Tag Archives: shame

Guilt Or God Working Through You?

Some of you long time readers will remember this story..

In May, 2016, I had a huge argument with my parents.  My mother in-law had just died, & since they read the obituaries in the weekly paper, I knew they would see hers.  I also knew that they wouldn’t acknowledge what I had told them about her that caused me to go no contact with her 14 years prior, but instead would talk about what a great lady she was.  I was mentally prepared for that, so when I saw their number on my caller ID the day after her funeral when the paper came out, I wasn’t surprised.  I asked God to help me get through the call & guide my words.  I thought it was going to be a mostly typical conversation, & I was wrong. 

I was NOT prepared for my parents being angry with me for not telling them about her death so they could attend the funeral.  I also was ill prepared for the intense feeling of betrayal or the rage that I felt.  I ended up yelling at, crying & cussing out my parents.  Not my normal behavior by any means!  When I hung up the phone my first step was to pray.  I told God I was so sorry!  I never should’ve behaved that way.  Somehow I must have missed His guidance & messed up everything.  God spoke to me extremely clearly at that time, & said, “I wanted this to happen.  Your parents needed to see their normally calm & reasonable daughter extremely upset thanks to their behavior.” 

That argument was the last time I spoke to my mother before she died just under three years later.  It was also one of the last times I spoke to my father who died about eighteen months after.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I think that argument was a catalyst for no contact for me, which in turn motivated my parents to turn to God at the end of their lives.  It really did have a purpose!

At that time & for quite a while after, however, in spite of knowing my parents needed to see my reaction, I still felt terrible.  The guilt was intense!   

I think this is normal for most children of narcissistic parents.  Our parents train us early in life to please them at all costs, & to feel intense guilt or even shame when we fail.  Even when we are adults, when we do something that we perceive as wrong, we automatically feel that guilt because it’s a reflex built into us by our parents.

The thing is though that sometimes doing something other people think is wrong is a good thing.  Naturally narcissists would disagree with that, but it’s true.  What one person sees as wrong can be right for someone else. 

While the guilt may make you feel as if you’re doing something bad, it may be inappropriate to the situation.  God may be working through you, & sometimes He works through people in rather unusual ways.  Just look at the argument I had with my parents.  It felt awful at the time, but it turned out to be very beneficial for all three of us.

The next time you automatically feel guilt about something, then please, take a moment to ask God if that guilt is justified or if He is working through you somehow.  You may be very pleasantly surprised to find out He is working through you, & there is no valid reason for you to feel any guilt!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Childhood Wounds That Can Affect People Into Adulthood

Childhood experiences help to form us into the adults we become.  Those of us with traumatic childhoods naturally turn into dysfunctional adults.  Hopefully we realize this & want to become more functional & healthy.  Sometimes though we aren’t sure where to start.  I firmly believe that getting to the root of things is best.  If you garden, you know that you can spray a weed with poison & it will vanish for a while, but it’ll come back again.  However, if you pull it up by the roots, it’ll never return.  Healing is the same way, which is why I tell people that getting to the root of issues is so important.

Relating to healing, I mean you need to look at what is causing the problem, not just the problem itself.  If something makes you angry when you remember it, for example, why does it make you angry?  Did you not feel heard?  Did you feel unloved, neglected or invalidated?  Recognizing your anger is only part of the process.  Once you identify how the event made you feel, you can truly start to heal.

Certain childhood wounds cause certain behaviors, which is what we’re discussing today. 

A childhood abandonment wound happens when a parent isn’t there for their child either physically such as if the parent dies or the parents divorce, but also happens if the parent isn’t there emotionally such as in the case of narcissistic parents.  The abandonment wound manifests as someone who hates to be alone, who is afraid of loved ones leaving them, & may be codependent. People who are emotionally unavailable or out of touch with their feelings are very attracted to those who have abandonment wounds.

A childhood neglect wound results from a parent neglecting their child’s needs.  The neglect can be as obvious as not providing the child with food or medical care, or it can be less obvious such as a parent regularly not caring that their child is upset.  This type of childhood wound manifests as low self esteem or even self hatred, a lack of boundaries, being quick to anger, & repressing emotions.  People who are attracted to someone with a neglect wound are the type who don’t appreciate them & often even make them feel invisible.

A shame wound is very common among those who have experienced childhood narcissistic abuse.  Narcissists use shame as a weapon because it is so incredibly effective.  Where guilt makes a person feel as if they have done something wrong, shame makes a person feel as if they are wrong bad or incredibly broken for doing whatever they did.  Shame damages or even annihilates self esteem.  A person with very low or non-existent self esteem is easily controlled & manipulated, because they lake faith in their decision making abilities & intelligence.  They look to others because they feel so ill equipped.  This wound manifests as an intense disdain for asking for help or for things, feeling bad or flawed, & lacking boundaries.  Narcissists are attracted to those who have shame wounds.

If any of these describe you, know that hope is not lost!  You can heal!  Now that you know the root of your problem, you can find the most effective means of healing.  It will take time & work, but you can heal!  I believe in you!

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Being The Family Scapegoat

Being the scapegoat in a narcissistic family is an incredibly difficult & painful role. 

Naturally it starts with the abuse from a narcissistic parent, usually an overt one.  This parent is quick with a cruel word, invalidation, mocking or even fury.  This parent may even say they treat their child as they do out of love or they blame their child for making them treat the child as they do.

The other parent is often a covert narcissist.  Compared to the raging, screaming & berating of the overt narcissistic parent, the covert narcissistic parent seems safe & possibly even loving.  Eventually though, that mask slips.  It usually happens as the child is growing up & starting to want some independence.  Covert narcissistic parents also often confide in their children about very inappropriate topics, such as their marital problems.  Overts do this too, but coverts seem to do it more often.  That parent may tell that child that they need protection from the overt narcissistic parent rather than protecting their child, as a functional parent would do. 

Eventually, this child realizes something is wrong with their parents’ behavior.  Maybe they learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder or maybe not yet.  Either way, the child starts to set boundaries with their parents for the first time in their life.  This is where the real trouble often begins.

Aside from the obvious horrors of the abuse from their narcissistic parents, they suddenly are faced with even more horrors.  Many reach out to other family members for help, & rather than get the help they need, are shunned, mocked, called awful names like liars, spoiled brats, drama queens or kings, ungrateful & more.  Those who the child expects to help & support them often end up betraying that child & adding more pain.

When narcissistic parents find out their child has revealed the kind of parent they are, they usually release some sort of smear campaign.  Some insult their child, others accuse their child of being mentally ill or addicted to drugs.  Some opt to do the same but from a position of looking concerned.  They may say things like, “I’m worried about her.  She hasn’t been the same since she started hanging around with that guy.  I think he’s making her say these things about me, or maybe she’s on drugs!”  This is even worse, because it makes the child look bad while making the parent appear loving & concerned.  Either way, this child loses loved ones & feels completely alone.

The life of a scapegoat is incredibly hard!  Yet even so, there is hope!

After surviving such horrors, a person develops the ability to handle stress well.  Compared to narcissistic abuse, most crises seem pretty tame. 

After losing friends & family who believe a narcissistic parent’s lies, a person becomes very independent & self-reliant.  In this situation when you are left alone, you can learn you have skills & abilities that you never realized you had.

Losing people in one’s life often makes people turn to God, & that is never a bad thing!  That is the one relationship that will never disappoint or hurt you.  He also can help you to heal from all the damage done by the abusive people in your life.  And, as an added bonus, He can guide the right people into your life.    

If you’re the scapegoat in your narcissistic family, if you recently have been abandoned by foolish people who chose to side with your parents rather than help or support you, then please know it will get better!  You will find new, good, loving people who would never treat you as badly as your family has & who will love you unconditionally.  You will survive this pain & heal.  One day you will look back at all that has happened in your role as your family’s scapegoat & be shocked at how much happier & healthier you are without these people in your life.

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Don’t Be Ashamed Of Having PTSD Or C-PTSD!

Years ago, I remember reading that a rather well known preacher talking about PTSD.  He made it sound like no true Christian can have this disorder or if you do, just “get rid of it” as if people have a choice to hold onto it or get rid of it.

While not many people will say those exact words, it does appear plenty of people share similar sentiments about PTSD & C-PTSD.  Many clearly think people with these disorders are weak for getting it in the first place, especially if they too have experienced a similar trauma but don’t have it.  What they fail to realize is that developing PTSD & C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness, contrary to what many people seem to think.  It is a sign of surviving something that easily could have destroyed you either mentally or physically or both. 

Other people think they are some made up disorders so people can wallow in the past or use them as an excuse to get out of doing things they don’t want to do, such as holding down a job.  They refuse to see that those of us with one of these disorders would love to be “normal” again.  We would love nothing more than not to think about the past traumas all of the time & be able to do normal things.

There are also those who believe having PTSD or C-PTSD means you lack faith in God.  If you simply trusted Him more or prayed more, you wouldn’t have this disorder, they say.  They have no clue nothing could be further from the truth!

Something people fail to realize is that PTSD & C-PTSD can happen to anyone.  They know no boundaries.  They affect people of all ethnicities, genders, religions, intelligence, financial standings… anyone can develop PTSD or C-PTSD.

