My publisher is offering a 15% discount on all print books until July 3, 2020. You can find my books at the following link: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug
Tag Archives: recovery
I get a daily email from the funeral home that took care of my mother when she died. It sometimes has good & interesting emails. Sadly though because our relationship was so abnormal, & it’s aimed for people with normal relationships who are grieving, it isn’t usually particularly helpful.
I just read the first email I truly disliked. Even so, I think it can be a valuable teaching tool, even for those in relationships with narcissists.
The email quoted a book written by a young woman whose sister died. She said her mother cried non stop. She wore headphones constantly so she wouldn’t have to hear her mother cry, & her father worked very long hours for the same reason. The commentary on this brief story said that as someone grieving, you should consider how your actions affect others. You should keep your home life as normal as possible. People who love you will be upset to see you suffering. It ended with take time to share your feelings & not isolate yourself.
When I read this, it bothered me.
Not talking things out isn’t healthy. Whether you’re grieving as the lady in this article or suffering at the hands of a narcissist. you have to talk about things. You can’t ignore things & hope they’ll go away because they won’t. The same goes for toning bad things down when you do talk about them. It’s wise to share only with people you know are safe of course, so I’m not saying talk to just anyone. Only aim to talk with safe people who won’t judge, criticize or invalidate you. Can you imagine how much better the lady in this article would’ve felt if she had someone to talk to?!
Also, it seems to me the family in this article split up rather than pulling together with their shared loss. That isn’t healthy! The family in this email would have been so much better off if they would have spoken to each other about what each one was feeling & supported each other. Whether you are grieving a death like the lady in this article or are suffering at the hands of an abuser, you should come together with people who are experiencing a situation similar to yours. That way you can help each other to get through. Finding that common ground with another person also can be incredibly validating! If you don’t know anyone, there are countless online forums & groups on social media sites where you can meet such people.
The final sentence bothered me, too. It seemed to me that taken in context with the rest of it basically said, “Let people know you’re upset, but not *too* upset.” That is just wrong. If people truly care about you, naturally they don’t want to see you upset of course, but they also won’t expect you to hide your feelings just to appease them. They would rather see you bawl your eyes out or yell than plaster on a fake smile & pretend everything is ok. They probably would see through the fake smile easily anyway. I know my friends would. If you’re suffering at the hands of a narcissist in particular, I know it can feel sometimes like no one cares, but that isn’t true! That is only what the narcissist wants you to think, so you won’t discuss the abuse with anyone. There will be people who genuinely care & want to help you. Let them!
In the midst of suffering, it really can feel like there is no escape, like you’re all alone & no one cares. Don’t believe that! People do care & you can get through this. And most importantly, there is a God who loves you so much & will be there for you no matter what. Don’t forget to turn to Him & let Him help you to get through!
Anyone who knows me knows I am deeply into music. Although I love all kinds of music, one of my favorite bands ever is the famous rock band, Queen. Their unique sound & ability to mix all types of sounds to make music is absolutely incredible to me. “Normal” music bores me so the uniqueness that always has been Queen is super appealing to me.
Anyone who knows me also knows my way of thinking is a bit skewed from what normal people think. That ties into my Queen fandom, so please bear with me….
Recently I was listening to my favorite Queen song, “The Show Must Go On.” The song was written by Brian May, the band’s incredibly talented guitarist & by the way also an astrophysicist, for the band’s singer, Freddie Mercury as he was dying from AIDS. The band members were incredibly close friends, & this song was his gift to Freddie. The story goes, at the time they were to record it, Freddie was quite ill & the other band members weren’t sure he would be able to sing long enough to create the single. Upon hearing their concerns, he slammed down a shot of liquor & said he’d do it… then proceeded to create the vocals in only one take. Pretty impressive especially for a dying man, don’t you think?
Yet, this isn’t something that was un-typical for the magnificent singer.
An extremely shy man, Freddie Mercury created an on stage persona that was very different from his true personality. His fans loved the extrovert he was on stage, yet in spite of that, when he was off stage, he stayed true to his true shy nature. His private life stayed private as much as possible.
