Tag Archives: relationship
Some very naive people think that being a Christian means some pretty awful things. One of those awful things is that as a Christian, you are to tolerate any & all abuse because calling people out on it is “un-Christian” or unloving. These ingenuous people actually think that removing yourself from an abuser’s life isn’t Godly behavior, especially if that abuser is a parent. It’s much better to allow that person to abuse you indefinitely! After all, the Bible says you should honor your parents, & it’s honorable to tolerate anything they dish out!
I am certainly not claiming to have all the answers to all things Christian. I am well aware that I don’t. But, I have been a Christian for 22 years now & have learned a few things.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean you are better than other people or that you’re perfect. Far from it. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus. And, just because we have Him in our lives & hearts doesn’t mean we’re perfect. No matter how perfect an artist may be, if the canvas is flawed, even the greatest artist can’t paint a perfect picture on a flawed canvas.
Another important thing I have learned is that being a Christian also means we need to love God’s way, which is very different from loving people’s way. God’s love wants what is best, not what is easiest. Confronting abusers is best because it encourages them to make appropriate changes in their behavior. Granted with narcissists, the chances of them making positive changes is very slim. However, it is not your place to force them to change. It is your place to encourage them to change, which is much different than forcing someone to change.
But it’s certainly NOT easy! Tolerating bad behavior & even abuse is much easier than standing up to someone about their behavior. As painful as tolerating abuse is, at least you won’t lose your friends & family so long as you tolerate it. Once you stand up to an abuser, chances are excellent that you will lose people you love. They will call you unreasonable, unloving, cruel, abusive, a bad son/daughter/friend/etc. & yes, even attack your faith by saying you aren’t a real Christian or are a bad one. People who stand up to abusers find out quickly who really loves them & who doesn’t.
I believe many people, Christian or not, have misinterpreted the Bible when it comes to love. Yes, love is patient & kind & other wonderful things. However, love also must be tough sometimes. God proves that! He doesn’t let His people get away with any old kind of behavior. He lets us suffer consequences of bad actions or be blessed with good actions. As His children, we are supposed to behave like God- Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (KJV)
Dear Reader, if your faith has been judged & criticized because you have removed an abuser from your life, you are most certainly not alone. Many people have been, including me. When this happens, I try to remember Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. 12 Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (AMP) As painful as it is when people side with your abuser over you, & even shame you for no longer tolerating abuse, it can bring comfort when you remember God is all too aware of what is being said to & about you. He will reward you one day! Those who said such cruel things however?? Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes…
2 Thessalonians 1:8 “dealing out [full and complete] vengeance to those who do not [seek to] know God and to those who ignore and refuse to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [by choosing not to respond to Him].” (AMP)
Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (AMP)
Hoovering is when a narcissist doesn’t want to accept the fact you have ended the relationship, & they try to lure you back. If you’re not aware of hoovering tactics, it can be easy to be lured into a false sense of believing the narcissist has truly changed, & the relationship will be better this time only to be sadly disappointed when finding out the narcissist really hasn’t changed. To prevent this from happening, this post will address some hoovering tactics narcissists use.
Love bombing is very common. It involves the narcissist confessing their undying love for you, doing nice things for you, showering you with gifts &/or plenty of attention. It can be hard not to believe a narcissist really cares since they can be very convincing. It also can be hard to resist. It’s important to remember that these displays of the narcissist’s love are NOT real! They’re only designed to lure you back into the toxic relationship.
Narcissists also will use family & friends, aka flying monkeys, to talk “sense” into you. This is a very tough one. When someone you think highly of tells you that you should resume a relationship with someone else, it can make you doubt yourself. Instead, think about what this person is saying. Does this person make sense? How much do they know of the situation? Do they believe you when you say the narcissist has been abusive to you? Do they want to hear what you have to say or do they cut you off or tell you that you’re wrong? Your honest answers to these questions will determine if you should listen to what that person has to say.
