Tag Archives: self-love

Children Of Narcissists Matter!

Narcissistic parents, be they overt or covert narcissists, make sure that their children know in no uncertain terms that the parents are the important ones, & the children don’t matter.

 

Growing up, my mother came first, always, in every area.  If I was sick, it was an inconvenience for her.  Growing up seemed to be viewed as a betrayal  rather than a normal course of events.  My father, rather than protect me from her constant abuse told me how hard it was for him that it happened.  Then last May, I had a big argument with my parents (I wrote about it here).  I told my mother flat out I felt betrayed by her behavior, & she didn’t care.  In fact, she sat in silence as I poured my heart out, only giving me an occasional bored sigh in response.  That was also the last time she spoke to me.  The conversation with my father was much the same.  He defended himself until I mentioned I felt he betrayed me, then he went silent, obviously not understanding my perspective, just like my mother, then changed the subject.  Since, he’s barely spoken to me & has yet to offer more than a flimsy attempt at an apology.  He brought up the argument a couple of months ago, & still had no concept of why I was angry.

 

Many narcissistic parents are just as hateful as mine are, so I’m sure many of you reading this can relate.  Unfortunately, I also feel safe in guessing that many of you also battle feelings of worthlessness because of it.  How can you not feel worthless when you are reminded in so many hurtful, cruel ways by your own parent that they believe you to be worthless?

 

Dear Reader, I want to remind you today that you are NOT worthless!  You have great value!  Your narcissistic parent lied to you in order to make herself feel better about herself, to feel powerful since she had the ability to tear you down, or to control & manipulate you since those with low self-esteem are easier to control.  Whatever the reason, she did NOT tell you this because you truly are worthless.  You have worth & value.  God says you’re His masterpiece.. did you know that?   Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  (NLT)  That is only one of the many, many things the Bible says about who God says His children are.  I created a list of these Scriptures & put them on my website if you’d like to check it out.  Feel free to print them out if you like, & remind yourself that those Scriptures are the truth, not what your narcissistic parent has to say about you!  Here is the link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php

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Making Yourself A Priority

Many of us who grew up with a narcissistic mother learned early in life to put ourselves last in every way.  This carries over into adulthood, making for some very sad & resentful adults.

Even so, we usually are unwilling to change this. We want to be different than our extremely selfish narcissistic mothers, so we go in the completely opposite direction.  And, with Christians, being concerned for & helping others is a big part of who God wants His children to be.  How could we be so selfish as to put ourselves first?  We certainly don’t want to disappoint God!  And, if your narcissistic mother claimed to be religious, no doubt she used religion to reinforce that belief in you that taking care of yourself is selfish.  Even if she wasn’t religious, she probably told you, as mine did, that it was selfish & bad to take care of yourself.

The fact is though that taking care of yourself is NOT selfish!  Taking care of yourself is necessary.  I know, that feels so wrong after a lifetime of training from your narcissistic mother, but it’s very true!  How else can you expect to function or to be there for other people if you are sick or exhausted?

Also, if you consistently put yourself & your needs last, it tells other people that they can do the same.  It sends the message that you are so unimportant that even you mistreat yourself.  If you can mistreat yourself, then it is perfectly acceptable for someone else to do so.

Dear Reader, I want to encourage you today to realize that you have every right, a duty to yourself even, to make yourself a priority.  Making yourself a priority doesn’t make you selfish, so long as you do so in balance.  (Narcissists take a healthy thing & make it completely out of balance)  It doesn’t make you a bad person, in spite of what your narcissistic mother will say.  Jesus even did so- there were times when He needed time to Himself & he took it, refusing to be interrupted.  If Jesus did it, & as Christians we are to be like Him, don’t you think you can do this too without being selfish or bad?

Make yourself your top priority, starting today.  You deserve nothing less.

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Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is just one of the many things that is stolen by narcissistic abuse.  It can be devastating & causes a great deal of problems in one’s life.  The good news though, is that you can learn to love yourself, & repair the damage the narcissist in your life did to you in this area.

The first step to take is to have a close relationship with God.  Lean on Him & ask Him to help you in this area.  He is a proud father, & has PLENTY of good things to say about you!

Study your Bible.  There is a lot of good information in it regarding who you are as a child of God.  I made a list & put it on my website.  You can see it here:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php

Always remember- when someone criticizes you & it isn’t constructive criticism that is meant to help you, what they say most likely reflects what they feel about themselves, not what they think about you.  Chances are good she is criticizing you in order to make you feel as bad about yourself as she does about herself.

Listen to what people say to you when they complement you.  People don’t complement others just to hear themselves talk.   They complement because they mean it.

Sometimes even an especially unfair incident can make your self esteem kick in.   Last February when I got very sick, only a few people close to me cared.  I lost friends & some that stayed had no desire to hear it if I wasn’t feeling well.  It hurt tremendously, but the unfairness of the situation woke me up.  I realized how wrong this was- I had been there for them repeatedly, yet they couldn’t be bothered with me after facing a life-threatening illness.  It was cruel & unfair.  I realized I deserved better than that, & suddenly my self-esteem was better.  Sometimes being abused, mistreated or taken for granted can work in your favor in that way.  Not that they are good things of course, but sometimes something good can come out of it at least. God really can work good out of bad situations!

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Is It Self Pity Or Self Compassion?

It seems to be a big thing these days to take pride in not feeling sorry for yourself.  Pick yourself up by your bootstraps!  If you can do that, yay you!

It seems to me though, that this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Compassion is a wonderful thing.  If you are hurting, & someone lets you know that they care or they try to make you feel better, it really helps ease your pain.  Even if the person knows nothing they can do can take away your pain, so they offer you a silent hug or just listen to you talk, these loving gestures can mean the world in times of trouble.

So why is it such a bad to offer yourself these kind of loving gestures?