In spite of being known for being shy, Freddie Mercury had a healthy self esteem. Many people assume being shy means having low self esteem, but that isn’t always the case. He recognized his talent as well as his shortcomings. As a result, he also was very accepting of others & non-judgmental.
Freddie Mercury was comfortable with who he was. Ok, he was not perfect, but who is? Even so, this man was clearly comfortable in his own skin.
Also, he wasn’t afraid to step out of the box. He did many unique things. The opinions of others really weren’t important to him. That isn’t a bad thing at all! Everyone should have such confidence in stepping out of the box!
Thinking of these things, I was reminded yet again that Freddie Mercury is quite the role model. Yes, I know, he had issues. But honestly.. don’t we all have some issues?? He was true to himself & that is a wonderful thing! We should strive to be true to ourselves as well.
I think most of us can learn a thing or two from this amazing man!
Naturally as Christians, we need to keep God first in our lives. That being said though, it sure wouldn’t hurt any of us to learn a few lessons from Freddie Mercury.
Whatever you do, stay true to yourself, be comfortable in your own skin & don’t be afraid to step outside of the box. What other people think isn’t important. And yes, this is aimed at those who survived narcissists! You take care of yourself, be true to yourself & don’t be afraid of trying anything different. If you want to dye your hair pink or blue or purple, then by all means, DO IT!!! Get that tattoo, change your wardrobe into something entirely different from your normal. Don’t let the opinions of other people determine what you should & shouldn’t do. I know this can be so hard when you were raised by narcissistic parents, but it’s so important to break away from their mindset. They don’t know you as the person God created you to be. They don’t understand His will for your life. And that is fine. You know these things & you know that you need to do God’s will for your life. Do it & enjoy every single moment!
My husband & I were talking last night about the relationship with my parents, & I thought I’d share a bit of that talk with you…
I was quickly reaching a point probably about 10 years ago where I wanted no further contact with my parents. I prayed about it, & knew God was leaving that decision up to me, & would support me either way. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I maintained the relationship.
As many of you know, in 2015 I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. While I was in the emergency room & still very delirious, I told my husband not to tell our parents about this at any costs, because if he did, I would kill him. In spite of being totally in my own delirious world at that time, I still have some vague memories of thinking of how my parents would respond to my situation & knew there was NO way I could handle their lack of concern.
While recovering, I remembered this, & it hit me… my word!! I can’t even expect comfort from my parents when I nearly died! How messed up is this?! That revelation threw me for a loop. I was incredibly sad & angry about it at the same time. That was when I told God, enough is enough. I want these people out of my life! I’m done! Yet oddly, this time I felt He was saying, “No. Wait. I’ll show you when the time is right.”
Well, I waited & kept saying, “Now?! Please?!” “Wait.” *sigh* Ok…
Then May 5, 2016, I had a big fight with my parents. I knew that night my mother wouldn’t speak to me for quite a while, then she’d call like nothing ever happened. That is how she always operated. I also knew my father would demand to me to try to smooth over this fiasco. What I figured would happen, happened. Over the next few months, I made the decision that I was officially done with my mother, then later decided I was also done with my father. I felt God was saying the timing was right, so I blocked my parents’ phone numbers.
For a while, I wondered why that timing was right & why I felt God didn’t want me to end contact for that period of time. Eventually it hit me. I learned a LOT in the final couple of years of my relationship with my parents. I learned a lot more in that short time than in the other years. I started to understand what makes narcissists tick & figured out some pretty effective ways to cope with them. This gave me a LOT of good information to write about & to share with my readers.
I am so glad to be able to help people, in particular ones for whom no contact isn’t an option. That is such an awful place to be! I am grateful I learned what I did during that time, in spite of how incredibly miserable that time was.
I’m telling you this so that you hopefully will be inspired to think the same way about your situation. I’m not saying be grateful for the abuse you endured of course. Who could be?! But, chances are there is some good that came of it. Being abused gives people a deep empathy & caring for other people, because they understand suffering so well. That is a blessing. Learning how to spot abusive people & how to deal with the ones you can’t avoid is another blessing. Learning about how to set & enforce healthy boundaries is still another.
