Tag Archives: survival

On Survival Mode

In the past several months since my parents have stopped speaking to me, I’ve gained quite an education.

 

One thing I’ve learned is about survival mode.  Survival mode is a way of behaving in an abusive situation.  Basically, your emotions are shut off & you do whatever you need to in order to get through the awful situation.  Barely speaking so as not to say something that upsets your abuser, for example.

 

I’ve learned that survival mode doesn’t necessarily end when the relationship ends.  In my case, my parents didn’t say outright that they never wanted to speak to me again- they just stopped calling me.  I think that is why I stayed in survival mode for months after our last conversations, I didn’t know for sure if they’d call or not.  When I realized months had passed since I’ve heard from them (11 for my mother, 4 for my father to date- not her longest silent treatment, but it is his) only then did survival mode end.  This happened with my in-laws too.  I stopped speaking to them in 2002, but survival mode didn’t end for months after.

 

I think this means that the brain wants to be completely, 110% sure that the abusers are gone before it can relax.  Survival mode is all about protecting you, so it makes sense the brain would want to be absolutely certain all danger is gone before it exits survival mode.

 

I’ve also learned that once survival mode is gone, emotions come out.  Naturally when you’re in survival mode, your emotions get put on the back burner because you’re focused only on surviving.  Once the danger is gone, emotions come to the surface, including ones that have been suppressed for a long time.  It can feel overwhelming especially when you haven’t dealt with them for a very long time.  However, I firmly believe it’s necessary to deal with them.

 

Without the burden of focusing on survival, I feel like I’m noticing every little thing.  Unfortunately, part of that includes triggers.  They seem to happen constantly.  The other day, I saw a TV show where this lady’s son in-law cheated on her daughter.  Although the daughter forgave him & he promised to mend his ways, the mother still was very upset.  When she told her son in-law that there is no pain worse than watching your child suffer & you not being able to fix it, I flashed back to the fight I had with my parents last May.  My father changed the subject to really odd topics to deflect my yelling at him.  My mother sighed an obviously bored sigh as I cried & yelled at her until I gave up & told her if she had anything to say before I hang up, do it now.  Her chance to apologize turned into her whining about having vertigo (for the record, I have it too- yes, it sucks, but you’d think when your normally calm, rational daughter is that upset, that might just take priority..).  I realized that caring parent isn’t something I’ll ever have, & it hurt me enough to make me burst into tears, something I rarely do.

 

In order to handle these experiences, I rely on God a LOT.  I tell Him how I feel & He reassures me, comforts me & explains what’s happening.  He also shows me things that help.  For example, I can be scrolling through Facebook when a meme or article that pertains to my situation pops up, & the information in it is very helpful to me.

 

I also write in my journal- seeing things written out is a good way to gain clarity.  Not sure why that is, but it’s true.  Seeing events written out as well as my feelings has helped me to see the situation clearer, instead of through the eyes of someone whose views are skewed hurt by narcissistic abuse.

 

Talking about things with a safe person is helpful too.  I’ve told my husband some of what’s been going on.  Sometimes, he gets angry or looks completely shocked by things I’ve shared about my parents.  That lets me know it’s not normal!  When you grow up with narcissists, abuse & bizarre is your normal.  Even as an adult, it can be hard to let go of that & embrace the healthy & good things.  Having someone you love & trust say that certain things were wrong or bizarre is helpful in letting go of those bad beliefs.

 

Dear Reader, if you too have been in survival mode for a long time, these things may happen with you too.  Or maybe they’re happening already.  If so, please rest assured that you are fine!  It may not feel that way but you are.  Ending survival mode is truly a good thing.  Your mind & body finally can relax, & you can deal with those long buried emotions.

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Mother’s Day Is Coming

Good afternoon, Dear Readers.

I turned on my television today, & in a very short span of time, saw more ads regarding Mother’s Day than I can remember.  I quickly turned it back off rather than listen to the drivel about how wonderful all mothers are, & how much they deserve jewelry & flowers on May 11th. 

Since I’m hardly the only daughter of a narcissistic mother, I thought I’d write about what Mother’s Day can mean to us.

