach you a lot about yourself.  Where your boundaries lie, what you enjoy or don’t enjoy & who you are the closest to.  Not allowing yourself to feel such things can turn you into a shell of a human being, & that is not what God wants for you.

 

Sometimes emotions can be irrational too.  There may be times that you’d rather lay on the sofa watching TV than go to work, even when you enjoy your job, & you have no idea why you feel this way.  In times like this you know it’s best to ignore those emotions & go to work.

 

When you are healing from trauma or abuse, however, you need to be sure not to ignore your feelings.  If you suddenly feel anxious, angry or depressed, you need to know why you feel that way.  Then you will be able to feel the emotion fully, process it & release it.  Ignoring your feelings if you’re healing only serves to drag out the healing process & make you more miserable.  I know, facing past trauma is hard, but it is easier than constantly trying to stuff it down inside of you.

 

I firmly believe that while you can’t listen to your emotions blindly, you do need to listen to them often & use wisdom on how to deal with them.  Know sometimes you can ignore them, but mostly, you should pay attention to them & respect them.  Don’t judge your feelings either.  They aren’t good or evil- feelings simply are.

 

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Forgiving Narcissists

Many people have very definite opinions on the topic of forgiving narcissists.  Usually it’s one of two extremes- either you forgive & forget, or you refuse to forgive because narcissists don’t deserve forgiveness & aren’t sorry for the damage they cause anyway.

 

I am a firm believer in forgiveness, but not in the “forgive & forget” sense.

 

In a relationship with a narcissist, if someone confronts a narcissist, they can count on any of a variety of possible, ugly scenarios happening:  The narcissist denies everything, the narcissist blames the victim for “making” her act that way, the narcissist turns the tables so she is the victim & the real victim is mean/unreasonable, or the narcissist recruits her flying monkeys to talk some “sense” into the victim while taking attention off the narcissist’s actions & making her look like an innocent victim.

 

When this happens, many people end all contact or greatly limit their contact with the narcissist.  Often, especially in Christian circles, this is mistaken as the victim hating the narcissist or holding a grudge.  That can be true of course, but in my experience, it’s seldom the case.

 

Using myself as an example, I’ve had to end friendships.  The hardest was with an old friend I’d had for over 20 years.  I’d prayed a great deal before doing so, & knew in my heart it was the right choice.  Not because I hated my friend, but because I knew I deserved to be treated better than I was being treated.  I forgave him for his actions, but since I’d seen him changing, realized I would be hurt again if I continued the friendship.  I didn’t trust him anymore.

 

I’ve seen many scenarios with adult daughters of narcissistic mothers that are very similar.  The daughters go no contact because of how awfully their mothers treated them, & they learn their mothers are trash talking them to other people which shows they don’t want to fix things.  It also shows they have no desire to apologize or accept responsibility for what they have done.  These daughters are seldom angry about what their mothers have done, & almost never say they hate their mothers.  I would guess that 99% of the daughters I’ve spoken with in these situations don’t harbor anger.  They have forgiven their mothers, but they also know they have to have her out of their lives for the sake of their own mental health &/or to protect their husbands & children.

 

Unfortunately with narcissists, a normal, functional, healthy pattern of working problems out doesn’t happen.  Normally, someone is approached about the hurtful action they did, that person apologizes & if necessary, changes their actions to regain your trust.  Since that won’t happen with a narcissist, many times very limited or no contact is the only option left.  If you are in that situation, please don’t allow others to make you feel badly for making that choice or accuse you of being unforgiving or un-Christian.  Do what you believe you need to do!

 

And, remember- forgiveness isn’t about the narcissist.  It’s something you do for yourself because you deserve better than carrying around anger or bitterness.  That is all.  It can be done whether or not you’re in a relationship with your abuser.  Reconciling the relationship & learning to trust the abuser require that person’s participation, but forgiving her does not.

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About Body Memories

The past week or so, my lower back has been achy.  I haven’t strained it or injured it in any way.  It’s just been achy.  I’ve also been down in the dumps.  I chalked it up to my dislike of holidays, but something else clicked…

 

November 28, 1990, I came home from work to my parents’ home.  I was tired & had a very busy day.  I also had been trying to find somewhere to move to asap during my lunch break with no success.  I wasn’t in the best mood.  As soon as I walked in my parents’ home, my mother started nitpicking at me.  I could tell she wanted a fight & I really didn’t want to give it to her.  Eventually, though I snapped.  I started yelling back at her.  My father got involved briefly, then walked out, leaving me to face 100% of her wrath.  I went to grab some things & leave, & my mother followed me, screaming at me the entire time.  As I was getting my shoes on by the front door, I saw her eyes turn jet black as they did when something awful was about to happen. Looking back, I believe she wanted to kill me that night.  She slammed me into the wall with such force, not only did about every vertebra in my back pop from my tailbone into my neck, I blacked out from pain. There was also a huge hole in the wall.  When I came to, I was biting her arm- my head was the only body part I could move, & I guess survival instincts kicked in.  She was stunned (as was I), & I took advantage of this opportunity to run out of the house.

 

For 10 years after this, I suffered with back pain.  Also I suffered with my mother telling me & others how I was faking it so I wouldn’t have to work, I was lazy, seeking attention, etc.  It was so bad, I wondered many times if she was right.  After all, the doctors couldn’t find any physical cause for my pain so maybe she was right.

 

Thank God for healing the pain in 2000 & showing me that many people who have been through traumatic events suffer with lower back pain with no known physical cause.

 

So here we are, 26 years after the horrible event & I’m sitting here with an achy back.  This is what is known as a body memory.

 

Body memories exist because our body never forgets things.  Our mind may not be able to handle trauma so it “forgets” it for a while (repressed memories), but the body remembers it all.

 

Body memories can be triggered by many things.  For me, it’s usually a date, like this time.  But, many other things can cause them as well, such as the way a person touches you reminding you of someone who sexually abused you.  The smell of a certain perfume or cologne causes anxiety or depression because it smells like what your abusive parent used to wear.

 

It can be tempting to ignore body memories.  After all, who wants to remember awful events?  I sure don’t like thinking about that night my mother threw me into the wall.  However, I think they are showing us areas we need further healing in.  In a way, this is a good thing.  It doesn’t feel like it, but it’s good because we need to know this information so we can heal further & be that much closer to being whole.

 

When they happen, ask God how to help you to heal.  If you don’t remember what caused this particular body memory, then ask Him to reveal it to you when & only when you are able to cope with it.  If you do remember, tell Him how it makes you feel.  (I find writing in my journal easier than speaking out loud about especially difficult things sometimes).  Ask Him to tell you His truth about the event & show you what you need to do for your part to heal.  He truly will help you.

 

I know sometimes body memories can make you feel like you’re crazy, but you truly are NOT crazy, Dear Reader!  You are simply someone who has experienced trauma & abuse.  It’s only natural there are lasting effects from such things.

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Mental Illness: Normal Consequences Of Abuse Or Something Wrong With You?

Something crossed my mind recently.

 

People with PTSD/C-PTSD, depression or anxiety that stems from being abused are referred to as having a mental illness, or mental health problems.  It occurred to me though that this is, in a way, false.

 

Yes, C-PTSD/PTSD, depression & anxiety are proof of damage in the brain, so they are in that sense mental disorders.  But, such things are also normal reactions to highly abnormal circumstances.  The truth is actually that these disorders were brought about by an abusive person determined to hurt you.

 

Having C-PTSD, PTSD, depression or anxiety aren’t signs that you are weak, a failure, stupid or anything else.  They are simply proof that you have been through some traumatic things, & you survived!  You are strong!

 

Rather than being ashamed of yourself for being “mentally ill”, why not instead embrace the fact that you are a normal, mentally healthy person who has been through some terrible things?