If I had a friend who had recently experienced something traumatic, I would try to offer her comfort as best I could.  I would tell her to relax while I cleaned her house if she wasn’t feeling up to it or take her to dinner. So why is it any different if I was the one who lost someone to do similar things for myself?  That is NOT self pity- it is self compassion, & I fail to see how it is a bad thing.

Of course, balance must be had.  You can’t feel sorry for yourself 24/7 or you’d be utterly miserable.  That being said though, I think it is quite healthy to feel bad for yourself after experiencing trauma, disappointment, loss or heartbreak.  Basically, you’re telling yourself that you love yourself, & you care about the fact you’re going through a tough time.  What could possibly be so bad about that??

Aside from society’s foolish view on this topic, being someone who has survived narcissistic abuse, it can be difficult for you to give yourself any compassion.  When you are raised by someone who makes it very clear that your pain means nothing, it is very hard to care about yourself.  The more you heal from narcissistic abuse though, the easier it becomes.  The more you finally gain the realization you are worthy & you are lovable, the more self compassion you have.  You finally understand that your narcissistic mother isn’t the only one to have problems.  You have genuine problems too sometimes, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking care of yourself when you are suffering because of them.

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Telling The Truth About Narcissistic Abuse

Growing up, I think my situation was very typical of many children who have narcissistic parents in some ways.  Mainly in one way- secrecy was of the utmost importance.  My mother never clearly said don’t tell anyone what she was doing to me, but somehow, I always knew telling would be a big mistake.

When I turned 17 & wanted to start dating, her abuse magnified.  She was losing control of me & was less than thrilled with that fact.  That is when she began to scream at me on a daily basis, making sure I spent my school & work lunch breaks with her, & she even had someone at my school report to her daily what I did during the day when she wasn’t around.  It was a bad, bad time for me.  I tried to talk a little about it to friends & even a school guidance counselor.  No one was any help, so I sought out a therapist who turned out to be even less help.  I found out I was completely on my own.

My mother often said during that time that I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry.”  I failed to realize at the time that it was *her* dirty laundry, not mine.  I did realize though that telling the truth about the abuse she put me through was a bad thing.  When she learned I’d talked to anyone about what she did, she would rage worse than usual.  More screaming at me would follow, telling me what a terrible person I was, she was only doing what she did to help me, since I was so unreasonable she had to practice tough love on me, & more garbage.

As a result, I learned to keep quiet, not discussing what she did to me.  I lived in fear that she would learn if I’d said anything about her.  Plus, I also felt I was to blame.  I believed her lies about what a terrible person  I was.  I must have been terrible to make her treat me so badly- what other reason could there be for what she did, I thought.  Telling also felt disloyal- I felt like I was betraying my mother if I told what she did.

Eventually, I had to talk about it.  I lived through hell with her, even as an adult, & couldn’t keep it bottled up inside anymore. My emotional health was a mess.  I had to talk about it & start to heal.  It was hard to do.  For years I continued to feel guilty for “airing our dirty laundry.”  It finally clicked though a couple of years ago… I felt God wanted me to write & publish my autobiography.  That task was very daunting- once you write a book & it’s published, it’s out there for the world to see.  Having a website is one thing- my parents don’t even own a computer, plus I could take it down if I was so inclined, so that wasn’t too intimidating.  But a book?!  That was terrifying!

To write the book, I finally had to get rid of those dysfunctional thoughts about sharing what happened to me, & God helped me tremendously in doing so.  He showed me the real truth about discussing narcissistic abuse.

He showed me that talking about it isn’t being disloyal or dishonorable- it’s simply telling the facts.  I have yet to embellish anything.  I tell things as they happened.  I never try to paint my parents in a bad light, although I’m sure the stories I tell do just that since they’ve done some bad things.  I try to keep the way I phrase things as respectful as possible.

He also showed me that although I wasn’t a perfect child, I was good & I did nothing to deserve what happened to me.  I never got into trouble or did drugs.  I cut a few classes in high school (which my parents never knew about), but still maintained honor roll grades.  My worst sin was sneaking behind my mother’s back to date the man who is now my ex husband.  Granted not a good thing, but not the worst thing I could’ve done either.  I only saw him at school & work so we didn’t see each other much.

God showed me too that there is nothing my parents can do to punish me anymore.  My mother can’t show up at my job again & scream at me for the whole population of the place to see (that was humiliating!) or force me to listen to her tell me what a horrible person I am for having my own thoughts, feelings & needs.  If she tries to scream at me now, I’ll either leave, hang up on her or kick her out of my home.

Accepting these truths will help you tremendously in your healing as well as your ability to talk about what happened!

And, I found a quote that helped me tremendously in writing my autobiography.  Anne Lammont said, “You own everything that happened to you.  Tell your stories.  If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  It’s very true!  What happened to you at the hand of your abusive narcissistic mother is YOUR story.  You have every right to share it with anyone you like.

I believe discussing narcissistic abuse to be a calling from God.  You have to respect His calling more than fear your parents’ retribution.  You aren’t betraying them by talking about it.  You aren’t being a “bad daughter” either, so long as you share things in a respectful manner.  If you believe God wants you to share your story, then share it!  Not everyone is going to like it, but that isn’t your problem!  Sharing your story will help raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the damage it causes.  It will encourage others who have been in similar situations.  It lets people know they aren’t alone to read stories similar to theirs.  It also helps reassure people that they aren’t crazy, bad, wrong, etc.  It wasn’t their fault, & your story can help people to learn that.

Share your story, Dear Reader, however you believe God wants you to share it!  xoxo

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Anger In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

This scenario may sound somewhat familiar to you..

Growing up, my mother often accused me of having “that Bailey temper”.  I could be slightly frustrated or very angry for a valid reason, & it didn’t matter.  She would criticize my terrible “Bailey temper” in a very shaming tone of voice.  (interestingly, she now uses this phrase with my father).  The result was I began to stuff my anger inside.  I refused to show anger on the outside, no matter how valid a reason I had for feeling that way.  It was easier, or so I thought, to stuff my angry feelings deep down inside than to hear her berating, critical, shaming words.