Just because you have PTSD or C-PTSD but someone you know who has experienced similar trauma to yours doesn’t have it doesn’t mean there is something very wrong with you for getting it.  Every person is truly unique, right down to our fingerprints & DNA.  What affects one person strongly may not affect someone else as strongly simply due to differences in personality & how people process information.

Some people are also naturally more in touch with their logical, or left brain, than their emotional, right brain.  Those people are often a bit disconnected from their emotions simply due to how their personality is.  There are also those who have chosen to deal with pain by disconnecting from it.  Much like our logical friends, these folks don’t feel connected to their emotions.  This means these people naturally won’t be as deeply affected by trauma as those who are more in tune with their emotions will be affected.

There is also the fact that every single person has a mental breaking point.  In other words, everyone has a point in which their mind simply cannot take any more.  This is the point where PTSD can & often does develop.  That point varies from person to person, but there is no avoiding it.  It is much like bones.  Bones too have a breaking point & that varies from person to person too.  Sometimes, people’s bones break easily & other times, they don’t.  There is nothing wrong, weak or even ungodly about the ones whose bones break easily.  This is simply how they are.

If you have PTSD or C-PTSD then please know that you aren’t flawed, crazy, abnormal or anything else.  You are a normal person who has experienced some pretty abnormal things.  Both disorders are awful I know, but having them isn’t something of which you should be ashamed.  Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise!

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Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse & Anger

Victims of narcissistic abuse are shamed for being angry.  It seems if we show any signs of being less than happy about the abuse we endured, people tell us that we’re too negative, wallowing in the past, bitter, not letting things go as we should & more.  For Christians who are in this position, we often get added shaming relating to our faith.  We are lectured on how we should forgive, be Christ-like, labeled as a fake or bad Christians & other false & hurtful accusations. 

We also are expected to show undeniable evidence of the abuse we suffered.  When we can’t produce evidence of the soul destroying gaslighting & verbal abuse the narcissist in our lives inflicted upon us, we are accused of being angry with the abuser so we made things up as a way to make that person look bad.

You know something?  Victims of narcissistic abuse ARE angry, & rightfully so!  No one should treat anyone as we have been treated.  No one should push another person so deep into depression that they lose all hope.  No one should destroy another person’s identity, self esteem & sometimes even faith in God.  Yet, we have experienced all of these things & much more at the hands of narcissists.  We also have experienced betrayal & abandonment by people who should have been there for us, seen people we thought loved us support our abuser & more.  So yes, we are angry!

Do you know what doesn’t help this anger?  Being shamed for feeling what any normal human being would feel under the circumstances. 

I know it can be hard but please, do NOT accept the shaming messages!

People who treat victims this way clearly have their own issues.  Normal people have no desire to hurt others.  Even if they don’t understand what you have experienced, they won’t try to shame you for feeling what you do or minimize your trauma.  Anyone who does such things is displaying a lack of empathy, which makes them a very unsafe person.

Some people who do this also have experienced similar trauma, & lack the courage to face it.  Instead of facing it, they try to avoid all reminders of that trauma.  If someone speaks of experiencing something similar to them, they often will say anything as an attempt to shut that person down.  It’s a survival mechanism.  If it hurts the other person, that isn’t their top priority- avoiding their pain is.  The person in question may not be malicious with their intentions, but their behavior certainly is. 

Yet other people are all about being positive, & not in a healthy way.  Often they think it’s ungodly to be anything less than extremely positive.  Being positive certainly isn’t a bad thing at all.  When it is taken too far, however, that is a problem.  There is nothing wrong with admitting that sometimes, things aren’t happy, positive or even good.  Sometimes it’s ok, even healthy, to say things are bad.  Refusing to accept that & claiming everything in life is nothing but rainbows & unicorns isn’t healthy.  Don’t let the toxic positive people make you feel otherwise!

Whatever the reasoning behind someone acting as if your anger about narcissistic abuse is wrong, remember, that is their issue, not yours.  Narcissistic abuse is cruel, devastating & utterly wrong.  Everyone should be angry about it!  Even Jesus got angry about injustices done to people, if you remember.  If we are to be like Him, that means there is nothing wrong with being angry about injustices.  Besides, not feeling anger about narcissistic abuse would normalize it.  Narcissistic abuse would become an acceptable thing if people became numb to their anger about it, & that never should be!    

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Shame Over Past Behavior In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Victims of narcissist abuse are no strangers to shame.  Narcissists use it as a weapon very simply because it is such an effective weapon.  A person who feels tremendous shame is very easy to manipulate because they believe they are flawed, stupid, awful, selfish & more beyond repair, so they must listen to someone who isn’t a terrible person like they are.  It’s just common sense that someone out to manipulate & control another person would be thrilled with a victim who thinks this way.

Even when an abuse victim realizes this, that doesn’t make the shame go away.  That shame can hang around for a long time.  Thankfully, much of the shame instilled in victims by the narcissists in their lives diminishes & even disappears fairly fast when they realize that what they feel & believe was deliberately put their by a narcissist.  Other shame however tends to hang around way too long!  That is the shame we will address today.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often feel intense shame about their behavior when they were in a relationship with a narcissist.  I truly understand this since I have experienced the same myself.  In fact, my behavior made me wonder if I was a narcissist since I did some of the same things.  The truth however is no, I am not nor was I a narcissist.  And, if you have similar feelings, I’m sure you aren’t either.

Victims of narcissistic abuse must lie when in relationship with a narcissist.  One key to surviving a narcissistic relationship is to please the narcissist at all times.  Obviously common sense says no one can please any person at all times, in particular someone who is notoriously impossible to please.  However, in the midst of the relationship, that isn’t common sense.  Victims are conditioned to think they must please the narcissist & not doing so is a huge flaw on their part, deserving whatever abuse the narcissist wishes to dish out.  Rather than face that abuse, victims often lie.  It’s a survival skill.  Unfortunately this survival skill can come with a lot of shame attached after the relationship is over.  Instead, try extending mercy & understanding to yourself because it was a necessary evil at the time.

Manipulation is bad, there is no disputing that.  Yet like lying, it too is a necessary evil when in the throes of a relationship with a narcissist.  Anything to please the narcissist is what is important & if that requires manipulation, so be it.  Once the relationship is over, however, looking back on being manipulative in any capacity is shame inducing.  It even can make a person wonder if they are a narcissist as well.  If you are wondering the same, no you are not!!  The fact you wonder & are willing to research it to find out says you aren’t a narcissist.  They don’t do self reflection, & if they somehow stumble upon something stating anything negative about them, they reject it immediately.  So no, you aren’t a narcissist.  You are someone who did something that narcissists do but you only did so in order to survive a toxic environment.

Maybe you were married to a narcissist & did things sexually you aren’t proud of having done.  Again, you did this as a way to survive.  That doesn’t make you a bad person!

If you have experienced such things then please keep in mind although you feel ashamed of what you have done in the past, you aren’t a narcissist nor are you a bad person.  You did what you needed to do at the time to survive.  That is all.  If you had been in a normal relationship, you wouldn’t have done such things.  It’s ok to release that shame about your former behavior!  When you struggle with this, ask God to help you.  He will so let Him do it!  You don’t deserve to live under such a dark cloud of shame!

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“I Was Just Joking!”

One thing so many narcissists say is, “I was just joking.”  They say this after saying something exceedingly cruel to their victim.  Rather than admit they shouldn’t have said what they did, they claim they were just joking.  This comment is designed to take the focus off of the narcissist’s abusive actions.  It also is supposed to make the victim believe they were in the wrong for being upset over this simple “joke.”  If successful, the victim also will hesitate to say anything the next time the narcissist says something cruel, or better yet, won’t say anything at all.  This allows the narcissist to continue their abuse without consequences.

Proverbs 26:18-19 in the God’s Word translation of the Bible says, “Like a madman who shoots flaming arrows, arrows, and death, 19 so is the person who tricks his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”  These verses truly describe this scenario with narcissists!  Their “jokes” are deadly.  Maybe not to the body but to the mind.  Hearing “I was just joking” is gaslighting designed to make a victim believe what the narcissist wants them to believe.  Gaslighting can kill off the ability a person has to trust themselves, their feelings & their perceptions.  Once that is accomplished, the narcissist has free reign to control their victim however they would like. 

It also is “mad” if you will for any person to think that they can do something cruel then not only avoid consequences but also make someone else feel shame for being upset about the abusive action.  Once or twice maybe, but narcissists expect this tactic to work as many times as they need it to for as long as they need it to.  Sadly, often that is just what happens.  At least until the victim learns about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & the underhanded tactics narcissists use on their victims.

If you end up in a situation with a narcissist who claims they were “just joking”, please remember that they are NOT joking.  Whatever they said was not said innocently, lacking cruel intentions.  Everything narcissists say & do has a reason & a purpose.  They aren’t careless.  Quite the opposite.  Their words & deeds always are done with intent, & that intent is always to benefit the narcissist somehow.  Remember this & do not let them convince you otherwise! 

If you are unsure whether or not the narcissist truly was joking, then consider his or her behavior.  If someone makes a joke that is offensive, they will apologize.  They won’t make excuses for their poor taste or claim you are overreacting.  A person who feels genuine remorse will show it.  They also won’t repeat this behavior.  They will show more consideration for you in the future.

