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Tag Archives: relationships
Finding the courage to set boundaries on being abused & even to end a toxic relationship isn’t easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage & strength to do such things. One of the few things that is even more difficult is to tell other people your story. Part of the reason for this is the victim blaming & shaming that is so common in society.
Many people simply don’t want to hear anything negative. They are so obscenely positive it’s just ridiculous. If something is less than positive, they don’t want to hear it, & will shut that person down quickly when they can.
Even more common is those who have been abused themselves, yet refuse to face their pain. When they see someone facing their pain & conquering it, it makes them feel uncomfortable for two reasons. First, it reminds them of what they are trying so hard to forget. Second, it makes them feel inferior for not doing the same thing.
There are also those who enable abusers. For whatever bizarre reasons, they pity abusers & hate victims instead of the other way around. They have no tolerance for anyone who dares to speak out against abuse. They label these people troublemakers, liars, attention seekers, drama queens & more.
Often, people like this are easy to spot. They are the loud ones who call victims names, harass them & even send them vicious hate emails, texts & voicemails. The one plus about these people is you can have no doubt about what kind of awful person you’re dealing with when they act this way. The problem is when people are much more subtle in the way they try to shame & shut down victims. Below are some warning signs that someone is not safe to tell your story to.
If someone refers to your relationship as one where both you & your abuser are at fault for its demise, this person isn’t safe. We all know that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. However, when a person is abusive, it’s not an innocent mistake. It’s a deliberate choice to harm another person. Any functional person should recognize that!
All victims need understanding & empathy. Even if a person hasn’t been in an abusive relationship, anyone should be able to grasp that it’s not a pleasant experience & feel badly that anyone experienced that. Someone who can’t clearly lacks empathy & is a toxic person.
Avoid anyone who trivializes the abuse. One of my aunts once referred to the abuse I experienced as, “childhood hurts.” That truly hurt me & it destroyed our relationship. Luckily, it happened well into my healing journey. If it happens to someone new to their healing, an invalidating comment like this can be devastating!
Those who make excuses for abusers should be avoided. People who do this are as toxic as the abuser! They invalidate the victim’s pain & suffering, & even make the victim feel ashamed for not being understanding, or being too sensitive & such. The truth is there is NO good reason to abuse, period.
People who judge a person’s healing are toxic. Everyone heals differently & at a different pace. Many toxic people try to rush a victim along with comments like, “You need to let this go.” “It’s been how many months since you left him?” “You told me this already.” This does no good! To process & heal from abuse, it takes a lot of time, energy & sometimes even telling the same story over & over in an attempt to make some sense of it. A person who doesn’t understand that is toxic.
Anyone who uses a person’s faith as a reason they should tolerate abuse is incredibly toxic & should be avoided at all costs. While God didn’t promise this life would be easy, He never said anywhere in the Bible that tolerating abuse is good & holy. Yet, there are many who think it is the “good Christian” thing to do, tolerating abuse. I’m no theologian, but I do recognize that tolerating & enabling abuse is not only wrong, it’s not God’s will.
If you come across these kinds of people, remember, not everyone needs to know your story. Refuse to discuss it with them. You don’t need to be abused even more than you already have been!
When a person has been abused, they tend to see the world differently than other folks. People like this aren’t as trusting as the average person, & with good reason. They have survived some pretty terrible stuff! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how many untrustworthy people there are in the world. However, it can become a bad thing. A good friend of mine once called it “seeing things through the lens of victim-hood.” I thought the term made perfect sense.
When a person sees others as out to hurt them with little or no evidence to prove this is happening, it’s a bad thing.
Or when a person reads so much into every small comment or action that they see others as out to get them, this is a bad thing.
Unfortunately, it can be very easy to turn out this way after surviving abuse. It can be especially easy to see problems online over face to face contact. Once you’ve been badly hurt, you obviously want to avoid it again. It’s very easy to become hyper-vigilant, seeing abusive behavior everywhere. A person looks at you a bit odd or cracks a joke that isn’t like your sense of humor & suddenly you think they’re out to hurt you when nothing could be further from the truth. This is no way to live!
Rather than succumb to this miserable lifestyle, change yourself! It is possible! I was this way & managed to change. If I can do it, so can you.