As a result, I almost never showed it to anyone, no matter how valid my reasons for the anger were.  It’s only in recent years I’ve stopped squelching my anger & been learning to vent it in healthy ways.  By doing this, I’ve also learned that I really don’t have a bad temper at all.  It takes a lot to make me angry & when I am angry, I never scream, rage or destroy things.

So why did my mother accuse me of having such a terrible temper as a child?

I believe she did the exact same thing that many narcissistic parents do- she projected her own shortcomings onto me.  Narcissists are angry people.  They get angry when they aren’t treated as reverently as they feel they should be treated, praised as highly as they believe they deserve, or acknowledged to be the most special, amazing, talented, attractive people in the universe.  They also are angry when they aren’t blindly obeyed, when people don’t believe their lies or people do healthy things such as set boundaries with them or even end their relationship with the narcissist.

Narcissists can’t handle any bad quality (real or perceived) in themselves, so they project that bad quality onto other people.  Accusing someone else of that bad quality allows them to get mad about the flaw while not accepting any responsibility for having it.   It’s a very common tactic of narcissists, especially with their own children or spouse.

In addition to projection, victims of narcissists can be angry people, too.  How can you not be angry at the unfairness of the relationship with a narcissist?  They are selfish to the max, they couldn’t care less about you other than what you can do for them & they criticize every single little thing about you.  These things are hard to handle in any relationship, but when it is your own mother doing it, that seems to make it even worse.  Mothers are supposed to be loving, caring, gentle, protective & all around wonderful, yet here is your mother abusing you at every turn.  If that doesn’t make a person angry, I don’t know what would!

To add insult to injury, you aren’t allowed to express your anger to the narcissist, because she can’t handle any criticism, nor will she accept responsibility for what she has done. Instead, she will turn it around, blaming you for having a vivid imagination since that even never happened, or if you wouldn’t have done *fill in the blank,* then she wouldn’t have had to “discipline” you so harshly.  So, now you have someone who not only is abused, but told they are the cause for the abuse.  Again, if that doesn’t make a person angry, what will?!

Anger is a nasty side effect of narcissistic abuse.  It can be scary, because after so many years of stifling anger, once it starts to come out, we can be afraid of losing control.  It can feel like now that it’s out, it’s going to be out permanently- you’ll be angry forever.  Thank God though that is not the case!

Anger is a natural emotion just like all of the others people experience.  I know it can be hard at first, but try not to fear it.  Anger can be dealt with in a healthy way, & you need to learn how to do that.

Keeping a journal or talking to safe people about your feelings are very good ways to help manage your anger.  Telling God all about it is an even better way to deal with it.  And, say, “I feel angry because..” as it helps to validate your feelings to yourself.  Your feelings have been invalidated long enough- they deserve validation & recognition, especially by you!

I have written letters that I never sent when I was really angry.  I let it all out in those letters too- bad language, name calling, whatever I felt.  Sometimes I saved them, but usually I just burned them.  I found something healing in watching them go up in smoke.

Always remember that your feelings are valid.  There is a reason you are feeling angry!  People don’t just get angry for no obvious reason.

Forgive when you feel able to do so.  Don’t let other people criticize your faith in God or your Christian walk by accusing you of being cruel & unforgiving.  Forgiveness is a wonderful thing- it releases the power the other person  has over you.  But, rushing it never works out well.  You have to forgive when you are ready, with help from God, to completely forgive.

If you are considering discussing your feelings with your narcissistic mother, before you do it, pray.  Lots!  Narcissists don’t hear the other person’s valid points when confronted- instead they get defensive & shift blame.  That being said, for some people, telling their narcissistic mother how they feel can be a good thing.  They feel better just getting their feelings out to her.  I’m different- it makes me feel worse to have my mother invalidate me & fail to take any responsibility for her actions yet again, so I almost never confront her.  You need to be absolutely certain of how you are, & do what feels right to you.

And lastly, stop stifling your anger!  I know, old habits die hard, so this isn’t an easy thing to do.  However, it’s not healthy!  Not physically or mentally healthy.  Besides, emotions demand to be dealt with- stifling them only postpones that, it doesn’t stop it.  It is much better to face things as they come up rather than once they’ve been sitting deep inside, growing & morphing into something bigger & harder to deal with.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Feeling Invisible

Narcissists treat their children as if they are mere tools- they take them off the shelf when they need their narcissistic supply or need the child to do something for them, then they put them back when done, & expect the child to stay out of sight & out of mind the rest of the time.  (Isn’t this also how your average screwdriver or hammer is treated?)

Many narcissists also tell their children that children are to be seen & not heard, speak when spoken to only or other such hurtful things.  They also clearly don’t wish to be bothered with their child’s needs or wants.

These things mean the child grows up learning to behave as if she is invisible.  She stays quiet, & stays out of people’s way.  People treat her as if she is invisible as well, because they see how she acts.  (Your behavior shows others how you expect to be treated.)  Their treatment reinforces to her that she needs to be invisible, & the painful cycle continues.  It is so frustrating when even total strangers treat you this way.  A few years ago, I stopped by a convenience store.  When I was done & backing out of my parking space,  I looked.  No one was behind me so I backed out.  Suddenly my car jolted to a stop.  Someone in an SUV backed into me.  We got out of our vehicles & she immediately began screaming at me for upsetting her by hitting her truck.  I couldn’t even get in a word to tell her she had backed into me, not the other way around!   Thankfully no damage was done to my car & she said none to her SUV, so we walked away from the incident.  Her behavior hurt though.  I felt like she thought I was so unimportant I shouldn’t be allowed to say one word.