When in this situation, it is wise to choose your words carefully when you respond.  Showing any narcissist that you are upset by their actions just means they will do what they did again & again.  Don’t tell the narcissist they hurt you.  Instead, tell them something less emotional.  Some suggestions are…

  • I don’t see how you can find any humor in your words (or actions.)
  • You certainly have a strange sense of humor if you think that was funny.
  • You may find that funny, but I don’t.  I find your joke to be in bad taste.
  • Clearly we don’t share a similar sense of humor.

Comments like these don’t convey your hurt or anger at the narcissist, which provides them with no narcissistic supply.  They do, however, convey your disgust at their actions while also refusing to accept their claims of you being unreasonable for not believing their comment about just joking.  Comments like these can shut narcissists down, even if only temporarily.

Hopefully you won’t be faced with this situation, but if you are, now you have the knowledge & the tools to handle it in a way that is healthy for you.

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Narcissists Shame Victims For Having Emotions

When in a relationship with a narcissist, one thing becomes obvious very early on.  There is no room for any emotions in a relationship with a narcissist, unless those emotions either belong to or somehow benefit the narcissist.

Basically this boils down to the narcissist is allowed to have any emotions they want, including rage, & the only emotions victims are allowed to have are ones that provide narcissistic supply. 

Emotions that provide the most narcissistic supply are love, lust or admiration for the narcissist, & anger, sadness or hurt because of them.  Another way emotions can provide narcissistic supply is when a narcissist is controlling the emotions of another person.  If narcissists can make their victim fall in love with them, feel sad or angry, this is a huge power trip for them.  Simply put, any emotions that are directly related to the narcissist, whether the emotions are positive or negative, provide narcissistic supply.

If a victim feels anything that isn’t one of those emotions that provides narcissistic supply, or worse yet, takes the focus off the narcissist somehow, that victim can count on being mocked, invalidated, raged at, or ignored.  After all, according to narcissists, they are the only important ones in any relationship.  Only their feelings matter.  No one else’s feelings matter at all, no matter what, unless those feelings can provide supply.  The person feeling those inconvenient emotions must be shut down so they stop bothering the narcissist with their “petty” feelings. 

Over time, someone who is on the receiving end of this horrible & abusive behavior without knowing this narcissist is being abusive learns to distance themselves from their emotions.  They often scold or even shame themselves for having such feelings before stuffing them way down inside.  They also become numb to their emotions, & lose the ability to connect with them or even simply recognize what they are feeling.

If this has happened to you, know you’re not alone!  It happens all the time to victims of narcissistic abuse.  You can heal & regain a healthy emotional life!

Prayer is incredibly helpful in this area, as it is in all areas, so I find it is wise that no matter what you do, pray for God to give you help, wisdom, guidance, understanding & strength.

You’ll need to pay close attention to how you feel.  Even if you feel nothing, ask yourself is that true or is there something else under the surface?  It’s going to be hard at first, but in time, identifying your emotions will get easier.  Just keep hanging in there.

Writing things down may help too.  Sometimes writing has this ability to bring clarity in situations that don’t have any.  Seeing things in writing makes things more real somehow.

Very importantly, be patient with yourself.  It will take you time to get to a healthy place with your emotions.  In the meantime, you may find yourself feeling very moody or getting overly emotional about situations sometimes.  It happens & isn’t anything to worry about.  In time, your emotions will balance out again.  It’s kind of like a pendulum.  At first, your emotions go wildly from one direction to another, but in time, they settle down somewhere in the middle.

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About Scars

Most people are very uncomfortable around someone with obvious scars.  They stare at the person who has scars from surviving a house fire or they avoid even making simple eye contact with the person.  Some especially rude people ask this person what happened while wearing an expression of sheer disgust on their face.  Experiences like this make the person with the scars feel ashamed of how they look.  This sort of experience also can happen to someone who wears their scars inside as a result of surviving abuse.

So many people who live with ongoing mental health struggles such as Complex PTSD, PTSD, anxiety & depression as a result of being abused are shamed.  Some people mock these mental disorders while others deny their existence, which further contributes to the shame most abuse victims feel on some level for being abused.  This behavior is incredibly cruel but also foolish.

Everyone has scars to some degree.  Those scars shouldn’t be a source of shame.  Scars tell a story of things you have experienced.

Some scars show a woman has birthed healthy children.

Some scars show what happened to a soldier who bravely threw himself in harm’s way to protect his fellow soldiers.

Some scars show that a fireman was injured while rescuing someone from a burning building on the verge of collapse.

Some scars show the vet assistant’s job involves a lot more physical pain than most people think because scared animals scratch & bite.

Some scars even show that a person was abused by someone they thought they could trust, someone they thought loved them & would be good to them.

The one thing all scars have in common is that they tell a story of something that could have destroyed a person yet they didn’t.  They tell a story of survival, strength & bravery. 

If you have survived abuse & feel your story isn’t somehow good or worthy like the people in the examples I provided, I want you to know that you are wrong.  Having a mental disorder or even disorders doesn’t mean you are weak, stupid, or a failure.  Far from it!  It means you survived something that could have destroyed you.  Narcissists do their level best to destroy their victims in every possible way, yet you survived that!  Of course you have some issues as a result of the abuse, because that is only normal.  Rather than be ashamed of those issues, why not be proud of the fact you survived what many people don’t?  Then, as if surviving isn’t enough, here you are, not only coping with those issues but learning, growing, healing & helping others who have experienced what you have.  You should be so proud of yourself for how far you have come!! 

Rather than be ashamed of your scars & try to hide them, I would like to suggest that you to accept them without judgment as reminders of your strength & courage!  Hold your head high & be proud of the person you are!

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About Perspective Of Good & Bad Experiences

I love watching the old public tv show, “The Joy Of Painting” with Bob Ross.  He was an incredibly talented painter, & there is something so calming about watching him create his beautiful works of art.  I also especially enjoy the bits of wisdom he shared through each episode.  Not only bits of wisdom about painting, but about life in general. 

I was watching his show recently & he was painting a beautiful mountain scene in the fall.  During the course of painting, Mr. Ross said some interesting things.

The first thing he mentioned was as he was painting a lake.  To create dimension, he used dark & light colors together.  He said something like, “Don’t conceal all your dark areas or the painting will become flat.”  Immediately it made me think of the overly positive people of the world.  I don’t mean the average person who tries to be positive, but the ones who refuse to say anything negative or see anything but the good in people.  When people don’t admit that sometimes things are less than perfect & happy, they often are much the same way- flat.  They express only one mood- happy.  Honestly, I find this incredibly annoying to be around.  Not that I want to be around people who are always miserable either.  Somewhere in the middle is so much more comfortable & I think also healthy.  People who are real & honest are the most interesting people, in my opinion anyway, probably because they have many different aspects to their personalities & different moods.  They’re also more comfortable to be around, because you know they won’t judge you if you are anything less than completely positive & happy.  Many overly positive people also can come across very invalidating & shaming.  For example, if you’re laid up with a broken leg, it’s ok to be upset about that.  The unhealthy, overly positive type of person will say something like you should be glad it happened because now you have the time off to catch up on whatever hobbies you enjoy.  That comment can make you feel badly for being upset that you are in a miserable situation, even though you have every right to be upset.

Another interesting thing he mentioned was that you need darkness to show the light.  How true is that!  If you think of it in the natural realm, if you light up an average light bulb, it will look very different in the dark than it will on a sunny day.  In the dark, even a very dim bulb can look extremely bright.  Yet, in the sunlight, even the brightest bulb will appear pretty dim.  The contrast of dark & light always makes light appear brighter.

The same things happen with good & bad things in life.  The bad, or darker, things that happen make you appreciate the good, or lighter, things.  If you have only good things happen, you can count on not appreciating anything good that happens to you simply because that is the norm for you.  There is nothing to compare your experiences to that will make them appear worth appreciating.  If there is a balance of both good & bad things, however, the bad things truly will make you appreciate the good things.  The good things will look so much better in contrast to the bad, just like that dim light bulb will look especially bright in a very dark room.

It was kinda strange, realizing these things from watching a man paint a pretty landscape, but I hope you found them interesting like I did.  And, his show can be found on YouTube & I think it was Pluto TV where I found it.  Very worth checking out if you have the chance!

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How Narcissists Instill Toxic Shame In Their Children

Instilling a root of toxic shame in children is something narcissistic parents do amazingly well.  And they really have to if they wish their child to be compliant & easily manipulated.  A person who is ashamed of everything about themselves is very easy to control, because they assume someone else always knows better than they do.  When that someone else is a person in a position of authority like a parent & the victim is a young child who naturally looks to that parent for everything, it can be very easy for that parent to plant the seeds of toxic shame in that child.

On first glance, it may be somewhat hard to recognize exactly how a parent accomplishes this goal.  That is why we’re talking about it today, to help you recognize how your narcissistic parent created this root of toxic shame in you.

Narcissistic parents primarily instill toxic shame in their children by destroying their child’s self confidence.  This is done by telling the child they can’t do anything right, by doing things for the child & claiming it’s because that child can’t do tasks right, telling embarrassing stories about them that may or may not be true, exaggerating any faults the child has or once had, or reminding the child of the many times that parent rescued the child from his or her bad decisions even though those times may not have even happened.  Such actions can destroy a child’s self confidence & leave them to think they are so incapable that they need their parent to take care of them, even as adults.