 

I’m not saying embrace your disorder- I doubt anyone could enjoy flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks & more.  Instead, I’m saying see your disorder as proof of your strength & that you have been through trauma.  Not everyone survives being abused.  Many victims develop terrible addictions & still others commit suicide.  You haven’t done those & should be proud that you haven’t!

 

 

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How Accepting The Narcissist “As Is” Can Benefit You

One thing I have found to be very helpful when dealing with narcissists is to accept them as they are.  Accept that they are immature, competitive, envious, jealous, vindictive with no desire to change & will not hesitate to hurt you if it accomplishes their goal.

 

Accepting them as they are does NOT mean you have to tolerate their abuse, however.  You always have absolutely every right to protect yourself from any & all abuse!!

 

Accepting them does means you understand that the narcissist is this way, & you can’t change them.  You can’t even inspire them to want to change with good, healthy actions on your part.  The only hope you have of genuine change from a narcissist is God being able to get through to them somehow.

 

So why accept the narcissist as they are?  Because it can help you.

 

It seems to be a normal reaction for the victims of a narcissist to hope next time will be different.  Next time, she’ll actually care about me.  Next time, maybe she won’t be so critical.  This overly optimistic thought process only sets the victim up for disappointment.  Narcissists rarely change for the better, & when they do, usually it’s only temporarily to benefit them in some way.  (I believe with God, all things are possible, even a narcissist seeing the error of their ways & changing their abusive behavior.  However, from what I have seen, it seems to be a very, very rare occurrence.)  If you can accept that truth & accept the narcissist as she is, you won’t subject yourself for being disappointed when she doesn’t change, doesn’t apologize for hurting you, etc. You know what is coming, so you aren’t disappointed that this time wasn’t different.

 

Also, accepting the narcissist means you won’t be hurt so often.  You know they are a certain way, & you know what to expect.  Knowing such things means that their usual actions can’t devastate you like they do when they catch you off guard.  You know what is coming, & can prepare for it.  This is a good thing!

 

Dealing with narcissists is never easy, but there are ways to make it less painful & frustrating for you.  Accepting the narcissist is one of those ways.

 

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“I” Statements

I’ve always used “I” statements in conflict.  For example, “I feel hurt when you….” rather than, “you hurt me!”  During my first marriage, I read about the importance in always using “I” statements when trying to work out marital conflict.  I stepped up using them, because we didn’t need any more reasons to argue.  I tried avoiding any further conflict & thought that would help.

 

Then I realized something.  I’ve taken these “I” statements too far.

 

I’ve caught myself saying “I was abused” rather than “my mother abused me”.   “I was screamed at daily” rather than “My mother screamed at me daily.”  “I was thrown into a wall during a fight with my mother” replaced, “My mother threw me into a wall.”

 

See the problem?  “I” statements absolved my abusive mother of the responsibility she should have had for abusing me.

 

I still believe “I” statements have their place.  If a close friend said something hurtful, I’m sure they’d be more receptive to “I was hurt that you said that” over “You hurt my feelings!!”  But that is the only place I think they are appropriate.  If you’re talking about your experiences with narcissistic abuse or abuse of any kind, they are very inappropriate.

 

Whether you realize it or not, saying things like “I was abused” over “My mother abused me,” subtly removes responsibility from the abuser, at least in your mind.  For a long time, I wrestled with what my mother did to me being my fault, & I believe saying those “I” statements helped me to feel it was my fault instead of hers.

 

It also seems to soften the story a bit when you say you were abused over naming your abuser.  I’ve noticed people respond differently to me saying “I was abused” over “My mother abused me.”  Naming my mother as my abuser often shocks people.  Compassionate people seem to feel more compassion for one naming her abuser over simply saying, “I was abused.”

 

I think people respond this way because “I was abused” sounds less personal somehow than saying, “My mother abused me.”  It seems to take the human element out of abuse, I think.  It also makes you sound more detached from the abuse, which I would think would mean people would be less likely to understand why you’re still having problems stemming from the abuse.  Just my random thoughts on this..

 

I also think many victims of narcissistic abuse wrongly use “I” statements as I have, & as a result, may struggle more with accepting that the abuse was the narcissist’s fault, not theirs.  If this describes you, it’s time to make a change!

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “I” statements in the right context, but if you’re discussing being wronged or abused, place the blame where it belongs- on the person who wronged & abused you!  There is absolutely nothing wrong, disrespectful, dishonorable, selfish, etc. about doing so.  Abusive people need the blame placed squarely on them, especially in this age of blaming victims.  And, victims need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that being abused was never their fault.

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Benefits Of Journaling

 

I swear by keeping a journal.  In fact, I write in mine daily, & have a reminder on my cell phone to do so.   It helps me to vent when I’m upset & to remember the many things for which I’m grateful for.  It also helps me to keep track of when events in my life have happened.

 

I’ve also realized that a journal can help you heal from narcissistic abuse & keep your sanity while you’re in the midst of it.

 

There is something about seeing things in writing that brings such clarity.  It makes things more real.  It validates your experiences.  It shows you that yes, that really did happen & it happened that way.

 

Keeping a journal can help you to keep track of the truth, so when the narcissist in your life insists that a situation isn’t the way you remember, you can look back on your journal & see the truth.

 

If you’re considering going no contact, it may help you to decide what to do by seeing events in writing.  As I said, seeing things in writing brings clarity, & you need that when trying to decide if no contact is the right solution for you.

 

Journaling gives you a safe place to share your feelings without judgment.  What you write is between you & God only.  Sharing with people, even the most well meaning ones, can sometimes lead to hurt feelings.  That is something you don’t have to worry about with a journal.

 

I’ve found a website for a free, online, private journal that I just love.  www.my-diary.org  allows you to keep your journal private or make it public.  You can change the colors of the “pages” to personalize it if you like.  (No, I don’t get any bonus for recommending this diary site- I just like it & thought you might too).

 

I hope if you don’t currently keep a journal, you’ll consider doing so, Dear Reader.  It really can be a very useful tool for keeping mentally healthy.

 

 

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You’re Much Stronger Than You Think!

Something crossed my mind recently…

 

I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days.  I didn’t deal with it.  For one thing, I didn’t have the time.  It was one crisis after another after another for years.  I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened.  For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems.  It didn’t matter how much something hurt me.  My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.

 

As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured.  Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown.  I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours.  By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work.  I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.”  The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me.  When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work.  In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.

 

I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today.  I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional.  True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after.  Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.

 

When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is.  Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength.  It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.

 

I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse  you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak.  Quite the contrary.  It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma.  It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.

 

It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD.  It’s  incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback.  Things things take a great deal of strength.

 

It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one.  Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory.  The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.

 

Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength.  When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition.  To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!

 

So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are?  Give yourself some credit today.  You are  so stronger than you give yourself credit for!

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Don’t Give Up On God- He Hasn’t Given Up On You

Growing up, I really had no knowledge about God.  My mother said if you’re good you go to Heaven, bad you go to Hell.  No explanation of what was good or bad, & I had no idea how Jesus fit into the equation.

 

As things got worse with my mother as I got older, I decided I had absolutely no use for God.  Obviously He didn’t care about me since I was going through so much at home.  In fact, I believed He couldn’t even exist.  How could a loving God exist & let me go through the things I did?

 

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties I realized how faulty this thinking was.  I finally realized God did indeed exist & cared deeply about the pain I went through.  That is when my healing began

 

If you are being or have been abused, I understand it can be very tempting to give up on God, or at least to think He doesn’t care about your pain.  The truth though, Dear Reader, is that God hurts when you hurt.  He is angry about what has been done to you, too.  He knows all too well the unfairness of it all.

 

That may be hard to believe when you’re hurting, but it’s very true.  Please don’t give up on God for not saving you from bad situations.  The truth is He doesn’t force people to do anything, even when it’s in their best interest.  God is a gentleman, never forcing people to do anything.  He may suggest things, show evidence that certain things are a good idea & others bad ideas, but He never forces anything.  He leaves the final decision on what to do up to each person & unfortunately many people make bad decisions.  They ignore God’s promptings & do whatever they feel like.  That is NOT God’s fault- the blame lies squarely on their shoulders.  Why get mad at God for people making bad choices since it’s not His fault?