As always, I recommend prayer as the place to start. God can & will help you to make whatever changes you need. He also will show you what you need to do. Why not let Him?
Also slow down when a situation happens. Respond, don’t react. Responding isn’t instantaneous. It requires time to consider the situation. Reacting is instantaneous & done in the heat of emotions. Reacting often happens when seeing situations through the lens of victim-hood. Give yourself time to consider the situation before you respond.
Don’t automatically assume that your knee-jerk reaction is correct. Consider it. Question it. Slow your thoughts down for some time & ask yourself why you think the way you’re thinking. Is there evidence to back up what you believe is happening? What is that evidence? Are there red flags that show you this person isn’t safe, such as a lack of empathy for example? Write it down if it helps. Writing can help you to see things clearly, often more clearly than speaking or thinking about things.
Think too about the person in question. If this is someone you know well, you will know what this person is & is not capable of. You know if this person is safe or not. Ask yourself, is it likely this person is out to hurt me or not?
If you want advice, don’t talk to someone else about the situation in a way that will get them assuming the worst about this person. If they believe you, they will only feed your fear. They’ll automatically respond to your fear with fear, especially if this is someone you’re close to. If you want to talk about your situation with someone safe, that’s totally fine. An objective opinion can be a truly great thing! Just make sure you say things in such a way that the person who you’re speaking with can form their own opinion. Say things like, “I think this person is looking to hurt me in some way.. what do you think?” then state the facts without emotion. Let this person form their own opinion if you want their best advice.
Just remember, Dear Reader, not everyone is abusive. Not everyone wants to cause you pain & suffering. Pray & seriously consider the situation so you can respond to it appropriately, rather than reacting because you’re seeing it through the lens of victim-hood.
I recently read an amazing article entitled “11 Signs Your Personality Is So Intense That It’s Intimidating To Others“. Later on, I thought about the article & realized that many other victims of narcissistic abuse share many if not all of these qualities. It’s no wonder narcissists have issues with us! It’s also proof that we are some pretty amazing people, in my opinion!
#1 in the article is “you’re honest to a fault.” And what a fault honesty is to narcissists! They want victims to be willing to lie to & for them, to pretend they’re perfect & to protect their reputation.
#2, “You’re a problem solver, not one to wallow.” This is another big no no to narcissists, because that means a person like this won’t tolerate abuse indefinitely.
#3, “You aren’t afraid of intimacy.” Many people when they hear the word intimacy think sex, but actually it can be much more beyond sex. Two people who are open with each other, & love, trust & respect each other can have a very intimate relationship with or without sex. If this is something you want, chances are excellent you’ll see behind the narcissist’s mask before he or she is ready for that to happen, which means you won’t be a good victim.
#4, “You’re intense in all that you do.” Intense people don’t settle for things that aren’t intense. They want passion & deep relationships. They don’t want superficial anything, which is yet one more problem for narcissists. They do want superficial relationships. Deeper would mean they might actually have to do some self reflection, which is one of their biggest fears. Even narcissists don’t want to see what’s truly behind their masks.
#5, “You ask a lot of questions.” Narcissists demand blind trust from their victims. That doesn’t come from someone who asks lots of questions. They will trust, but they want to know beyond a doubt they can trust before doing so.
#6, “You refuse to waste your time waiting around for others.” Narcissists MUST be in control of victims, & that even includes when they spend time with people. My mother is perpetually late, unless it’s with someone she wants to impress. Being late is her way of forcing someone to wait on her, so basically she’s in control of that person even if only for a short time.
#7, “You’re like a human lie detector.” Definitely a very, very big turn off for any narcissist. They want to be able to lie to their victims & get away with it indefinitely. Someone who won’t put up with lying is going to call them out on their actions, & we all know narcissists don’t tolerate that well.
#8, “You’re incredibly open minded.” Another problem as far as narcissists are concerned. If you’re open minded, you might *gasp* think for yourself at some point. No victim of any narcissist is allowed to do that! It’s an unpardonable sin to them. Narcissists want their victims to think however the narcissist wants them to think, period. Independent thought may lead to victims realizing that this abuse they’re enduring is wrong, & figure out a way to escape it.
#9, “You always have a clear picture of what you want.” Another problem according to narcissists. If you know what you want, you also have a good sense of boundaries & you know what you aren’t willing to tolerate. This means you may be too tough to manipulate & control for a narcissist.