Another hoovering tactic is using or faking illness or injury to reconnect with you. Most people want to help a sick or hurt person, especially if it’s someone they love. If this happens, remember- when you went no contact, it was for excellent reasons. It also was permanent, not until the narcissist got sick or injured. Maybe that sounds cold, but truly, it isn’t. It’s a person reaping what they have sown. A person who abuses another can’t expect that victim to be there for them indefinitely. Everyone has limits.
Sending cards, letters or calling on special days like birthdays, anniversaries or holidays is another common hoovering tactic. It feels wrong to spend special days not acknowledging the narcissist. For those with narcissistic parents, birthdays in particular can be difficult. And, for those with narcissistic exes, anniversaries can be especially difficult. It’s normal, but even so, remember all they are trying to do is hoover you back into the toxic relationship by using the special day.
Some narcissists give their victims months or even years of no contact when suddenly they call or write. It seems that they figure after some time has passed, the victim has forgotten just how bad the relationship was, & will be open to resuming it. If this happens, remind yourself of exactly why you ended the relationship in the first place. The chance of that behavior improving is very, very slim. Is it really worth taking a chance on resuming the relationship?
Some narcissists don’t go the route of trying to convince you that they love you or are thinking of you. They opt to get cruel.
Smear campaigns can get really nasty to provoke a response out of you & also to discredit a victim so people won’t believe them but instead they’ll believe the narcissist. You may learn that people are saying you’re crazy, stupid, spoiled, abusive to the narcissist or even a bad Christian. As hard as it can be, do NOT respond to these ridiculous accusations! Doing so only convinces people that you are the terrible person the narcissist says you are. And, if you confront the narcissist about the lies, it only gives that narcissist narcissistic supply. The narcissist can look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways.
Many narcissists who can’t win a victim back will resort to attempting to bully the victim to return to the relationship by stalking & harassing them. They’ll inundate victims with countless phone calls, emails, texts, & letters. They may show up at places the victim frequents or drive by the victim’s home frequently. Especially devious ones send others to drive by the victim’s home so if the victim says anything about the narcissist stalking them, they look paranoid or even crazy. The best things to do is block all access the narcissist uses to get to you, & document EVERYTHING. If you decide to press charges, documentation will work in your favor, even if the narcissist didn’t break the law. Documentation of bad behavior, even when legal, can only help your case.
Remember, Dear Reader, never allow the narcissist to hoover you back into the relationship. It only ends badly! The behavior is usually much worse after hoovering than it was in the first place.
Boundaries are a very important part of life, but perhaps even more so in victims of narcissistic abuse.
Narcissists don’t allow their victims to have any boundaries. This creates victims who think they aren’t allowed to have boundaries not only with the narcissist, but with everyone. Lacking healthy boundaries sets a person up to be used & abused. Even the kindest, most well meaning people can inadvertently take advantage of someone without good boundaries, because the person doesn’t say no. How can anyone know what they’re asking someone to do is a problem if that someone doesn’t say no?
Boundaries are like the fence that surrounds your yard. They show you where you end and other people begin, & what is & is not your personal responsibility. Your emotions, beliefs, desires & behaviors are your responsibility. Likewise, the emotions, beliefs, desires and behaviors of other people are their responsibility, not yours. You do not even need to have an opinion on these things. If they are hurting you or are being self-destructive, however, Ephesians 4:15 says that you may speak the truth to them in love about the issue.
No one can control someone with healthy boundaries. You will show others that you have confidence & self-respect, & that you love yourself enough to take good care of you.
By learning about boundaries, you will quickly learn what is & is not important to you, therefore you know what you need to confront another person about, & what you can let slide. You will be more sensitive to the early signs of resentment or anger that let you know that your boundaries are being violated. It is best to nip things in the bud, rather than to let the problem continue until it is much bigger.
Boundaries also enforce consequences. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Often, many people try to interfere with this natural law to avoid painful consequences, however, doing that often causes bigger problems. Boundaries allow this reaping to take place because you know that it is not your place to interfere. People need consequences for their actions, good or bad! How is someone who does good things for others benefited by never receiving recognition or a reward for their good works? That person becomes discouraged, potentially even bitter. Or, what good does it do anyone to say or do anything they want, & never suffering when they cause others to suffer? This person learns nothing, nor does she have any opportunity to grow and mature or grow closer to God.
