Hello, Dear Readers!
If you want to check them out, you can click on the links in the last paragraph, or go to my website at: http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Hello, Dear Readers!
If you want to check them out, you can click on the links in the last paragraph, or go to my website at: http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Many of us raised by narcissistic parents have similar experiences. One experience so many of us share is being told we need to fix things. We need to find out what works & repair the damaged relationship with our narcissistic parent.
Maybe because so many people have such a warped view of the parent/child relationship they think the children should be the ones to fix it when there is a problem. Or, maybe it’s simply because people realize that we are the reasonable, sane ones & the narcissist isn’t, they think we should fix it. Either way, the expectation is absolutely absurd.
The simple fact is that one person can’t fix a relationship. It takes two people to make a relationship work, not one, especially when one person in the relationship is a narcissist.
Narcissists are unlike normal people in many ways. One of which is they do not have the capacity to care what others think or feel. All they want is what matters, period. Healthy relationships require both people to actively work on it & consider what the other person’s needs are. That will NOT happen in a relationship with a narcissist no matter how much you might want it to.
The only way to have any success in a relationship with a narcissist is to completely forget yourself & focus on them completely. Ignore any wants, needs, thoughts or feelings you have & keep the narcissist as your top priority 100% of the time. Even this success will be fleeting, however, because narcissists constantly change the rules. What makes them happy today may not make them happy next week, then three weeks later, that thing makes them happy again. I have tried this personally in my younger & more dysfunctional days, & can tell you that every word I write is true. No matter how much you give or how you change to please the narcissist, it won’t work. Nothing is ever good enough. It is absolutely impossible to please a narcissist.
So, Dear Reader, the next time someone tells you that you need to fix the relationship with your narcissistic parent, please remember what I have said. Chalk their foolish words up to a lack of wisdom. They clearly have no idea what they are saying, & how impossible the task is. Or, if they are a flying monkey for the narcissist, & they do know how she is, they are abusers themselves. Abuse isn’t always about actively abusing someone- it can be more passive, such as encouraging a person to stay in an abusive relationship.
Recently, I had a rough evening. I had a nasty flashback to start with. It was something I remembered, but I hadn’t thought of in a while. A few hours later, I went to bed & had nasty nightmares.
As miserable as this experience was, it had a purpose.
The experience in the flashback & the nightmares showed me that there is a VERY common thread in my life with those who have abused or at the least mistreated me. The abusers may have done different things to me, but they all believed that I was supposed to be their personal punching bag, obey their wishes at any personal cost to me, sacrifice anything for any whim of theirs, & take any abuse they dished out with a smile. And, anyone I told their behavior was unacceptable acted the same way- as if I had a problem for being upset about their actions.
When this occurred to me the morning after the whole experience, something clicked in me. No normal human acts this way! While I already realized it, it really hit home to me just how messed up abusers are to think such things & act this way towards those they abuse. How can anyone think that it’s OK to abuse & there is something wrong with victims for calling an abuser out on it?!
My point is that although you probably know this already, I wanted to remind you, Dear Reader, that NO ONE has the right abuse you! You have every right to speak out, to set & enforce healthy boundaries, to stop the abuse, & to call out your abuser! You do NOT have to tolerate abuse just because some sick person thinks you do. You have rights! Never listen to an abuser who thinks you should tolerate anything they dish out with a smile. They are WRONG! No one has to do that. No one. You deserve better than to be abused! Never doubt that! If you don’t believe me, remember, God thinks so to. He loved you enough to send His only Son to die for you, so you could become His child. Do you really think He would be OK with you being abused after that?
Tomorrow is the 22nd anniversary of hubby’s & my first date. Hard to believe! Time sure flies!
Ever since the first anniversary of this special day, we have done a little something to commemorate the day. It can be as simple as sharing some wine, cheese & crackers when he gets home from work, talking by a fire, playing a board game or it can be a bit bigger such as going out to dinner, taking a day trip or recreating that special day. Whatever we do though, we enjoy ourselves & reminisce.
We used to do something similar after we first got married. We got married on September 24, 1998, so on the 24th of every month, we would celebrate a little. (not sure why we stopped that, come to think of it..). Interestingly when I mentioned it to my granddad, he said he & my grandmom used to do that too, for many years.
I’ve found these little celebrations are really nice! They give you something to look forward to. They also encourage intimacy. They foster closeness. They also help you to slow down & enjoy each other in a world that tends to be just too busy.
I’ve expanded this celebrating thing a bit, too. I include my best friend in celebrations too. We met in August, 1988 (although the day has escaped me) & each August I remind her of that & tell her how grateful I am for her friendship for so many years.
Remembering & celebrating things like this helps those in your life to feel loved & special. It also is fun for you when you can make those you love feel that way. It helps to add more joy into both your life & that of your loved one. Why not give it a try? Celebrate special events with those you love!
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 was watching one of my favorite shows on the ID channel last night, “Deadly Women.” It tells stories of women who have killed, many are serial killers. Interesting stuff when you’re into psychology & crime like I am. Not to mention, it scares hubby- he swears I watch it to get ideas which entertains me.. lol
One of last night’s stories involved a woman who was married, had a couple of children & her widowed mother lived with her family. This woman wanted to present the image of being far wealthier than they really were, so she ran up a lot of debt, & continually took money from her elderly mother. Eventually, her mother stopped giving her money & she ran out of options. She decided to strangle her mother & attempted to make it look like a suicide. As soon as her mother was dead, she spent a lot of her mother’s money. The police figured out what happened & arrested the woman. The narrator of the story said there was no evidence of mental illness or abuse in this woman’s life.
At this point, my mind was blown. So obsessed with appearances that she murdered her own mother- does that sound like the actions of a mentally stable person?!
I got to thinking… how many people watching that show blindly believed the story as it was told? How many were shocked by her actions because someone said there was no evidence of mental illness? Probably a great deal of the viewers. Most people tend to believe something, anything, when it is said with enough confidence, & that narrator sounded confident in the information she read.
I think that can be a very dangerous thing, believing people so readily. Not that everyone is a liar or out to get you, naturally, but the truth is some people *are* liars or *are* out to get you. If you’ve dealt with even just one narcissist in your life, you know that is the truth. But also, even a well meaning person may inadvertently lie to you or mislead you simply because they have wrong information. I believe it truly is best always to weigh all information for yourself.
I felt after watching that show last night that I should remind you, Dear Reader, that it’s best to think for yourself! Don’t blindly take someone at their word, no matter how convinced they are of what they are saying. Consider Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (KJV) While Jesus gave this advice to his disciples, it seems like very good advice to me for anyone. I have asked God for wisdom & discernment, & I believe it has helped me in this area tremendously.
I tell you this even about my writing- never blindly listen to what I say! While I try to provide accurate & helpful information, I can be wrong, Or, sometimes what I write about may not work for you or you simply disagree with something I write. There are no one size fits all solutions in life, & especially when dealing with the main topic of my writing- narcissism. So please, when you read what I write, consider it & how it relates to your individual situation. Hopefully it helps you, but if it doesn’t, don’t try to make it work for you. Find another solution that does work for you.
Since writing my newest book, I have been feeling more of a pull to help those who don’t know why certain people in their lives treat them so badly.