 

Dear Reader, God is in your corner.  He always has been & always will be.  If you wonder where He was when you were being abused, He was there, crying over your suffering.  He was angry for you.  He was distraught that your abuser didn’t pay attention to His promptings not to do these things.

 

Now that it’s over?  God is there by your side, wanting to hug you & make it all better.  He wants to help you through your pain.  Let Him.  Don’t get mad at God & shut Him out.  Let Him help you instead.  He will show you how to heal & how to make your pain count for something good.  I know that sounds impossible, but it’s very true.  He has done this for me & will do the same for you, too.

 

 

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A New Perspective On PTSD & C-PTSD

I recently had an interesting revelation that I’d like to share with you today, Dear Reader.

 

A friend of mine has PTSD as a result of time in the military.  One story he told me was how he was on patrol in the gunner hatch of a humvee, in the lead vehicle, when they were approached by a 12 year old boy carrying a teddy bear.  My friend told him to stop, but he wouldn’t.  Even firing a warning shot into the air didn’t deter this boy, & my friend had no alternative- he had to shoot the boy.  It turns out the boy’s teddy bear contained 6 pounds of explosives- he could’ve killed so many people!

 

When this story crossed my mind the other night, something else crossed my mind: I’ve been through enough trauma at the hands of narcissists to give me the same disorder as this man who has been through unspeakable trauma.

 

Wow.  Talk about giving a new perspective!  It really showed me just how bad the abuse in my life has been.

 

So many people with PTSD or C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse tend to trivialize their experiences & I have been one of them.  They think it’s not so bad because they weren’t in the military or their narcissist didn’t hit them.  They even try to hide their awful symptoms because it’s embarrassing they have the disorder because the abuse “wasn’t so bad.”  They think they’re weak for having PTSD or C-PTSD.

 

Having PTSD/C-PTSD aren’t signs of weakness.  They are anything but!  They are signs of having experienced trauma so severe, it actually physically broke your brain.  They are normal reactions to extremely abnormal circumstances.  They are a sign you survived something pretty horrific.

 

If you live with either PTSD or C-PTSD, please know you have nothing to be embarrassed about.  Would you be embarrassed if you got diabetes?  Cancer?  Then why be embarrassed about having a mental illness?  Also, just like you can’t do anything to get a physical illness like cancer, you didn’t do anything to get PTSD/C-PTSD.

 

If you feel able to, please talk about your experiences with PTSD or C-PTSD or even the abuse you endured.  Talking things out is good for you- it helps you to heal.  Also, talking about what you live with as a result of the trauma can help to raise awareness of PTSD/C-PTSD.  People truly have no idea what it’s really like to live with such an awful mental disorder.  They have these crazy, false ideas of what it means to have PTSD/C-PTSD & those ideas need to be eliminated & replaced with the truth!

 

I would like to encourage you to ask God to show you if He wants you to discuss what has happened to you or the PTSD/C-PTSD, & if so, how.  Does He want you to speak to groups?  Write a book?  Write a blog?  There are many ways to raise awareness. Maybe you have a calling to one of those ways.

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What Is Reverse Projection?

Those of us who have experience with narcissists understand projection.  That is when the narcissist accuses you of doing what she is doing.  She lies regularly, but calls you a liar.  He is critical & judgmental, yet accuses you of the exact same behaviors while denying he is that way.

 

So what is reverse projection?

 

I’m honestly not sure it’s even a known psychological term, but the name does describe the behavior well.  Reverse projection is when the victim tries to project her own good qualities onto her abuser.  She tries to see the good in a bad person so hard, that she says the abuser is the good things that she really is.  She claims her abuser can be very caring & compassionate when the truth is she is the only caring & compassionate one in the relationship.  Or, she believes her abuser is as honest as she is, when the fact is the abuser is a liar.

 

I believe reverse projection may be pretty common in those abused by narcissistic mothers.  Not only have I done it, but have known other victims who have as well.

 

It seems to be a coping skill.  I told myself growing up that my mother was overprotective because she loved me so much rather than face the truth that she was extremely controlling, & not out of love, but because I was there to serve her as she wanted.  If the victim in the throes of abuse can believe the abuser is abusing them out of love or is basically a good person, it makes the abuse more tolerable.  Believing what is done is being done for you own good or out of love makes you willing to tolerate it because it’s a display of the love you’re so starved for.  You also take the blame off of them for abusing you, & accept it onto yourself.  You begin to believe you deserve those terrible things done to you, so in your mind, the abuser is absolved of responsibility.

 

While these things may help you to get through a traumatic situation, it’s not good to hold onto the beliefs!

 

Reverse projection means even if you’re no longer in relationship with your abuser, you may still thing well of her rather than face the truth- she abused you.  Being realistic will help you to accept that yes, you were abused, yes, things were bad & yes, you have been adversely affected by it all.  Once you admit these things, & only then, can you begin to heal.

 

And if reverse projection helped you to accept responsibility for being abused, that will create plenty of problems in itself.  It’s unhealthy to accept responsibility for being abused because you did nothing wrong!  Doing so creates a root of toxic shame inside, & toxic shame creates so many problems.  It destroys your self esteem, it sets you up to be abused by others, it makes you unable to accept help when you need it & more.  You also are carrying the abuser’s shame when it’s not yours to carry.  That shame needs to be laid square on the abuser, never on the victim.  Whether or not the abuser carries her own shame is up to her, but it is never your responsibility to carry it!

 

Accepting responsibility for being abused also takes it off of the abuser.  The abuser is the one who needs to be responsible for her actions, no one else.  Chances are, she won’t accept that responsibility.  She’ll blame you for making her do those things or flatly deny they even happened.  She may even accuse you of making things up just to hurt her, & make herself into a victim.  Even if she does such things, that still doesn’t mean you need to accept responsibility for her actions!

 

Whether or not you’re still in a relationship with your abusive narcissistic mother, I would like to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to start looking at her realistically.  Is she really caring?  Honest?  A good person who just has some bad moments?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with looking at someone honestly.  In fact, it will help you a great deal!

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Why Do People Abuse?

Being interested in why people do the things they do, I’ve wondered why some people abuse & others don’t.  Recently, God helped to answer that question for me.  I hope this will help you to understand as well.

 

***Before I go any further though, please know that I am not saying these reasons make it acceptable to abuse.  It is NEVER acceptable to abuse anyone, for any reason!  You have every right to protect yourself from abusive people, & you should do so for the sake of your physical & mental health!!  I only wondered about this as a matter of curiosity, & thought I would share since others may wonder as well.***

 

An odd memory popped into my mind recently: when I went to see my father at work probably 20 years ago, I ran into one of his coworkers I’d never met before while I was looking for him.  I asked if she’d seen him & she said yes, he was over there.  She also said she was glad I wasn’t her employee with the way I looked.  I was blown away!  I was wearing jeans, a simple shirt & my black biker jacket- granted, not professional but also not offensive.  Besides, I wasn’t going to this place for work.  Thankfully that was the only time I ever met this person.