When you first begin to set boundaries, some people will not like it. They will tell you that you are being selfish or uppity, or they may ask what happened to the “good girl” you used to be. Reasonable, safe people will accept & respect your new boundaries with no problems. Unsafe people will not. If others cannot respect your healthy boundaries, then they are the ones with a problem, not you. Setting boundaries is a very good way to learn who is safe & who is not.
For your first step in getting started on boundaries, I strongly suggest you spend some time asking yourself these questions, & really think about your answers:
• What things am I no longer willing to tolerate from other people?
• What things do I need from other people?
• What boundaries do I need to set in my own life?
• How can I enforce them in a healthy way?
When setting your new boundaries, be very decisive about them. Wavering in your boundaries can lead to problems, such as others not not respecting your new boundaries.
You also need to figure out healthy ways to enforce those boundaries. Some simple phrases that may help you are:
• “I’m not going to do that.”
• “I won’t discuss this subject with you.”
• “You’re entitled to your opinion, but so am I.”
• “If you don’t stop talking about this subject, I’m going to hang up the phone (or leave the room, etc).”
Enforce your boundaries with consequences when necessary. Hang up the phone, leave the room, or whatever your consequence is. If you do not enforce your boundaries, people not only will lose respect for the boundary you are setting, but they will lose respect for you as well.
Remember to respect the boundaries of others too. You may need to write down what you are & are not responsible for regarding others in your life. Everyone is entitled to the same things that you are- lack of judgment on their own emotions, beliefs, desires, & actions. And remember- you are also not responsible for the feelings & well-being of others. People are also allowed to freely express their emotions. While you may offer sympathy, it is not your responsibility to make things all better for them. If you have done wrong by them, however, then it is certainly your place to apologize & try to make it up to them for the pain you caused.
You will need to tailor this information to your unique situation, but you can do this! Even if you are afraid, as most people learning to set boundaries for the first time in their lives are, do it anyway! The benefits of boundaries outweigh the risks. You will have more inner peace than ever before, you will feel less burdened & freer since you do not need to be responsible for some things you once were (such as the happiness and choices of others), & you naturally will begin to attract much healthier, happier people into your life.
Although the title of this post may sound like common sense, it may not be to everyone. Or, you may logically understand that yet still don’t feel you have the right to go no contact with the narcissist in your life. Narcissists are very good at destroying how you think, even making you feel you have to have that abuser in your life. (God forbid you think in a healthy way! You’re so much easier to manipulate if you are dysfunctional!)
I just want to remind you today, Dear Reader, that you absolutely have the right to protect yourself. You have the right to set healthy boundaries & expect them to be respected. You have the right to enforce consequences when they aren’t respected. You have the right to expect to be treated with civility & basic respect. And yes, you have the right to end an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter if that abuser is a friend, significant other, sibling or even a parent. No one has the right to abuse you! NO ONE!
I understand that many people who read my blog are in situations where they are unable to end their abusive relationship for various reasons. I certainly am not trying to make you feel bad for your position!! Everyone’s situation is different. But, of all the reasons to stay in such a relationship, the false belief that one doesn’t have the right to end it should not be one of those reasons!
Anyone who has made the decision to go no contact has no doubt thought about resuming that relationship at some point. This is especially common when a person ends a familial relationship.
I really think this is because God made people to need relationships, in particular those with our families. Ending a familial relationship is abnormal, no matter how valid the reasons. It goes against nature so it’s very painful to do & also to live with. As a result, it’s only natural to reconsider the decision to go no contact with family. When parents are involved, that decision is doubted even more often.
If you’re reconsidering your decision to go no contact, first of all, please know you aren’t abnormal, a glutton for punishment or anything else bad you may be feeling right now. You’re normal. In spite of the tremendous amount of prayer & consideration that goes into going no contact, I seriously don’t think there is one person who doesn’t have doubts about it at some point. I certainly haven’t talked with anyone who hasn’t doubted their choice. I can honestly say every single person has, including myself.