I used to wonder why my mother treated me so poorly. I felt as if I was a bother & huge disappointment to her, & like I should stay invisible until she needed me for something. My ex husband said she treated me badly, but once we were married he treated me the same way. Both wanted to control me- how I looked, what work I did, who I spent time with, even what kind of car I owned.
I never thought of this as abusive. Not right, sure, but abuse left bruises. If they didn’t leave bruises or broken bones, it couldn’t be abuse, right? Wrong.
Abuse comes in many forms. Most everyone knows about physical abuse- when someone causes physical harm to another person. But, did you know physical abuse doesn’t have to cause injuries? It is also physical abuse to be threatening (such as punching walls), refusing to allow someone to leave, or driving recklessly.
There is also sexual abuse. Forcing intercourse while threatening with a weapon isn’t the only way a person can be raped or sexually abused. Saying things like, “If you loved me, you would do this for me” is sexual abuse. Disregard for a partner’s physical or emotional pain & forcing want you want on them through physical means or guilt is sexual abuse. These are very common examples of sexual abuse that most people do not consider abusive, yet they are. Behaviors like these leave victims very anxious or depressed, feeling ashamed, guilty & often thinking things like they are being silly since this request isn’t so bad, they should just do what their partner wants & ignore their own needs/feelings/wants or even that there is something deeply wrong with them for not wanting to go along with their partner’s request. Others who have not experienced this type of abuse don’t understand the damage it can do. Many people don’t think a husband can rape his wife, so when she tells people that he did, she is treated as if she is crazy. Sexual abuse is extremely damaging in so many ways.
If you have read much of my work, you know I discuss narcissistic abuse a great deal. That is because it is extremely common. Many psychologically abusive people are narcissists. (psychological abuse includes mental/verbal/emotional abuse). People who manipulate others, put their needs/wants/feelings/etc. above those of others, who are extremely critical either overtly or more subtly, tell others how to feel, or invalidate you are often narcissistic. You can read more about narcissistic abuse on my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Because these kinds of abuse leave no bruises, many victims are told get over it, that it’s no big deal or even doubt that what the victim claims is true. This leaves victims alone, depressed, & often feeling as if they’re going crazy. Abuse also can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If you are in one of these situations, please know you’re not alone! You also aren’t crazy! If you feel something is wrong, then it is wrong. Trust your instincts! Also, pray. God will show you the truth. He will show you what is wrong in the situation as well as what you need to do to escape it & to heal.
If you are looking for safe people to talk to, I have a Facebook group. The members are kind, caring, supportive & wise. You’re very welcome to join us if you like. 🙂
After a conversation with a dear friend in early July, she inspired me to write a new book. It is designed for a slightly different audience than usual. Normally I write for those of us who know at least some about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This book, however, is written for those who know something is wrong with a person in their life who is extremely selfish & manipulative, but they just aren’t sure what it is yet.
“It’s Not You, It’s Them: When People Are More Than Selfish” helps these people to understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder, deal with the behaviors if they opt to stay in a relationship with the narcissist, & ways they can help themselves heal.
I’ve learned so much about NPD in recent months & have felt such a strong desire to help victims of narcissistic abuse & raise awareness, I believe this book had to be written. Admittedly, I’ve never written a book so quickly before, but I believe it must be for a reason. I pray God is going to use it mightily.
If you’d like to check out the new book, the timing is good- my publisher is offering a sale on all print books. 15% off with free mail shipping until August 14. Simply use code AUGSHIP16 at checkout
Links are below..
After the death of a gorilla in a Cincinnati zoo, I saw many posts on Facebook that bothered me. My least favorite comment was, “3000 babies die in America’s abortion clinics every day & no one says a word- one gorilla dies & everyone loses their minds.”
For a fleeting moment after reading this, I felt guilty because in all honesty, I care when animals are put down more than I care about abortion. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but please hear me out before you judge…
Animals, mine in particular, are very special to me, as you know if you’ve read any of my work. Helping people overcome the pain of narcissistic abuse & understanding narcissism also are very important to me as is eliminating the stigma of mental illness & supporting those who live with it. These are my causes, the things that are most important to me, after God & my little family of course. While I realize there are many, many worthy causes out there that need support, I simply don’t have it in me to rally to them.
Aside from my mental & physical health problems limiting my energy, I believe it’s important to give as much as you can to something rather than a little bit to many things. I’d rather do two things right than ten things halfway. Quality over quantity if you will. It isn’t that I think there aren’t other important causes out there. There are many! I just chose to focus on a select few that are the most important to me.
Everyone has different gifts & callings. Romans 12:4-8 states, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” (KJV) This tells me that everyone is different, with different purposes in life. And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. If everyone did the same thing, not much would get done. Only one area would be taken care of, but so many other things would be neglected. Doesn’t it just make sense that people think differently & support different things?
Just because I support animal welfare doesn’t mean I’m pro-abortion, as the comment I mentioned above suggests. The cause of animal welfare is simply closer to my heart, as I’m sure pro-life is closer to the heart of the person who made the comment than animal welfare. Neither of us are wrong! Instead, we support what is right to us. Yet sadly, many people don’t think this way. Instead they judge & criticize others who don’t support their causes. Unfortunately, it seems to me so many people think “if you’re not for me, you’re against me” as I mentioned in this recent post.
Dear Reader, please keep an open mind & heart. Not everyone you meet will share your passions. Nor will you share the passions of everyone you encounter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, so please- don’t make someone feel bad for not sharing your passions! And, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not sharing theirs! You are both individuals, fashioned by God’s hand for a unique purpose.
**I apologize to those of you who saw this post early. I intended to save my thoughts as a draft, then get back to completing the article later. I guess my trigger finger got happy & I hit “publish” instead of “save draft”. Ooops.. here is the finished post**
So many people have this dysfunctional mindset these days, where they think if you don’t agree with their opinions or their lifestyle 110%, you are the enemy. Obviously you must hate them since you aren’t jumping up & down with enthusiasm at their life.
I’ve been on the receiving end of this hatred, being called racist & a homophob, & frankly it baffled me as well as hurt me. I have friends of various races, genders, religious beliefs & sexual orientation. As much as I love animals, I’m even friends with avid hunters. I honestly can’t say I support every single person in my life 110%. Truth be told, they don’t support me 110% either. But yanno something? It’s fine! We also don’t judge & criticize each other. We accept the other person as they are.
Does this sound un-Christian to you? I honestly don’t believe it is. Mark 12:31 says, “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (KJV) I really don’t see anything in that verse that says we should only show love to those who think exactly as we do. To me, as long as they are good people & not judgmental, we stand a good chance at being friends.
Growing up in a narcissistic environment, I honestly thought those who didn’t see things as I did were wrong, & we shouldn’t be friends. It took growing up & getting to know God before I realized that no two people will agree completely, & there is nothing wrong with that.
Some people can handle being friends with those who are their polar opposites, without arguing, & even with deep respect for each other. Then there are others who absolutely cannot handle having people in their lives who disagree with them on any matter at all. Still others fall somewhere in the middle.
You need to know your feelings on this matter. Do you object to being in relationship with people who are different to you or are you open to new experiences? However you feel, then you need to find other people who feel the same way as you do if you wish to have peaceful relationships.