#10, “You’re a creature of habit.” Another no no for narcissists. Victims need to be pliable so their narcissist can control them. If you have & like your routine, you won’t be open to a lot of change, which is a sign you’re not pliable. This simply will not work for a narcissist!
#11, “You have no interest in shallow relationships.” Narcissists love shallow relationships because they aren’t demanding & don’t require much of them. People who like deeper relationships come across as highly demanding & unreasonable to narcissists. How dare you expect the narcissist to care about your feelings, thoughts, family, job, etc? That means the spotlight would be off the narcissist, & we know that narcissists can’t handle that.
If you share any of the qualities on this list, then enjoy them knowing that they make you unattractive to narcissists, so enjoy these qualities & wear them proudly!
It seems like when someone is suffering in some way, the majority of people have no clue on what to say. Rather than saying nothing or admitting they don’t know what to say, most people make insensitive, hurtful or even invalidating comments….
- “You should be glad your grandmother died.. she’s not suffering anymore.”
- “I know you’re sick. I had that same problem & it was horrible. I ended up in the hospital & in more pain than I thought was possible!”
- “The reason you have this problem is you just don’t have enough faith!”
- “You should be grateful it’s not worse! Other people have it much worse than you do!”
Comments like these are invalidating & hurtful. They also make the person with the problem feel as if they are whining about some petty little problem instead of the crisis they are facing. These are the last things a person needs to feel but especially at this time!
If someone you know is having a problem, then please, PLEASE seriously think about what you say to that person. You don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. Also, a good idea is to ask God to give you the right words to say. He will be glad to do so. Luke 12:12 says, “The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” (VOICE)
Don’t forget too that people are individuals. Even if you have experienced the exact same problem as your friend, you both will handle it differently because you’re individuals. Just because your friend feels differently than you did or is handling the situation in a different way than you did doesn’t mean that friend is wrong.
Remember, the situation is about your friend, not you. Even if you experienced the exact same problem, keep the main focus on your friend, not you or what you did. It’s fine to share that information if your friend asks, but the main focus should be on your friend.
This brings me to another point. Don’t offer advice unless asked for it. A lot of times, people just want to vent or talk about their problem to help them get some clarity. They aren’t looking for you to solve it. They’re looking for you to listen & offer empathy.
Don’t go too far with positivity. Sometimes being too positive comes across as invalidating. When I survived carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015, I nearly died. It was tough to come to terms with. Upon telling one person that I came very close to death, that person said, “But you didn’t die!” That comment came across as something was wrong with me for being upset instead of only being grateful I survived. “I’m so glad you didn’t die!” would’ve been a much better response. That response would have shown the person accepted that the situation was bad & they care about me rather than basically shaming me for being upset as any normal person would’ve been. Being positive can be a good thing but sometimes it’s also ok to admit something is very wrong, & to respond accordingly.
There are also some situations where you simply have no clue what to say. When a person loses someone they love, for example, there is nothing in this world you can say to make their pain go away. Rather than try, simply be honest. Admit that you don’t know what to say, but you’re there for them if they need anything. When my father was dying, a couple we’re friends with stopped by our home one day. Neither had said anything so I wasn’t sure if they knew about my father or not. I mentioned it along with the abuse I received from the flying monkeys at the time during our conversation. They said, “We saw you mentioned it on Facebook, but honestly, we had no clue what to say. We’re sorry all this is happening.” That may have been the best thing anyone said to me at that time. They were honest, non-judgmental & not critical at all, which was just what I needed.
Lastly, don’t forget to offer to pray with & for your friend. I’ve noticed even people who don’t share my faith appreciate the offer a great deal. Prayer seems to offer comfort to most people, no matter their religious beliefs. However, if the person in question is angry with God or adamant in believing He doesn’t exist, this is not a good thing to say. Nothing says you can’t pray for that person when not in their presence though…
Dear Reader, please keep these things in mind when someone you know is suffering. These simple tips will help your friend & maybe even strengthen your relationship.
Three years ago today, I suffered the most terrifying trauma of my life. I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning. My husband & I didn’t know it that day, but apparently somehow a bunch of debris suddenly gathered behind my chimney’s flue, pushing it slightly closed. Not enough to smoke up the house when the fireplace was lit, but it was just enough to fill it with carbon monoxide after hubby left for work.