If you end a relationship with a family member, chances are slim that person will be out of your life entirely. You may see each other at family parties, reunions, weddings & even funerals. Even if you haven’t spoken to each other in a long time, you still share relatives & they will mention that person at some point. They may mention what is new in that person’s life or that they saw that person recently. If that person develops health problems, you are guaranteed to hear all about it, whether you want to or not.
When you see that person after a long time or when a mutual friend or relative mentions that person is having health problems, those are likely times for you to consider reconnecting. Before you do that, please pray & think long & hard before you do anything.
When you pray about it, listen to what God has to say. He probably won’t give direct orders by saying, “Thus sayeth the Lord….” Instead, you may feel a “knowing” about what you need to do. Listen to that! I firmly believe those “knowings” are from God.
Think long & hard about what this person you’re considering reconnecting with is doing. When your mutual friend or relative talks about that person, do you see old familiar patterns in that person’s behavior? Is that person still controlling? Critical? Abusive? If so, reconnecting is a terrible idea!
Another thing to watch for- if that person has told someone to tell you that they are sorry, do that person’s actions back up the words? Has the person accepted responsibility for their abusive actions? Did she mention specific acts that she was apologizing for or did she say non apologies like “I’m sorry you feel I was mean to you” or “I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did wrong”? Non apologies are NOT real apologies! They are said to lure you back into the relationship thinking all is OK now.
Also watch the person’s behavior. Does that person respect the fact you wish to stay no contact or try to contact you even years later? Safe people don’t like when someone ends a relationship with them, but they at least respect that person’s decision. They don’t inundate them with phone calls, texts, emails, posts on social media, etc. They stay out of the life of the person who ended contact with them. Unsafe people are much different. If they don’t want to end a relationship, they will fight hard not to let it end. They often harass, stalk, & bully. My mother & I stopped speaking to each other in 2016, & all was fine.. until my father was dying in October, 2017. Suddenly she called & sent me notes in the mail often & the flying monkeys attacked me constantly. Two months to the day after he died, & also two days before Christmas, I received a letter from her lawyer in the mail trying to force me to talk to her. This behavior shows me that nothing has changed with her. She still believes what she wants is what matters.
So Dear Reader, if you are considering ending no contact with someone, then please consider what I said. Pay attention to what you hear & observe about the person before allowing that person back into your life. And most of all pray! God will NOT lead you wrong!
As anyone with experience with a narcissist knows, they accept no blame for anything they have done. Ever. You can confront them about something terrible they have done, then later walk away wondering why you just apologized to them instead of them apologizing to you. This post will help you identify some of the common blame shifting behaviors so you won’t fall for them in the future.
Probably the most common thing that narcissists do to shift the blame is to play the victim. This is especially common with covert narcissists, but overt ones will do it as well. The narcissist will turn your legitimate concern around in such a way that you feel as if you’re being too hard on that person, overreacting or being too sensitive. After all, they never had any idea that what they said or did would hurt you, they say. Or, they may bring up some (probably imaginary) thing you did in the past, claiming that is abusive, & turning the topic of the conversation to that incident rather than your topic.
Closely related to playing the victim is the guilt trip done to shift blame. They may tell you about something painful that they experienced in their childhood or say things like, “Why are you yelling at me? I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Before you know it, you’re comforting them even though they hurt you!
They often accuse their victims of bad or even abusive behavior, but especially during the times when they are confronted. This is an effective way to shift the blame from the narcissist to the victim. My mother did this to me when I was growing up. She said I made her do something bad to me because of how terrible I was acting. On my seventeenth birthday, she destroyed my gifts that my now ex husband gave me, then made me clean up the mess she made. She said because I was “acting so snotty”, which is what made her destroy those gifts. The truth was when I took the gifts from school to her car at the end of my day, I was terrified what she was going to do to me because she hated my ex, & was quiet. I wasn’t “acting snotty”- I was acting terrified!
Narcissists also minimize the feelings of their victims to shift blame to the victim. Basically, this shifts the blame to the victim for how they responded to the abuse rather than the abuse itself. They may say things like “You’re too sensitive,” “You’re crazy,” or “I was just joking!”