It is the day we dread most of the year, isn’t it?  It certainly is for me.  It’s so hard to want to celebrate your mother when she has done her best to make your life a living hell ever since you were born.  Plus, you know she expects admiration, gifts & cards.  Not fun.  Especially when it seems like everyone thinks you should fawn all over your mother, no matter how she treats you.

Society can be so dysfunctional.

I know all too well that commandment that says we should honor our parents.  However, I don’t believe it’s honorable to shower any abuser, even a parent, with insincere praise & gifts.  Honoring someone God’s way means showing them respect & courtesy, not being fake.  Besides, such a demonstration rewards bad behavior.  It shows your mother she can do anything to you that she wants to do, & you still will pamper her.  How is that honorable?

So what is a good, honorable way to handle such a difficult day with your narcissistic, abusive mother?  To start with, pray.  Ask God what He wants you to do, & how to handle Mother’s Day.  He will give you the best advice you can ask for.  Also, follow what you feel in your heart that you’re capable of doing.  If it isn’t much, don’t feel bad!  Any abusive mother is blessed if her adult child has any relationship with her at all, because even if she has changed for the better, child abuse causes pain & scars that last a lifetime.  By having a relationship with your narcissistic  mother, you’re showing what a kind, good person you are.

Whatever you do for your mother, do it with excellence.  I’m not saying buy her a huge diamond ring when you barely can pay rent.  What I mean is do your best even if it’s something small.  Every year, I mail my mother the nicest, prettiest card I can find.  I know she takes the messages to heart in cards, so I find the prettiest one I can find, with a picture I know she’ll like, & the simplest verse.  Something like, “Happy Mother’s Day!  Enjoy!”  I’m not above finding a pretty, blank on the inside card if I can’t find one that is simple enough for my liking.  I can’t feel right about giving my mother some fake, “You’re the best mom ever!” kind of card that I don’t mean.  But, I’m fine with a pretty card wishing her a nice Mother’s Day.  And, she seems satisfied with the cards.  It works for us both.

Granted, what I do for my mother isn’t much compared to others, but I’m honestly not capable of doing more after a lifetime of abuse.  I believe God prefers His children to be sincere rather than phoney.  You need to remember that what you do to genuinely bless your mother, on Mother’s Day & every day, will give you peace, & God will be proud of you.

Also, don’t forget to be good to yourself on Mother’s Day! Whether you have kids or furkids like I do, you’re still a mom! Or, if you don’t have either, that’s ok- take care of yourself on a difficult day. You deserve it! 🙂

There is one last thing I feel I should share with you.  I’ve often berated myself for not being a better daughter- for not calling my parents more often, or suggesting we do things together. (Usually this happens around Mother’s or Father’s Day).  Sadly, I can’t make myself improve in these areas- I’ve tried!  But do you know what?  After praying about it, God showed me that under the circumstances, I’m not a bad daughter.  My parents have abused me, & shown no remorse for it.  They’re lucky I speak to them at all, & me not wanting to spend time with them is normal.  They are reaping what they’ve sown.  Keep this in mind regarding your situation, too.  Everyone reaps what they sow, whether they sow good or bad things.  I know it can be hard to remember sometimes, but remember it anyway.  ❤

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Good Lord, What A Day!