When a narcissistic parent says, “I was just joking,” you can count on that being a way to instill shame in their child.  No, they weren’t just joking.  They were deliberately saying something cruel to their child as a way to build that toxic shame.  When the child showed hurt feelings, the parent said they were “just joking” as a way to make that child feel ashamed of being upset at the parent.  If the parent can convince the child that he or she was just joking & the child was wrong to be upset, the child will tolerate the cruel words said in this instance & in the future.  Sometimes the child in this situation will defend themselves to their parent.  Their parent uses their normal reaction to prove to the child how unstable the child is.  Narcissistic parents can use either reaction to create toxic shame in their child.

Blame shifting is another effective way to instill toxic shame in children.  I remember when my mother would say the most unimaginably cruel things to me, usually screaming them at me when we were alone, & blame me for making her say those things.  I felt terrible for making her behave so awfully.  That is typical.  Blame shifting enables narcissists to abuse their child without accountability.  The child learns to tolerate abuse because they are to blame.  If they would just act right, the parent wouldn’t be abusive.  What the child fails to realize is nothing they could do would make that happen, so when their parent is abusive repeatedly, they accept that it is their fault, which results in feeling toxic shame.

Narcissistic parents who play the victim instill toxic shame in their children.  Covert narcissistic parents in particular love the victim act, but overts aren’t above using it either.  Narcissistic parents will infuriate their children then use their children’s reaction to prove to the child just how mean & horrible that child is to their parent.  This naturally makes the child in this situation feel ashamed of themselves for being so terrible to their parent for no good reason.

Talking above or below the child’s level instills toxic shame.  Talking above a child makes the child feel stupid for not understanding what their parent is talking about.  Never mind that parent may not be as intelligent as the child & is talking in circles with confidence in their words to confuse the child.  Talking down to a child by treating a child or adult child as if they are still very young makes the child feel as if their parent is superior to them. 

If you have experienced these things from your narcissistic parent, hope is not lost.  You can heal!  It will take time & effort, but you can do it.  You need to identify your parent’s shaming voice & what it tells you, then counteract that voice with the truth.  Write things down if it helps you.  If you struggle with this, asking God to help you can do wonders to shut down the shaming voice & help you to see the truth! 

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About Emotional Intelligence Shaming

The definition of emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, express, & control one’s emotions.  It also includes the ability to handle relationships with empathy & fairness.  People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are often kind, fair, understanding & tolerant of the mistakes of others while not tolerant of abuse.

Narcissists hate emotionally intelligent people.  There are many various reasons they can feel this way.  Possibly the main reason is because narcissists are very emotionally unintelligent, & therefore can’t understand the emotionally intelligent so they hate them. Narcissists understanding the emotionally intelligent would be like the average person trying to understand how geniuses like Einstein thought.  It would be impossible… although the average person at least wouldn’t hate him for his intelligence.

Another & even more likely scenario is because emotionally intelligent people aren’t easily fooled or manipulated.  Narcissists want to fool & manipulate their victims so they can get whatever they like from them.  Emotionally intelligent people have good boundaries & they understand people.  This makes it nearly impossible to fool & manipulate them.  It may happen briefly, but it won’t happen long.  This makes them very unnerving for narcissists.

For the emotionally intelligent person in this situation, the narcissist & their flying monkeys will be incredibly shaming.  They come up with all kinds of ridiculous things to say to the victim in order to shame them into compliance.  In Christian circles, often the Bible is twisted around for the purpose of shaming the victim: “If you remember, the Bible says to honor your parents!”, “Wives should submit to their husbands!” & “Love covers a multitude of sins!” are some examples of Scriptures being used to shame victims into tolerating abuse.  When Scripture isn’t used, the ridiculousness doesn’t get any better.  People try to shame the victim by saying equally stupid comments such as, “You need to forgive & forget!” “That’s in the past…”,“That’s just how she is.”, “You need to understand her better.” & “But he was abused by his parents!!”

Comments like these can create a great deal of conflict & confusion in someone victimized by a narcissist.  A person who is emotionally intelligent however, isn’t conflicted & confused.  They recognize the bad behavior for what it is, & have no problem calling out the people who say these things.  

If this happens to you, a very helpful thing you can do is remember what type of person is saying these things.  You aren’t dealing with another emotionally intelligent person.  They don’t say such stupid, heartless comments.  You also can ask God to tell you the truth about this situation, & ask if they were right in what they said.

It also helps to look objectively at your situation & ask yourself does what this person said to you make any sense?  If you can’t seem to look at the situation objectively, I know a trick that can help.  Pretend a friend has told you of this same situation happening to them.  Doing this can help you feel disconnected enough to look more objectively at your situation.  

Please remember to be proud of being the emotionally intelligent person you are.  Narcissists & their flying monkeys only criticize it because it means you see through their abuse.  Don’t accept their shame! The shame belongs to them & you have no reason to carry it!

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Why Complements Are So Hard For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

When you grow up with a narcissistic parent, you can’t help but to have a root of shame.  This is because shame is a very powerful weapon to help a person control another, & narcissists are incredibly talented at using it to their best advantage.

One of the many problems that shame causes is the lack of ability to accept a complement in a normal, healthy way.  I admit to struggling with this to this day, although much less than I have in years prior.  In my younger years both as a child & younger adult, if someone paid me a complement, I would tell them why what they said was wrong.  Anyone could have done that thing I did, so it’s nothing special & I’m not smart.  Or, I’m not pretty because I’m fat & ugly.  You get the picture.  I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have behaved in much the same way.

While this may not appear be the biggest problem shame causes or even a huge interruption in life, it can be an incredibly annoying problem.  It also can compound the shame that is already there.  When you don’t know how to do something so simple as accepting a complement, it makes you feel stupid.  Most of us have been told by the narcissists in our lives how stupid we are, so feeling stupid validates their cruel criticism & adds to the shame they have made us feel.

So why do people do this?  Is it really that hard simply to say “Thank you” & go on with your day?  Honestly?  Yes.  Yes it is that hard for some people.  The reason is that complements go against our sense of self that we learned from the abusive people in our lives.  Parents in particular have a great deal of power over their children’s sense of self because they are there during their children’s formative years.  Anyway when a complement goes against that sense of self, & it triggers shame.  It goes against that sense of self, & causes a person to feel as if they have tricked someone into believing they are much better than they really are.

This is a very difficult habit to overcome, especially after a lifetime of functioning this way.  It is possible though.

As always, pray.  Ask God to tell you the truth about yourself & listen to what He has to say.  Let Him help build up your self esteem & to help you to see that the narcissist in your life lied to you.

Remember too, when people say something genuinely complementary, they aren’t doing so from a place of selfishness.  They are saying something they truly believe, something that comes from their heart.  You can trust what they say.

Consider what the person has said too.  Why do you think what they said is wrong?  Is that something you honestly believe yourself or is it because you were told to believe it by the narcissist in your life?  If it’s because of the narcissist, ask yourself why you would continue to believe something told to you by this person.  Narcissists lie & try to destroy their victims.  They don’t do constructive criticism, so what they said was clearly NOT meant to help you!

If you’re still struggling, ask God to tell you the truth about this complement.  Is it really true or are you whatever bad thing you’re thinking you are, then listen for His answer.  You are going to be very pleasantly surprised by what He has to say to you.

I know it can be hard, but please try to remember simply to say “Thank you” the next time someone complements you.  Countering their complement makes them feel uncomfortable & adds to your shame, so why do it?  Instead, simply thank the person who was kind enough to complement you.  The more you do that, the easier it gets to do.  And, the more you argue in favor of the complement & against the criticisms of the narcissist, the more accurately you will see yourself.  You might even start to like what you see!

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Some Information About Toxic Shame

Victims of narcissistic abuse struggle with shame, even when they don’t recognize that is the root of their struggle.  There are two main reasons for this…

Reason #1- Shame is an incredibly effective weapon which is why narcissists use it so freely.  It can reduce even the strongest of person to a mere shadow of their former self, which makes that person easy to manipulate.

Reason #2- Shame is also rather easy to put on someone.  Repeating the same message can drill it into someone’s mind.  Saying that message with certainty as overt narcissists do or with great disappointment as covert narcissists do helps drive the point home even faster.  During the shaming, victims seldom realize what is happening or later that shame is at the root of many of their problems.

If you have been in the position of having a narcissist put toxic shame on you, you’re not alone!  Not alone by a long shot!  And, for more good news, you can heal.  It will take some effort & time, but you can heal. 

As always, I recommend starting with prayer.  Ask God to show you what to do, to help you to heal & anything else that comes to mind.  He will be glad to help you however you need.

You need to acknowledge areas where you feel shame.  Write them down if it helps you.  I have comprised a list to help you get started.  You never need to carry shame for…

  • Someone else’s actions.
  • Things that were done to you.
  • For having different likes, dislikes, values, ideas, feelings than someone else.
  • Prejudices against you due to your race, gender, religious beliefs, etc.
  • For things your family members have done.
  • For having needs or wants.
  • For having boundaries.
  • For needing help or support.
  • For struggling.