Like I said, I’m not saying you should be grateful you were abused. That would be weird & I’d think very unhealthy to boot. However, if you can find some good in it all, it can help you a great deal, because you know that your pain wasn’t pointless. It had some purpose. What others meant to destroy you, not only didn’t accomplish that, but it gave you some blessings as well. God wastes absolutely nothing, & He was able to glean something good out of anything, even something so awful. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” (AMP)
So when you consider the awful experiences you have been through, please try to remember that some good things did come out of them! Of course, it would’ve been nice if they came another way, but at least they did come to you. Your pain wasn’t in vain!
People say, “Just let it go!” all the time to those who have been through bad experiences or abuse, but what do they really mean? I think many people who say that don’t say it to try to help you. Instead, I think they really mean, “Stop talking about it. It makes me uncomfortable!”
Unfortunately, this statement can make a person feel ashamed of themselves for being unable to “just let it go.” They feel like something is wrong with them, or maybe they’re a bad Christian when the truth is, they’re simply human.
The fact is, most people just can’t “let go” of pain. It’s not that we want to hold onto it at all- we have no choice in the matter. It’s kind of like a splinter. You can’t wish it away or let it go- you actually need to deal with it to get rid of it.
If you really want to let something go, once & for all, it takes work. You need to feel the anger, feel the hurt & get it out of you. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you weren’t allowed to show your emotions as a child, but it does get easier in time.
When it happens with me, I make time to write in my journal. Writing is often easier than saying things out loud for me, so although often prayer is my first place to start, journaling is in this particular situation. I let it all out- name calling, bad language & all. Sometimes I’ll write as though I’m speaking to the person, sometimes I just vent about them & what they did. I just follow whatever feels right, & let it all out. I pray after, & ask God to help me. For many things, this helps to purge me of the anger & hurt completely. For other things, I have to repeat it a few times. I’ve learned not to judge it- abuse does bad things, & everyone heals differently.
Maybe what I do will help you as well. It’s worth a try anyway, right? If you’re sure it won’t, then do whatever does work for you. Or, ask God to show you what you need to do. Healing is a very individual thing, & there’s nothing wrong with you if something other than what I do helps.
Remember, Dear Reader, if you can’t “just let it go”, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s OK! It’s perfectly normal to have to feel things to heal.
When an abuse victim isn’t believed, often times the person who doesn’t believe the victim says it’s because the abuser is too nice or too good of a person. No one so kind could do the terrible things the victim says they did! The victim must have misunderstood, is exaggerating or flat out lying!
What the non believing people fail to realize is that this is typical of abusive people, narcissists in particular. Abusers have two sides- the side they show the public & the side they show to those closest to them, their victims. Behaving in such a manner guarantees the victim won’t be believed if she tells others about what the abuser does. People will believe the charade of a good person because abusers are notoriously good actors. Some are even able to convince mental health professionals they aren’t abusive, & that the victim is lying.
If someone you know tells you that someone else you know is abusing them but you don’t believe it, please keep this in mind. Don’t brush someone off because the person they accuse of abuse is “too nice” to do such things. If you don’t live with that person, you don’t know the real person!
When people tell you you’re stupid, crazy, ugly, etc., there is a reason for it, & it isn’t what you think.
A person saying such things to you doesn’t necessarily believe that you are those things. In fact, most likely they don’t believe it at all. Quite the contrary, they think you are intelligent, attractive, etc.
So why would a person say such awful things to another when they don’t believe them to be true? There are two very distinct possibilities.
Control. A person with low self-esteem is much easier to control than someone with healthy self-esteem. The more a person is beaten down, thinking they are stupid, worthless & other awful things, the easier that person is to control because they assume the controlling person knows best. Also, a person with low self-esteem will work as hard as they can to get love & approval. This works nicely for the controller because she can get anything she wants from the victim.