This invisible thing results in a deep sense of shame about your very existence.  You feel as if the fact you exist is a bad thing, & this can destroy your self-esteem.  I know  this from personal experience- I’ve never had healthy self-esteem.  In fact, at 44 years old, I still battle low self-esteem often.

I have been working  on becoming visible instead of staying invisible off & on for a few years now.  I’ve learned that to do that, you need to start setting some boundaries.  Don’t let others call all of the shots, all of the time.  For example, I’ve always let others end the phone call first, & now  I’m starting to do end it when I feel strong enough. (sad.. such a mundane task shouldn’t be so stressful!)  If someone wants to go out with me but I have plans, instead of rearranging my plans, I suggest another time.  Basically, I’m finding little, reasonable ways of making myself noticed.  The good news is it does get easier & easier, the more I do it.  I hope you will try to do the same thing so you no longer feel invisible.  You deserve so much better than that!

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It’s Not Your Job To Tolerate Abuse Or Do All The Work In Your Relationships!

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!

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Do You Validate Or Invalidate Yourself?

Validation is very hard to come by.  People are very quick to minimize the successes of others & to tell others their pain isn’t so bad.  When others either fail to validate you or directly, deliberately invalidate you, it hurts.  It also leads many people to invalidate themselves, especially when the invalidation starts early in life by their own parents.  Parental invalidation of a child easily can instill a belief in the child that she or he isn’t worth validating.  Accomplishments, dreams, needs, feelings all become trivial, unworthy of any recognition.  I believe invalidating a child helps to instill a root of deep shame in him or her.  The child becomes ashamed of his or her own needs, wants, feelings & even accomplishments.

Growing up with narcissistic parents, this is a very common phenomenon.  In my own life, I have only recently begun to see how badly I have invalidated myself.  I tend to look at what I haven’t done rather than what I have, & berate myself for what I haven’t done rather than be proud of what I have. Or, if I accomplish something good, I just look at it as something anyone can do, or it’s something I should do so why should that be celebrated?  My wants, needs & feelings come after those of others, even if I have a crisis.  While I am getting a bit better at these behaviors, it’s difficult since they are so deeply ingrained in me.  Plus, by behaving this way, I have essentially told others it’s perfectly OK for them to invalidate me, which means others do so on a regular basis.

If this describes you as well, I want to encourage you today to do as I am trying to do myself- begin to validate yourself!  It’s time to recognize that your wants, needs, actions & feelings are just as important as those of other people.  To do this, ask yourself why you believe the way you do.  What makes you think your wants, needs, etc. are less important than those of other people?  If you are unsure, ask God to show you.  Once you realize why you feel the way you do, ask Him to speak truth to you about why you feel this way.  Are your feelings accurate?  Or, are they the result of someone else invalidating you?  How can you change this false belief into the truth?

Also, pay attention to those things you feel, good & bad, & acknowledge them.  Don’t brush things off so easily- feel your feelings.  If someone hurt you, then feel that hurt & be good to yourself by doing nice things that make you feel good.  If you feel good because you accomplished a task that was on the back burner for too long, stop & bask in how good that feels for a few minutes.  Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Maybe even celebrate by giving yourself a gift.

Another thing to think about.  People who invalidate on a regular basis are often toxic.  They can be narcissists (or even just plain self-centered people) who believe they are the only ones worthy of validation, passive/aggressive types who use it as a means of punishing others, or they can simply be the superficial type of people who don’t like to delve into any deeper subject matter.  Superficial people don’t care for anything that requires much thought or effort on their part, & validation requires some of both.  Validation requires one to see things through another’s eyes if you wish to truly understand their feelings, plus you have to consider the right thing to say to properly validate another person.

In any case, the point is an invalidating person is the one with the problem, not you.  People want & need validation.  It’s how God made us, & is completely normal to want it!  I believe it is also abnormal not to wish to bless people by giving it freely.  There is nothing wrong with you for being hurt or disappointed when you are invalidated.  But, since it is becoming a rare thing in today’s society, you can validate yourself.

And, while you’re becoming more aware of the importance of validating yourself, don’t forget to validate others as well!  People are starving for validation- be a blessing, & validate others!  If you are unsure when it’s appropriate, ask God to show you who to validate & when.

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Compassion Fatigue- A Common Problem

Many adult children of narcissistic parents grow into very compassionate, empathetic adults.  We listen to others & offer support, even when strangers approach us in a grocery store & want to tell us their problems.  We help generously.  We’re often caregivers in many ways- taking care of the sick as well as providing emotional or even financial support to those in need.  And, truthfully, we often enjoy it.

Whether you enjoy caregiving or not, though, sometimes it burns you out.

It’s like a bank account- you can’t withdraw money without ever putting in a deposit or you will overdraft your account. The exact same thing happens with your mental health- if you do nothing but give, there is nothing left over for you.  You become tired, mentally & physically.  You also become very irritable & bottle up your emotions.  You may abuse substances or overeat.  You isolate yourself because you feel you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with people.  You become indifferent to their suffering.  You have plenty of aches & pains without a physical cause & you have difficulty concentrating on things.  Some people stop their good self-care habits, even hygienic habits.

This is a frustrating place to be!  I’ve felt some degree of compassion fatigue for years, but it has reached a peak during my recent recovery.  When all you can do is lay around & do very minimal tasks, it gives you plenty of time to think.  I realized how very few people close to me genuinely cared about the fact I came very close to death recently.  Very few have even asked how I’m doing more than once.  Aside from the obvious anger about this, it hurt me badly.  I have done my best to be there for those in my life as much as possible, & this is how I’m treated after trauma?  This seemed to rocket the compassion fatigue into overdrive.  As I write this, there aren’t many people I’m close to that I can muster up some empathy for at this time.

So.. how does one combat compassion fatigue?  Honestly I had to research it because I’ve never found a way to do it on my own.  The suggestions I’ve found are below along with some things I’ve been trying to do myself.