OK, since many folks wanted to know how me seeing my former teacher went along with breakfast with my parents today, here’s the update….
I arrived first, hardly a shock since my mother is always late (all about control).  She arrived alone a few minutes later.  Said Dad was still at the chiropractors’ office & would be by any minute.  Fine.  We sat down inside, & talked.  A few moments later, a lady Mom knew stopped by – she is the mom of someone I went to elementary school with.  During the short chat, this lady said I was pretty four times.  Mom wasn’t happy- jealous, I guess.  She cut her off several times to discuss other trivial matters until the lady left.  She told me the lady was ‘slow’ & ‘not very bright’ repeatedly after she left..
Finally Dad arrived.  I went to wave to him, & another man behind him seemed to think I was flirtatious, but quickly realized I wasn’t waving at him pointed Dad towards Mom & I…lol. Sorry to the man who smiled at me…lol
Dad then went to the mens’ room.  My mother commanded me to place our order.  I did, although uneasy since it was crowded, & my agoraphobia was flaring up.   My dad stayed with me once he found me in line.
My parents & I ate our breakfast.  Eventually, my mother said, ‘There’s Mr. Bledsoe!’ & waved him to our table.  He didn’t recognize me, but after 30 years, I wasn’t offended.  My mother introduced us, & the first thing he said was, “I’m sorry, my oldest car now is a ’99!”. He remembered how I loved his 56 Ford when I was 10!!  Lol. I told him “my classic car is enough for us both!” & showed him what I drive- my granddad’s car.  He was impressed.  We went back to my parents’ table, & Mom talked over me. I did slip him my business card, & he said Mom mentioned something about me writing.  (Then why did she make a point to tell me she told him I don’t work?  TWICE!!). He needed to resume work, so said his goodbyes. 
The remaining time was rough..Mom insisted on getting my cell phone number I’ve hidden from her for years.  She also spent plenty of time telling me how awesome she is- how awesome she is for helping old people when she was growing up, how many animals loved her (way more than mine love me, of course!) & how many male students had a crush on her when she was a teacher….
While Dad wasn’t there, she told me about someone she knows who is married to the grandson of some football player named Johnny Unitis.  I didn’t know this football man’s name, so she told Dad I am ‘a retard’ as soon as he got back because I didn’t know him. Nice, eh?  I said twice that I hate football & all sports involving a ball- why would I know a player??  Ask me something about NASCAR or NHRA drag racing- I know that.  That was ignored.
Two hours after arrival, I wanted to come home.  I said I had to go.  I pulled out my keys & purse.  My mother exclaimed my keys & purse were too heavy- I was going to hurt my back.  I reminded her I’ve had worse back problems (like when she threw me into a wall) & walked out.
Yes, I’m hot mad.  No, I’m not entirely surprised by how it went…yes, I need to relax by myself for a while…..

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What Is Your Name?

Your name is important.  It is your identity, after all.  In Biblical times, people took great care in naming their children, much more than today.  Names also were changed to show important changes in life, such as in the case of Abraham & Sarah in Genesis 17.

These days, that seldom happens, however I believe it can be beneficial to do in many cases of surviving abuse.  I have read some stories of survivors changing their names recently.  I haven’t legally changed mine, but the changes feel good anyway!

Although my parents named me Cynthia, they always have called me Cindy.  My mother claims this is the correct spelling, & makes fun of those who spell the name another way, such as Cindi, Cyndi, etc.

I’ve never liked Cindy.  To me, that name represents the person my mother created- someone dysfunctional, with no self esteem, my mother’s puppet.  I don’t like her at all!  Cynthia, however, I like much more.  I created her- she is strong, independent & not my mother’s puppet.

Asking others to call me Cynthia changed my life.  When I started going by Cynthia, I started growing stronger.  It felt much more comfortable, & enabled me to separate completely from my narcissistic mother.  I finally started to become the person God wants me to be rather than my mother’s puppet.  On a funny note, I even developed a slight Southern accent, like my dad & his family.  It highly annoys my Northern born mother.

What about you?  Does hearing your name or a nickname make you cringe because of the bad memories attached to it?  If so, that name is yours!  Change it if you want to!  It is your right!  Ask God what to do if you’re unsure.

If you do decide to change your name in any way, some people won’t understand or like it.  I had an old friend & some relatives flatly refuse to call me Cynthia.  Interestingly, those relationships ended shortly after.  I realized healthy people had no problem with my request, they just wanted me to be happy.

Also, I opted not to tell my parents.  I really didn’t want to hear the nasty comments or fight about my name.  You too will have to decide if you can handle your parents’ negative reaction.

Lastly, if you opt to change your name legally, talk to a lawyer or research the laws in your state.  It is often an easy process, but many details will follow.  You’ll have to change your driver’s license, mortgage or lease, social security card, medical records & much more.

Changing your name is a big decision, but one well worth considering.