Projection. Narcissists love to project their flaws onto others. If the narcissist is a liar, she will accuse you of lying. Overeats? She’ll call you a glutton, pig or fat. By doing this projection thing, it allows the narcissist to be angry about the flaw while not accepting that they have it. It is just one in their arsenal of horrible coping skills.
The next time someone says terrible things about you, take notice. There is a very good reason for it, & chances are that it isn’t that they are offering you constructive criticisms in order to help improve you.
Those of us who have been through narcissistic abuse need to talk about it. It is part of the healing process, discussing our experiences. This happens for several reasons.
Narcissists routinely convince their victims of all manners of ridiculous things, & it takes a lot of talking to be able to sort out the truth from their lies.
Narcissistic abuse is very difficult to wrap your mind around, even when you have experienced it first hand. Talking about what you have been through makes it more real, & enables you to accept that these awful things did happen. Once that happens, you can begin to heal.
Narcissists invalidate their victims constantly, about every single thing that can be invalidated. Once we realize we have been abused & come away from that, we crave validation. We especially crave it about the experiences we had, because the narcissist told us we were the problem, they did nothing wrong. It helps us so much to hear that they were the problem, not us. We all need to hear this! The less we hear it, the more likely we are to continue believing we are the real problem in the relationship. We can’t heal if we don’t know this truth.
Some people may not understand that you need to talk about your experiences, & may be nasty to you, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with talking about it. It means you’re a normal person who has been through an abnormal situation.
When you find people who don’t understand your need to discuss what you have been through, it’s time to move on, & find others with whom you can discuss your experiences without fear of judgment. Other survivors are usually the safest people you can talk to. They understand how surreal everything is, & how you need validation. They also can share how they have learned to live with the abuse done to them.
Remember, Dear Reader, there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the need to discuss what you have been through! Go with it! You will feel so much better if you do.
Narcissists love to put their issues on other people rather than face them. Shame is a big one- any shame a narcissistic parent feels is going to be thrust upon their child, for example.
After a lifetime of not even realizing I was carrying around my mother’s shame, it finally hit me in 2015. As I was recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, I felt horrible for asking my husband to help me in any way. I’d nearly died for pity’s sake! Carbon monoxide poisoning has a high fatality rate & also has a very long recovery time (you do the bulk of your healing 9-12 months after poisoning) during which chances are very good you won’t heal completely. Yet in spite of all of this, I felt horrible for asking my husband for any help. After praying about it, God showed me this was all about shame. It’s very common for those abused as children to experience toxic shame, & I was no exception.
One way God showed me to deal with this shame is to imagine myself holding a big box containing shame, handing it off to my mother while telling her “I refuse to carry this for you a moment longer”, then walking away.
It sounds silly, but this was very helpful for me. Even though I can’t physically give my mother back her shame that she’s put on me, by imagining returning it to her, at least I was able to stop carrying it somehow. It’d be the same as a real scenario if she wouldn’t hold the box. If I placed it at her feet, I wouldn’t be carrying it any longer. What she would do at that point would have no effect on that fact.
I can’t say I am 100% cured of this toxic shame, but it drastically improved my problem. I no longer feel incredibly guilty about writing about my experiences or asking my husband for things (either stuff or help), & these used to be very big issues for me. I still fight the guilt with my husband sometimes, but that’s better than every single time.
Have you ever tried something like this, Dear Reader? It doesn’t have to be shame.. it can be anything your narcissistic parent put on you- self-hatred, eating disorders, believing you’re ugly or stupid. Obviously I can’t guarantee it’ll cure you immediately, but I do believe it’d help you as it helped me. It’s worth a try, right?
Triggers are things that remind you of something else. Sometimes, they can be good such as the sound of whipped cream being sprayed from that can reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who loved it & would do a little dance for a spray of whipped cream.
Often though, when you come from an abusive past, triggers aren’t so nice. Certain scents, sights, sounds or situations can take you right back to a traumatic event, making you feel like that scared child you once were.
Triggers are easy to understand when they are obvious. The scent of a perfume that your abusive mother wore when you were a child or a cruel nickname that your father called you are obvious. Not all triggers are so obvious though.