If you’re closed minded at the thought of having friends who have differing view points to you, then I’d like to suggest being a bit more open minded. It’s quite interesting, the things you can learn from other people. As an example, while yes, I’m a devoted Christian, I have a good friend who has been involved in the Pagan religion for many years. Although I disagree with most aspects of it, I have learned that they know so much about herbal remedies. This has intrigued me! After all, prescription & man made medicines often have wicked side effects. Natural remedies have a great deal less side effects & often work just as well, if not better, than their man made counterparts. What’s not to love? In fact, I use herbal remedies to help manage my C-PTSD & anxiety, sometimes also insomnia. I believe God created these things, so there can’t be anything wrong with using them.
Before slamming someone or ending a relationship because you two disagree, why not try opening your mind a bit? And, if you find you don’t feel their view would be right for you, this doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends. Focus on what is right for you & accept the fact that what works for you may not work for another, or vice versa. Ultimately, our life choices are between us & God. People shouldn’t judge others.
I’ve noticed a common thread among those who have been through narcissistic abuse. We’re the ones people seem to think need to put all of the work & make all of the concessions in relationships.
So many others I’ve spoken to who have been raised by at least one narcissistic parent have heard the same things by at least a few people: “You need to fix things with your mother (or father or both)!” “She (or he or they) won’t be around forever! You need to make things right with your mother (or father or parents)!” “You should see a counselor. Maybe he could help you figure out what you’re doing wrong”
I’ve heard those things & more myself:
Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? If so, doesn’t this get under your skin?! It sure does me!
I’ve wondered why this happens to so many of us. So many people behave exactly the same way! So what’s behind it? I have some theories…
Relating to our narcissistic parents only, some people are truly blessed with great parents. In fact, they can’t even fathom a parent who would mistreat, let alone abuse a child. Narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around- I still have trouble with it sometimes & I lived it! Maybe these people have an even harder time doing so because they came from such a loving home.
People who know our narcissistic parents probably believe the lies they are told about us. After all, narcissists are notoriously good actors & liars- it’s hard not to believe their stories, sometimes even after you’ve seen the truth. Chances are, these people are told we’re the problem. If they believe the lies, then naturally they’ll think we need to do all of the work with our relationship with our parents. If we’ve been so bad to them, we need to make it up to them. It’s only fair, right??
They also most likely have seen us serving or catering to our narcissistic parents, & blindly go along with our parents’ attitude that it’s up to us to do for them. This could include fixing any problems in the relationship.
For those who don’t necessarily know our narcissistic parents, they probably pick up on us as the damaged people we are. The people who believe that we’re always wrong & we need to fix things because that is what our narcissistic parents instilled in us when we were very young. Even as we heal, that “vibe” can still be there for a long time, & people pick up on it. In fact, when people treat us as if it’s our job to fix something, we may automatically do so just because it’s such a deeply ingrained habit. This reinforces the belief that fixing things is our responsibility.
Or, if people don’t pick up on that “fixing vibe”, they may see you as a very responsible, mature person & the other person in the relationship as immature or irresponsible. They figure since the immature, irresponsible person won’t do what is necessary to fix things, the mature & responsible one will, so they push that person to do all of the work. The mature one should be the “bigger person” since the other person is incapable (or so they believe) of behaving properly.
I don’t know if these things are completely accurate, as I’ve never read anything on this topic before. They’re just some random thoughts that popped into my mind, & I thought I’d share them since other people have mentioned this being an issue in their lives as well.
Remember though, Dear Reader, it’s not always your job to fix problems! Sure, fix what you can. If you’ve made mistakes or hurt others, do what you can to make things right. But, you do NOT need to do all of the work in relationships, & don’t let anyone pressure you into believing that nonsense! One person cannot make a relationship work- it’s impossible! It takes two people to make a relationship work, no matter the nature of the relationship.
Growing up with a narcissistic parent or two builds a very dysfunctional foundation in a child. One of those dysfunctional beliefs created is that you are always the problem in a failed relationship.
I knew the day I met my now mother in-law, she didn’t like me. For the first eight years of our relationship, I tried with her. No matter what I did though, I was wrong & never good enough. My mother in-law even told me shortly after our marriage how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of an ex girlfriend. For most of those eight years, I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. How could I improve the difficult relationships with her? What could I do to make her see I’m not such a bad person, or that I’m better suited for my husband than his ex? Nothing I did worked, & in fact, things only got worse. My sisters in-law weren’t exactly my best friends to start with, but those relationships also got worse. It seemed like the more time passed & the harder I tried, the worse things got & the more frustrated I got.
Then one evening in the spring of 2002, my mother in-law called about 8:15. She asked to speak to my husband, who was either still at work or on his way home. I told her this, & she screamed at me because she didn’t think he should work so late. She mentioned she thought he was working too much. He looks tired & I said his allergies were flaring up, & she resumed screaming at me because he has allergies. It was a wake up call for me- I realized I can’t be in a relationship with this person. She was mad at me for things I had absolutely no control over. Nothing I can do will make things better between us. I gave up.
A few months later, my husband called one of his sisters for her birthday. He was flustered by the call, because he said she was screaming at him about me- how I keep him from his family & treat them all like “poor white trash.” I used to think she & I were friends, but realized that wasn’t the case. No friend would think such a ridiculous & untrue thing about me.
I haven’t spoken to my in-laws since 2002 & it’s been very freeing! They blame me & even my husband did for a while for being unreasonable. Due to my bad foundation, I blamed me too!
I’d been through this same scenario with every failed relationship in my life. Everything was all my fault. If only I would’ve been smart enough to figure out the solution to make things better. If only I had been nicer, more understanding, etc., this wouldn’t have happened.
It took me a long time to realize, not everything is my fault! Bizarre, huh? Looking at the situations, it seems painfully obvious it wasn’t, yet it took me years to realize I wasn’t a bad person because I couldn’t make these relationships ok.
My point (finally..lol) is I am sure you have similar feelings, Dear Reader. I have yet to meet an adult child of at least one narcissistic parent who doesn’t blame herself for the failed relationships in her life. Are you thinking that this probably doesn’t apply to you? Well let’s look at a couple of things..
First, your bad relationship with your narcissistic mother. How can this be your fault? She’s a narcissist! No one is good enough for a narcissist. Even those she idolizes will show a flaw at some point, & the narcissist won’t be impressed with him any longer. Plus, as a child of a narcissist, you were born with a job- to please your narcissistic mother at all times. This is IMPOSSIBLE! Narcissists deliberately set up others to fail, especially their own children. It amuses them & makes them feel powerful.
Second, as the survivor of narcissistic abuse, other abusers will be attracted to you. This is especially true before you understand narcissism & work on your healing. Chances are good you were abused by others in your life simply because you learned early in life how to be a “good victim”- you learned to keep secrets, have no boundaries & never talk back. That isn’t your fault! That fault lies squarely on your first abuser.
Lastly, no doubt you have made mistakes in your relationships. Being human, that is inevitable. However, what are the chances that you are the sole problem in every single relationship you’ve been in that has gone badly? I would have to say the chances are slim. Very slim. The odds of you winning the lottery are probably better! Relationships are a two way street. Both people have to work on it. One person cannot carry the entire relationship!
