Tag Archives: toxic

Mother’s Day, 2017

The most dreaded day for adult children of narcissistic mothers, Mother’s Day, is upon us.

 

What are you doing today, Dear Reader?

 

I hope you are taking some time to celebrate yourself.  Whether you are a mom or not, you should be congratulating yourself.

 

If you’ve gone no contact with your mother, I know, today is especially hard.  You should be proud of yourself though- you made possibly the most difficult decision a person can make.  It’s incredibly hard to sever ties with your own mother, even when she is incredibly toxic, but you did it.  That takes a lot of guts!

 

If you haven’t gone no contact, but instead maintain a relationship with your narcissistic mother, you too should be proud of yourself.  It’s not an easy task finding a way to maintain your sanity with a narcissist, but you found a way that works.  That is something to be proud of!

 

If you’re hurting too much to celebrate yourself, I understand that.  Take time to grieve.  Cry, pray, write in your journal.  Having a toxic relationship with your mother is incredibly painful, & grieving it is totally normal. Maybe you need to take a day to grieve.  The more you face your pain, the more you heal & the less painful it becomes.

 

I know this day is a very difficult, painful one, it is for me too, but you can make it through!  xoxo

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When People Tell You How 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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When Narcissists Ignore You

Another control tactic narcissists use is by ignoring their victim.  Whether it is pretending the person didn’t say anything or the narcissist didn’t hear the person (when they obviously did) or the silent treatment, ignoring a victim is about control.

 

Being ignored may not sound very effective, but it can be surprisingly so.  It communicates the message that the person being ignored is so awful, they don’t even deserve to be acknowledged.  This message can be absolutely devastating, especially when done repeatedly.

 

It also makes the person being ignored work harder, trying to get the ignoring person’s attention.  The person feels they must make it up to the ignoring person.  Make what up?  They rarely know, but they know they have done something so horrible, it made the ignoring person not want to speak to them.

 

If the narcissist in question has hearing problems, she may use it to help her ignore you.  She may have what I refer to as selective hearing.  If you say something she doesn’t like, she may act like she doesn’t hear you.

 

My narcissistic mother has ignored me more times than I can count.  She has hearing problems, & uses it to play innocent claiming she didn’t hear me say something.  Yet, I’ve tested her hearing.  If we’re discussing something & she isn’t happy with what I’m saying, she without fail says, “What’s that Honey?  I can’t hear you..” until I’m practically screaming.  If the conversation is normal, I can practically whisper & she hears me fine.  She also gives me the silent treatment on a regular basis.

 

Thanks to her ridiculous behavior, I have had to learn healthy ways to cope.

 

My mother started using the silent treatment with me sometime in my childhood.  I don’t remember when exactly, but I remember her using it most often when her abuse was at its peak in my late teens.  It used to upset me terribly!  I would beg her to tell me what I did that was so bad, & she would respond with, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!”  *sigh*  I finally had a revelation.  If she wouldn’t talk to me like the grown up she was, then whatever I supposedly did couldn’t be so bad.  Or, if she wouldn’t tell me, then chances are it was because she didn’t have a leg to stand on- I probably didn’t do anything bad at all.  Instead, she was trying to get me to work hard to earn her love back.    This knowledge was very helpful for me.  I no longer felt the need to work hard to earn her love.  I have come to appreciate the silent treatment.  I now think of it as a break from the drama & head games my narcissistic mother loves to play.

 

When she ignores me or uses her selective hearing, I involve my father or whoever else is there.  As typical with narcissists, my mother does NOT want to look bad in front of others, so this works to my advantage.  If she ignores me, I give my father a look of frustration or ask him to get her attention since she’s ignoring me.  Then, he will call my mother by her name & mention me saying something, which forces her to acknowledge me.  Once I have her full attention, I can repeat what I was saying.  Of course, this works well when someone else is there only, which is another argument for not being alone with a narcissist.  Having witnesses can be a very helpful thing, plus the narcissist usually behaves better when there are people around to impress.

 

I also remind myself whether she is simply ignoring me or giving me the full blown silent treatment that she isn’t doing this because of me.  She is doing it because there is something wrong with her.  Mature, normal, healthy people don’t treat other people this way.  They discuss issues & work things out.

 

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, Dear Reader!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Strange Side Effect Of Parentalizing

Growing up with at least one narcissistic parents almost always means there was an emotionally incestuous or parentalizing relationship between the narcissistic parent & her child.  Since narcissists are so self-absorbed, they often have children to take care of them or to fill some need in their life.  This is where emotional incest, aka parentalizing, comes into play.