Once you identify the areas where you carry shame, they need to be addressed.  One thing that helps me to do this is to think logically & unemotionally about the problem.  I look at it objectively & ask myself if I have anything to be ashamed of in this particular situation.  If not, then why do I feel shame for it?  Looking at it this way helps me to see the toxic shame that has been put on me for what it is.  That makes it easier to release.

I find it also helps to ask God what the truth is in the situation.  Do I deserve to feel the way I do?  Have I done anything that warrants me feeling this way?  What is the truth in this situation?  His words speak life so His answers are incredibly freeing & eye opening!

Another thing that has helped me heal from shame is to identify who precisely put the shame on me, then to envision giving it back to them.  I know this sounds odd at best, but it can be surprisingly helpful.  I have envisioned myself holding a box containing all the toxic shame that has been put on me.  The box is ugly & even moving, so it’s pretty disturbing.. just like toxic shame.  I hand that box to the person who put the shame on me & tell them this is yours.  I refuse to carry it for a moment longer.  Narcissists refuse to accept any responsibility for their actions, so even when I imagine this scenario, they avoid touching the box.  I say that is fine, then put the box at that person’s feet & walk away.  When I have mentioned this to other people, some have said they have done something similar. Some have imagined putting the box at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified instead.

Toxic shame is a terrible thing, I know, & no one should have to live with it.  I pray that what I have said can help you to heal from the damaging effects.  God bless you!

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Toxic Shame & Narcissistic Abuse

Toxic shame is a serious problem among those who have survived narcissistic abuse.  This type of shame goes far beyond thinking things like, “I shouldn’t have done that”.  Toxic shame thinking things like, “I’m a terrible person because I did that.”  In other words, toxic shame judges the person rather than the act.

The reason toxic shame is so common in those who have survived narcissistic abuse is because of the way narcissists abuse their victims.  Overt & covert narcissists may be quite different in many ways, but both types will not hesitate to use shame as a weapon.  They harshly judge & criticize their victims about everything.  Nothing is off limits!  The victim’s religious beliefs, morals, hobbies, likes, dislikes, taste in clothing, taste in cars, career choice, significant other, children, extended family, friends…. You name it.  Anything can be used.  They criticize the victim for caring about what they care about & not caring about the things they don’t care about incredibly harshly.  They imply or even say outright that something is very wrong with their victim for feeling as they do.  They must be stupid or even crazy.  My mother gave me a very good example of this a few years before she died.  I don’t like donuts, & apparently she was unaware of that.  One day she mentioned liking them & asked which kind I liked.  I said none.  She said, “You don’t like donuts?  What’s wrong with you?  You can’t be my daughter!”  At the time I was thinking, “I wish!” but I also realized what was happening.  I didn’t feel the same way she did, & rather than simply accepting we felt differently about something, she tried to shame me for being different.

The underlying message that narcissists give when shaming their victim is this:  “You must not make mistakes, have your own feelings, thoughts, needs or interests because that makes you unacceptable, unlovable, intolerable, stupid &/or crazy.”

Toxic shame is a very effective weapon for narcissists, especially when their victims are unaware of what exactly is happening.  Over time, the shame takes a deep root in a person.  At that point, it annihilates one’s self esteem because they believe they are seriously broken, flawed & unlovable.  It also destroys a person’s identity because the shaming made this person think they shouldn’t feel or believe as they do.  It can make them doubt that they really feel or believe that way.  Or, more commonly, they may purposely try to change because it seems better than dealing with the narcissist’s cruel shaming.

This toxic shame also can create false beliefs in a person, such as the person isn’t entitled to have any needs, wants or feelings.  When married to my ex husband, I repeatedly told myself I needed to ignore my needs, wants & feelings & focus on him.  I truly felt that I wasn’t entitled to have such things, only he was. 

An overdeveloped sense of responsibility can come from toxic shame as well.  A person can come to believe that they are responsible for others, including their emotional state.  This is especially true of the narcissist in their life.  If someone they know is sad, they should cheer that person up.  They should fix all of the problems in that person’s life.  They come to believe that their own life isn’t as important as this other person’s is.

There are ways to heal from toxic shame.  Prayer is always the best place to start, in my opinion.  Ask God to speak his truth to you & to heal you. 

Study about who you are as a child of God.  There is plenty in the Bible that proves you are worthy & wonderful.  I created a pretty long list of these Scriptures.  It’s available on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com on the Positive Affirmation link at the top of the page.

If you do these things, you won’t be set free of the bonds of toxic shame overnight but it will happen.  Don’t give up!  You deserve to be set free!

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Facts About Toxic Shame

Toxic shame can be one of the most damaging aspects of narcissistic abuse.  It tells a victim that something is deeply wrong with them, unlike guilt which tells a person that they did something wrong.  This shame obliterates self esteem & makes a victim easier to control.  This is why shame is such a common weapon of narcissists.  It’s extremely effective.

Narcissists instill toxic shame in their victims in various ways.  They let their victim know that their feelings, thoughts, & beliefs are wrong.  The victims likes & dislikes are also harshly judged & criticized.  In fact, everything about the victim is harshly judged & criticized.  His or her looks, actions, hopes, dreams & more.  Even if a victim tries to be what the narcissist wants, the narcissist will let the victim know it isn’t good enough.  In fact, nothing the victim does is good enough.  Instead of the victim seeing this as the narcissist is impossible to please, most victims take it as them being a failure for not pleasing their narcissist, which adds to their toxic shame.

Shame also forces victims to keep the abuse secret.  The victim is too embarrassed to admit that they tolerate such cruelty in some cases.  In others, the victim is ashamed of feeling angry or hurt by the abuse because the narcissist has convinced the victim that the victim is the reason for the abusive behavior or that it really isn’t abuse, the victim is being oversensitive.  Either way, the abuse being kept a secret is another benefit for the narcissist.  They can continue the abuse without fear of the victim exposing their heinous acts.

Even once a victim ends the relationship with a narcissist, toxic shame is still a part of that victim’s life until he or she realizes it & works on healing.  Adults with toxic shame end up in abusive relationships, whether they be romantic, friendships or coworkers.  They are depressed & seldom realize why.  They often have tremendous anxiety as well.  They live to please other people, & feel as though they fail even when told they have done a great job.  They have no self esteem.  They’re simply miserable!

One of the best ways to start to combat toxic shame is by talking about the abuse.  Being open about your experiences is a very effective way to release the power they have over you.  I’ve thought of it like this… if you remember anything about the old legends of vampires, when they were in the dark, they were incredibly powerful.  Nothing could stop them.  Yet, in the sunlight, they were powerless in the short time before they were destroyed.  Talking about the effects of the abuse is the same.  Being open about it releases the power it has over you.  In fact, it enables you to take back your power!  By talking about it, you’re basically telling your abuser, “This is my story too & I have every right to talk about it.  You can’t stop me anymore!”

By talking about the abuse, I’m not saying you need to talk about it non stop to everyone, write books or have a blog like mine.  You have to do whatever feels right to you.  It’s usually best to start out by praying about it.  Also, you can write in a journal.  From there, you can talk to a safe person such as a close friend or counselor.   Take baby steps, since talking about it can be pretty scary at first.  As you get more comfortable discussing it, maybe one day you will feel like creating a blog or writing a book about your story.  Only God knows what the best plan for you is.  Until such time as that plan is revealed though, start talking.  It will help you destroy that toxic shame & live a happier life!

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How To Handle People Who Shame Adult Children Of Narcissists For How They Treat Their Parents

I saw a comment on one of my old YouTube videos I thought was rather interesting.  The comment said that this person took care of her elderly abusive mother until the end of her life.  She suffered health problems that didn’t run in her family as a result of dealing with their “complicated” relationship, but she is glad she didn’t abandon her like I did my parents.  She went on to say that although she didn’t like my video, she said she’s glad she watched it anyway because she realized maybe she wasn’t such a terrible daughter like me after all. 

Rather than simply delete the stupid comment, I left it up.  It’s sort of a lesson within a lesson.  The original lesson being my video, & the secondary lesson is how to deal with people like this.

This sort of comment happens all the time with adult children of narcissistic parents.  The smug ignoramuses of the world think they have the right to judge how we treated our parents while they truly know nothing of our experiences. We need to be aware that this can happen & how to handle it.

To start with, I believe it’s very important to realize this is a trigger, which is why your reaction may be exceptionally emotional.  Mine certainly was.  I immediately felt rage & wanted to tell this person exactly what I thought of her judgmental words.  I took a few moments to calm down because I recognized my strong reaction was a trigger.  It reminded me of things my own family has said.  If a comment like this is said to you in person or on the phone, you don’t have the luxury of taking a few minutes to calm yourself before responding as I did.  Instead, take a deep breath & let it out slowly.  This will calm your mind & body long enough for you to formulate a good response rather than react.  Reactions in situations like this only cause more problems.  You need to have a calm & calculated response instead.