 

As I remembered this, I realized it wasn’t just her- many people have thought they could do & say any old thing to me & if I got mad in return, I was treated like I was the one with the problem.  Some examples are:

 

  • My narcissistic mother.  Too much to list here, as you can imagine..lol
  • My mother in-law.  Where do I start?  From day one, she didn’t like me.  She told me right after we got married how disappointed she was he married me instead of an old girlfriend (who cheated on him, by the way).  She called my granddad stupid (she never met him), told me I should get rid of my cats & my car, has snooped through my purse & so much more.  When I got mad at her, she suddenly became the victim, which would start fights between my husband & I.
  • Various friends who expected me to do everything for them while they would do nothing in return for me, some even used guilt if I didn’t answer their call immediately.  If I said anything, they chewed me out since I was the one who had done them wrong, according to them.
  • The husband of a once very good friend of mine, a gay couple, twisted my words around on something I’d written on Facebook, & claimed what I wrote meant I was a “homophob” even though that topic wasn’t what I posted about.  My friend never read what I said, or listened to my explanation.  He blindly believed his husband, & chewed me out for my “homophobic” ways.  Then shortly after, he asked a favor of me.  After some prayer, I ended the friendship.  It hurt badly & still does, but sadly I think it was for the best.

 

Things like this are incredibly hateful & hurtful.  So what makes people think they can treat another person this way?  I wondered about it & asked God.  He showed me the answer.

 

When people are abused, often they try not to be like their abuser.  Sometimes, though, they go a different way.  They decide rather than be a victim again, they are going to be in control.  They’ll hurt someone else before that person can hurt them.  If they tear you down, you won’t have it in you to hurt them.  They have a deep seated fear of being abused, & this is how they deal with that fear.

 

People tend to be quite good at reading other people, whether they realize it or not.  People like I mentioned in the above paragraph can spot another victim easily, & will abuse that person rather than take a chance that person may be like them- wanting to hurt the other person before that person hurts them.  Plus, if someone has been abused before, they are already used to being a victim, which means they will make easy prey for an abuser.

 

Also, abusers want their victims to themselves.  In the situation like I mentioned with my friend & his husband, I believe the husband saw me as a threat somehow, because it didn’t take long after they were married for him to start such strife between my friend & I.  That incident happened about 2 weeks after they were married.

 

These things God showed me made a great deal of sense to me.  I don’t really understand thinking as abusers do, but I can see how someone could think that way.  It’s a dysfunctional form of self-preservation.

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What Matters To You?

My entire life, I thought if something mattered to me, but not to other people, it wasn’t important.

 

I believe this stems from narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists do their level best to convince their victims that nothing about them matters.  Not their feelings, thoughts, desires, or even their health.

 

Amazing how narcissistic abuse seems to infect every single area of your life, isn’t it?  It’s so insidious, that I didn’t even think about the fact I thought that what mattered to me should matter to others until recently.

 

Now that I realized there is a problem, at least I can fix it while sharing what I learn with you, Dear Reader.

 

To start with, I’m talking to God about it.  It’s the best place to start that I know of.  I asked Him, “What makes the things that matter to me less important than what matters to others?”  “Are my desires less important than those of others?”  He responded me by reminding me that no one is more important than another person.  My wants, needs, etc. are just as valuable as those of other people.  I matter!  I also asked God to help me remember such things when I slip up, which no doubt will happen sometimes.

 

I think it’s also important not to beat yourself up when you slip into old, dysfunctional habits.  I do that very easily simply out of habit, & it’s very unhealthy.  It’s depressing & damaging to self-esteem.  Rather than beating yourself up, why not just accept that you’ll make mistakes.  No one is perfect, & mistakes happen, especially when trying to form a new habit.  Shake it off.  Accept that you made a mistake & try not to repeat that mistake.

 

When you realize you’re improving in this area, celebrate!  Reward yourself for a job well done!  How?  That is up to you.  At the very least, thank God for helping you & tell yourself you did a great job.  Changing old mindsets & habits isn’t easy, so you should be proud of yourself for making the appropriate changes & allowing God to help you to do so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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God Truly Wants To Help You Heal

God gave me yet another experience last night on just how badly He wants to help His children.  I realized I needed to write it out but rather than simply write it all in my journal, I thought I would share here in the hopes of blessing you, Dear Reader.  I apologize in advance- this probably will be long.

 

A few weeks back, I developed psoriasis on my face, surrounding my mouth.  Never had it before-I’ve always had clear, healthy skin- so it’s been rather upsetting feeling like I resemble Freddy Krueger.  Immediately I looked up what causes this awful skin condition & how to treat it.  For some odd reason, I never thought to ask God about it (not proud of this!).  I chalked it up to stress since it started not long after I lost one of my precious cats plus a few days later had the big fight with my parents, & hormone imbalances.  But, my husband kept saying how odd the location was.  Most people get psoriasis on their arms or backs or chests, but not me.  I agreed, it was odd, but had no answers & for whatever reason, didn’t think to ask God about it.

 

Last night, I went into the bathroom to put cream on my face.  I looked in the mirror & was glad to see the psoriasis is improving, slowly but surely.  I began to wonder why it was where it was, & suddenly, God spoke to my heart, & I knew the answer!

 

When I had that fight with my parents, I broke their rules- I yelled at them & even used some bad language.  I had been so caught up in feeling the pain of my loss plus the anger & hurt at my parents, I didn’t even realize I felt guilty for breaking the rules.  I also felt guilty for  feeling nothing for my parents.  Any emotions died for them during that argument- it was my final straw with them.  So while yes, stress & hormones played a part in why I got the psoriasis in the first place, my own guilt was why it’s around my mouth- because my mouth was the “problem.”  Kind of punishing myself for what I did.  The body is a strange yet interesting thing.  It can take out its own feelings on itself in very unusual ways, which is what happened to me.

 

Once I put the cream on, I returned to the other room, & got into prayer.  Years ago, I read Craig Hill’s book “Ancient Paths” about emotional healing.  I used one of his techniques that I’ve found extremely helpful.  I asked God if I should feel guilty for how I spoke to my parents.  Was I wrong?  Was I overreacting?  Before I could even finish what I was asking Him, immediately, He said I absolutely was NOT wrong- this was exactly what they needed.  They may disagree with me, but they needed to know that they really hurt me with their selfish ways.  They also wouldn’t have listened to me if I had spoken in a reasonable way about the topic- they wouldn’t have realized how devastated I was by their behavior.  They needed to see their reasonable, normally calm daughter so upset, that she acted totally out of character to understand the depths of how badly they hurt me.  Basically, they don’t understand or empathize with my feelings, but they know they hurt me.  Apparently that is something God wanted them to know.

 

As I was thinking about this after praying, I had a flashback..thankfully, it was the “mildest” one I’ve ever had.  I remembered back to 10th grade.  The boyfriend of one of my friends was hit by a car while riding his bike.  The day after the accident, everyone in school was talking about it.. in all the gory details.  Although I didn’t know this boy well, it was still horrific hearing about what happened.  I lost my appetite so I just took my lunch back home after the school day.  Later, my mother asked why I didn’t eat my lunch, so I told her.  Her response was awful.  Rather than show concern for this boy who happened to be the son of one of her friends, or show concern for me being obviously upset, she attacked me.  In an extremely shaming tone, she said things like, “You must really like him to be so affected by this.”  She shamed me for being romantically interested in this boy when the truth was I was simply upset someone I knew might die from a horrific accident.  The flashback reminded me of all the shame I felt that day.  Shame for doing nothing wrong!

 

After that, I remembered a similar incident.  Also in 10th grade, I took driver’s ed.  They showed what were known as “blood & gut” films- footage of the aftermath of car accidents.  The premise was to scare us enough to be careful drivers.  The films gave me nightmares.  One of which involved a fellow student from my economics class dead on the hood my grandfather’s Oldsmobile.  I still remember the nightmare- it was very vivid & terrible.  Strange too- I barely knew him, so I have no idea why he was even in my dream.  When I told my mother of this, her only concern was whether or not I thought this boy was “cute.”  Again, I was shamed for being interested in a boy that I had no interest in as my feelings were ignored.

 

As I pondered these awful memories, I asked God what this was all about.  He showed me why my mother has acted so outrageously in these instances.  She doesn’t genuinely care about other people, she hasn’t the ability to, & is jealous that I do.  Also, when I skipped lunch that day, it was proof I don’t have her issues with food (she’s an emotional eater), which was another reason for her to be angry with me.  Basically I reminded her of a flaw she has.  And lastly, my mother didn’t want me to be interested in boys because that would mean she was losing control of me.  If she could shame me for being interested in them, that would prevent me from being interested, & I would remain under her control.