Today, Dear Reader, I just want you to think about this. You honestly cannot be the problem 100% of the time. If you believe you are, then it’s time to look at things objectively. If you can’t, try pretending a close friend is telling you about her failed relationships that are exactly like yours. Would you blame her for their failures? What would you tell her? Write it out if it helps- seeing things in writing somehow often makes things clearer. You also can ask God to tell you the truth about what happened. Were you always the problem? What went wrong? He will gently let you know the truth, & chances are, you are going to be surprised to learn that you aren’t the awful problem you think you are.
I truly hope you do this. Living with the undeserved guilt of failed relationships is a miserable way to live. You don’t deserve to carry around false guilt & shame! You deserve to be happy!
Much information I’ve read about Alzheimer’s stresses the importance of treating the patient with respect. They are more frustrated than you because they can’t remember things or function like they once did, & your lack of respect will upset them even more. One article gave a very valuable tip for the caregivers that is also extremely useful for dealing with difficult people in general. Although I have mentioned it before, I want to stress it again because I believe it is extremely valuable.
Rather than reacting out of emotion, take a moment to take a deep breath, think, then respond instead.
Reacting is done without thinking while responding requires thought. Reacting causes stress & disagreements, where responding can avoid them. No matter how functional or dysfunctional your relationship, or whether or not the other person has an awful illness like Alzheimer’s, responding is always better than reacting.
As I’ve mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July of last year. Also as I’ve mentioned before, Alzheimer’s & dementia exacerbate narcissism in a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Dealing with him has become very difficult sometimes even though the disease hasn’t progressed too badly yet. I have found the pause to take a deep breath tactic very useful for dealing with him. As an added bonus, I learned it’s also useful in dealing with my narcissistic mother.
Deep breathing is relaxing, plus the pause gives you a moment to calm down your anger. Both really help in dealing with narcissists!
This technique also helps me to deal with the frustration of flaring symptoms that accompany C-PTSD like having trouble finding the right words. The brief pause often means the word comes to me when it wouldn’t during moments of frustration. It also can help to trigger remembering something that was lost a moment before.
It also helps my marriage. Thanks to the C-PTSD & a brain injury, I can be very moody & irritable. Unfortunately there are times I have snapped at my husband for no reason, but I have found this technique helps to cut back on those times a lot. If we’re talking while I am irritable, I stop & take a deep breath. It helps me to have more control, & not snap at my poor husband.
No matter the status of your relationships or your mental health, I hope you will consider what I have said & begin to employ this technique. It really can be helpful in even the most challenging of relationships!
Ever since I can remember, most of my relationships have been unbalanced. I’ve been the one to do the bulk of the work. It started with my parents. Both came to me with complaints about their marriage or involved me in their fights or for me to help them feel better if they were upset. As I made friends, they often came to me with problems or needs, & expected me to listen or meet those needs often without so much as a thank you or even asking how I am. Yet, if I had a need or problem, I was on my own, unable to count on them for any help.
This was simply a way of life. Until recently.
I’d realized this was a problem several years ago, but had no idea what to do about it or even if I should do anything about it. After all, people need someone to talk to & there isn’t a great deal of empathy in the world. I thought maybe I needed to just suck it up & continue on this path. After all, so many said, “I can’t talk to anyone else about this problem!”, “I feel so much better after talking to you,” “You’re the only person who understands- I don’t know what I’d do without you” or someone close to the person would say, “You need to stay strong for her/him!” Those phrases made me feel obligated.
Then last year I got sick. Coming close to dying changed me. No longer could I listen without having a significant physical reaction. For a short time, certainly, but not for a long time or even frequently. Suddenly I no longer felt a bit tired & drained after listening to someone talk about their problems. Instead, I now feel absolutely exhausted, sometimes for days. I also realized I felt a new resentment when I was expected to listen to someone who couldn’t even ask how I was doing or changes the subject or interrupts if I start to talk. I also became very angry when someone would expect me to listen to them, offer comfort or advice without so much as asking if I was busy before taking up my time. I felt disrespected, taken for granted & much like their personal trash can.
Have you ever felt that way? Like someone’s personal trash can? It’s a very unpleasant way to feel isn’t it?
Those who survive narcissistic abuse are often very compassionate, caring people. We know what it’s like to hurt, & want to help other people not to hurt. We also are people pleasers, because we were raised to please a narcissistic parent. People pleasing becomes a habit. As a result, others tend to take advantage of us. They expect us to help them or listen to them without offering anything in return. We can become their personal therapist.
While it’s great to help people & listen to them if they need to talk, it’s unfair when it’s one sided. Relationships should be balanced. Maybe sometimes you do most of the giving but there also should be times when the other person in the relationship should do most of the giving.
Being the trash can also leads to unnecessary stress in the listener. The talker is the one who gets to dump all of his anxiety, anger or hurt onto the listener, basically freeing the talker from much of those negative emotions & turning the listener into his personal trash can, catching those negative emotions.
This also leads to resentment from the listener. Eventually, the unfairness & stress of the situation will kick in, & the listener will be tired of being the trash can. She’ll be angry & tired, & she has every right to be.
To handle this, I think the best place to start is with God. Talk to Him about how you feel & ask Him what to do. Then, do as He guides you to.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with setting boundaries. You have every right to tell the person who wants you to listen to them that now isn’t a good time, you have a lot on your mind & need some time to yourself, or even simply no. You need to do this for your own mental & physical health. Plus, doing so can be good for the talker as well. He needs to look to God & other people for help. You can’t be his savior! By you being there all of the time, basically you’re in the position that God should be in in his life.
Yesterday, my husband & I received some sad news. A former coworker of my husband’s & a friend of ours died after a battle with cancer.
Giovanni was a sweet guy with a ready smile & a great sense of humor. Unfortunately we had mostly lost touch once my husband left that job about 14 years ago, but once I saw him on facebook a few years back, we connected & spoke periodically. Even simply chatting online, his wonderful personality always shone through. We spoke a few months ago about us getting together with him & his girlfriend, yet we never did. He was in & out of the hospital & undergoing chemo, plus my husband works some rather long hours sometimes & has pretty demanding elderly parents- we just never could find the right time. And now, it’s too late. This is one of many regrets I have.
The reason I’m writing this is to remind you, Dear Reader, & myself that life is fragile. It can end at a moment’s notice, & often, there’s no warning. So many people die with regrets- you don’t want to be one of them! Focus on spending time with those you love & who love you. Buy the pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on but refused to buy because they’re too expensive. Splurge on that milkshake you’ve had a craving for even if you’re watching your figure. Trade in your sensible mini van for that sexy truck you’ve had your eye on, if you can afford it. Take a painting course. Learn a new hobby. Do that thing that is outside of your comfort zone, but you’ve always wanted to try.
Life can be short, Dear Reader. I encourage you to make the most out of whatever time you have & have no regrets. You deserve it! xoxo
I was thinking today of something…
Right after Christmas of last year, I shared a blog post about some thoughts regarding going no contact with narcissistic parents. I said in my experience, I was glad I didn’t do it. My father had some health problems which meant I spent a great deal of time with my parents, & things had improved a lot during that time in our relationship. In the post, I encouraged others to consider my story if they are thinking of going no contact, not to change their minds, but just to give them another topic to consider. (there was more to it but that’s the basics anyway). A well known blogger followed me at the time & we were also facebook friends. She read my post & apparently read a lot into it that I didn’t put in the post. She & another of my followers got into a rather heated disagreement when I was away from the computer, & it was done by the time I saw it. Not that I could’ve done anything anyway- I can’t stop people from posting in my blog comments sections. Anyway shortly after, the other blogger unfollowed my blog, removed my book recommendation from her site & blocked me on facebook.