Some triggers appear to have absolutely nothing to do with why you feel the way you do. Those triggers are what we’re going to talk about today.
Some triggers on the surface seem innocuous, yet you end up feeling just as bad as you did as a child in a traumatic situation. Talking to someone who shows no empathy may enrage you because it makes you feel like it did when you were growing up with your narcissistic parent, for example.
When this happens, it can be confusing. Having a strong reaction to something that isn’t really a big deal can make you wonder about your sanity. It’s a horrible feeling, but it can be dealt with.
As soon as you can, go somewhere where you can be alone & pray. Ask God to show you what is going on, what’s the root of this feeling? He will show you, & from there, you can begin to heal. It may be something that you thought was small, but apparently it wasn’t since it’s still causing you problems. Or, it may be a big, ongoing issue. Either way, once you know what the problem is, then ask Him to help you to heal & show you what you need to do in order to heal. Write your experiences & feelings in a journal. Talk with a therapist or trusted friend. Work on this however helps you, & the trigger will lose its power.
When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.
When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms. I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events. Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.
Not even close!
I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012. And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma. Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter. I honestly wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through? It seemed completely bizarre to me.
Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had. The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.
I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.
I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.
If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone. Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.
As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you. Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings. They’re never random, even though they feel that way.
Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well. They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of. They also can simply help you because your brain is processing some information. The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.
If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start. Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.
A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too. I use a website (there are many to choose from). They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.
It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams. Write them down & look them over from time to time. That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come. It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.
Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them. Colors, objects, people, feelings. Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant. It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times. It could benefit you as well
When you begin talking to people about experiences with narcissistic abuse, it can be tempting to compare your experiences. Especially in online groups, it’s very easy to see people in different levels of healing. It can be discouraging seeing people who are obviously in a better place than you.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader. Stop comparing your healing with that of other people! Nothing good comes from comparison! It only makes you feel badly about yourself!
Instead, remember- people are very different. We all respond to things differently, we feel things differently & we process things differently. Even if you & another person have very similar experiences with narcissistic abuse, those differences mean your healing will be unique to each of you.
One area in particular I struggled with is anger. I think many people struggle in this area. I used to feel badly because I’d see so many others who weren’t angry. Yet, there I was, livid every time I thought of certain things my parents had done. Others had experienced similar situations, yet obviously weren’t as angry as I was. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. I went to God with my concerns, & He shared some interesting things with me.
If you weren’t allowed to show anger as a kid, as is the case with most narcissistic parents, you’re going to be very angry as an adult. The anger built up over the years because you had no way to release it. Some children of narcissistic parents are fortunate enough to find outlets for their anger, so they don’t feel as angry as adults. I was never allowed to show anger, not even simple frustration, as a child. I was shamed greatly if I got angry, so I learned to avoid showing anger at all costs. It’s only natural that I have a bigger problem with anger than someone who found outlets for their anger as a child.
There are also folks who continue to hold in their anger. They deny feeling it, because they are still convinced that anger is a terrible thing that should be avoided at all costs. These people may even be shaming towards others who feel anger, although unintentionally. For example, they often try to be extremely positive in order to deny their anger, which makes someone who is angry feel bad for not doing the same, even though being too positive isn’t mentally healthy. (Being realistic is much healthier)
I hope you see that comparing your healing journey to that of other people is a complete waste of time. There is truly no good that can come of it! Walk your individual path proudly. God has a unique plan just for you! xoxo
Triggers are things that remind us of things in our life. Good triggers are wonderful, such as the sound of that whipped cream in a can being sprayed always reminds me of my late kitty, Delta, who would do a little happy kitty dance for a dollop of that whipped cream. Her cuteness always made me smile.