  • Sometimes people won’t be there for you, but God will be.  Give Him first priority in your life, & go to Him when you need comfort before you go to people.
  • Don’t judge yourself for how you feel.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Practice good self-care rituals.
  • Set & enforce good boundaries to give yourself a break as you need.
  • Remember, when people come to you for help, you should do your best to point them back to God as much as possible, & not become a god to them by fixing their problems.
  • Talk with others who understand how you feel.
  • Participate in your hobbies often, or start new ones.

I hope this helps you to combat compassion fatigue & to achieve a healthier balance with helping other people.  May God bless you!

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More About Discovering Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

I never felt comfortable sharing this information until now.  Maybe it’s finally the right timing, God’s timing?  In any case, I hope this helps you.  xoxo

A few years ago, I finally decided to start to get to know the real me.  Not the dysfunctional person my narcissistic mother tried to make me into, not my narcissistic ex husband, not even friends. The real me, the person God created me to be.  When asking Him to help me do this one day, He told me to study the personality of the wolf- that is what I am really like.  I did this & found it fascinating.  Granted, not all wolves have the same personality, but they all seem to share some basic qualities in common.  Many of those traits were also shared by my husky/wolf, Danya, who passed away in ’09.  He was the one of our three dogs we’ve had that I got along best with, because we understood each other very well.  Now I understand why we got along so well.

I assume God used this information about wolves because I’m an avid animal lover, & I am ever glad He did.  It’s been very interesting for me & comforting too, finally knowing who I really am.  It’s also given me a new fascination with wolves.  They are truly amazing animals!  In fact, as I write this, I’m also watching a show on the Nat Geo channel called, “She Wolf” about a rare alpha female wolf (usually alphas are male).  She was absolutely incredible!  Strong, brave, determined, a natural leader, a wonderful mama to her pups, playful & gentle.  It amazes me God sees me as similar to such an amazing creature as She Wolf!

Have you ever asked God to show you who He made you to be?  If not, I strongly urge you to do so!  I don’t know if He’ll compare you to an animal or not like He did with me, but be prepared to be amazed whether He does or not.  I certainly was- I never would I have thought I would share such character traits with the majestic, strong wolf!

God created you to be someone special.  I know, that is hard to believe when you grew up with a narcissistic mother treating you as if you were merely a tool to be used as she wanted, but it’s true!  Today I challenge you to throw off what you think you should be, to get rid of the dysfunctional beliefs that were put on you so unfairly.  Instead, talk to God about becoming who He wants you to be, who He made you to be!  The person He made you to be will feel so much more natural & right.  Granted, the change won’t happen immediately, but as you learn to rely on God to help you, the new you will develop.

I’ve noticed something else too- as I’ve changed, my narcissistic mother isn’t happy about it, but at the same time, she is respecting my boundaries (albeit grudgingly) for the first time!  I think she realizes that I now have a strength I didn’t before, & also realizes that strength means I won’t put up with her games like I once did.  Your narcissistic mother may respond the same way.  I hope she does!

Oh, & just in case you’re wondering about the personality traits of a wolf, here is what I found.  Wolves are generally..

  • Friendly (friendly with other adults, amiable with pups).
  • Strongest personality trait is that they make strong emotional attachments to others.
  • Natural aversion to fighting. Will do much to avoid conflicts/fighting.
  • Kind
  • Agreeable
  • Non-violent personality.
  • Although gentle, they will fight when necessary.
  • Highly intelligent, able to learn & remember events.
  • High degree of adaptability.
  • Gentle
  • Confident
  • Natural leaders.
  • Wildly playful.

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Update & Sharing What I’ve Learned Recently

Good evening, Dear Readers, & happy new year to you!

I’m sorry I’ve been missing in action lately.  I’ve been having computer troubles, plus I’ve been busy.  I’m reworking my website, so I can make changes easier.  Thankfully it’s about 2/3 completed! Not easy with a cranky computer!  And, I’m happy to say my Facebook fan group has been growing & is quite chatty lately.   Plus, my forum is starting to grow as well, for those not interested in joining the Facebook group.  If you’d like to visit either, the links are on my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

These positive changes are very exciting, yet also very intimidating.  I don’t do change well, even when it’s good change.  Plus, although I’m honored God trusts me to help others, that’s a lot of responsibility!  I never want to let anyone down, even though I will sometimes because I’m only human. 

I’m trying to focus on the very positive things as much as possible, though.  It’s not always easy to do, especially when my anxiety levels go crazy (gotta love C-PTSD huh?), but I’m trying & it’s helping.  I’m also getting better at self care.  It’s truly amazing how a little time spent with some candles, a good movie & the furkids can relax me.

I’ve also gotten better at grounding myself during flashbacks.  Touching & focusing on a rough surface, such as a coarse fabric, helps me a great deal, as does looking at traffic that passes in front of my house.  Not sure why, but what helps isn’t important.  The fact it helps is.

Why have these things happened?  I believe they’re simply answers to prayer. 

I have a bad habit of praying for other people, but rarely for myself.  While God loves it when we care about others, He still wants us to care about ourselves.  (Remember, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”?)

Recently my parents have needed quite a bit of help from me, especially while my father was hospitalized last month.  This caused me a lot of anxiety, & the only thing that enabled me to get through was God’s help.  I started praying for myself more than ever, & God has truly blessed me in return.

I think as a daughter of a narcissistic mother, I always felt selfish praying for myself.  If you too have a narcissistic mother, no doubt you can relate.  After all, we’re not supposed to have needs, wants or feelings according to our mothers.  We’re called selfish if we do have them.

The good news is God disagrees with that.  He wants to help us by meeting our needs & wants, & He cares about our feelings.  In fact,I’ve grown much closer to Him since I’ve been praying more for myself. 