At first this hurt, I won’t lie. I was stunned plus wondering what did I do to warrant this behavior from her? It was another follower she got into a disagreement over, not me! I wasn’t even there! Quickly though, I realized that she has some pretty narcissistic tendencies (I’d seen a few glimpses of them before but had brushed them off as me being oversensitive), one of which was she didn’t handle people disagreeing with her well. This was a touchy topic with her as she believes everyone should be no contact with every narcissist, period.
I also realized that many people are this way. They are of the “if you’re not for me, you’re against me” mentality. Oddly, it seems very common today. Not a lot of people can agree to disagree. Just look at politics. Many people (both liberal & conservative alike) act as if you’re a fool for your views if you don’t agree with theirs.
People who respect you enough to allow you to have your own opinion are a gem. Truly! I have friends who share different views on all kinds of things or are of different religious beliefs, & you know what? It’s fine! We don’t try to push our views on each other. If we have questions about whatever the other person believes, we ask respectfully. And you know something? Those friendships have lasted much longer than the ones with people who are always trying to change your mind or belittle you for disagreeing with them.
Those friendships are also deeper, more comfortable as well, because each of us knows that the other person won’t judge us.
Another bonus is knowing people who are different than you expands your horizons. For example, I have a friend who was a part of the Pagan religion for a long time. She taught me quite a bit about herbal remedies. This is interesting information to me! Not to mention helpful. I’ll run for something herbal before I’ll run for the pharmacy if I need healing since usually herbal works as well or better, & with less potential side effects). If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if I would’ve even been interested in herbal remedies.
How do you fit into this? Are you able to disagree respectfully with others or do you believe your friends must agree with you fully? If you only surround yourself with those who believe & think as you do, I encourage you today to expand your horizons. Get to know people of different religions, races or cultures. It’ll bless you as well as them.
I think many of us who stay in a relationship with our narcissistic mothers have been asked repeatedly, “Why don’t you go no contact with her?” Often, good points follow such as, “You don’t deserve to be treated that way” along with stories of someone else they knew who had a narcissistic mother & has never been happier since she went no contact. I have been called foolish & accused of trying to be a martyr as well.
This conversation really can make you doubt your decision.
The truth of the matter though, is that ending a relationship, any relationship, is no one else’s business. Ending a relationship is a very painful decision, but perhaps ending one with your mother is the most painful of all. Ending a relationship is also a very individual decision. You are a unique individual with unique feelings & responses to things. You may be more willing or able to tolerate certain things than another person. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong & the other person is right or vice versa- it simply means you’re different.
If you’re considering going no contact with your narcissistic mother, then please do NOT let anyone else influence your decision! This is one that you need to make by yourself, & have absolute peace & certainty with your decision. You need to be sure that whatever your choice, you will have no regrets. To do this, I strongly suggest a great deal of prayer. Ask God to help you make this choice & how to handle it whichever way it goes. He will not lead you wrong.
If you opt to go no contact, then you need to remember to stick to your decision. Don’t call your mother up to wish her a happy birthday or ask her advice after telling her you want her out of your life. This only goes to show you have weak boundaries, & a narcissist naturally will use that against you. If you & your mother share relationships, then tell those people that you don’t want them to discuss you with your mother or her with you. It’s just best to keep others out of the situation that should stay between you & your mother so that person doesn’t feel torn between you two. Also, beware of flying monkeys- the people your mother sends after you to “talk sense” into you. They will work hard to make sure you know how badly you’ve hurt your mother & what a terrible daughter you are. Tell these people that the topic of your & your mother’s relationship is not up for discussion. Don’t try to explain your side or defend yourself or your decision- it will not only fall on deaf ears, it will hurt you to be so invalidated. Simply do not engage these people.
If you opt to stay in a relationship with your narcissistic mother, there are ways to manage it. I opted to go limited contact, which means I don’t talk daily to my parents as I once did. I talk to them & visit them as I feel able, not always on their time schedule like it used to be. Continue to work on your healing, not only for yourself, but also because it will change the relationship with your narcissistic mother. The healthier you are, the less interest narcissist will have in you because you are harder to use & abuse. Focus on setting & enforcing healthy boundaries too. Most of all though, remember that it won’t be easy. There will be times you slip up & fall into old, dysfunctional patterns. Don’t beat yourself up for that. These times happen. Just learn from it, try not to let it happen again.
I had yet another nightmare about my mother last night. I told my husband about it this morning, & the topic of the nightmare was similar to something she used to do repeatedly when I was a child. He asked if I ever confronted her on it, & I said of course I did when it was happening. He suggested I confront her now, as an adult, & I said absolutely not. She’s still the same person she was back then, so I’d end up frustrated or hurt again. His perspective was at least I’d get the anger out of me.
I later got to thinking… this happens a lot. I’ve noticed many people think confrontation is always the way to go when someone has hurt or abused you. And, many times it is the right thing to do. Normal people don’t want to hurt others, so when you confront them, they will apologize & try to make it up to you.
There are times though, when confrontation isn’t right for various reasons. When someone is a narcissist for example, confronting them most likely will lead to them making you out to be the bad guy, them the victim. Plus, now they know that action hurts you, so they will do it over & over specifically to hurt you.
Rather than just blindly confront your abuser, I strongly suggest thinking about it first. How does this person respond to confrontation? Is she/he open to making changes? Does the person care about hurting others? If the person is a narcissist, & you know they will turn this scenario around, will it still help you to speak up? Answer these & any other questions honestly, then you can choose whether or not confrontation is the right thing for you to do in this situation.
I opted not to confront my mother, by the way. This is usually how I handle things with her. I don’t like it, because I believe people need to know when they do bad things. However, she also likes to use things that hurt me repeatedly. If I can conceal my pain, I have a better chance she won’t use that tactic repeatedly. I’ve learned with her, it’s best to show zero emotion when she hurts me & I’m in her presence. Once I leave, I cry or vent, often writing in my journal & praying. Getting my feelings out to her would only result in being completely invalidated & honestly, I can’t handle that anymore from her- she has done it too much in my life. It isn’t a perfect solution, & it probably won’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
Learning about setting & enforcing healthy boundaries also will help to eliminate the need for many confrontations. Knowing what you will & won’t tolerate, & making that known, eliminates disagreements & problems before they start.
Limiting contact with the person will help you as well simply due to the fact you spend less time with her.
As I found what works for me, you need to find what works for you. I pray God will guide you in the right direction for you when the time comes.
One thing many people, in particular survivors of narcissistic abuse, seem to have a problem with is over explaining.
If someone asks you to do something that you are unable or unwilling to do, most people will explain in great detail exactly why they can’t or won’t do what is asked of them, even if they have to lie. The truth however, is that is unnecessary. And, sometimes it can cause disagreements between both parties involved, especially if the one doing the explaining feels compelled to lie which is often the case.
Did you know that no can be a complete sentence?
Matthew 5:37 states, “Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (AMP)
While you may be thinking that you wouldn’t lie, think about how many times you were free yet told someone you had previous plans to avoid doing what they wanted you to do? I think all of us are guilty of doing this at some point.