It’s also important to recognize that a person saying this sort of drivel has some ulterior motive.  Often they are flying monkeys, saying such idiocy to hurt you on behalf of the narcissist.  They may even know the truth but say this anyway simply to hurt you because you hurt the narcissist that they idolize.  In my case, I don’t know this person nor does this person know my parents.  Flying monkey obviously can’t be the case.  I have another idea of what her problem is though…

The commenter in my situation is, I believe, a covert narcissist or at the very least, has narcissistic tendencies.  Covert narcissists will do anything they can to get the word out that they are wonderful, caring, & even martyr like.  That is what this person did with me.  She came across as a loving, devoted daughter who was willing to sacrifice herself & even her health for her abusive mother.  She shamed me for not being a “good daughter” like she obviously was while at the same time building up her martyr image.  I’m glad this person was so obvious in displaying those narcissistic tendencies because that enabled me to know how to handle the situation immediately: provide no narcissistic supply.  I debated deleting the comment, but that would’ve validated to this person how mean & unreasonable I am.  It also would’ve enabled her to look like the victim of my meanness, & provided narcissistic supply.  Instead, I figured it best to respond simply, without emotion.  I said that everyone has to do what they feel is right in their situation.  I did in mine just as she did in hers.  I’m not judging her so please don’t judge mine & if she can’t refrain from that, please stay off my page.  Simple, to the point & calm. 

Whether the person in question in these situations is a narcissist, flying monkey or just some poorly informed person with good intentions, it’s never wise to defend your actions.  Somehow, that always seems to make things worse, so don’t do it!  If you must say something for whatever reason, keep your comments unemotional & logical.  State only the facts, not how you felt.  And, ask logical questions like, “I don’t understand how you think me doing what you think I should makes any sense.  Why should I subject myself to being treated so poorly?”

Lastly, always remember that God is there for you.  If you don’t know what to do, ask Him for help.  Even a prayer as simple as “Please help me!” can work wonders! As the adult child of a narcissistic parent, you need to know how to handle yourself when these situations arise & unfortunately, they will arise.  I hope my situation has given you ideas on how to do that when the time comes. 

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Some Victim Shaming Comments

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Some Victim Shaming Comments

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Victim Shaming Comments

Victim shaming is a big problem in society these days.  It happens when someone says something that makes a victim feel shame for whatever abuse was perpetrated against them or makes the victim feel to blame for what happened.

Some statements are especially common, & those will be addressed in this post.

“I know someone who had that happen to them, but it was way worse.”  Trauma isn’t a contest.  Trauma hurts, period, & there is no reason to compare one person’s traumatic experience to another’s.  This sort of statement does nothing good.  It only minimizes & invalidates the victim’s pain.

“Your abuser has had a rough life!  You should help him/her.”  A history of being abused or through trauma is NOT an excuse to abuse other people.  Yes, people who have been abused & traumatized don’t always act like functional people.  However, the vast majority also aren’t abusive.  I think this is because they know how badly it hurts to be abused, & they won’t want to inflict that kind of pain on others.

“You know what the problem is?  You weren’t nice enough.  You didn’t kill him/her with kindness.”  Killing someone with kindness can help in some situations.  It can help a person see that their behavior is wrong.  They feel convicted & change.  When dealing with a narcissist or other personality disordered individual though?  Being overly kind is seen as a green light to abuse & take advantage of a victim more & more.

“I don’t know why you two just couldn’t get along.”  This phrase puts the blame for the abuse on both people in the relationship, which makes a victim feel at least partly responsible for the abuser’s behavior.  This is totally unfair!  The only person responsible for the abuser’s behavior is the abuser, period, end of story!

“Stop being a victim!”  While this may sound empowering at first, it’s also a way to stop a victim from discussing their experience & try to get the victim to get over their experience.  There is absolutely no shame in being the victim of abuse.  None!  There is also no shame in the fact it takes time to heal from abuse.  In many cases, it takes a lifetime.  That doesn’t make a person weak or a failure!

“You need to forgive/let this go.  You’ve been holding onto this for too long!”  I am a huge proponent of forgiveness.  Holding onto anger isn’t good for your physical or mental health.  That being said, you can’t let go of all anger just because someone tells you to!  Doing so is a process.  I firmly believe in forgiving immediately in the sense you don’t expect your abuser to try to make it up to you for what they have done.  In that sense, it’s easy to forgive because you know an abuser can’t truly make everything ok for what they have done.  Letting go of your anger, however, isn’t so easy.  That takes a lot of time & actually feeling the anger  as a way to get it out of you.  There is no time limit on that.

“That happened in the past.. why are you still holding onto this?”  This statement is beyond foolish.  When something extreme happens to a person, either good or bad, they can’t just “shake it off”!  Not to mention, when a person is traumatized, there is an excellent chance of that person developing PTSD or C-PTSD if the trauma is ongoing.  A hallmark of both disorders is not being able to let go of trauma, because it returns often as intrusive thoughts, flashbacks & nightmares.

When people say statements like these to you (& they will at some point), please remember, these statements are not about you.  They are about someone who truly has no concept of surviving abuse & trauma in a healthy way.  That person may have been through abuse too, but lacks the strength to face their pain.  If they can make others not face theirs as well, it makes them feel more normal.

Many people also like to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world.  If they can stop you from discussing your traumatic experiences, they can resume thinking that the world is a happy place at all times.

Rarely when people are insensitive & invalidating is the behavior about the person on the receiving end of their comments, but instead is about the person saying such things.  If you can remember that, it will help you not to be devastated by their cruel comments.

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Ways Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse

Shame is a powerful weapon in the hands of an abuser.  It can cause a person to rely on their abuser for pretty much any information & make them easy to control by causing them to think they need someone smarter to tell them what to do.  Narcissists know this, & they have fine tuned many very effective ways to use shame to abuse their victims.

Narcissists will destroy a person’s self esteem in order to create toxic shame in a victim.  They point out a person’s flaws (real or imagined) constantly & tell embarrassing stories about them.  This keeps a victim on their toes, trying to be better, to please the narcissist, & to avoid doing embarrassing things that the narcissist will use to embarrass the victim with at any given time.

Narcissists also will invalidate a victim.  If they tell an embarrassing story, for example, & the victim becomes rightly upset, the narcissist will say things like, “I was just joking.”  “You can’t even take a joke!”  My narcissistic mother did this one constantly, & when I got upset, would tell me, “There’s something wrong with you.  You shouldn’t feel that way!  That was funny!”

Narcissists also love to reinvent the past.  They claim to be responsible for their victim’s successes, claim the successes weren’t all that great or even deny they happened.  Regarding their abuse, they will claim the abuse never happened or if it did, it wasn’t as bad as the victim claims or the victim made the narcissist do it.

Narcissists will twist a situation around to make themselves look like the victim rather than the abuser.  They do this in two ways.  They will tell others about how angry their victim is, how he or she yells at them, while leaving out the things they did that got the victim to that state.  They also will use a victim’s own valid reactions to their abuse to prove to the victim that the victim is abusive &/or is mentally unstable.

Narcissists never speak to their victims as if the victim is their equal.  Sometimes they will talk down to their victim, in particular if the victim in question is their child.  They want to maintain that adult/child relationship in order to make their child feel inferior to them, therefore making them easier to control.

Other narcissists will talk in circles, use big words, speak with authority & basically try to talk above their victim, which makes even the most intelligent victim feel stupid.  They may change their body language or physical position so they literally can look down at their victim.

If the narcissist’s victim has any sort of religious faith, the narcissist will not hesitate to use their beliefs to shame the victim.  Many tell their victims things like they are going to hell because of how they treat the narcissist, or they aren’t honoring their parent.  They let their victims know they are a total failure in every way, including their religious beliefs.

Narcissists view everything as a competition, & they will use comparisons to shame their victims.  If a narcissist & their victim have something in common, you can guarantee the narcissist will make sure the victim knows the narcissist does it better or has a better one or is more successful at it.  Whatever “it” is, the narcissist is the master, the victim the failure, according to the narcissist.

When a narcissist behaves in these ways towards you, keep in mind what is really happening!  You have no reason to be ashamed of yourself, no matter what the narcissist is saying.  He or she is only trying  to make you feel that way in order to abuse & manipulate you.  Like everything when it comes to narcissists, it’s all about the narcissist, & has nothing to do with you.  Never forget that!

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Stop Beating Yourself Up For Making Mistakes

When you have survived narcissistic abuse, escaped it & began to heal, you will think a LOT.  You’ll think about the things you endured, & wonder how you survived.  You’ll also think about things you did while in the midst of the abuse or even after you first escaped it.  This can be extremely difficult, because chances are, you’ve done many things you aren’t proud of.

That is certainly something I’ve experienced.  When I look back at my young adult life, it’s just embarrassing.  I met my  ex husband just before I turned 17.  He was very pushy about getting me to date him, & proposed 3 months after we met.  I went along with whatever he wanted, against my mother’s demands, because I didn’t think any other guy would ever want me.  This desperation is so embarrassing now.  I didn’t even find him physically attractive- I just figured I should grab him since no one else would want me.  I sneaked around to be with him even knowing my mother most likely would find out & scream at me about it as she always did.  I later married him even though everything in me was saying it was a huge mistake & I shouldn’t marry him.

Looking back at that situation is embarrassing.  Humiliating, really.  I have a hard time believing now that I’m that same person.

Do you have a situation like that in your life, Dear Reader?  I’m guessing you do.  I think we all do.  I want to tell you today that you have nothing to be ashamed of!