 

Interestingly, by the way, as difficult as this all should have been remembering such nasty things, it wasn’t too bad.  I’m a bit tired today & have some mild body aches, but not bad compared to when other flashbacks have happened.  God strengthened me & enabled me to handle these things.  It was as if He was somehow  holding my hand as I faced things.   I’m not sure how else to explain it, but  I’m truly grateful He enabled me to do this!

 

The reason God reminded me of these instances was to show me that I have no reason to feel guilty.  There is no reasoning with my mother.  In her eyes, I am nothing but a tool to be used.  I mean absolutely nothing to her beyond what I can do for her.  Why should I feel any guilt or shame for not being willing to tolerate being treated as such?  And, in both of those instances, she was completely unreasonable & she put the weight of her issues on me.  This is not a safe person, nor is this someone I should feel bad for standing up to, mother or not.

 

As for my father, he did nothing to defend me to my mother after those instances.  He didn’t speak one word to her about her ridiculous behavior.  This was typical of him.  In fact, he even told me how hard it was for him watching me go through what I did with her when her abuse hit its peak in my late teens.  I ended up comforting him when he said that, when should have been comforting & protecting me.

 

All of this really got to the root of some problems, which is awesome.  Admittedly, it’s not fun, but to deal properly with problems, you need to get to the root of them.  As hard as remembering such things was, I am truly grateful God showed me such things because now I can heal & ditch the guilt & shame I have felt the past two months.  Hopefully the psoriasis will heal quicker now too.

 

If God did this for me, He certainly will do the same for you, Dear Reader.  He wants you to be healed & enjoy your life!  If you allow Him, He will gently guide you on the right road for your healing & strengthen you to face whatever you need to face!  And, once you face those demons, you can be set free!

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Talking About Your Trauma

I’ve been reading lately about discussing abusive & traumatic experiences.  It seems many people have very definite opinions on the matter.  Some think it is the duty of the victim to talk about it, to raise awareness & help other victims.  Others think talking puts unfair pressure on the victim, & they’ve been through enough.

 

It seems to me that in a way, they’re both right.

 

Proverbs 31:8-9 says,

“8  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.

9  Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  (KJV)

 

I believe this clearly states that it is right to speak up against abuse.  But, if you notice, it says to “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”  That could be those who are still being abused & unable to escape, but it also could be those who are recently traumatized or even those who only recently realized they were abused (as abusers love to convince victims they are helping, the victim made them hurt them, it isn’t abuse, etc).  It can be hard or even impossible to talk about your trauma when you’ve only recently escaped your abuser or learned what was done to you was abuse.

 

So how do you know what is right for you to do?  Pray.  Ask God to show you what He would have you to do.

 

If you feel speaking about your experiences is the answer for you at this time, it can be scary, I know.  Lean on God to enable you to do it. Not everyone who discusses their abusive experiences is in the public eye.  God may not want you to write a book or blog.  He may instead send people across your path periodically who need to hear your story.  That calling is no less important than those who are in the public eye.  Helping people cope with their pain is an extremely important calling, no matter how it is done.

 

If you don’t feel the need to discuss your experiences, probably this means you have some healing to do first.  Talking about things really isn’t easy.  Abusers always make victims afraid to talk.  When you first escape the abusive situation or first realize what was done was actually abuse, you may need to think & pray a lot to come to terms with things.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  Do what you need to do!  Prayer, writing in a journal & even writing letters you never show to the abuser are excellent places to start.  Never feel bad if you’re in this place!  Everyone starts their recovery somewhere, & often it’s alone.  Besides, if you hope to be one who can help other victims, you have to be able to do so.  Self-care is vital!  You have to take care of yourself if you want to be of any help to others.

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“You’re Too Negative!”

One thing many victims of narcissistic abuse have told me is people have told them they are too negative if they discuss their experiences.   I’ve heard it too.  “You’re too negative.”  “Your problem is you don’t think positive” (I guess thinking positive will fix my C-PTSD.. if it was only that easy!)

 

What people fail to realize is telling the truth about narcissistic abuse isn’t being negative.  It’s telling facts.  It’s telling your story.  It’s raising awareness of this awful epidemic.  It also helps us to heal, discussing things.  (The constant gaslighting/crazy making made us doubt ourselves so much, & talking about things helps us to keep a healthy perspective & remember the narcissist was the real problem.)

 

There is nothing negative or critical or even dishonorable about discussing your experiences with narcissistic abuse!  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!  Talk about it as you are comfortable.  Help raise awareness!  Help yourself heal!

 

One important thing to remember though- if you’re seeking validation by discussing your story, you may not get it.  Many people don’t understand narcissistic abuse, nor do they want to.  Even those close to you may invalidate your pain.  You have to accept that not everyone will provide the support & understanding you crave.

 

If you’re worried about the narcissist finding out you’re talking about what she did to you, I understand.  It’s scary.  Narcissists, in particular narcissistic parents, can be scary, especially during a narcissistic rage.  But, keep in mind- there is really nothing they can do to you anymore!  Scream at you?  Call you names?  Talk badly about you to other people?  Chances are, after years of it, you’re so used to these things they barely phase you anymore.  I understand!  As a grown woman, I sometimes get afraid someone will tell my parents what I write about.  I remember my mother screaming & raging at me as a kid.  When that happens, I remind myself that I’ve experienced her rages so many times, that I’ve become pretty numb to them.  I also remind myself that this isn’t just her story- it is mine too.  I have every right to discuss it with whoever & however I want to.

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“Just Let It Go”

I think all of us who have been abused have heard this invalidating, hurtful phrase at some point.  You say something about your experiences, & the listener tells you to “just let it go.”  They may even say “I mean this in love…” first, as if that will soften the blow of their hurtful words.

 

“Just let it go” can be among the most painful words a victim can hear, & also among the most common ones.  It’s also among the most stupid thing to say.

 

For one thing, if the person saying them says they’re saying these words out of love for you, that is a lie.  The simple fact is that what you have said about your experiences makes the person uncomfortable.  I can say this with confidence, because I believe what the Bible says about love:

 

1 Corinthians 13  1″Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.  (KJV)

 

Nowhere in there does it say love means invalidate others or hurt them.  Love is kind, rejoices in truth & bears all things- sounds to me like real love means you support those in pain instead, even if the topic makes you uncomfortable.

 

“Just let it go” also doesn’t make sense because who we are is a result of what we have experienced in life, good & bad.  You shouldn’t “just let go” of your past as if it didn’t happen because of that.  You can learn a lot about yourself by not only what you have been through, but also by how you responded to things that have happened to you.

 

When you have been through traumatic experiences, there is another problem with “just letting it go”:  you can’t.  Even if you want to, you can’t.  PTSD & C-PTSD mean like it or not, you’re going to live with depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia & more because of the trauma you’ve been through.  I’ve heard it said that PTSD & C-PTSD don’t mean you aren’t letting go of the past, but they’re the past not letting go of you.  It’s VERY true!

 

There are some things that you can & should “just let go” however…

 

  • Believing you are 100% responsible for making relationships work.
  • Believing something is wrong with you or you’re a bad person, because others have mistreated you.
  • Believing that if you would just do *fill in the blank*, the other person would treat you better.
  • Believing you have to “forgive & forget” or else you’re a bad person.
  • Believing you have to be in a relationship with your abuser.  You do NOT have to tolerate abuse from anyone.
  • Hope that the other person will one day apologize to you for everything they’ve done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anger Isn’t Always Bad

I just got myself a little ice cream. Rocky road, my favorite  🙂  Hubby brought it home probably close to a month ago by now.  I’ve been the only one eating it & it’s maybe 1/4 gone. Realizing that I haven’t been over indulging triggered a flashback.

