Tag Archives: toxic

A Way Dysfunctional Families Try To Keep Everyone Close

Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them.  Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness.  Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well.  Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness. 

Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced.  One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things.  This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent.  This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.

Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families.  They often want their children to stay close to them forever.  One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions.  They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things.  This doesn’t stop in adulthood.  When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law.  They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child.  These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family.  They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse.  Their lies are often completely outrageous.  As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this.  Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up. 

When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage.  One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying.  The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies.  Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.

If you are in this situation, there is hope!  The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth.  Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.

If you are the one in this situation, question everything.  Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you.  Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart.  Often family can be the cruelest to their own.  When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind.  Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening?  Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say.  If it helps, write things down.  Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate.  Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective.  Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.  

If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense.  This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all.  If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did.  When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments.  Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible.  If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.

You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.

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

It’s Still Abuse If..

Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused.  A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her.  A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men.  Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was. 

Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse.  I did it myself.  Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me.  I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.

I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life.  I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it!  Once you face it, you can start to heal.  The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.

It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical.  Abuse comes in many forms.  Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you.  Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.

It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized.  Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again.  For a while, they don’t.  Things are good.  Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns.  An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.

It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you.  Abusers claim to love their victim.  Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.

It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child.  The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior.  Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.

It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness.  There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong.  Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.

It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser.  No relationship is completely abusive.  If so, abusers would be much easier to identify.  Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent.  People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are.  Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.

It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative.  Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other.  I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members.  Family members can be the worst abusers of all.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive.  You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior.  Exercise that right!  Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship.  If you don’t know what to do, pray.  Ask God to help you.  Learn all you can about toxic relationships.  Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books.  Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation. 

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Dysfunctional Families And The Holidays

Since the holiday season is officially upon us, I thought it would be a good time to talk about dysfunctional families & the holidays.

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time of year, & spent with those you love the most.  Instead, for people with dysfunctional families & in-laws, it is the most dreaded time of year. 

These families make unreasonable demands, have their own traditions that allow no room for change & have no tolerance for anyone who doesn’t go along with their traditions & demands.  They turn a joyful time of year into one full of stress, anxiety, hurt feelings, & anger for anyone who doesn’t go along with their “one big happy family” charade. 

Clearly this is very common with narcissists, but those who are simply dysfunctional can behave in the same way.  Their motivations are different than their narcissistic counterparts.  It is usually done to make them feel as if their family isn’t dysfunctional.  After all, they always get together at the holidays, so they must be a close, happy family, right?

Whichever is your situation, you are in a frustrating, difficult & exasperating position.  I understand it all too well since I have been there more years than I care to remember with both dysfunctional people & narcissists.  I’ve learned some things that I think can help those of you who are currently in this situation.

Remember, as an adult, you aren’t obligated to do what your family or in-laws tell you to do.  Just because they think you need to obey their wishes & celebrate their way doesn’t mean that you need to do as they say.  Not doing as they want will upset them, & they will hurt you.  Think about this… is it worth wasting your time being miserable to appease them to avoid them basically pouting like a spoiled child?  Hopefully you feel you can handle their temper tantrum & spend the holidays as you want.  If you do, chances are you are going to feel guilty & hurt when they are mad at you, since that is normal.  When that happens, just remind yourself that you are a grown adult, & no one has the right to dictate how you spend your holidays.

If you opt not to spend your holidays with these people, then be sure to do something you enjoy doing.  Spend the day with friends instead of family.  Go on a trip.  Start your own traditions that don’t involve them. 

If you don’t feel you can avoid doing what your dysfunctional family & in-laws want you to do though, hope is not lost!  Rather than do everything they want, set some boundaries.  If they want you to spend all of Christmas day with them, say you only have a couple of hours to spend with them.  Or, offer to spend Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas with them.

I know setting boundaries with narcissists & very dysfunctional people can be hard, but you can do it!  If the suggestions I just made feel like too much, start small.  If this person wants you to be at their house at 11, say you will be there at noon.  If they want you to bring three dishes for dinner, offer to bring two instead.  Moves like this are small, but significant.  They help you take back some of your power.  Often, those small steps lead the way to setting bigger boundaries with confidence.