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January 8, 2014

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

I need to rant a little today.. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things like, “That’s your MOTHER!  She’s the only one you’ll ever have!”  or, “She won’t be around forever!” or other unasked for advice in telling me what *I* need to do to improve the abusive relationship between my mother & I.

Is it just me?  I’m going to go out on a limb here & guess it isn’t just me..

Isn’t it infuriating, feeling like all of the responsibility of a relationship is on you?!  Oh my word!!!  I flippin’ hate that!  Relationships are a two way street.  There is a lot of give & take.  It doesn’t matter if that relationship is parent/child, family, friendship or romantic.  All relationships are give & take.  There is nowhere in the Bible that says children must tolerate abuse from their parents.  The only verse I’ve found says that children should honor their parents, & no where does the word honor equal being a punching bag or doormat or recipient of abuse.  It simply means giving your parents their due respect for giving you life.  Period.  For further information on this topic, I have written some free ebooks on the topics.  Simply click this link for access to them.

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October 31, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers…

I was thinking of something yesterday regarding narcissistic mothers.  As you know, my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder.  For some unknown reason this past June, she changed- she stopped deliberately trying to hurt me every single time we speak.  We’ve even had many pleasant conversations in the last 4 months.  It’s been so nice in many ways.  

In other ways, though, it’s not so great.  Although my mother doesn’t deliberately try to hurt me most times, she still does hurt me almost every time we speak.  Why?  Because she is simply oblivious to what kind of person I am, & doesn’t even listen to most things I say.  She didn’t care that I was upset yesterday when we spoke on the phone.  I also mentioned my in-laws in passing, & immediately she jumped to their defense, even though I have told her our relationship was so bad, I haven’t spoken to them since 2002.  Ever since I first mentioned having in-law issues, my mother has been their number one supporter, as she always does when someone hurts me.  

I know most people say that narcissists never change.  I believe that isn’t entirely true.  My mother has proven that by changing for the better & not being so cruel as she once was.  However, although she has improved, all is not well now.  I still have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- nothing she can do will fix that.  I also still have to be prepared for pain.  Like I said, my mother doesn’t often deliberately set out to hurt me, but she still does hurt me often.  Also, like I mentioned earlier, it’s because she doesn’t know me or listen to me, but it is also because she has developed a very dysfunctional coping skill.  When she remembers unpleasant things, she convinces herself the unpleasant events happened some other way.  My mother has convinced herself she was a fantastic mother, always there for me, supportive, & loving.  All of the psychological abuse- emotional, mental & verbal abuses- are forgotten, & replaced with words of encouragement in her mind.  Throwing me into a wall & hurting my back when I was 19?  Forgotten.. I’ve been told I’m lucky I’ve never had back pain.  

I’m telling you this because if you too are the child of a narcissistic mother, don’t give up hope.  Your mother may change for the better at some point like my mother did, contrary to popular opinion.  However, if your mother does change, there still may be pain for you, just in different ways.   The best way I have found to cope is to enjoy the good times as much as you can.  Have some laughs if possible, & enjoy the moment, however long it lasts.  Then when the bad times come, deal with them however you can in a healthy way.  Talk to caring, supportive people- friends, relatives or a counselor.  Pray- God always wants to listen & offer you comfort.  Be gentle with yourself during those hard times- don’t berate yourself for being hurt or angry.  Keep your expectations low of your mother- everyone messes up sometimes.  No matter how hard she may be trying, she will make mistakes simply because no one is perfect.  Set & enforce healthy boundaries for yourself.  If you feel unable to spend time with your mother, then don’t spend time with her.  In my book, “You Are Not Alone!” (available in ebook form & print here:  http://www.cynthiabaileyrug.com/Books%20For%20Sale.htm  ), I offer advice on ways to deal with abusive mothers.  There is also information available on my website that may help you here:  http://www.cynthiabaileyrug.com/Problem_Mothers.htm

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September 26, 2013

Having grown up with a narcissistic mother and been exposed to other narcissists, I have had to learn a lot about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, and ways to deal with these people.  
Recently, I’ve been on the receiving end of yet another narcissistic person’s anger. Thankfully, that person is now out of my life. Since this happened, it made me think that I should share some of the things I’ve learned about people with NPD & ways to deal with them.