As seems to be my new February tradition, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this recently. Coming close to death definitely makes you reevaluate your life. Plus the damage to my brain changed my personality a great deal, which is actually a good thing in some ways. I’ve gotten better at self care & not tolerating abuse among other things, so I’m still getting to know this new me & what I want & need.
One thing that I realized that I need to remind myself of frequently is life can change drastically or even end in an instant. (I certainly didn’t wake up on February 27, 2015 expecting to nearly die that evening or that it was going to be the first day of a new life full of weird health problems & a lot of brain damage.) I think it’s an excellent idea to life life without regrets, because you don’t know when or how your life will change or even end.
I realize living every day like it’s your last isn’t quite possible. You still have a job, housework, budgeting, family obligations & what not to consider of course. But, I think it’s an excellent idea to get in any joy in life where you can, to do things you want to do or try new things as often as possible. Even little things can make a big difference. Go for a drive without a destination in mind & blare your favorite music on the radio. Grab a milkshake once in a while. Buy a new color of nail polish (one of my favorites) or dye your hair a fun, funky color. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, why you love them & do it often. Make time for a hobby you love or pick up an old hobby you once abandoned. If time is an issue, look over your schedule & streamline it. I have a routine for my housework that helps me to maintain a clean home with spending the minimum amount of time on it. Doing a little almost daily is easier for me than doing a lot a couple of days each week since I run out of energy quickly. It also allows me more time available for writing, hobbies, spending time with friends or whatever I want.
It seems to me that society values being busy, but that just isn’t healthy or conducive to enjoying every moment in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being productive 24/7! Even God took a day of rest after creating everything, & then told His people to do the same! (see Genesis 2:1-3) He did NOT create people to be non stop busy. He created people to work & also to take time to enjoy their lives. When you get to the end of your life, don’t you want to think about what a well lived life you had & not what a busy one you had?
Another thing society values that I realized isn’t healthy is being overly positive. Yes, positivity is good. It can help you avoid depression. However, being too positive can set you up for disappointment. Did you know many people who commit suicide are known for being optimistic? They became depressed when they were repeatedly disappointed.
Being too positive can set you up for feeling shame, too. If you’re very positive yet end up feeling negatively or unable to find good in a situation, it can make you feel terrible shame. That’s not good! If you know very positive people, you also know you can’t tell them you’re sad or disappointed, because they’ll make you feel ashamed of yourself. They’re not people you can be real & honest with, & that’s not good either!
I’ve found I have much more peace & less stressful being realistic. Sure, I look for the good, but I’m also not ashamed for getting depressed, angry or disappointed sometimes. I’m also not ashamed to say sometimes, things just stink & I can’t find anything positive in the situation.
Another thing to consider… your relationships. While soul searching after my awful experience, I also took the time to evaluate the relationships in my life. When I realized that through the complete delirium of the poisoning, I still had the sense to tell my husband as soon as I saw him never tell my parents about this, it was a huge wake up call for me. I knew anyone who wouldn’t care that I nearly died couldn’t be a part of my life, & they wouldn’t have cared. I also realized some friends weren’t good for me or at least they weren’t what I wanted in a relationship. The relationships were too one sided & some didn’t even care about what I experienced. Saying, “You’ll be fine”, “But you didn’t die!” or “Glad you’re ok.. so anyway *subject change*” after such an experience showed me how cold & uncaring these people were.
What about your relationships? If, God forbid, something terrible happened to you, could you count on the people in your life being there for you? Would they be care about your pain & suffering or would they brush you off? If they wouldn’t be there for you, then it might be time to consider whether or not you really want them in your life. You deserve good, loving people with whom you can have an equal & loving relationship. There is nothing wrong with refusing to settle for less than that!
John 10:10 is beautifully said in the Amplified translation: “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” Jesus died not only so we could spend eternity with Him & have a relationship with God the Father, but also so we can enjoy life while we’re alive here on this planet. There is no good excuse not to enjoy your life! You deserve it! Jesus obviously thought so too! So why not start thinking about ways you can add more joy to your daily life?
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.
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!