Growing up with a narcissistic parent (or two), you learn a lot of terribly dysfunctional beliefs.  Those beliefs will play a part in the things you do until you learn that they are bad, & you replace them with healthy beliefs.  This means you’re going to do some things you aren’t necessarily proud of, like me getting involved with my ex husband.

When you remember those times, rather than shaming yourself, think about who you were at that time.  You were a dysfunctional, abused person.  Naturally you’d make bad choices.  How could you not if you didn’t know better?

It’s OK that you made mistakes.  We all do, especially when given such a horrible, dysfunctional start in life.  Forgive yourself!  Stop beating yourself up!  How could you expect to make wiser choices when you simply didn’t know any better?

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How Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse, part 1

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How To Deal With Guilt Trips

 

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Some Ways Narcissists Use Shame

Narcissists love using shame as a weapon.  Not only does it make them feel superior, but it takes attention off of their bad behavior while simultaneously discrediting their victim.  It also makes a victim easy to control.  Shame is a very effective weapon.

 

There are various ways narcissists use shame.

Narcissists reinvent the past.  They tell stories differently than they actually happened.  They either claim to be the reason someone succeeded or twist the story so the other person looks stupid, like a failure, etc.  Since narcissists speak with such certainty, this can make a victim doubt their own memories & feel ashamed for something they didn’t even do.

 

They tell embarrassing stories about their victim.  Narcissistic parents in particular seem to love this one.  They tell stories that the victim would rather people don’t know about.  My mother used this one with me, telling stories (usually in front of other people) of when I was a child & did stupid things.  When I said I didn’t want her discussing these stories, she would shame me for how I felt, saying I was wrong & shouldn’t feel the way I did.  It took a long time to realize that I wasn’t wrong- my feelings were just & this was nothing but an attempt on her part to make me feel shame.

 

Playing the role of victim.  No matter what a narcissist does to a victim, they have the amazing ability to spin the situation in their favor, so they look like the victim, & the real victim is abusive.  This can create shame in a victim very easily unless the victim is well aware of this game.

 

Religion can become a weapon.  No true narcissist can be a Christian at the same time.  Narcissism is diametrically opposed to the beliefs of Christianity.  However, that doesn’t mean a narcissist won’t use Christianity to shame victims.  Growing up, my mother told me I was going to hell for how badly I treated her.   Later in life, a flying monkey said I was a bad Christian for treating my parents as I do & claiming to be a Christian.  Thankfully, I also have a good enough relationship with God to know what they said was utter nonsense.  If I didn’t, that comment would have caused a great deal of hurt & doubting my salvation!

 

“I was only joking!”  “You’re too sensitive!”  Nasty comments said to a victim followed by, “I was just kidding!”  “Can’t you take a joke?”  “You’re so sensitive!”  & the like are also designed to make a victim feel ashamed for being righteously angry that they were offended by the narcissist’s cruel words.  The goal is to make you feel ashamed of yourself for not realizing the narcissist was only kidding (which they weren’t) or being so sensitive you were offended by their “joke.”  Don’t fall for it.  You aren’t wrong!

 

Comparisons.  If you & the narcissist have done similar things, you can guarantee the narcissist has done it better, at least if you listen to her side of the story.  Everything with narcissists is a pissing contest (sorry to be crude- that’s the best term I know of to describe this situation).  If you found a cure for cancer, they found it first, but didn’t want to brag like you’re doing!  See what I mean?  If they can make you feel badly for not being as good or as talented as them, that sows a seed for shame in you.

 

Talking down to others.  Even a narcissist that isn’t overly intelligent can make a very intelligent victim feel stupid, & ashamed of being so stupid.  Narcissists love to talk in circles & use big words (often that they don’t know the proper definition of & not in context).  If you leave a conversation with a narcissist & your head is swimming, it’s not because you’re stupid.  It’s because narcissists are masters of talking in circles, which is also known as word salad.

 

Acting as if the narcissist is the adult, the victim the child.  This is very common among narcissistic parents.  They’re all about keeping their children, children, no matter their child’s age.  A person who thinks they’re immature & not wise like the narcissist is very easy to control.  Narcissistic parents may continue using a tone of voice that intimidated their children when they were growing up well into that child’s adulthood.  They may call victims immature or mock them with phrases like, “You’re such a baby/child!”  “You’re so immature!”  “You need to grow up!”

 

Remember this post if you’re faced with these behaviors.  You do NOT need to feel shame!  No one should put that on you, but narcissists will try to.  If they do, never accept it.  Ask God to tell you the truth.  Also, look at your situation objectively & you will realize the truth.  Write about it in a journal, too, since writing often gives a great deal of clarity that speaking can’t.  You can deal with this unhealthy behavior in a healthy way!

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Ways Narcissists Silence Their Victims

Silence is one of any narcissist’s best weapons.  They do NOT want their victims to talk to anyone about what the narcissist is doing, nor do they want their victim to feel safe enough to confront them on their abusive behavior.  To prevent those things from happening, they use various ways to silence victims.

 

An extremely common tactic narcissists use is gaslighting.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that something happened differently than they remember or it didn’t even happen in the first place, the victim won’t discuss the event.  Why would they?  Convincing victims that they don’t remember things right or are making up some wild stories will keep them quiet.  They feel crazy enough- why should they say things that would make them look crazy too?

 

Shaming is an effective weapon to create silence as well.  If a narcissist can convince a victim that the victim is a terrible person, that victim will be quiet.  That person feels as if she or he is stupid or crazy or even unworthy to “burden” other people.  A person who carries shame is a quiet person.  I know- I have been there.  Granted, I’m quiet by nature but prior to learning about shame, it was much worse.  For example, I felt there was something deeply wrong with me for being upset about the terrible things my ex did to me, so I kept most things to myself.  As a result, when we separated, no one cared to hear my side- everyone took his side with only a couple of exceptions.  They never heard me complain before, so they figured everything must have been OK between us.

 

Another facet of shaming is when a narcissist is confronted about their behavior & states that behavior wouldn’t upset her.  She has no idea why you’re upset. My mother did this one to me regarding her nastiness about one of my cats.  Chester is a big cat, but he’s very muscular  My mother called him fat more times than I can count.  I’d told her to stop being so mean repeatedly with no results.  Eventually I complained about it to my father, who told her what I said.  She called me & said she had no idea why I’d be upset.  She actually said, “If someone called me fat, I’d just tell them they were right.  I certainly wouldn’t be angry about it!”  I knew immediately that statement was supposed to make me feel shame for being angry with her.  It didn’t work.  It just made me angry she would try such a ridiculous tactic.

 

Projection is also effective for silencing a victim.  When a narcissist accuses a victim of some terrible behavior, it usually stuns a person.  Most people will assume the narcissist is right, examine their behavior & try to make improvements, at least until they learn about projection & understand what is being done to them.

 

Triangulation is another effective way narcissists silence victims.  If a narcissist can convince their victim that other people would think, feel or respond as the narcissist, that makes the victim feel isolated.  The victim may think he or she is crazy, stupid, oversensitive & a host of other awful things.  Who would want to talk when they feel that way?

 

Invalidation is another excellent way to silence a victim.  Invalidation basically says that every single thing about you is wrong, flawed & even crazy.  It makes a person feel as if they cannot trust their own thoughts, feelings or perceptions.  No one who feels that messed up is going to feel able to confront a narcissist or tell others that they are being abused.  In fact, invalidation makes people feel as if they are NOT being abused, & they are completely wrong & crazy for thinking such a thing in the first place.

 

Creating anxiety & fear in a victim also makes the person quiet.  If a victim is afraid of another, that victim isn’t going to want to do anything that may provoke that person’s anger.  In fact, they will do anything to avoid that anger.  That often includes refusing to confront their abuser or tell anyone about the abuse.  After all, what if the person they tell confronts the abuser?  It’s much safer to keep the abuse a secret.

 

Narcissists also love to wear a person down to make them easier to force into silence.  They can do this by sleep deprivation if they live with a victim or by harassment if not.  They constantly call, email or text.  The sheer volume of calls, emails & texts can wear a person down.  It takes a great deal of strength to ignore your phone’s constant ringing or alerts to receiving new emails & texts.  It probably doesn’t sound so bad, but I can tell you, being on the receiving end of it, it really is stressful & exhausting!

 

No one can forget a narcissistic rage.   These happen when a narcissist receives a narcissistic injury of some sort, which basically is a blow to their self-esteem.  Talking to others about the narcissist’s abusive ways or confronting a narcissist about them is definitely a narcissistic injury & will result in a rage.  The rage of an overt narcissist is usually loud & vicious.  Name calling & cursing aren’t above them.  The rage of a covert narcissist is much quieter, & it involves the silent treatment & scathing criticisms to make you feel intense guilt.  A person would do about anything to avoid this rage, & that includes suffering in silence, not telling anyone about the abuse they endure or confronting the narcissist about it.

 

Diversion is another excellent way to silence victims.  Anyone who has confronted a narcissist has no doubt seen this in action.  The conversation starts out with a victim stating that they have a problem with the narcissist’s behavior, & it ends up discussing something entirely different.  Often, it ends up with the narcissist accusing the victim of some awful or even abusive behavior, & the victim apologizing.  The original topic was abandoned, & no resolution was made.  Sometimes diversion isn’t so obvious though.  Sometimes, the narcissist simply changes the subject & continues to ramble on & on, leaving the victim so frustrated that they give up.