 

When I was growing up, my mother would get candy bars at the grocery store, & often when we came home, she’d give one to my father, one to me then take one for herself.  Often, she forced me to take another one, then when I finally did, she’d call me a hog & give me a very creepy, maniacal smile.  It was so scary looking!  If I confronted her, she’d say “But it’s cute when I do it” & continue the scary smile.  I also had to eat the stupid candy bar or she’d have treated me even worse, more shaming.  I still flippin’ HATE Fifth Avenue candy bars because of her.  Not sure if they even make them- I’m not a big candy bar fan.  Gee, I wonder why??

 

It was kinda funny though.. for once, I realized how angry I am about what my mother did to me.  I also realized it wasn’t a bad thing.  I certainly have a right to be angry about this!  Not only did this awful behavior of my mother’s trigger a flashback (I sincerely hate them!), it’s things like this which are directly responsible for me having eating disorders in my younger days.  I wasn’t overweight growing up, but my mother consistently commented on my weight or my body.  She also very harshly criticized whatever I ate or didn’t eat.  Everything about me, my body, my looks & what I ate was wrong.

 

God’s been working with me on getting OK with my anger for quite a while. I’m never angry all that long, I forgive easily & I don’t get vengeful or cruel.  I’m not consumed with anger.  Also for quite a while now, I’ve envied those who say they don’t let things bother or anger them & felt guilty for not being so “good”,  being a bad Christian or even worse, proving my mother right when she said I have a terrible temper.  The Bailey temper, as she’s always called it.  According to her, the Bailey temper is the worst plague in all humanity, past or present.  So not being ashamed of my anger or feeling like it was misplaced or over the top was a breakthrough!

 

If you struggle with anger too, Dear Reader, please know you are not alone!  Many of us raised by narcissistic parents go through this.  Also, please know that feeling anger is human!  God gave people emotions so we are aware of things.  Joy means what you’re doing is a good thing- have fun with it!  Sadness helps us grieve when we lose someone we love.  Anger is a sign someone is mistreating us.  Emotions are God-given & there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of them, including anger!  It’s what you do with emotions that can be a bad thing.  Simply feeling anger isn’t bad at all.  Hurting someone in the heat of anger, however, that is bad.

 

So the next time you feel angry, feel it!  Don’t ignore your anger!  Ignoring or burying your anger only leads to problems.  Feel your anger.  Tell God what you’re feeling.  Journal about it.  Talk to a safe friend or relative.  Beat up some pillows if that helps.  Write angry letters you never send.  Find a safe way to get your anger out, & rest easy that your anger is not only normal, but God ordained.  There is nothing wrong with you for feeling angry for being mistreated!

 

Also once you get the anger out, know you’re going to be tired.  Emotional work can be very draining.  Take care of yourself.  Rest & relax.  Lay around & watch movies if that helps.  Do things that comfort you & make you feel nurtured.  It’s  good self-care to take it easy after any emotional work.

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Only You Can Decide Whether Or Not No Contact Is Right For You

After recently being told yet again that I “should just cut ties” with my parents, I felt the need to write this post to remind everyone that only you can decide whether or not no contact is right for you.  I know, I’ve written several posts like this, but sometimes information bears repeating!

 

So many people who write about narcissistic abuse preach the value of no contact for the victim.  In fact, many say it is the only solution & you’re wrong to think otherwise.

 

The simple fact is though, that not every situation is the same.  Yes, no contact is a very good solution in many situations.  Often, it is the only solution.  That being said though, it isn’t the only option.

 

There are many people who are unable or unwilling to go no contact, especially when it comes to a narcissistic parent.  Some are forced to live with this parent due to financial reasons, & have no means to move.  Others want to go no contact, but don’t feel they are strong enough to do so just yet.  They’re working towards that goal.  Still others are fine with low contact, which is what I have chosen.  I deal with my parents as I feel able to do so.

 

There are no “one size fits all” solutions for victims of narcissistic parents.  Everyone is different & everyone copes with things differently.  Just because eliminating your narcissistic parent(s) from your life worked out great for you doesn’t mean it will work as great for someone else.  And, if you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic parent, that doesn’t mean that solution works for everyone.  Never tell someone in similar circumstances to yours that they should just do what you did & if they do it, expect them to have the same results as you.  That won’t happen.

 

 

It also isn’t right to assume you know best what someone else needs to do with their life.  It’s judgmental & makes people feel stupid, as if they aren’t smart enough to figure out solutions on their own.  Being raised by a narcissistic parent, chances are the person already feels stupid, no matter how smart they are, especially if their mother was the engulfing type.  Telling that person what they need to do with their life reinforces that wrong belief.  Obviously you wouldn’t tell them what to do if you thought they were smart enough to figure this out on their own.  This is exactly how I feel when someone tells me what to do, especially when I didn’t ask for their input.  No matter how well meaning their words, I still have to battle feeling stupid.  On some level, it takes me back to my mother constantly telling me what to do or just doing things for me because according to her, I wasn’t doing it right or didn’t know what I was doing.  It’s not a nice feeling!  Would you really want to make someone feel that way?!

 

Instead of telling someone they should “just go no contact,” tell them you’re sorry for their pain.  Listen without judgment or trying to fix their problems.  If they ask for advice, rather than say, “If I were you, I would….”, phrase your advice gentler.  Ask, “Have you ever thought about doing…?”  “What about doing…do you think that would help?”  “Have you tried…?”

 

Offer to pray for & with that person.

 

Offer to take the person to lunch, to a movie or do something that person enjoys as a distraction.  Sometimes a little time away from problems can be very helpful.

 

There are ways you can help without telling a person what to do or hurting them any more than they’re already hurting.

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The Butterfly Project

As many of you remember, I created The Butterfly Project a few months ago in a simple attempt to help offer inspiration & comfort to victims of narcissistic abuse, while also raising awareness of the horrors of narcissistic abuse.  I hope you have visited the website or follow the Facebook page, & have decided to participate!

 

I also created a twitter page.  You can visit it at: https://twitter.com/ButterfliesProj  Everything that posts to the Facebook page will publish on twitter now, so if you are one of those who doesn’t like Facebook, then I hope twitter will give you a new option for following the page!

 

If you haven’t visited The Butterfly Project, please take a few minutes to check out the website.  It explains in detail what the project is about.

 

Thank you for your time!  I hope you will consider joining me in this project!  It won’t cost you much money or take up much of your time, but the potential to help others is great!

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Don’t Ignore Your Breakthroughs

Many of us who are healing from narcissistic abuse are more focused on how far we have to go instead of how far we have come in our healing journey.  I think this is because when raised by a narcissistic parent (or two), we learned early on to focus on our flaws.  Being harshly criticized constantly will do that to a person.

 

This is a bad habit though & needs to end!

 

I realized how guilty I am of this behavior just recently.

 

My father called one evening to let me know one of my favorite movies was coming on TV, “Christine.”  He’s never done this before, which struck me odd.  My mother has always been the one to do that.  After only a few moments of conversation, he said “Did you hear that?  The call waiting beeped.  I have to go.”  We said our good byes & hung up.  I realized that he lied about his call waiting- I know because when it’s beeped before when we were on the phone, I always heard a second or two of silence each time it beeped.  This time?  Nothing.

 

I thought about this call after hanging up.  Obviously he’s angry with me.  He’ll never say that since he wants to look like the good parent at all times.  He avoids me instead.  Not a full fledged silent treatment, but when we speak, it’s less frequently & the conversations are much shorter.   That’s why he lied about the call waiting- to get rid of me without blatantly stating he wanted to get rid of me.

 

As for him calling about the movie, that was a first.  Usually my mother calls to let me  know when it’s coming on.  She loves to tell me how “crazy”, “weird” or other nasty things I am for liking it & other Stephen King movies.  “Christine” is a bonus for her because Christine is a ’58 Plymouth Fury.  Since I drive a ’69 Fury, this opens the door for her to insult my car.  They’re too big, ugly, destroy the roads, no one needs a car that big, etc.  For her to pass up all that nastiness, she must still be very angry with me due to our argument on May 5.