When you’re talking with a narcissist & these things happen, then you can be certain they are attempting to shift the blame off of themselves. The best thing you can do is to redirect the conversation back to the original topic, as calmly as you can. Wait on the narcissist to finish whatever she is saying, then calmly say something, “Ok, but that isn’t what we were talking about. We will address that later. We’re discussing ____ at the moment.” You may have to do that a few times, but keep doing it. If that doesn’t work, try saying, “We’ll talk about this another time when you are ready to talk,” then leave or hang up the phone, & approach her another time in the very near future.
Unfortunately with narcissists, there is never an easy answer. Doing what I suggested may not work at all for you in the sense of being able to hash out the problem at hand. However, the good thing is it will let that narcissist know that you aren’t going to be fooled by the blame shifting nor will you be pushed around.
As anyone with experience with narcissists knows, you can’t avoid them entirely. Try as you might, they are everywhere. Because this is a sad fact of life, everyone needs to have some effective weapons in their arsenal.
Below is a list of things that can help stop narcissists in their tracks. While I always recommend prayer as the best place to start, these are some useful tactics I have found that can be helpful as well.
- Show no emotions when in the presence of a narcissist. Narcissists feed off the emotions of their victims. If you act happy, they will do their best to make you unhappy. If you’re sad, they’ll try to make you sadder. Angry? They will push your buttons to attempt to make you even angrier. In the presence of a narcissist, show NO emotions. You aren’t happy, sad, angry or anything. You simply are. This gives them nothing to work with.
- Ask the narcissist, “How does that make sense?” It is best to ask this question logically, minus any signs of emotion aside from confusion. Narcissists are highly illogical beings, so when you ask them to explain their actions, it can stop them in their tracks. It also can cause a narcissistic injury, but not one they usually react to with narcissistic rage. They know if they do, they’ll end up looking ridiculous, & that fact stops them in their tracks.
- “No.” Simply, no. No explanation, no excuses. If they continue to try to pressure you for more information, simply continue saying no. Narcissists don’t know what to do with this, especially when you refuse to explain your no. They may try to intimidate you with their anger or make you feel guilty for your no, but if you stay dedicated to your no while showing no emotions, they will give up fairly quickly.
- Make eye contact. People who have nothing to hide or are honest have no problems making eye contact. Narcissists have plenty to hide & are very dishonest. Eye contact will freak them out. They don’t know what to do with a person who meets their gaze.
- Let them know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Narcissists expect the world to center on them. If you let them know this isn’t the case where you are concerned, it will fluster them. To do this, you can refuse to do something for or with them because you have other plans at that time. “I can’t.. I have plans that day” without any explanation is a perfectly acceptable response. “Oh” when they cry to you about how mean someone was to them also works.
- Let them know they don’t scare you. Overt narcissists in particular love to intimidate their victims. Intimidation means a victim will do whatever you want, & overt narcissists rely on that fact. But think about it- what can this person do to you? Chances are, not much. If that person belittles or criticizes you, remember that narcissists project their flaws onto their victims & do their best to tear a person down. That doesn’t mean what they say is true! If you remember that & show no fear or even act a bit bored, you aren’t showing fear.
- Let them know their guilt trips don’t work on you. If the narcissist is a covert narcissist, rather than try to intimidate you, chances are very good they will use guilt. Guilt can be difficult to fight. Instead of accepting their guilt trips, ask yourself if what they say makes sense. Should you feel guilty for what they say you should? Was that truly your responsibility?
- Show your self-confidence. I adopted a chow chow mix dog in 2002 for my husband for his birthday. What I didn’t know about Bear at that time was that chows are known for having a very dominant nature. Combine that with the fact he obviously had been abused, & it was a recipe for disaster. It took a lot of work to turn him into the wonderful, loving, kind dog he turned into. The main thing that helped was to let Bear know he was NOT in charge. Dominant dogs need a very strong leader or they will take over, & Bear was no exception. Narcissists are much the same way. If you show any sign of weakness, narcissists will take over. If you refuse to believe the awful criticisms they say or be manipulated, & make your feelings know, narcissists will back down. Bullies are at their heart cowards, & since narcissists are usually bullies, this applies to them as well.