If you don’t pray for yourself much or at all, I’d like to encourage you to start now.  What do you have to lose?  But, you have so much to gain!  Blessings, help as you need it, & best off all, a closer relationship to God.  😀

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Adult Child Of A Narcissistic Mother, Be Compassionate With Yourself!

Tomorrow, Christmas eve, would’ve been my 24th wedding anniversary, if I had stayed married to my ex husband.

The day always brings some conflicting feelings.  Mostly, I am grateful I was able to get away from him, as he was a narcissist who treated me much like my narcissistic mother used to treat me.  I can’t imagine how bad things would’ve been for me if I had stayed with him.  Chances are good that I would have killed myself if we had stayed together.  I was that depressed with him.

It also makes me sad though, when I think of how damaged I was back then.  I knew marrying him was a mistake, which is why I had broken up with him a few months prior.  Yet I still allowed him to talk me into marrying him anyway.  I married him instead of continuing to date someone who I really enjoyed being with, because I believed my ex when he made me feel guilty for leaving him, & like I owed it to him to marry him for hurting him so badly.

It’s amazing the things that a child of a narcissist will do, isn’t it?

I’m sharing this embarrassing bit of information about myself with you today for a reason.  I’m sure you too have things in your past that you regret.  Bad choices made out of dysfunction, pain or even desperation to be loved.  I want you to know that you’re not alone!  You have nothing to be ashamed of! Mistakes like mine are a normal part of being raised by a narcissistic mother.  You grow up so dysfunctional because all of your growing up years, you were told you were a horrible, stupid, ugly, selfish, etc. etc. person.  You were blamed for things that weren’t your fault, & made to be responsible for things no child should be responsible for, such as her mother’s emotions.  Things like this cause a tremendous amount of damage that permeates your innermost being well into adulthood.  It is completely normal!

Please don’t do like I did for many years.  I beat myself up for being so stupid & marrying someone I didn’t love, for falling for all of his manipulations, for being so starved for love that I believed him when he said he loved me, for ignoring my instincts that told me to stay far from him & for passing up a good man for a narcissistic one.  I asked myself so many times how I could be so stupid, basically continuing the beating up of my self-esteem that both my mother & ex-husband started.  It was wrong & cruel, & I showed myself no understanding or compassion.  Don’t make that same mistake!  You deserve so much better than that!

While yes, you have made mistakes & done dumb things, everyone has!  No one is immune from making mistakes in their life, especially someone raised by a narcissistic mother.  Show yourself some compassion & realize that you have been through some damaging things- it’s only natural you have made mistakes.

Also remember, God loves you & forgives you.  If He forgives you, how can you not forgive yourself?

Be gentle & understanding with yourself, Dear Reader.  You deserve it.  xoxo

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“To Thine Own Self, Be True” (from Shakespear’s “Hamlet”)

I had the most incredible dream last night, & I wanted to share the valuable lesson learned from it.  🙂

I dreamed that I saw my car parked in front of my parents’ home.  I was a few feet away.  My car is a lovely dark green with a matching vinyl top, but in the dream, she was painted (very poorly I might add!) white on the sides & yellow on the top, hood & trunk.  Somehow I knew my mother had done this.  I was horrified upon seeing this, wondering how was I going to afford the high price of having her repainted green.  I simply said, “God, what am I going to do?”  It suddenly started to rain a bit.  A nice steady rain.  The paint started washing off my car!!  Most of it came off easily but there were a few spots that I had to scrape at with my thumbnail.  Before I knew it, there was my ’69 Plymouth, all beautiful & green again!  In fact, she looked better than ever, now that I think of it…

I woke from this dream a bit shaken, since my car means the world to me.  She once was my Granddad’s car, then my dad’s.  Dad sold her in 1979 to a junkyard, & in 2005, I found her!  Wasn’t looking, but apparently God decided I needed a big blessing, & being a car lover, blessed me with my favorite car of my Granddad’s.  So anyway, dreams where this car is messed with in any way shake me up pretty badly.

Later, I decided to figure out what this dream meant, so I asked God & immediately, He gave me my answer.

Cars represent your life in dreams.  White & yellow are colors representing purity,  innocence, joy, positivity.  Rain represents cleansing.  In the context of this dream, this all translates to this:  growing up with a narcissistic mother, she did her level best to change me into what she wanted me to be.  In fact, still tries to do this even though I am now 43 years old.  My mother likes to present herself as a wholesome, wonderful person.  She wants me to act more like her, like what she likes, dislike what she dislikes, etc.  That is why in the dream she painted my car those particular colors, to make me more like her.  The rain was a result of me allowing God to wash away what others have done to make me into what they think I should be (my mother isn’t the only one who has tried to change me, but she is where the problem started).  Me scraping off the little bits of paint that remained represented me doing my part, cooperating with God, to get the person He made me to be back.

Isn’t that fascinating?

Since many of you who read my blog, website & books are also children of narcissistic mothers, I pray this encourages you as it has me.

Narcissists try to change their children, friends, relatives & basically anyone into what they think that person should be.  I believe it is especially painful for children, because as children, we are so starved for our parents’ love & approval, we’ll do anything they want us to do.  This also sets the stage early in life for you to believe you must please other people, even at the expense of losing yourself- changing your likes, dislikes, beliefs, how you dress, how you act & more.  It’s not right!  No one should have to change so much of themselves just to be in a relationship with another person!  If you do feel you have to change to be in a relationship with someone, maybe  it is time to reconsider being in that relationship.  At the very least, it’s time to consider getting you back & being the person God made you to be!

How do you get “you” back??