 

Parentalizing, parentification, covert incest & emotional incest all describe the same thing.  (To simply, we’ll use “parentalizing” in this post.)  It is when a parent & child’s roles are reversed, when the parent makes the child responsible for her emotional well being.  A parent who talks to a child about adult matters such as her sex life or failing marriage is indulging in parentalizing.  Although this behavior may not sound so bad, it is devastating to a child.  Her feelings & issues can be made worse when people tell her how lucky her parent is to have her to count on or other misguided comments such as,  “She needs you!”  “You have to be strong for her!”  “I don’t know what she’d do without you!”  On the outside, this parentalized relationship may appear loving & good.  The parent & child are close- what a wonderful thing!  When people see the relationship, they encourage it or make those misguided comments, often without realizing the harm this is doing to the child.

 

Children who have survived a parentalizing relationship with their parent or parents often grow up full of guilt, angry, depressed, possess poor relationship skills, are in co-dependent relationships, have a very overdeveloped sense of responsibility (feeling responsible for everyone in their life)  or have addictions.  Another side effect you rarely see mentioned though is the feeling of needing to be invisible, to blend into the background.

 

Parentalizing parents seem to take up all the space in the relationship with their child.  Be they overt or covert narcissists, they share one common thing- the fact that they come first in that relationship, period.  Through fear or guilt, they give their child the message that they are more important, & their child isn’t important at all.  Children often internalize the message, & as a result feel they must stay invisible so as not to disturb their narcissistic parent.  Never upset that parent!  Either comply with anything & everything the parent wants or stay strong for her..  All of these ideas are to please the narcissistic parent & avoid the rage that comes from not pleasing her.  These thoughts even continue into adult relationships, such as “If I’m good enough to him & give him what he wants, he’ll stop hitting me.”

 

Parentalizing parents also communicate the message that they aren’t able to handle things, they are weak, & need the child to clean up their mess.  This message tells the child that her needs are just too much.  Just existing is a burden to the parent.  Her needs aren’t important, including the need for validation.  In fact, often the only validation the child gets is when she is her parent’s “savior” by fixing her parent’s problem.  If she dares to express any need, chances are good it will be met with anger, even rage, so the child learns to fade into the background until she is needed.

 

Feeling invisible, I think, is rooted in shame.  We are ashamed of having needs, wants, feelings because we were made to feel ashamed of them.  Our parentalizing parent also gave us the message that we aren’t important.  Both of these things, I believe, work together to create a root of toxic shame.  Toxic shame can cause you to feel so ashamed of who you are, that you don’t feel worthy of anything.  You assume people won’t want to help you or even talk to you.  Simple things most people don’t think twice about can be a challenge for you, such as leaving your home.  You may feel so ashamed of who you are that you don’t think you should bother people with your presence.  Even expecting help from salespeople, service people, or staff in a hospital may seem impossible because of that deep root of shame.  It’s surprising just how deep shame can go.

 

So what do you do to get rid of toxic shame?

 

First, pray.  Ask God to help you to heal.  Obey any instructions He gives you.

 

Next, push yourself outside of your comfort zone sometimes.  The more you see you can do things successfully, the more confident you will become & the less hold shame will have on you.  Sharing things with trustworthy people, you will see that other people actually do care about you which helps as well.

 

Also, question the shaming beliefs when they come up.  Why do you feel so ashamed of yourself for wanting something?  Why do you feel to blame for a situation where you had no control?  Things like this.  Ask God for the answers if you don’t know them.  And, ask Him to help you to release those beliefs.

 

I have learned these things help a great deal.  I have slipped up, unfortunately, & when I have stopped doing these three things, I fell right back into old, dysfunctional & miserable patterns.  For them to work, you have to keep doing them, even when it gets uncomfortable.  Remind yourself of these things often.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Don’t Carry Another’s Shame

Toxic shame is often caused by abusive, parentalizing parents.  They ignore their child’s needs, feelings & wants to make their child believe she is only alive to take care of her parents’ emotional needs or provide that precious narcissistic supply.  She believes she has no right to wants, needs or emotions, & because she does have them, she often grows up with toxic shame that affects all areas of her life.

 

However, this is not the only way a person can have a root of toxic shame.  One way is when a dysfunctional person puts their shame on you.