 

Rather than being upset like I once would’ve been with my revelations, I found this situation funny (probably inappropriately so).  My parents would rather be wrong, pretend to be right, & act like I’m messed up for not tolerating them being hateful with me than admit they were cruel to me.  And, they’re so passive/aggressive, they won’t try to work things out.  Instead they use immature, silly ways to punish me.  The ridiculousness of the situation struck me funny.

 

God also used this situation to show me something very valuable.  Not so long ago, I would’ve been upset.  I would’ve been enjoying the silent treatment, yet wondering if I should do something.  Should I apologize?  Should I “be the bigger person” & try to work things out?  This time though, those thoughts never even crossed my mind!  Realizing that as well as that I could laugh at the ridiculousness of it all made me see just how far I’ve come.  I’m quite proud  of myself!  I’ve come a long way!

 

I also saw clearly how little I usually celebrate such victories.  Instead, I tend to focus way more on how far I have to go, which is depressing.  That isn’t happening anymore.  I realized the value of having balance, & am working on doing that.

 

Looking at how far you have to go is necessary.  It shows you what you need to work on, & when you get frustrated with being a certain way, you get motivated to change.  However, looking at how far you’ve come is equally valuable.  It helps to encourage you.  You realize that if you could improve that much, then you can continue to improve.  Only looking at how far you have to go discourages you, & only looking at how far you’ve come can make you stagnant.  Maintaining a balance & looking at both is vital to your healing journey being successful, I believe.

 

I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to start focusing just as much on how far you’ve come as you do on how far you have to go.  Try to maintain that healthy balance.  It will bring you more peace & joy, & you deserve that!!  xoxo

 

 

 

 

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Do You Validate Abuse?

Most of us who have experienced abuse in our childhood have trouble standing up for ourselves even as adults.  It feels wrong, like something you should never do.

 

But, did it ever cross your mind that by not defending yourself, you are validating the abuse?  It gives the abuser permission to treat you however they want to.

 

 

Unfortunately with narcissists, it’s not always easy to put a stop to their evil actions.  They seem to think they have the right to do anything they want to whomever they want.  Even so, it’s a good idea to set some boundaries with them.

 

Remember, with narcissists, you can’t set boundaries like you can with normal people.  Normal people will respect it when you say that something they did hurt you.  They will apologize & try to make it up to you when appropriate.  Narcissists are the complete opposite- they will not only refuse to apologize, but remember what you complain about to do it more often.  They also may blame you for making them do that, being oversensitive or even making things up.

 

You have to get creative in setting boundaries with narcissists.

 

First, ask God for creative ideas.  He will NOT disappoint you!  Once, my mother told me where a former teacher of mine works.  She said he asked about me & she told him I don’t work (apparently being an author isn’t a real job.. could’ve fooled me!).  That made me angry, her discounting my writing yet again.  In venting to God, He put an idea in my head.  I made up new business cards, & when I saw this teacher with my parents a couple of weeks later, proceeded to give him one in front of my mother.  The look of shock on her face was priceless!  And, she couldn’t say a thing or else she would have looked bad in front of my old teacher.  HA!

 

Secondly, always do your best to appear happy or neutral when setting a boundary.  Never show your hurt or anger, as I mentioned above.  Also, it flusters them when you can set a boundary cheerfully after their valiant attempt to hurt you.  When they get flustered, they will stop what they are doing.

 

And, don’t forget- subject changes can be your friend.  Rather than saying you don’t want to talk about whatever topic they are using to hurt you, change the subject.  It may not always work, but it will help you sometimes.  Just be sure to keep changing the topic back to what they wanted to talk about if they try to change it back.

 

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Taking Care Of Yourself

I realize my posts can be repetitive sometimes, & this time is no different.  The reason is I feel the need to share things as God places in my heart, & sometimes He must feel a topic bears repeating.

 

Today, I feel God wants me to remind you to take breaks.

 

Learning about narcissism, even how you can heal from it, can be extremely draining.  It can exhaust you mentally & physically because it’s such an intense subject.  Even learning how to heal can be extremely exhausting, because the abuse is so insidious & invasive.  Being exhausted is not only unpleasant, but can lead to physical & emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, muscle pain, headaches & more.

 

Today, I feel God wants you to know it’s OK, & even necessary, to take breaks.

 

I understand sometimes that can be hard, especially in the early stages of healing.  It’s so incredible to find out that you really are NOT the problem!  You’re normal & reacting normally to very abnormal circumstances.  You want to learn more about NPD as well as ways for you to heal.  All of this is great, but truly, you can’t focus on such things 24/7.  So take frequent breaks where you refuse to think about such things.

 

There is no scale of how often you need to take breaks.  Simply follow your heart.  If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, that means it’s time to take a break.  If you’re becoming irritable, it’s time for a break.  If you feel overly emotional, physically tired or even just out of sorts, it’s time for a break.  Signs like this are your mind & body’s way of saying it’s time to relax & stop focusing on such intense topics for a while.

 

There also is no steadfast rules of what you need to do when you take a break.  Do whatever you enjoy that relaxes you.  I love herbal teas, crocheting & fun movies or music.  I also spend more time with the furkids or hang out with close friends.  What little things can you do that help relax you?  Then do it & enjoy yourself!

 

Narcissistic abuse is no laughing matter.  It is extremely painful & invasive to the victims.  Always remember that, & remember that taking frequent respites from such an intense & negative topic will help you in the long run.  xoxo

 

 

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Shipping Sale On My Books!

My publisher is offering free mail shipping or 50% off ground shipping until Friday.  Use code APRSHIP50 at checkout.

 

My books are available at this link:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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An Update About An Update & Lessons Learned

Recently I shared a personal update in this post.  I mentioned how I realized I needed to start taking more frequent breaks.  I even asked a good friend to monitor my Facebook group when I feel I need a break.  So, a few days ago, I asked her to monitor it for the first time.  I had yet another awful headache & figured what better time to take a break.  Spend the afternoon relaxing, watching tv, maybe crocheting, while staying away from the blog, group & anything related to narcissism.

 

Sounds good in theory.  In reality though?  I botched that one big time.

 

I spent that afternoon continually checking my group & blog.  I forced myself not to respond, but at I at least read what was posted.

 

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

So much for a break.

 

Again, I haven’t been “practicing what I preach.”  I’ve been beating myself up over this.  I mean really- my group is amazing.  What could happen if I took the afternoon away from it?!  If someone needs support, other group members jump right in & support each other in spite of their own problems.  Same with those who read my blog- if people see comments by someone in need of information &/or support, they jump in.  My presence isn’t necessary 100% of the time.

 

I really hate that overdeveloped sense of responsibility.  It’s so annoying.  It’s also yet one more awful result of being raised by narcissistic, parentalizing parents.

 

What I learned from this experience is this…

 

  • Little victories should still be counted.  Like me only reading & not responding in my group that afternoon.  it still counts!  It’s a step in the right direction.
  • Victories can’t be had overnight.  Be patient with yourself when trying to make changes, especially to something as deeply ingrained as that overdeveloped sense of responsibility.
  • Old habits die hard, as the saying goes.  Keep on trying, & it’ll happen.  Maybe not the first time you try making that change, but it’ll happen if you keep on, keepin’ on.
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  Easier said than done, I know.  Just remember, you’re human.  That means you’re going to make mistakes sometimes.  It’s ok.  Things happen.  Just learn from those mistakes & move on.  Don’t dwell on how badly you screwed up when you did *fill in the blank.*  We all make mistakes, & sometimes big ole honkin’ ones!  If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Personal Update & The Importance Of Taking Breaks

I vowed some time ago to keep my blog real, to be honest about my experiences, both the good & bad ones.  My hope is that you can learn from my mistakes.