 

Lastly smear campaigns are very commonly used. If a narcissist can’t stop you from confronting them or telling others what they have done to you, they will not hesitate to tell everyone they meet what a terrible person you are. They’ll have plenty of evidence to prove their point, too, even if they have to lie about it. If they can discredit you, they know others won’t believe what you say. It also is revenge. You made them look bad, so they are returning the favor.

When these things happen, remember that these are simply tactics that are supposed to silence you.  Don’t give in!  You have every right to talk to whoever about whatever you want.  It’s your life, the narcissist is only a part of it.  If that person wanted you to speak kinder about or to her, she should behave better.

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Give Back To The Narcissist The Bad Things They Gave To You

Narcissists love to put their issues on other people rather than face them.  Shame is a big one- any shame a narcissistic parent feels is going to be thrust upon their child, for example.

 

After a lifetime of not even realizing I was carrying around my mother’s shame, it finally hit me  in 2015.  As I was recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning, I felt horrible for asking my husband to help me in any way.  I’d nearly died for pity’s sake!  Carbon monoxide poisoning has a high fatality rate & also has a very long recovery time (you do the bulk of your healing 9-12 months after poisoning) during which chances are very good you won’t heal completely.  Yet in spite of all of this, I felt horrible for asking my husband for any help.  After praying about it, God showed me this was all about shame.  It’s very common for those abused as children to experience toxic shame, & I was no exception.

 

One way God showed me to deal with this shame is to imagine myself holding a big box containing shame, handing it off to my mother while telling her “I refuse to carry this for you a moment longer”, then walking away.

 

It sounds silly, but this was very helpful for me.  Even though I can’t physically give my mother back her shame that she’s put on me, by imagining returning it to her, at least I was able to stop carrying it somehow.  It’d be the same as a real scenario if she wouldn’t hold the box.  If I placed it at her feet, I wouldn’t be carrying it any longer.  What she would do at that point would have no effect on that fact.

 

I can’t say I am 100% cured of this toxic shame, but it drastically improved my problem. I no longer feel incredibly guilty about writing about my experiences or asking my husband for things (either stuff or help), & these used to be very big issues for me.  I still fight the guilt with my husband sometimes, but that’s better than every single time.

 

Have you ever tried something like this, Dear Reader?  It doesn’t have to be shame.. it can be anything your narcissistic parent put on you- self-hatred, eating disorders, believing you’re ugly or stupid.  Obviously I can’t guarantee it’ll cure you immediately, but I do believe it’d help you as it helped me.  It’s worth a try, right?

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Are You Ashamed Of Past Mistakes?

Many adult children of narcissistic parents battle with shame.  These awful parents raise their children to be full of shame about everything about themselves.  Unfortunately this carries well into adulthood.

 

One area many adult children of narcissistic parents feel tremendous shame in is their younger days, when they may have done unwise things such as marry a narcissist.  I understand, as when I look back, I have a hard time believing I did such stupid things once.

 

The thing that we all need to remember though is the things we did that we aren’t proud of were done by someone who didn’t know any better.  Someone who was still in the fog of narcissistic abuse, & therefore unable to make good, healthy decisions.  How could anyone make good, healthy decisions when they firmly believe they are stupid, unlovable, worthless & more?  It’s impossible!

 

I look back at when I met then later married my ex husband & am amazed at myself.  He was nothing like the kind of man I find attractive at all.  He was narcissistic even at age 16 when we first met.  Yet, I stood up to my mother for him repeatedly, even as terrified of her as I was, & took repeated emotional beatings from her because of him.  Why??  He wasn’t worth it!  He wasn’t good to me.  But, at first he told me the things I was starved to hear, such as I was smart & beautiful.  It’s embarrassing how desperate I was for such things, & what I did to get them.  However, I know now my awful behavior wasn’t because I was a bad person or stupid or any of the other things my mother said I was.  It was because I had no self-esteem because of being subjected to daily narcissistic abuse.

 

When you look back over your life & feel ashamed of the things you have done, Dear Reader, please remember that you too have nothing to be ashamed of!   Narcissistic abuse does terrible things to people, especially when they are children & the narcissist in question is a parent.  It causes those children to make bad choices & do foolish things.  That is NOT the fault of the children.  Forgive yourself for the things you did.  It’s OK that you made some mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes, especially when raised by narcissistic parents.  The important thing is  now you know better.

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When People Tell You What To Feel & How To Heal

From the narcissists’ flying monkeys to even the most well meaning of people, people like to tell victims of narcissistic abuse how to feel.

 

  • “You’re too negative.  You need to be more positive.”
  • “You need to let that go/get over it.”
  • “Aren’t you over that yet?”
  • “You need to forgive & forget.”
  • “You shouldn’t have let them abuse you.”
  • “You need to stop thinking about it.”
  • “You haven’t prayed enough.”

 

Early in healing, such statements add to the toxic shame you already feel stemming from the abuse.  You feel ashamed of yourself for not being over it, not forgiving your abuser & forgetting their awful deeds or being so “negative.”

 

Later in your healing, after you’ve gained some wisdom & experience, such comments really just get under your skin.  You know that there is no way to “just get over” the horrible things that have been done to you.  It takes a great deal of prayer & work to heal, & even then, you may never be “over” the abuse you endured.  If you live with PTSD/C-PTSD, you live with flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression & more every single day because of the abuse.  As long as you have the disorder, you are forced to live with the abuse every day, like it or not.  And forgive & forget??  HA.  Even if you are able to forgive your abuser, you don’t forget abusive things done to you.  It also makes you angry people tell you how to heal, as if they know what you need better than you do.  So presumptuous & arrogant!

 

No one has the right to tell you how to feel or how you need to work on your healing.  You know what you need more than anyone else.  Besides, what may have worked for them doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you too.  Different things work for different people.

 

No one has the right to blame you for being abused, saying things like “you allowed the abuse.”  No, you didn’t.  Abusers abuse, period.  No matter what you did or didn’t do, the abuser planned to abuse you & did so, all of his or her own free will.

 

No matter what happened to your abuser, that does NOT give him or her the right to abuse you.  Many people who grew up in a toxic environment became good, caring people as adults.  Anyone that tries to excuse their abusive behavior because they had a bad childhood or other lame excuses is toxic.  Avoid these people as much as possible!  If you can’t avoid them entirely, at the very least have strong boundaries when you’re with them & refuse to discuss the abuse you endured.

 

You have the right to protect & care for your physical & mental health however works best for you.

 

You have the right to have & enforce healthy boundaries by whatever means work for you.

 

You have the right to limit or end contact with people who are detrimental to your healing, no matter if those people are friends or even family.

 

You have the right (& obligation) to take care of yourself, to rest on bad days, to cry when you’re sad, etc.

 

You have the right to feel whatever you feel.  If you’re angry, you have the right to that anger.  If you’re sad, you have the right to those tears.  Feel the emotions so you can process them & heal, no matter who says you’re wrong for feeling such things.

 

You have the right to decide with who to share details of the abuse.   You don’t have to share your story with everyone.  Even if someone asks you what happened, you don’t have to tell them if you don’t feel comfortable with it.  Besides, sharing with just anyone isn’t wise, since some people will use the information to hurt you.

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Narcissists & Their Dysfunctional Coping Skills

Narcissists have incredibly dysfunctional coping skills.  Unfortunately this means that their pain can overflow onto those around them.

 

When my mother was still speaking to me, for about 2 years or so, she kept telling me what a great mother she was to me.  She bragged about forcing me to stand up to a bully in seventh grade (she didn’t), taking me to the doctor when I sprained my foot in ninth grade (as she should have) & other ridiculous things.  She also wanted me to validate her delusions, agreeing with how great a mother she was to me.

 

In talking with others who have a narcissistic parent or two, I have learned this behavior is very common.  It’s also very painful.

 

For me, this used to make me so incredibly angry.  How dare she want me to enforce her delusions & pretend I was never abused!   I felt invalidated, as if she was pretending the abuse she put me through never happened.

 

God showed me something though.  My mother doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, so this is what she does.  She knows what she did to me is wrong, but rather than admit that, she goes into denial.  She wants to convince herself she was a great mother, even going as far as to try to force me to agree with her.

 

As ridiculous & dysfunctional as this is, it is her choice & her right.  There is no law against having dysfunctional coping skills.  That being said, that choice can be respected while not reinforced.

 

There is no good reason to reinforce such delusions.  It only allows the person to continue in their dysfunction while invalidating your own painful experiences.  When approached by a narcissistic parent in this situation, I have found it best to remain as neutral & quiet as possible or to change the subject.

 

Also never forget- this is the narcissist’s coping skill.   It has nothing to do with you even though it feels like it does.  It just shows how dysfunctional she is.  Remembering that helps you not to take the comments so personally & to put the responsibility right back onto the narcissist.  This is all about her dysfunction & lack of coping skills- all the responsibility & baggage belongs squarely on her shoulders, period, so leave it there!  Don’t take it on yourself- you deserve so much better than to carry her issues & shame.

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