  1. To start with, stop listening right now to what others say you should do, like, how you should feel or think.  Their opinions really aren’t important!  Of course you want those you love to have good opinions of you, but if they disagree with some things about you, that is perfectly ok!  No one can be pleased 100% of the time.  If they try to make you feel bad for not pleasing them, that is a big red flag saying this person isn’t safe.
  2. Ask God to help you.  Ask Him to show you who He made you to be, to have the courage to become that person & to help you shed the person you became only to please others.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone.  Try things that pique your interest that you never had the nerve or opportunity to try before.  You may discover a new passion, or at the least, will start to learn what you like & don’t like for yourself rather than what others have told you that you should like or not like.
  4. Try different clothing.  I know this sounds silly, but your clothing affects your mood.  Buy clothes that make you feel good when you’re wearing them.  Better to have 2 outfits you like than 10 you hate because someone else wants you to wear them!

At first, these things can feel kind of weird & hard to do, but I can tell you, they get easier with practice.  I’m trying them myself, & have off & on for a few years now.  From my experience, the hardest thing to do is stay focused on doing things for yourself like this.  It’s so easy to slip back into the old, dysfunctional habits!  That is what happened to me- this dream made me realize that.  To avoid conflict with my husband, I’ve even gone as far as hiding the symptoms of my C-PTSD from him no matter how hard it is on me.  This dream made me really see how bad it’s been, & how it has to stop right now.

Be good & true to yourself, Dear Readers!  You are so worth it!  I pray that God will help you if you are struggling in this area.  ❤

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You Matter!

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

The other night, I had a very strange dream.  I was with a small group of people.  I got my wallet out of my purse, & found a nice little amount of money in there I didn’t know I had- I think it was around $65.  I quickly stuffed it back in my wallet.  I then went to get something from my car’s glove compartment, & found an envelope with more money in it.  I think around the same amount but I’m not sure.  I quickly hid it back in the glove compartment, nervous the other people around me would know I had it, then woke up.  The dream was baffling, so naturally I prayed about it as well as looked up the symbolism of money on that dream interpretation site I like so much.  It said money represents self worth, values & self confidence.  Finding it symbolizes your quest for love or power.  This didn’t clarify anything for me.  lol

This morning as I was waking up, immediately God showed me what the dream meant.  I have been accepting the opinions of others that I don’t matter lately, & I need to stop allowing their false beliefs into my heart.  I need to guard my heart & my self-esteem as I hid the money in that dream.   As an example, as I’ve mentioned here, I told my parents my bad knees don’t like me going up & down their basement steps to do their laundry.  Either we need to move their washer & dryer upstairs (as my mother said she’s wanted to do for years) or get some help.  My father agreed with me.  My mother however?  Ignored every word I said.  This gave me the message what I want & feel isn’t important- I don’t matter.  Unfortunately I am so accustomed to this kind of thing happening I reacted automatically as I always have- by assuming I’m not important.  In fact, I was considering dropping the topic with her, & putting up with my own pain rather than pushing the issue.  Not now, though!  Thanks to God revealing what this dream meant, I realized what was happening & just how bad it’s gotten.  I usually try to take care of my skin, hair & nails often as these things make me feel pretty.  I haven’t been doing anything really good for me.  As a result, my skin & hair are dry & nails are short.  Not feeling so pretty right now!  I haven’t done well with self-care this week either, & it shows.  The C-PTSD is flaring up big time- my anxiety levels have been crazy high, depression terrible, my concentration is almost non-existent & sleep problems are even worse than usual.

Anyway, I think this is a common problem for adult children of narcissistic parents, feeling as if we don’t matter.  Everyone else is more important, because we were raised from day 1 to take care of the needs of the narcissist.  Your job is to make sure that your narcissistic mother is happy, that you are doing whatever you are told, that you don’t make any waves or else you may face a dreaded narcissistic rage.

Sound familiar??  I bet it does if you were raised by a narcissistic mother like I was.

So what to do about this?  It’s time to study what God has to say about His children.  Years ago, I did just this, then put what I found in one of my books.  I since put it in another couple of books & on my website.  Here is the link:

Affirmations

I strongly recommend you read over this page, & let what God says about you get deep into your heart.  This is all what He said, I only put these things together.  Let God’s word heal your heart.  There is truly healing power when He speaks, whether it is in the form of the written word (such as in the Bible) or if you are fortunate enough to hear His voice speaking to you.  God’s word always heals.

If you’re reading this & suffering with this same problem of feeling as if you don’t matter, I’m praying for you.  No one should feel this way!  You matter!  God loves you, & made you for a purpose.  ❤

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Being Real

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I was thinking about trying to write something positive & encouraging today, & I couldn’t come up with anything. Why? Honestly, I’m in a pretty lousy mood. There have been a lot of negative things going on in my life lately, & all the things I’m learning for the new book are a lot to take in. I’m learning about so many behaviors that are abusive, that I never thought were abusive. I’m seeing clearly just how many people have abused me during my life, even people I never thought of as abusive. It’s really a lot to process! Plus, the heat & bright sun of the summer tends to depress me anyway. I’m so NOT a summer gal! Give me autumn or winter instead, please!

This all makes it hard for me to be positive & encouraging right now. I was starting to feel guilty about that (only adding to my lovely mood), & prayed. God immediately showed me something. People do not need positivity & encouragement only. They need genuine people, which is what I am. While it’s good to be positive, people also need to see that sometimes, you don’t feel positive, & that is ok. Everyone has off days. Sometimes, if people see you as only positive, they feel bad about themselves when they have an off day or two. They feel as if they’re sinning, not measuring up or failing.

We all have off days, sometimes several in a row, & that is OK!  Take it easy & practice good self-care on those days. As for me, I am going to take off this week, & not work on the new book. I’m going to relax as much as possible & help myself to feel better soon. 

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Self Pity

It seems like everywhere I look lately, I’m seeing something about how no one should indulge in self pity.  It’s dangerous to your mental health, & a sign of weakness & immaturity, etc. etc.

I respectfully disagree.

While constantly feeling sorry for one’s self can lead to depression of course, I believe there are times where self pity is normal &, dare I say, even healthy.

–When someone you love dies, why do you grieve?  Because you miss that person.  That is perfectly normal! 