Unfortunately there are also bad triggers, such as something that triggers a bad memory or even a flashback to abuse or trauma. Although I live not far from the town my parents have lived in since the year before I was born, I avoid going there as much as possible. So many things in that town trigger bad memories & even flashbacks there. On my way to the vet’s office once, as I passed the library where I worked in my late teens, I had a flashback behind the wheel! Thankfully it happened at a red light. Also thankfully, Sabrina, the cat that had the appointment, knew something was wrong & helped to bring me out of it by gently scratching my hand. (Interestingly that was the only time she has scratched me in her entire life)
When you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you naturally try to avoid the bad triggers as much as possible. Even so, triggers still happen. No matter how careful you are, at some point, someone will say something, you’ll hear a sound, or you’ll smell an old & familiar scent that can mentally transport you back in time to a place you try never to think about. It’s simply impossible to avoid triggers entirely no matter how careful you are.
Since you can’t avoid triggers, the only other thing you can do is manage them when they do happen. The best ways to manage bad triggers that I have found are to stop what I’m doing, breathe deeply a few times, ask God for help, & focus on something to help keep me grounded. Good triggers can help in this situation. I have some perfume that my grandmom gave me when I was a kid. Smelling it helps to keep me grounded because not only is the scent fairly strong, it automatically reminds me of someone very special to me when I smell it. Like flashbacks, it takes something rather strong to the senses to help keep your focus- a very soft or rough fabric, a strong scent, or something very cold (like an ice cube).
I have a small flashback “kit” that contains two small sample size perfume vials- one of that perfume from my grandmom in one & the other lavender scented oil (lavender is known for its relaxation properties) & a very smooth, pretty pink quartz rock to hold. I’ve found these things help to keep me grounded during a flashback or trigger. If you find things that work for you, I would suggest creating your own flashback kit, & keep it with you in case you are subjected to a trigger or have a flashback.
There are conflicting messages for victims of abuse. Some people encourage victims to speak out. Help raise awareness! Confronting your abuser will be good for you! Others encourage victims to keep quiet. Stop dredging up the past. Forgive & forget.
Rather than stating what I think victims should do, I would like to encourage you to decide what is right for yourself. After all, being vocal about being abused can be very challenging. Being vocal about it means you’re reliving some of the most painful experiences of your life. It also means some will criticize you harshly. You may lose friends & family who side with your abuser. Is this something you can deal with?
There are pros & cons for speaking out as well as staying quiet. You need to consider them seriously before making any decisions.
Silence isn’t always good, as it can encourage an abuser to continue abusing. Knowing the victim won’t tell anyone what is happening gives the abuser free reign to do as she/he pleases without fear of consequences. It also means things can stay pretty much the same for the victim in that her friends & family will continue treating her as they always have. Silence allows the victim to continue in the familiar place that she is accustomed to. This can be a good thing, to a degree, especially if she does not feel strong enough to confront her abuser or even discuss what has happened, & if this is only a temporary place.
Telling her story can empower the victim. She takes back the power that her abuser stole by forcing her to stay silent. She realizes it’s her story & she can do as she sees fit with it. She can help & inspire others who have been through similar circumstances if she opts to go public with her story (such as blogging about it, for example). By speaking openly about what happened, she also can give her family the opportunity to grow & to heal. However, telling also means that she can be setting herself up for criticism, even from those closest to her. Those she believed were on her side may turn against her. They may refuse to believe her, tell others she’s lying, or invalidate her pain if she speaks to them about the situation. And, if she opts to confront her abuser, that can open up a new world of pain. Abusers hate confrontation, especially narcissistic abusers. The abuser may turn the entire situation around, blaming the victim for what happened or denying they did anything wrong. Often, the one telling the truth is demonized by abusers as well as those who may have known about the abuse but did nothing. Many people can’t live with what they have done, so they vilify the victim.
What do you think is your answer, Dear Reader?
Before you answer that question, I urge you to pray. Let God give you advice on which way to go, & how to go about it. Also, allow Him to give you the strength you need, because either way is very challenging. You will need His strength. And remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.” (GNT) God will empower you to do anything you need to do!
Recently, God began dealing with me about something. I tend to say yes too quickly. I agree to help people or do favors when I’m tired or busy way too often. He put in my heart that just because something is good, doesn’t mean it’s good for me.