Nothing is guaranteed to stop any narcissist from abusing you for good, but using these comments can stop them at least temporarily. They may even stop the narcissist for good on specific topics. I wish you the best with the narcissists you face, & hope these tactics help you!
When a person cuts a narcissist out of their life, no matter if the relationship is romantic, a relative, a parent or a friend, many times, that narcissist will harass or stalk that victim for months or even years. They relentlessly call, text, email, drive past the victim’s house, stalk the victim online, & send flying monkeys to pressure the victim into resuming the relationship. While this may not sound all that bad, I can tell you from personal experience, it is REALLY bad.
When you are constantly bombarded by someone who is trying to get you to talk to them & you don’t want to, or told how horrible you are for not talking to them, it’s painful. It’s also scary because you don’t know where the person will come from next. This creates a state of hyper vigilance. Each day when you wake up, you wonder what the person has planned for you on that day. Will this person fill your inbox with angry emails? Will you have to change your phone number yet again? Will that person kill you? That may sound like a big leap, but I can tell you that when someone inundates you with abuse, you really wonder how far away that person is from killing you.
And, when the abuse stops, you don’t trust it. You wonder how long before it starts up again? When will the other shoe drop? Did that person hear about something that happened in your life & will they resume harassing you because of it? To date, I’ve been harassed since 2013 by a narcissist. I haven’t heard anything from her since October, 2017 when she used the opportunity of my father dying as an excuse to email me to tell me I was a narcissist. Yet, even though here we are, over four months later & I don’t believe that was the last I’ll hear of this person. She may read this post, realize I’m talking about her & start up again for all I know. It’s happened before.
I am far from the only person that this sort of thing has happened to. Many others have experienced long term stalking & harassment by their narcissist after they initiated no contact. One thing we all have in common is wondering why has this happened?
I firmly believe the reason that narcissists react this way boils down to narcissistic injury. It’s painful for anyone when another person ends a relationship with them, but that pain is greatly intensified when the person is a narcissist. Narcissists rely on others to make them feel good about themselves so they can gain narcissistic supply. Any little thing can make them feel smart, strong or attractive. If someone says, “That’s a good idea” to a narcissist, they take that as they are exceptionally smart whereas the average person would thank the person for saying it & simply go on with their day.
On the opposite side of the same coin though, any little thing can make them feel badly about themselves, or cause a narcissistic injury. If a narcissist’s friend was recently dumped by a new love interest, & while upset, is short with the narcissist, the narcissist takes it personally. The narcissist may even end that friendship. Most people wouldn’t respond that way. They would realize the friend isn’t attacking or being abusive- the friend is upset & spoke out of that upset. If a small thing like that can cause a narcissistic injury, then doesn’t it just make sense that ending a relationship would cause a much greater injury & naturally much greater reaction to it?
Also, narcissists want to be the ones in control, including being the ones who end relationships. If you end the relationship, this takes away their control. Now you have someone who has lost control AND a relationship that they weren’t ready to end.
In addition, most victims have been in the relationship for at least a little while. Narcissists expect their victims to continue tolerating abuse indefinitely. It seems to shock them when that doesn’t happen, & a victim stands up for him or her self.
All of these things combine for a perfect storm of rage inside the narcissist. Once that rage kicks in, nothing can stop it & whoever they feel is to blame for that rage must pay.
If you find yourself in the unenviable position of being on the receiving end of a narcissist’s stalking & harassment, you must protect yourself! Never, ever underestimate one of these raging narcissists. Don’t make the mistake of brushing off their awful behavior & thinking it’s no big deal. Maybe it isn’t a big deal & maybe they’ll leave you alone soon, but maybe it’ll become a bigger deal & they won’t leave you alone.
Look into the stalking & harassment laws in your state. Get familiar with them, so you know when you can get the police involved if need be.