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
A pretty common phenomenon I’ve noticed about adult children of narcissistic parents is this belief of others that we are always supposed to allow other people to mistreat or even abuse us without complaint. Also, if something is wrong in a relationship, it’s supposed to be our job to fix everything while the other person does nothing.
My mother in-law treated me like dirt for the first eight years of my husband’s & my relationship, until I finally severed ties with her. My husband told me constantly that I “needed to understand her better,” I should “be the bigger person & let things go.” He didn’t believe me when I told him what she had done, or (worst of all) blamed me for her abuse.
My ex husband & I lived with his parents for about a year. During that time, he & I had a big fight on our third wedding anniversary. I left the house to cool off for a while. When I came back, his mother jumped me, blaming me for the fight (which he started, not that she knew this), for making him angry & for him punching a wall in his anger. She told me I needed to talk to him & smooth things over.
During a very bad time in my marriage, I talked to a good friend of mine about something extremely painful my husband had done. He tried to make excuses for my husband’s behavior & suggested things I can do to help fix our marriage rather than comfort me or help me.
Do scenarios like this sound familiar to you as well?
If they do, I want to tell you today that it’s not your job, nor your purpose in life, to be used or to do all of the work in your relationships! Relationships are NOT one sided, at least healthy ones are not. A healthy relationship has two people working together. Relationships where only one person does all of the work are extremely dysfunctional & miserable.
It also is not your place to tolerate abuse or make excuses for the abuser! No one deserves abuse- NO ONE! There is no excuse to abuse, there is nothing you can do to make someone abuse you & abusive people are sick. None of this has anything to do with you.
I believe this warped behavior happens because of being raised by narcissistic parents. You’re raised to be nothing more than a tool to be used as needed, much like say, a screwdriver. You’re kept in a drawer until needed, pulled out, used, then put away until the next time you can serve some purpose. While you’re “in that drawer,” you need to be completely invisible- you have to stay out of the narcissist’s way! Don’t “bother” her with your trivial needs. Hers are so very much more important than yours, after all. As a result, you grow up continuing to act as if other people’s needs are more important, yours mean nothing, & being a people pleaser. People naturally read other people, & abusers in particular are extremely good at it. Abusers look for people like this to abuse, since they’re easy targets who won’t complain about how they’re treated. Then there are other people don’t deliberately seek out people they can abuse. Instead, they see you believe you are: invisible, you deserve to be treated poorly, etc. & they treat you that way.
To help fix this problem in your life, work on your healing. You will learn to spot the abusers quickly, & avoid them. You’ll develop & enforce stronger boundaries. Your self-esteem will improve, making you less willing to tolerate nonsense, including being the only one to work on your relationships. You also need to really grasp the fact that you are NOT what your narcissistic mother says you are. You are someone with great worth & value. God loves you, no matter if your parents don’t. If you have trouble believing that, ask Him to show you how much He loves you. Read the Bible- there are countless times in it where God states His love for you!
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.
Recently I learned that a man I dated in 1990 committed suicide after killing his male lover. And, the previous week, he was arrested on drunkenly pulling a gun on a woman in his neighborhood. This was a complete shock to me, & I’ve thought so much about it lately. I wondered if I could’ve done something different, or if somehow I set him on this downward spiral, playing things over & over again in my mind…
Today something else came to mind- Borderline Personality Disorder. Some symptoms are:
- unstable personal relationships, going between idealizing & devaluing the other person.
- intense fear of abandonment.
- intense anger- a bad temper.
- clingy in relationships.
- seldom see themselves as the problem.
In my case, this man I dated was very possessive & jealous. He went from treating me like a queen to screaming at me, often in a very short span of time. The night I told him I wanted to end our relationship he screamed at me for several hours. He also wanted to marry me within the first week of our relationship. We ended up engaged, but not because he proposed or gave me a ring- he simply stated that we WOULD get married. He also told me we WOULD have a lot of kids, even though he knew I never wanted to have children. He even wanted me to get rid of my car & drive the car that he thought I should drive. Thankfully, he didn’t hit me, but there were times I was sure he wanted to. I spent our relationship feeling as if I was walking on eggshells. Interestingly, the cat I had just adopted not long before I broke up with this man would NOT leave my side while we were together. I think Magic knew something was very wrong from the beginning- he was a very intuitive cat & very protective of me.