Instead of that, why not just say no? You owe no explanations- a simple no should suffice with most people.
Granted, with narcissists, they feel entitled to a detailed explanation of your “terrible” refusal to serve them, so no doesn’t always work. Instead, there are some slightly more elaborate answers you can give without offering a long explanation.
“No, I can’t.”
“No, I don’t have time.”
“No, I won’t.”
“No. It goes against my personal beliefs.”
Whatever you opt to say, remember not to give many details or much personal information. Narcissists love to use what you say against you or to hurt you, so it’s best to keep details to yourself whenever possible.
God doesn’t want you to be a martyr & stay in relationship with your narcissistic parent if you feel you can’t do it. It’s not His will you be miserable, but to be happy. However, that doesn’t mean going no contact is the only option.
No contact is a very drastic move, & one that should be made only after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter. It is also not one that you should let other people tell you to make. You need to decide on your own whether or not it is the right decision for you, & have absolute certainty in your decision.
In 2001 I went no contact with my mother. She contacted me in 2007, & I decided to allow her back into my life at that point. I figured I had learned & grown enough that things would be better. They are, although sometimes they are still extremely hard & painful. Those times often make me think about going no contact again. I have prayed about it many times, but I haven’t done it. In 2001, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was what I had to do. Now, I have yet to feel that certainty. I firmly believe that our instincts are given to us by God, so if my instincts aren’t clearly telling me it’s time, then I won’t do it.
If you too feel no contact is not your answer just now, you are not alone! I talk to many women who are either unwilling or unable to go no contact with their narcissistic mothers. There are several things you can to do help you manage this painful relationship.
Have you ever read the Oscar Wilde book, “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”? It’s an incredible story of Dorian Gray, who commissions a painting of himself. The painting ages while Dorian stays young. Also, Dorian is known for being an exceptionally handsome young man. The painting grows ugly as well as old, because all of the evil inside Dorian doesn’t manifest on himself, but on the painting instead. Every time Dorian does some horrible deed, the painting grows more & more grotesque.
The story is beautifully written & among my favorite books ever.
This book came to mind recently. This got me to thinking about how what is on the inside shows on the outside. We aren’t as fortunate as Dorian, having a picture of ourselves age & show the ugliness inside while we stay attractive. What is in the inside truly shows on the outside.
I remember my maternal grandmother. Her eyes were stone cold & I think quite unsettling. Her smile always had a forced look to it. She was a narcissist & a very cruel person. Yet, my paternal granddad, who was a kind, loving, giving, Christian man had very warm eyes & an equally warm & easy smile.
I believe knowing that what is on the inside shows on the outside is a good thing. It can help you to figure out who is a good person & who isn’t. Words aren’t always a good indicator of what someone is like, because people can (& do) lie. Actions can be done out of obligation, desire to make a good impression or other selfish motives. Body language & facial expressions are a very good indicator, I think the best, of a person’s heart.
I look for people with a very easy, ready smile. Fake smiles are a big red flag with me. A smile that looks like the person smiling is in physical pain or hates to smile always tell me something is amiss with them. (Granted, we all have off days & smiling isn’t easy, but that is not usually the norm.)
If someone’s eyes are so cold that you have trouble making eye contact, that is another good indicator something is wrong. Have you ever noticed the eyes of a serial killer? Check it out sometime. John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer & The Green River Killer (his real name escapes me at the moment) all had very dead eyes. Their eyes creep me out! People with a little sparkle in their eyes & who gladly make eye contact are who I want around. Those people tend to be kind & honest, which are two very important qualities.
I know this post is very different than my usual ones, but I hope it helps you anyway. 🙂
Twenty-five years ago today, on August 23, 1990, I met a man that I dated briefly. We were together for exactly 3 months when I broke up with him. The brief time together was life altering for me & not necessarily in a good way.
I was 19, & he was 28. He had a lovely old house on the water & a good job. He said he was close to his family, even though they lived far apart. He had a way about him that gave the impression he had it all together. Since I’d just moved out of my parents house only months before, I was hungry for stability. I figured he was a good, stable man & I’d be happy with him. After all, my friend said she thought so. I didn’t trust my own instincts that said I should run, & instead listened to her.
I’m not saying he was a bad man, but he had some problems. He was extremely jealous, which was a problem since I worked with mostly men. He treated me as if I was stupid & he was much older & wiser, which really got on my nerves. He was extremely controlling as well. In fact, so much so, we ended up engaged because he said I would marry him. No romantic proposal, no ring- just a command. After 3 months, I was tired. I’d have enough control games from my mother, so I decided no more. I broke up with him on November 23, 1990. He screamed at me for hours, telling me how much I’d regret it, he was a good guy, I was ruining his life, I made a big mistake, etc. I even thought he was going to hit me once but my cat Magic put a stop to it by scratching him while his dog got between us. That event left me feeling incredibly guilty for many years. Every August 23, I would beat myself up for ruining Mike’s life.
Then in January of 2014, I read on my county police facebook page that this man was dead. He shot his gay lover then himself. I also saw in that same article that he had a felony weapons charge from the week before his death. His mug shot was on the article, & obviously the years since I’d left him had been very hard on him. He looked very different- much harder & older. So much so that I didn’t even recognize him.
It really shook me up. It took me months before this information sank in. I lost the guilt & got very angry at myself for not knowing what Mike was really like. I also got angry at him for treating me like I was the only one with problems when clearly he had plenty of issues himself. I was always wrong. I was crazy. At least according to him.
Since, I have come to accept what happened & am no longer angry with him. I now appreciate the few good things that came from that brief relationship, such as him getting me into classic rock, especially the Eagles & Styx. I also was able to adopt Magic because of him, & he even named him. He also was the first person to truly grasp how cruelly my mother treated me. We had my parents to dinner one night & my mother was insulting me at every turn. Mike was truly upset by her behavior, & apologized to me for doubting when I said she was abusive.
I realized though, that this man wasn’t the only person in my life who was like this, however. I think it must happen with many adult children of narcissists. I think we attract dysfunctional people who try to put their dysfunction on us.
My ex husband always said I was wrong. Every argument was my fault. If he got mad at me & punched walls, I made him do it. I was unreasonable for wanting for him to stop running up credit card debt or depending on his mother to bail him out financially.
The friend who thought I should go out with the man I mentioned? She was in control of our relationship. Period. She would not hesitate to guilt trip me if I didn’t do what she wanted.
I had another friend while married to my ex who talked to me as if I was dumb as a box of hair. Always wanted favors from me too, & rarely did anything in return. She once chewed me out for not calling her back in a timely manner, even though I didn’t get the message until hours after she called.
I would like to encourage you, Dear Reader, to do something I didn’t do when I was in these dysfunctional relationships. Look at the people in your life, especially the critical & needy ones. How do they treat you? Do they blame you for everything? Are you always the problem? Are you supposed to do for them while they don’t need to be there for you? Answer such questions honestly. You may realize that you need to end some toxic relationships. If you realize you need to do this, ask God for help. Ask Him to give you the strength you need to end the relationships & the wisdom on how to best handle the situation.