This makes a lot of sense to me. There have been plenty of times I decided to focus on my latest book, yet didn’t do it because someone needed something from me. Not that what they needed was anything bad, nor is it bad to help someone, but for me, I should have focused on my writing instead. Other times, I wasn’t feeling well & just needed to rest, yet didn’t because someone said they needed me.
Does this sound familiar to you, Dear Reader? Do you do the same things?
I’d venture to say it’s pretty common with adult children of narcissistic parents. We were trained from birth to put ourselves last, & that training doesn’t stop just because we’re grown up. We’re also told it’s selfish to put ourselves first. Taking care of others above ourselves has become such a habit, often it happens without even thinking. We simply do it automatically. We may do it even when everything in us says, “NOOO!!!” just because it’s what we feel we’re supposed to do.
Today I want to encourage you to have more healthy boundaries & balance. It’s certainly good to put others ahead of yourself sometimes, but only in balance. You deserve to be your priority too! There is no shame in taking care of yourself or your duties. In fact, it’s a must to do so.
Starting to do this can be difficult after a lifetime of being so out of balance, I know. I recommend prayer as the best place to start, as usual. Ask God to help you know what you should say yes to & what you should say no to. He will! That is what I’m doing, & so far, so good. I slipped up by not praying this immediately, as soon as I realized what God wants to teach me, & ended up saying yes to something I probably shouldn’t have. Since, I prayed for God’s help & things are going better.
And remember Dear Reader, just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you. xoxo
I noticed something interest in the last few hours, & I thought I’d share it with you today, Dear Readers.
As many of you know, in 2015, I nearly died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. In spite of all the time that’s passed, like many others who have survived it, I still live with many symptoms. They get better or worse, but they’re still there. All the time. If this post sounds “off”, I apologize- thinking clearly isn’t my strong point at the moment because that’s part of it when symptoms flare up. I just wanted to write this out before I forgot everything I wanted to say.
So, bringing us to what I noticed…
I noticed when I’m way too stressed or going through an exceptionally hard time, something happens to make the symptoms get to the point of me needing to rest, to take time off, because I can’t do anything else.
Lately, I’ve been having a rough time with repressed memories & flashbacks as I mentioned previously. As if that wasn’t tough enough, at the time of me writing this, it was 1 year ago today that I lost one of my kitties & that anniversary is making me sad. I have a knack for remembering dates & dates like this always are very hard for me, even days before.
Yesterday evening, my husband was working on my car. I took a shower while he was doing this. While in there, I began to feel weird (headache, dizzy, couldn’t think clearly, body aches, shaking, etc.), but thought nothing of it. When I got out, I came into the living room & heard my car running. I suddenly knew why I felt so yukky & didn’t think anything of it- carbon monoxide removes my ability to realize if I feel bad, something is wrong. I quickly found my husband & ask him to move my car away from the house while she’s running because the exhaust was sickening me. He did, but the damage was already done. Last night & today, I’ve felt horrible. Today, I’m resting because there’s nothing else I can do. Physically & mentally, I’m a whipped pup.
Since I’m finally thinking a little clearer today, I realized this sort of thing happens during especially difficult times.
My point of all this? I realized that although God didn’t give me my health problems, He has been using them to help me.
My mother has called me lazy ever since I can remember. As a result, I’ve always worked hard. Too hard- I rarely took time to relax. Self-care has been a huge struggle for me, as I feel on some dysfunctional level that it’s selfish & wrong to take care of myself. Since I’ve even ignored God’s promptings that I need to take care of myself & relax sometimes, I firmly believe God allowed getting sick to happen because now, there are times when I have no choice but to relax & rest.
Please, Dear Reader, learn from my mistakes!! I know so many adult children of narcissistic parents who ignore their mental & physical health because they don’t want to feel selfish or lazy by taking care of themselves as I have. This is so wrong!! Even God rests!
Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (NIV)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with resting! Self-care is vital to being healthy, physically & mentally, & frequent rest is a part of that. I know shutting off the internal, critical voice calling you lazy or selfish is hard, but please try to do it for your own sake before you end up sick like I have. I should’ve listened to God’s promptings years ago, but I kept ignoring them. As a result, I believe God had no other choice but to allow this to happen to force me to rest before I killed myself by neglecting my needs. I wouldn’t wish this on you, so please, make appropriate changes in your life. You have every right to take care of yourself.
One year ago tomorrow, it’ll be one year since having that huge argument with my parents. That means it’s also been a year since speaking to my mother, & almost five months since speaking to my father. My mother stopped speaking to me after that argument but my father didn’t. He called less & less frequently as time passed, & the calls were much shorter, but he kept the door open with me.
I’ve prayed a LOT about the situation this past year. I felt God wanted me to pull away from my parents yet not tell them I want them out of my life. So, I didn’t contact my mother, send her cards or anything. I also haven’t sent my father any cards or called him, but I did take some of his calls & allowed him to visit me last December. Also during this year, God has shown me via dreams & opening my eyes just how selfish & dangerous my father really is. That visit in December really was eye opening for me. My father told me when he was coming to my home, & what we were doing while he was here. That on top of all of the other things that have happened made me pull away even further from him to the point I stopped taking his calls all together, & blocked my parents’ phone number.
Apparently this was an issue for my father. He sent several people after me to tell me I needed to call him asap. Thank God, in spite of the nasty old, dysfunctional feelings of needing to do as my parents say, God enabled me to resist contacting him.
My point in sharing this story with you, Dear Readers, is to give you hope.
When you have narcissistic parents, then learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you realize you need to make changes & it can be scary. You’re going against your parents, which is intimidating! They’ve trained you your entire life to be a certain way or face dire consequences. Even as an adult, the consequences still can be scary.
You may even feel you need to go no contact with them, which is even more intimidating. Doing it may feel impossible to you, but I can tell you it is possible.
Whichever you are planning on doing- changing your behavior yet staying in a relationship or going no contact- you can do it!
You need to begin in prayer. Ask God to show you what to do, how to do it & enable you to do whatever you need to do.
Start small.. start setting small boundaries, such as not answering the phone every time your narcissistic parent calls. When the phone rings, pray first. Ask God if He thinks you are able to handle the call or not, & listen to what He says.
Say “no” to your parent sometimes. Your parent will hate it, of course, but do it anyway. Say no to small things at first, then bigger things. An example is if your parent wants you to come by Friday, say no- Sunday would work better for you. It’s small, sure, but it’s taking back a little power.
If your parent insists on driving when you get together, you say you’ll meet them there & drive your own car. If need be, arrange to have something else to do after seeing them so you have a legitimate reason (in your parent’s eyes) to drive yourself. This is another small way to take back some power.
Small gestures like this are a great place to start- they worked wonders for me. Seeing I could take back some power & set some boundaries gave me strength. It made me realize I really didn’t have to settle for being abused constantly. And, as time wore on, I set more & more boundaries.
This behavior naturally pushes away narcissists, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I knew I wanted to go no contact quite some time before it happened, but it never felt right to tell my parents that. Being healthier naturally pushed them away which put us in a low contact state that I could tolerate. It also showed me just how abusive & dysfunctional they are because they can’t respect my boundaries. Normal people, if they dislike a boundary, they still respect it. Narcissists aren’t normal though. They try to get you to change your boundary, pout or get passive/aggressive when they are faced with a boundary they don’t like. Seeing my father’s behavior when I set boundaries with him was quite eye opening. For example, after our argument, he tried calling me non stop for days. When I didn’t take his calls, he called so early one morning I was still asleep! I thought I was dreaming about answering a phone until I heard his voice & woke up quickly. He said “he” just wanted to talk to me & “he” wanted to hear my voice & “he” thought this & “he” felt that. When you see something like this, it’s impossible to deny someone is abusive & manipulative. It can be very good seeing such things, because it gives you strength to either set more boundaries or to go low or no contact
I’m telling you, Dear Reader, these things work. They are a fantastic place to start making healthy changes in your life & relationship with your narcissistic parent. Try them, & see for yourself!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!