If you are involved with someone who acts like this, do yourself a favor- RUN! It won’t take long & you will begin to wonder if you’re crazy. You will feel guilty constantly, even when you have no reason to. You will feel like you must watch every word you say & everything you do, so you don’t upset him. People with BPD can be dangerous to themselves and/or others. After all, look what happened to my ex boyfriend & his lover.
If this describes you, you aren’t alone! Many of us have been in this situation! May God strengthen you & keep you safe!
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
I thought I’d add a bit to yesterday’s post….
I didn’t mention it yesterday, but one thing that has made me dislike the holidays is in-laws. I am on my second marriage, & both sets of in-laws I have had share one thing in common- expecting their adult children & their spouses to spend the holiday with them. Period. No excuses. Why that is, I have no clue, but I don’t believe it’s right. For one thing I believe the day should be spent with husband & wife together (& small kids at home too, if they have them). Extended family can be visited within a few days of the holidays. My grandparents always had their Christmas celebration on the Sunday between Christmas & New Year’s. That way, everyone could relax on Christmas day & enjoy it. This always has made so much sense to me.
For another thing, what about my family? What if I wanted to spend a holiday with my family rather than his? I’ve learned that is not something to admit- saying that warranted the evil eye from both mothers in-law. I quickly learned not to say that, & give up hopes of spending the holiday with anyone in my family.
And lastly, if you have a dysfunctional relationship with your in-laws like me, why would anyone want to spend an entire day together? How is that a joyous family celebration? It saps all of the joy out of your day spending it with people who you know dislike you, & who you dislike. It certainly has for me. I dreaded the holidays for years, & got depressed each holiday season knowing I would spend a holiday with people who were less than thrilled I was a part of their family.
I guess I just wanted to say please think before arranging your holiday get together. It’s not fair to demand your adult children run to your home for a holiday. There are 364 other days in the year- why not pick one of them to get together? If you force them or use guilt to manipulate them into coming over, they &/or their spouses will end up resentful. It can damage your relationship greatly! I loved my first mother in-law, but when she knew my ex & I were having car trouble, yet still demanded we drive that car (our only one) well over an hour away, in the cold, to the Christmas get together, it greatly damaged my fondness for her. This was in the days before cell phones, so if the car had left us stranded, I have no idea how we would have gotten home.
And remember, your adult child’s spouse has a family too. Demanding they spend the day with you tells that person they & their family aren’t as important as you & your family. That hurts! It also stirs up strife between the couple. They feel stuck in the middle since both have families who want to spend a day with them. It is NOT a pleasant place to be!
Lastly, I understand not everyone is pleased with their son or daughter’s choice of a mate. Some personalities just clash. If that describes your relationship with your son or daughter in-law, then please, for your adult child’s sake, try to be civil. You don’t have to be phoney. You don’t have to try to become best friends. Just practice basic politeness & civility. Showing your dislike of that person not only hurts him or her, but shows an incredible disrespect for your adult child. It also stirs up problems in their marriage, & makes the adult child feel stuck in the middle. Do you really want to do that to your son or daughter?
As for daughters & sons in-law, this also applies to you!! Practice civility with your husband’s or wife’s parents. I know first hand how hard it can be when an in-law is mean you, but do it anyway!
Also, don’t run to your spouse complaining about his “psycho mom” or whatever other things you’d like to say. I know you want him or her to understand your position, but that is still his/her parent. It’s difficult for someone to accept his/her parent is capable of doing such nasty things, especially to someone they love. Instead, talk to a friend or relative, or write in a journal. At a less stressful, busy time, it is more appropriate to discuss in-law problems with your spouse. Gently & with sensitivity, of course!
Hello again, Dear Readers!
I was looking at the stats on my website (www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com, in case you haven’t checked it out yet). It looks like more than anything else, the information on there about dysfunctional mothers is what gets attention. I mentioned this to my husband, who had a great idea. He suggested I write a book on this topic. Information about some types of dysfunctional mothers & how to cope with them, & letting women know that they aren’t alone. So many daughters of these mothers think no one else understands, when the truth is many, many others do!
I thought I would post the question to you.. what would you like to see included in a book on the topic of dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship? Feel free to reply to this post, or email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com, if you prefer privacy.
Thank you in advance for your input! I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