Adult children of narcissists often date or marry narcissists, much to their frustration. I did- my ex husband was quite narcissistic. When I realized how much he was like my mother, it baffled me why I married him. I thought I was stupid. How could I marry someone so abusive?! I just got away from my abusive mother a few months prior to our marriage, I & wanted peace. How could this happen? Looking back, I understand why this happened. I think it was pretty normal under the circumstances.
When you grow up with at least one narcissistic parent, you have no real idea of what love truly is. Since parents are supposed to love their children, you assume your parents love you… even when they abuse you. You end up thinking love equals criticism, yelling, invalidation, etc. You think people who act this way genuinely love you. You may even avoid those with healthy boundaries & who offer praise & compassion because they are so unfamiliar to you.
Narcissists are boundary squashers. Normal, healthy people respect boundaries, but not a narcissist. I’m not sure they even see boundaries. Or, if they do, they seem to take it as a personal challenge to bust through them. They will wear you down. When my ex husband first asked me out, I said no. He kept pushing & I kept saying no. Eventually he wore me down. I gave in even though I wasn’t attracted to him & I knew how angry my mother would be that I wanted to date someone. He even wore me down enough to marry him two years later.
Growing up with narcissistic parents, you are deprived of attention & love. You become desperate for it. This desperation puts off healthy people, but it attracts narcissists. They realize that you will do anything or put up with anything because you are so desperate. They see you as an easy target.
Narcissistic partners are very good at convincing their victims that their abusive behavior is actually loving behavior. Being so desperate for love, it’s very easy for a victim to believe this. Narcissists know this & take advantage of it.
If you too have fallen into this trap of dating or marrying a narcissist, then please don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s a very common thing. Instead, consider it a learning experience. I know that is hard to do, but it’s possible. I did that for years after divorcing my ex husband, but finally realized that he was a predator taking advantage of someone very damaged. I was so damaged then that I didn’t realize this was what was happening. The good part is I had the sense to get away from him, & I know that if my current husband & I weren’t together, I’d never again date, let alone marry, another narcissist.
There have been a great deal of controversial things happening in the world lately, such as same sex marriage becoming a nationwide right. People often have extreme feelings on controversial issues. So extreme in fact, many friendships have ended due to people disagreeing with each other.
This makes me sad. I don’t understand why people won’t respect each other’s opinions. Agree to disagree, if you will. You don’t have to agree on every single thing to have a good relationship. No two people will anyway, because God made everyone an individual, with unique tastes, thoughts & feelings.
Disagreeing with someone’s views on a topic doesn’t give you the right to force your views on them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whether it’s right, wrong or indifferent. If God Himself doesn’t force people to do anything, what makes you think you have that right?
I’m hoping, Dear Reader, that this doesn’t describe you. But, if it does, I pray God will help you to become more gentle & understanding in your behavior.
If you’ve been on the receiving end of harsh words due to a differing opinion, I’m very sorry. It’s hurtful, I know. If you haven’t lost your friend because of your views, but you two disagree, it may be a good idea simply to avoid discussing the topic. If you have a good friend, yet you both feel strongly on different sides of a topic, why let that one thing hurt your friendship? Agree to disagree. Simply accept that you both feel differently on the issue at hand, & don’t discuss it anymore. This really works if both people value the friendship & are willing to do this. I’ve done this myself in my friendships, usually with good results.
Sometimes though, it doesn’t turn out as well. Some people are so determined to make sure you hear their opinions & change yours to theirs, it will ruin a friendship. They always remind me of this one dream I had last year. I wrote about it here if you’d like to read it. I’ve been in that situation too, & it really hurts. A few years ago, I ended a friendship of 20 years because that person only cared about what he cared about, nothing else mattered, even hurting me. It still hurts to this day. Unfortunately in these situations, you’re going to hurt. It’s just a fact. All you can do is nurse your wounds, & appreciate the good, caring friends you have who are willing to accept you even if you differ on opinions.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, you believe that you are the problem in the toxic relationship. She blames you for everything & takes no responsibility for anything she has done to you. On the off chance she admits to doing something bad to you, she blames you for making her do it.
As an adult, you are told, by her or others, that you are the one who needs to make amends with her, find a way to get along with her, or even that you have “a victim mentality,” which only further embeds the belief in you that the problems with your mother are all your fault. (Isn’t it interesting how no one tells your narcissistic mother she needs to behave herself, work things out with you or that she is abusive?)
I would like to challenge you today to look at this situation differently. As a child, your mother was the adult. This means she was supposedly the more mature & wiser of the two of you. She should have known better than to treat you so poorly. Also, she knew then & still knows that her actions are wrong, otherwise she would behave the same way in public as she does in private.
Keeping those things in mind, please answer this for me- how is it your responsibility to improve the relationship with your mother? In fact, how is it even possible to improve a relationship with a narcissist? And, how is it your fault that your mother has abused you?
I know it is painful when people so thoughtlessly tell you to fix things with your mother instead of offering support & understanding. I’ve been in that position more times than I can count. So when they say something like this, I want you to remember that you aren’t the problem in the relationship, your mother is. Any person who can abuse her own child for that child’s entire life is the problem. Any person who constantly puts her own needs & wants, no matter how trivial, above the welfare of others but especially her own child is the problem. Any person who chooses to treat others as if they aren’t allowed to have their own feelings, needs, opinions, wants is the problem. Any person who refuses to accept responsibility for her hurtful actions & blames others for them is the problem.
Dear Reader, just try to remember these things when someone insensitively tells you that you are the problem or that you need to work things out with your mother. You are not the problem- she is!
Does it seem like not only are narcissists everywhere, but they all find you & want to be your friend or romantic interest?
I’ve felt that way myself. I’ve had so many failed friendships with people I later realized were narcissists. I probably would’ve had more failed romantic relationships with narcissists as well if I wasn’t so particular about who I dated before I got married. So many times in my life, I’ve felt like a narcissist magnet- if there’s one within ten miles of me, they will find me quicker than a bloodhound on the trail of a rabbit..
And, it’s not just me. Many other people I’ve talked to share this experience. This made me wonder why do some of us keep ending up with such dysfunctional, abusive people in our lives? I came up with a theory…
Like me, the other folks I’ve talked to who have had many narcissistic relationships also were raised by at least one narcissistic parent. This means they learned very early in life to behave in a certain way- to work hard to please others, not to ask much (anything, really) from others in a relationship, to tolerate abuse, to offer much praise & no criticism. These behaviors are extremely pleasing to narcissists, so upon meeting people who behave that way, narcissists are instantly attracted. They then begin their own version of “love bombing.” Love bombing is when a narcissist inundates their prospective “love interest” (more like victim..) with loving gestures- romance, gifts, words of love & praise, wanting to take care of the love interest financially or rescue from a bad situation. Narcissistic friends do this minus the romantic aspect. They listen to you, pretend to share things in common with you, & more to draw you into a relationship with them. Once you’re in though, the mask comes off & the true person is revealed.
So how do you avoid attracting narcissistic friends & romantic interests? Get mentally healthy!
The more mentally healthy you are, the less able narcissists are to use & abuse you, which is an incredible turn off for them. While many narcissists enjoy the challenge of destroying someone who is strong, empathetic, & intelligent, they do like someone who can be molded into whatever they want. An mentally healthy person won’t let that happen. She knows her boundaries, & enforces them strictly. She also recognizes dysfunctional & abusive behavior quickly, & won’t tolerate it. Being mentally healthy is more valuable than having a high IQ when it comes to deterring abusive people from wanting to be in a relationship with you.