Document EVERYTHING. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you saved it. Even if the narcissist’s behavior wasn’t always illegal, just mean spirited, that still can work in your favor with law enforcement, because it shows a history of bad behavior. Save screen shots, texts, emails, etc on cloud storage or email them to yourself, saving them on your email provider. Phones & computers die, so saving things elsewhere means they are there forever.
Do NOT interact with the narcissist. This is tough, because you want to just rip that person apart & tell them exactly what you think of them for all they have done to you. That would be a horrible mistake though! Do you realize how much narcissistic supply that would give this person? The narcissist would then be the victim, in her mind, & you the abuser. She could tell people how mean you were & for no good reason. Or, if you said anything to the narcissist in front of others, it would just prove her case that you are the real problem, the abuser, or even crazy. Plus, since the narcissist could get this reaction out of you, she would do whatever she could to get it again & again, to gain more supply. As difficult as it is, deprive them of the supply. Give them absolutely NO reaction or response unless it is through the police. If you decide to get the police involved, pray & seriously consider it before you do.
I know it’s hard, Dear Reader but you will get through this! xoxo
Sometimes avoiding narcissists is impossible no matter how hard you try & how much knowledge you have about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. When that happens, there are some ways that you can fluster them enough to where they will want to leave you alone.
If you have & enforce good boundaries, narcissists won’t like you. A good victim has weak or non existent boundaries. If you have & enforce your boundaries, a narcissist won’t know what to do with you. They may try to make you feel stupid or wrong for having them, but when you are secure in the knowledge what you are doing is right, their gaslighting won’t work.
Having healthy self esteem is a huge turn off to narcissists. The lower a person’s self esteem, the easier that person is to control. Similarly, the healthier a person’s self esteem, the harder that person is to control. While narcissists often enjoy the challenge of controlling a person with healthy self esteem, they will give up when they see that person isn’t going to tolerate their abuse.
Knowing about NPD is also a huge turn off to narcissists. Even if you don’t explain the ugly details of narcissism to them or call them out, so long as you know what these people are like & what they are capable of, it will be a problem for them. Narcissists don’t want anyone to figure out what they are doing, because a person who understands their games cannot be controlled or manipulated, & won’t create any narcissistic supply.
Self validation is a powerful weapon against narcissists. They want their victims to look only to them for validation. A person who doesn’t need the narcissist for validation won’t provide any narcissistic supply or be controlled by a narcissist.
Understanding that no contact is a very viable option gives you strength when dealing with a narcissist, & they can’t handle that. Narcissists want to be the ones in charge at all times. If you know that you have options, & don’t have to let the narcissist make all decisions in the relationship, you will become a problem to a narcissist.
If a narcissist knows you don’t need him or her, you become a threat. Narcissistic parents & spouses in particular like to make a victim completely dependent on them, preferably financially or emotionally. If they see you are well aware you don’t need the narcissist, can leave the relationship anytime & still survive just fine, you won’t be a good victim to the narcissist.
Avoiding all narcissists seems to be impossible, unfortunately. However, if you can implement some of these tools, you will be able to handle yourself very well when you must deal with them.
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:
- When my first marriage was falling apart, I was told I needed to make it work or I needed to change to fix things.
- When having problems with my in-laws, some people said I needed to make changes so we got along better. Be the bigger person & forgive & forget, etc., don’t take the constant insults personally, & (this may be my personal least favorite one) if I didn’t have anything to hide, it shouldn’t bother me my mother in-law snooped through my purse at every opportunity.
- I mentioned to someone that my husband watches some sports, & when he does, I go into another room, find something else to do or go out. Her response was to scold me, telling me I needed to start watching sports with him in spite of my lifelong intense hatred of sports other than Nascar, drag racing & demolition derbies. Interestingly, she never told my husband he needs to learn to do things I enjoy, like crocheting. I was the one who was supposed to change, according to this person. (Just FYI- although I hate sports, I did start watching Nascar races because my husband was into it, & it turns out I enjoyed it. I’m all for trying something new for the sake of your spouse.)
- When in marriage counseling, we were having money problems. The counselor told me what I needed to do to earn extra money. No suggestions were given to my husband, even though at the time, he was the one in charge of our finances.
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 2014, 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! I realized not long before this 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.