The narcissist is always looking for someone too provide their “supply.”  That supply may be someone to make them feel good about themselves, someone to listen to them prattle on endlessly,  or someone to fix their problems.  That is the motivation behind most of their actions- that supply.

Narcissists are self-entitled.  They think whatever they want, they should have, no matter the cost to anyone or the pain it may cause them.The desire for their supply and entitlement attitude is why you feel so drained when dealing with a narcissist.  
They are “emotional vampires.”  They will use you in any way they see fit, as often as they see fit.

Deep down, narcissists are extremely insecure, which is why they come across so confident- they are trying to convince themselves & others they really are great people.  They are deathly afraid of their mistakes or inadequacies being revealed, & will do anything to avoid this, no matter who they hurt in the process.

Narcissists are experts at reading and manipulating people.  They will mirror your feelings and actions, and say they like the same things you do to get your favor.  

Narcissists are abusers- never underestimate them.  

They will earn your trust and find out your vulnerabilities.  Then, they will use them against you whenever it suits them.

Narcissists have no empathy.  If you are needing advice on your troubled marriage or are seeking comfort comfort, don’t seek them from a narcissist- they have no concept of how you are hurting, nor do they care.  If it doesn’t affect the narcissist, it doesn’t matter to the narcissist.

Once you have had enough, and decide to put some distance between you and the narcissist or you decide to end your relationship with the narcissist, whether she/he is a friend, family member, or romantic interest, the narcissist’s true colors will show through.  Glaringly! They do NOT handle rejection well, and you will be to blame for things not working out. Also, if a narcissist cannot have your love, she will want you to hate her. Love and hate are strong emotions which give a person a degree of control over you. If you feel nothing for or don’t react to a narcissist, she/he absolutely can’t stand that!  

There are no really good ways to deal with a narcissist.  Ending the relationship is often best, however sometimes you may feel God doesn’t want you to do that, at least not yet.  That has been my case with my mother.  So, I had to learn a few ways to cope the best I could….

Know your limits- know what you will and will not tolerate.  Have firm boundaries that you are willing to enforce.  Don’t back down, or the narcissist will run roughshod over them.  Give a narcissist an inch, she’ll take a mile.

Refuse to provide the “supply.”  Change the subject of the conversation.  Interject something positive when she is discussing negative things.  

Limit your exposure to the narcissist.  Too much time spent with a narcissist never ends well for the “supplier.”  You end up tired & irritable, often snapping at those closest to you.

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August 18, 2013

I just published the ebook version of my latest book, “You Are Not Alone!” It is now available for purchase at smashwords.com!!  Come check it out!

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/347669

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July 29, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers.  I hope this post finds you well today!

I just wanted to let you know that I created a facebook group for my fans.  Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FansOfCynthiaBaileyRug/

Hope to see you there!  🙂

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July 6, 2012

I came across a really good article on facebook yesterday…

 

http://emergingfrombroken.com/take-the-good-with-the-bad-or-the-bad-with-the-good/

 

I just had to share it with you, Dear Readers.   Please take a few minutes to read it.  It’s all about facing the truth that you were abused- don’t try to sugar coat it.  I think as abuse victims, we learn early on that we must protect our abusers, & disregard our own feelings.   Some of us even have heard comments like, “It doesn’t sound so bad to me” (I heard that from a guidance counselor in high school) or been encouraged to find the good in it.  While I am all for having a positive outlook, & believe good can be gleaned in almost every situation, I also believe that sometimes, ya just gotta get mad or sad or whatever you feel!  I learned early in life that my emotions must be stifled so as not to inconvenience anyone.  Now, at age 41, I am facing anger that scares me since I never learned before how to deal with it.  41 years of bottling it all up isn’t healthy.  I refuse to trivialize my emotions or experiences anymore, & I hope you will do the same, Dear Reader.   Take care of yourself, love yourself, & even parent yourself.   You are worth it! 

I’m praying for you, & I love you.  God bless you!

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