I’ve seen this come to pass in my own life. The more mentally healthy I’ve become, the less interested in me narcissists are. I seldom find any interested in talking to me for more than a short time, let alone pursuing a friendship. Plus, I usually can spot them a mile away now, so when I realize the person I just met is a narcissist, I’ll have fun with them. I’ll change the subject off of them, their interests, etc. onto something else. Preferably me, since narcissists have no interest in talking about anyone other than themselves.. heehee!
Something else has come from being healthier too- not only do I attract less narcissists, but I attract more mentally healthy people! I honestly can say right now that I do not have ONE abusive &/or narcissistic friend in my life. My friends are caring, compassionate, intelligent & generous. If we have a disagreement, we can work things out, even if we never come to agree. We know it’s OK to agree to disagree. We don’t always share many similar interests, but we do respect each other’s right to be interested in what the other is interested in without judgment. We often think very much alike & share similar religious beliefs.
I’m not saying attracting narcissists in your life is your fault, or that you have to be completely mentally healthy & over the narcissistic abuse to have good friendships. Not by any means! Please don’t think that is what I mean at all! It’s still completely on the narcissist that they seek out victims. And, once you start recognizing & failing to tolerate abuse, things will change naturally. Abusers will start seeing you as an unavailable target & seek another victim.
Last night, I got a message from one of my cousins saying her father, my uncle, had just passed away earlier in the day. I had to call my father to tell him the bad news about his brother. It wasn’t a good conversation at all. See, my father & uncle were once very close. However, they hadn’t spoken in a long time, I think 2001 or 2002 was the last time they spoke, & prior to that, they hadn’t spoken many times since 1996 when they had a big disagreement. So, now my father has to cope not only with losing his brother, but also with regrets over how their relationship ended up.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since last night when we spoke. It seems to me this is a very common scenario- someone dies, & the ones left behind have regrets. Regretting letting some trivial argument come between them, maybe simply not calling/visiting as much as they wish they would have or failing to say, “I love you” more often. It’s a very sad situation. Also it’s a situation people don’t want to think about.
I know thinking about the possibility of losing someone you love isn’t pleasant. However, it is bound to happen at some point. Death is a natural part of life.
I would just like to take a moment today to encourage you to be sure you don’t have regrets in relationships. Tell those you love how much they mean to you. End your phone calls, emails or visits by telling them, “I love you.” (I always did this with my granddad, & it brings me some comfort that our last words to each other were, “I love you.”) If they do something for you or say something kind to you, tell them how much you appreciate it. Call them often. Go out for a cup of coffee or to lunch often. Give them little gifts that show them how much you love them when it isn’t their birthday or another gift-giving occasion without expecting anything in return. An unexpected gift with no strings attached at an unexpected time is a wonderful thing! Use complements & praise often. Pray with & for those you love. Encourage them when they are down. Listen quietly without offering advice.
Since I know many of you reading my blog also have a narcissistic mother, some also have narcissistic fathers, you may be wondering how this applies to you. More or less the same. If your narcissistic mother does something kind (I know, rare, but it does happen once in a while!), thank her for thinking of you & doing whatever it was she did. If you can give her a genuine complement, give it. If you see a little something she would like, buy it for her without expecting anything in return. Pray for her. Basically, bless her as you feel you are able to for your narcissistic mother. I’m certainly not saying to tolerate abuse from her, or kiss up to her by any means. I am saying to respect whatever boundaries you have with her, while blessing her as you are able to do so. It isn’t easy, I know, but if you treat her as well as you are able, & as she deserves, you won’t have regrets about your part of your relationship.
Also, when you do something for your narcissistic mother, do only what you feel you genuinely don’t mind doing. If it appears at all forced on your end, she’ll pick up on that, & you could be facing a narcissistic rage.
I have practiced what I am writing about today with my mother. I honestly can say now that I have no regrets with her. I have done my best by my mother (in spite of what some people may think, ie her flying monkeys) while protecting myself at the same time.
One of my readers made an interesting point. She read my post about The Silent Treatment that I wrote a couple of days ago, & mentioned how she gives her mother what she calls the silent treatment. Hers is a bit different than her narcissistic mother’s silent treatment- she doesn’t try to punish her narcissistic mother with it (as narcissists do). Instead she only speaks to her mother on her terms (when she is able to talk with her), & is very careful with the limited information she shares. This is also what Dr. Karyl McBride, author of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” calls the civil connection.
I’ve done this with my mother & mother in-law. Both are narcissists, my mother being the overt type, mother in-law the covert. Both have responded very differently to it. My mother used to get very frustrated, but it didn’t take her long to get to the point where she gives up quickly on me. I’m more stubborn than her, & she knows that, so I assume she realizes there’s no point in trying to get something “juicy” from me once I’ve made up my mind not to give anything up. My mother in-law, however, was a different story. She would become visibly flustered, & try any tactic she could to force me to talk. It became just plain funny to me after a while! Watching her get angrier & angrier, yet unable to say or do anything about it for fear of looking bad, became very entertaining to me.
Have you tried this with your narcissistic mother? If not, you have to try it!! If nothing else, it’ll amuse you!
I like to give one word (or close to it) answers. For example…
Mother: “How are you?”
Mother: “What have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Not much.” (she already thinks I’m lazy, so she’ll believe I haven’t done much)
See how that works? It’s really easy.
Chances are, your narcissistic mother will start to push for more information from you when you give her such curt responses. She will hint around, trying to get you to talk, as she won’t ask outright for fear of looking unreasonable, bad, or whatever. Refuse to respond! Ignore the hints. I’m telling you, it will fluster her, & if you’re lucky, she’ll give up trying to get news from you.
Once, I had a doctor’s appointment on a day when my mother in-law thought I should do something for her (which is amazing in itself- she’s hated me from the day we met, so why would she think I would be willing to help her in any way?!). I told her I couldn’t do it- I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. I should have said “prior obligation” instead of admitting what I was doing, but it slipped out. It turned out to be hilarious for me though! She said things like, “Well, if you’re seeing the doctor, it must be serious. I understand why you can’t do this for me…” (I simply said “Thanks” in response), “If you can’t reschedule it, that isn’t a good sign. I’m so worried about you!” (yea, right! She didn’t care- she just wanted information, so I simply told her I was fine.), “Why are you seeing the doctor?” (the only direct question she asked, & I ignored her question, as I was listening to my husband & his father talk- I pretended I didn’t hear her over them), or “I guess you can’t do this for me since you HAVE to see the doctor on that day & no other…I don’t understand why it has to be THAT day..” (to which I responded with, “Nope, I can’t do it.”) By the time my husband & I left her home shortly after, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! I barely made it to the car before I started laughing!
If you haven’t tried this type of interaction with your narcissistic mother, please consider doing so! Not only will it entertain you, it will give her less opportunities to hurt you. You will speak to her only as you are able to do so, & by limiting your conversation as well as your exposure to her, you will give her less to criticize about you. It really will make your interactions with her much easier for you! Also, it’s not disrespectful, so if you are concerned about not honoring your mother, as many Christian daughters of narcissistic mothers are, please don’t worry!