 

A few days ago, I read a quote on Facebook from the book “Boundaries” by Drs. Cloud & Townsend.  It says,

 

“Another damaging effect of abuse or molestation is the destruction of a sense of ownership over the victim’s soul.  In fact, victims often feel like they are public property- that their resources, body & time should be available to others just for the asking.”

 

Although I’ve read “Boundaries” several times, I never related to that quote so well as I have recently.  It perfectly sums up how I’ve always felt.

 

Interestingly, this quote came to my attention a couple of hours after receiving a message from one of my readers.  When I saw I had a message, I cringed a bit.  Not because the person was someone I didn’t like (she was lovely to talk with) or I didn’t want to help this person, but because I have gotten so tired lately of all things narcissism.  I’ve also been more depressed than usual for about a month.  Considering my feelings & then this quote, I immediately realized something about myself.  I haven’t been practicing what I preach.  I haven’t been taking frequent breaks.  I slipped back into the old, dysfunctional habit of feeling as if I need to be there for anyone & everyone, at all times, always being the strong one & fixing everything.

 

*bangs head into walls*

 

I really hate backsliding!  It’s especially insulting since I was doing better in this area.  God showed me a few months ago that when I got so sick in 2015 from carbon monoxide poisoning, one of the reasons was basically to force me to take better care of myself.  Since getting sick, sometimes now my body &/or mind gets extremely tired & I have no choice but to rest, which has proven to be a good thing.  At least until this past month, when I slid back into ignoring my physical & mental health, pushing myself past my limits.

 

I decided the other day this has to stop.  Right now, I have a sick kitty who needs my attention & I also need a break from all things narcissism.

 

I started by asking a very close friend to help me manage my group by being an admin in there.  When I need a break, she can keep an eye on things.  When I told my group, they were incredibly supportive.  Another dear friend who is in my group sent me a private message, telling me it’s ok to take breaks, I don’t always have to be the strong one & she is there for me.  I was very moved by the wonderful show of support & love!  Truly, my group is amazing.  🙂  If you’re interested in joining, you can check it out here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/FansOfCynthiaBaileyRug/

 

While I was recovering last year, I was able to write many blog posts.  So many, I have them written 3 months in advance.  Plus wordpress publishes them to Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, etc. automatically.  I don’t write blog posts every other day, as it may look since that’s when they are published.  Please keep that in mind if you try to contact me via this blog or my social network sites.  If I don’t respond quickly, please forgive me, but I needed a break.  Otherwise, I’ll respond quickly.

 

Interestingly since I decided to take breaks, I already feel less pressure & depressed.  Knowing I can take breaks as needed has taken a large weight off my shoulders!

 

My reason for this post, Dear Reader, is two fold.  For one thing, I want you to know what is happening, so if I don’t respond to you in a timely manner, you won’t feel that I don’t care.  I truly do!  I also care about myself, though, & know being “on call” is too much pressure for me to handle.

 

For another thing, I want you to learn from my mistake.  Never, ever forget that Narcissistic Personality Disorder & recovering from narcissistic abuse are extremely serious, complex & painful topics.  Frequent breaks from thinking & talking about narcissism are absolutely vital to one’s mental & physical health!  I think it is very normal to obsess at first.  Once you have an answer to why someone treated you as they did, it’s only natural to want to know more about why they behaved that way.  It also feels so good to learn that you aren’t the problem as you were told you were.  Who wouldn’t want to understand why they were blamed for being abused?!  And, since narcissism is so complex, it’s pretty much a bottomless pit of things you can learn about it.  You should learn about narcissism.  It will empower you to do so.  That being said though, due to its complex nature & the pain of narcissistic abuse, you will need to take frequent breaks away from the topics.  During those times, refuse to think about or discuss narcissism.  Relax.  Do things you enjoy.  The balance will help you to stay strong & avoid depression.  You’ll know when you need a break, too- your mood will sink & you’ll be thinking about narcissism constantly.  Listen to these cues!  I didn’t, & look what has happened to me.  Please learn from my mistakes & don’t make the same ones I have!

 

Take good care of yourself, Dear Reader!  I’m praying for you as I hope you pray for me!  xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do You Avoid Depending On & Trusting People?

Something else I recently learned was about counter dependency- another common issue in victims of abuse.

 

Counter dependency is where a person has issues trusting other people.  They avoid depending on, opening up to or trusting others.  They appear extremely independent, even pushing other people away.  Often they have a deep fear of intimacy & fear asking for any help.  When you consider what the typical childhood experiences of a child of a narcissistic parent are, this behavior makes sense.  Narcissistic parents don’t care about their child’s feelings & needs, basically forcing their child to be independent of them.  For a child, being pushed away by a parent is devastating.  She learns early in life not to trust other people.

 

After reading about counter dependency, I realized this describes me very well.  As an example, if my husband & I have a disagreement, I shut down with him.  If he later asks how I am, my answer is always fine.  What did I do today?  Not much.  I let him talk about his day at work or anything else he wants to, but I divulge little to no information about myself.  It happens so automatically, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until the last couple of weeks. It took some more time for me to learn this behavior has a name.

 

As of now, I’m not entirely sure how to change this dysfunctional behavior.  I am only guessing, but I think talking about my experiences would help.  Mostly with God of course- He is always the best place to start- but also with safe people or writing about it in my journal.  Talking, praying or writing about things can bring a clarity to you, & enable you to understand why you are behaving in a dysfunctional way.  And of course, once you understand the root of your behavior, you can understand the truth which is you don’t need to behave that way.  You can behave in a healthier way.

 

As I learn about counter dependency, I’ll share what I learn.  We can learn & grow together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ways To Cope With Agoraphobia

As mentioned in my previous blog post, agoraphobia is a part of anxiety.  It is the fear of public places.  It commonly accompanies PTSD & C-PTSD.

 

And to put it bluntly, it sucks!

 

I have a hard time going out with someone, but alone is an extremely nerve-wracking prospect.  It’s been very challenging trying to come up with ways to cope.  I have found a couple of things that help some, so I thought I would share them with you today in the hopes they help you as well.

 

Valerian root is an herb with anxiety combating properties.  Taking a pill before going out can be quite helpful.  It may not make you super calm, but it does help to take a great deal of the edge off.  If you haven’t tried it before, you’d be best trying it on a day when you don’t have to drive.  Normally one pill won’t make you sleepy, but there is a chance it may.  Not something you want to deal with behind the wheel!  I have found one pill about every 12 hours can help with anxiety, but more than that puts me to sleep unless my anxiety levels are exceptionally bad.  Many people are the same way, so just be forewarned you may be as well.  Valerian root capsules are readily available in some stores that sell vitamins & herbal supplements as well as online.  It’s usually quite inexpensive too.  Also be sure to follow the dosing on the bottle, as manufacturers sometimes make different strengths.  If you’re taking other medicines, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with valerian.

 

I also make sure to go out during quieter times.  The middle of the afternoon during a Tuesday is often a time stores are less crowded.  Early Tuesday or Wednesday morning for DMV.  Also, off times also mean less traffic- an added bonus!

 

I like to reward myself with a little something when I’ve had to go out.  A milkshake, a new bottle of nail polish, or something similar can help motivate me to do what needs done.

 
If I’m able, I try to either go out with someone or meet someone.  Even if I go to lunch with someone then do the errands I need to do, it helps because I had some fun.

 

Motivational thoughts can help some too.  Things like,

  • The sooner I get this trip done, the sooner I can come home & relax.
  • Once this trip is done, I can do something I enjoy- watch that movie I’ve been wanting to see, do a manicure, snuggle the furkids, etc.
  • I also try to focus on something positive, like I am grateful I have this wonderful car to drive, & I am able to go out without having to rely on someone to take me out.

 

I hope these tips help you to better manage living with agoraphobia!

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