 

This happens by projection.  Projection is when someone knows they are a certain way, yet blame you for being exactly that way while denying they are that way.  Narcissists are notorious projectionists.  They love to put their insecurities & flaws onto others, so they can get angry about them without accepting any personal responsibility.  As an example, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I look down on their family.  She screamed at my husband about that during a phone call one day in I think it was 2002.  He was baffled as was I, since the thought of being better than them never occurred to me.  In fact, my husband & I agreed that it was the other way around- they look down on me.  That is projection.

 

Shame can be projected as well.  Narcissists are full of shame.  (Although they act extremely confident, it is just a show.  They are extremely insecure inside, which is why they act so confident.  They are trying to convince themselves & other people that they are as good, talented, beautiful, etc. as they claim to be.)  Projection is among their favorite coping skills.  To deal with this shame they feel, they will do their best to put it on their victim, so they don’t have to deal with it.

 

My mother did this a great deal.  When her abuse was at its peak when I was 17-19, she would scream at me, & tell me I made her act that way.  If I would just act right, she wouldn’t have to practice “tough love” on me.  All my life, if I was angry or even simply frustrated, she would accuse me of having “that Bailey temper” & shame me for having such a bad temper when the truth is she was the one with the wicked temper, not me.  Sometimes to this day, she still tries to shame me, even things beyond my control, such as if I get sick or injured.

 

Actions like that were her trying to put the shame she felt inside on me.

 

Can you relate, Dear Reader?  Did you experience your narcissistic mother trying to make you carry her shame?

 

If so, refuse to carry her shame any longer!  It’s not your place to carry her shame, to feel ashamed because of things that were beyond your control.

 

Make a decision that you will NOT carry her shame a moment longer.  If it helps, imagine taking a sack of some sort to your mother & laying it at her feet then walking away.  Sometimes visuals like that can help.

 

Ask God to show you ways you’re carrying her shame & how to stop it.  With me, I noticed that when I discussed things with my mother, I always phrased things from my perspective.  “I felt she was abusive when she…”  “I got thrown into a wall by my mother.”  God showed me that I was carrying the blame & all of the responsibility  for her actions, including her shame when it all belonged squarely on her shoulders.

 

I hope this helps you to be free of carrying around that toxic shame that isn’t yours to carry!  You deserve so much better than that!

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You *Are* Good Enough!

Yesterday, my narcissistic mother called me.  Always interesting to say the least, but most especially when she ends her silent treatment to call me.  I think I managed to get in about 10 words during the entire 45 minutes we were on the phone…

Yesterday’s motive for the call was, among other things, to tell me about the great things her cousin’s son does for her.  What a good & generous son he is!  The underlying message was clear as day, especially since she tells me the same things about him nearly every time we talk- I need to be more like her cousin’s wonderful son.  I need to do more for my mother.  However, as anyone with a narcissistic parent knows, nothing is ever enough.  

For a long time, I felt guilty because I’m not good enough, according to my mother.  I know I’m a huge disappointment to her in a great many ways.  I don’t call my parents or suggest we get together.  My mother doesn’t approve of my home, career, pets, tattoos or even my car.  It’s been very hurtful knowing my mother feels this way about me.

I am very happy to say though, that God has set me free from that pain.  When praying one day, God showed me that I do my best regarding my parents, & that is all He asks of anyone.  He is proud of me for doing my best even when it isn’t easy.  And as for my life choices that my mother disapproves of?  So what?  I have to live my life the way I believe God wants me to, not how anyone else does.  

This is what I believe God wants me to tell you too, today.  God loves you, & is so proud of you.  If you are reading this, & you too have abusive parents who don’t approve of you or make you feel not good enough, know that God says you ARE good enough!  He is so proud of you!  If you are trying to have a relationship with those parents, God is proud of you for that too!  It’s so painful dealing with abusive parents, no matter your age.  Or, if you have ended the relationship with them, He is still proud of you!  You tried hard- people never get to that place of severing ties easily.  

So please, don’t think about the disapproval of your parents- instead focus on God’s love for you, & how proud He is of you.  Psalm 27:10 says that when your parents forsake you, God will take you in as His own child.  The more you focus on that, the happier & more peaceful you feel.  

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August 6, 2013

Good news!  My newest book, “You Are Not Alone!” for daughters of abusive mothers is almost ready for publishing!  I have about half of it left to edit, then I will publish it!!  I am hoping to get it done tomorrow.  🙂

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