–When you & your first love broke up, you felt sorry for yourself because you were hurting.   That too, is perfectly normal.

–And, when you learn that your childhood wasn’t normal, but abusive, you’re going to feel sorry for yourself sometimes.  That is completely normal, especially on days when you wake up from nightmares or someone says something that reminds you of your abusive parent, causing you tremendous anxiety.

Although for many years, I shared the common mindset of the dangers of self pity, I have come to realize that it is wrong- self pity is a necessary part of life.  It’s a normal part of the grief process, & it helps you learn from painful experiences.   It also motivates you to be gentle with yourself during hard times.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling sorry for yourself sometimes.  After all, it is evidence of your compassion.  If you can feel sorry for others who hurt, why shouldn’t you offer yourself that same love & compassion? You deserve compassion too!

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Just Relax..

Growing up, my mother told me I was lazy more times than I can count.  I never questioned this until I was almost forty years old- I simply believed I was lazy & pretty useless.  If I wasn’t being productive, I felt guilty.  Even if I was sick or injured, that was no excuse for not doing something useful.  Society gives that same message, which helped cement that belief in me.
 
I still battle this dysfunctional mindset, but I’m getting better. I’m learning from my cats- cats make no apologies for relaxing or enjoying a sun puddle.  They take care of themselves, & don’t feel a hint of guilt for it.  Neither do wolves- my other favorite animal.  When people think of wolves, they think of fierce hunters, however wolves also know how to have fun.  They are wildly playful animals.  They relax & have fun with each other & their cubs.  Why doesn’t anyone insult wolves & cats for being lazy, I wonder, yet say it about people who aren’t busy 24/7?

I think people need to get a better understanding of what it truly means to be lazy.  Goofing off when you have things to do, taking days off work for no good reason constantly or living in filth instead of cleaning your home are all examples of laziness.  However, relaxing after a hard day at work isn’t lazy.  Neither is spending the day in bed when you have the flu.  And, if you have mental health problems like me, sometimes you need to take a day to do nothing to keep yourself from getting depressed or anxious.  Sometimes you need them even if you don’t have mental health problems, actually.  Those days are vital, & there is nothing wrong with them. 

I believe it’s important to take time to relax, with no computer or cell phone, & accept it as a good thing, like our animal friends do.  Look how happy cats & wolves are.  They take time to enjoy their lives, without guilt or shame.  We could do well to follow their example!

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Taking Care Of Yourself Isn’t Selfish- It’s Vital To Your Mental Health

Yesterday was a tough day.  I had the worst panic attack I’ve had in years.  My husband & I went to a home show in town.  It was a spur of the moment decision.  I had visions of a quiet place where we could look at various home improvements.  I was wrong.  Instead, we were bombarded by pushy salespeople amid a crowd- basically an agoraphobic nightmare.  After only a short time, I practically ran out, & had a panic attack.  It was scary for the first time in years, I couldn’t regulate my breathing at all.  It lasted a good 10 minutes, leaving me drained for the rest of the day & today.
It took a while, but I finally (grudgingly) finished everything I needed to do today, which wasn’t much.  Now, I plan to rest & recover.  I would have felt guilty about this even as recently as a few months ago, but I refuse to do so now.  After almost two years of having full blown C-PTSD, it is finally sinking in just how serious this disorder really is.  I see how badly damaged my brain is often, like when I can’t find the word or name I need, or when my mood goes from happy to angry to sad with virtually no warning.  C-PTSD is a frustrating disorder even on my best days. 
Beyond the frustration however, lies danger.  Many people with either C-PTSD or PTSD battle suicidal thoughts due to the severe depression that accompanies both disorders.  I’ve been there many times, & do whatever I can not to re-experience that pain.  Self care always has been a somewhat foreign concept to me, like it is to most survivors of child abuse, especially at the hand of a narcissistic parent, so I am continually learning ways to take care of myself, especially when the C-PTSD flares up.
Not knowing myself well, thanks to always putting others first, learning self care has been a challenge.  However, I’ve made progress, & I’m hoping what I learn will help you, too.
I find pampering thing to be especially helpful during bad days.  A manicure/pedicure, snuggling up in bed in cozy jammies with tea & a good book (preferably a classic) or good movie, or even a warm shower followed by my favorite lotion make me feel good.  I think pampering helps because it communicates the message that you’re special. 
Sometimes, when things are somewhat overwhelming,  I find TV a good distraction.  It let’s me zone out & escape for a while.  I’ve also found too much TV can make me depressed- I feel lazy for just staring at it rather than being productive.  I know that stems from my mother calling me lazy when I was younger, but that is something I still battle with anyway.
Hobbies are helpful, too.  I love reading & knitting in particular.  Focusing on them can help me relax when anxiety levels are high.
My most recent coping mechanism is more about helping me in my daily life.  I got a new app for my tablet a to do list app.  I can add things to it, & set alarms to help me remember things, since my short term memory is so bad.  It’s so frustrating forgetting things, so I’m hoping this app will help me.
I know many of you who read my writing also suffer with C-PTSD.  Please think about what I’ve written here today, & be gentle with yourself.  Practice self care daily, but especially on the bad days.  And, don’t be afraid to do little things to make your life easier- God gave us helpful things like my to do list app to be used!

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December 14, 2012

Hello, Dear Readers!

I just wanted to let you know that my warning about my website being out of commission ended up not coming to pass!  The site is now hosted at my new web host company, & all is just fine. Not one glitch, no frustration, nothing.  My host company is:  

http://www.hostfor2bucks.com

 

They are very easy to work with, & very inexpensive!  

The website still looks the same, & has all the same features as it had before.  I am thinking it’s time to work on some more free ebooks, though- been a while!  Too long.. If you haven’t been there in a while, check out my site at:

 

http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

 

Wishing everyone a great weekend!  Don’t forget to do something special for yourself today!  🙂

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