I also learned that after years of ridiculous holiday expectations of demanding dysfunctional people, I absolutely detest holidays no matter what I try to do to enjoy them.  The narcissists & dysfunctional people in my life ruined almost all of the holidays in my adult life.  Even though they are all gone from my life now, I still hate holidays.  I’ve spoken with other people who have been in similar situations who feel the same as me, so I am left to assume this is normal.  If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up over it.  You can’t help how you feel.  Dysfunctional people made you feel this way, & there is nothing wrong with you for that.  Many people can’t understand feeling this way & can be quite hurtful with their judgments.  Don’t pay any attention to what they say.  Their opinion isn’t important.  Your feelings aren’t damaging their life in any way so you just be yourself & don’t worry about them!

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When Narcissistic In-Laws Say “You Stole My Son Or Daughter!”

In the years I’ve been writing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I’ve talked to lots of people.  As if my own experience didn’t teach me enough, I’ve learned a lot more from the wonderful people who shared their stories with me.

One of the things I’ve learned about people with narcissistic in-laws is what I want to talk to you about today.

Narcissistic in-laws often are cruel to the spouse of their adult child in countless ways.  One of them is shaming that person for having complete control over their adult child.  This often manifests for others in the same way it did for me.  Like many others with narcissistic in-laws, I was accused of “stealing” my husband & keeping him from his family. 

For the sake of simplicity & also because it’s just fun to say it this way, I will refer to the accusers as “in-laws” & those of us who supposedly steal someone from their family as “outlaws.” 

Narcissistic in-laws must have things their way in every area, including in their children’s lives.  Many would prefer that child not marry, so that way, there is no interference in the control they have over their adult children.  If he or she does marry however, they need to marry someone of which the in-laws approve.  Marrying someone who doesn’t meet up to the in-laws’ standards means things will get ugly, in particular for the outlaw. 

In addition to the frequent scathing criticisms, excluding & shunning the outlaw, & a thousand other ways they let the outlaw know they are not good enough for this family. One thing almost all narcissistic parent in-laws or narcissistic siblings will say is that the outlaw stole the victim from his or her family.  Outlaws like me who are accused of this are almost always shocked since they are hardly controlling people, let alone manipulative enough to control their spouse.  Yet, the accusation is said anyway.

Chances are, when this outlaw talks to their spouse, the victim of the in-laws, he or she will defend the in-laws, minimize their behavior or even deny it entirely.  Naturally this causes a lot of problems in the marriage.

If you are in this situation of being an outlaw as I have been, I know it’s hard.  You definitely will need some ways to cope while minimizing the chances of the in-laws getting their way & destroying your marriage.

When you & your spouse discuss the in-laws, maintain a calm demeanor as much as you possibly can.  Showing your anger will make your spouse feel he or she must defend & protect the in-laws.  Staying calm minimizes the possibility of that happening so you can have an actual discussion about the problem.

Use logic & ask questions when your spouse defends the in-laws.  It is totally reasonable to ask why your spouse thinks it’s acceptable for your in-laws to do what they do to you both.  Ask why he or she doesn’t consider their behavior disrespectful to you, your spouse & your marriage.  Ask for examples of the bad behavior they accuse you of doing.  Expect answers, & don’t let your spouse avoid giving them.  Being forced to think about these things will hurt, so he or she most likely won’t want to give them, but it is vital.  He or she needs to see the truth of the situation in order to deal with it correctly.

If your spouse refuses to see the truth, you may be forced to sever all ties with the in-laws.  It won’t make your spouse happy, but you must protect your mental health & avoid these toxic people.  If you must do this, stick to your convictions & refuse to talk to them at all while not telling your spouse that they must choose you or their family.  The person who gives the ultimatum on these situations almost always ends up abandonded, which is why I say that. 

Most of all, pray, pray, pray!  In such a delicate situation, you need God’s wisdom & for Him to guide your timing & words.  Leaning on Him is the smartest thing you can do in this situation.

I truly wish you all the best in your situation, & am praying for you!

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When Your Family Refuses To See You As Anything But A Dysfunctional Child

When you grew up in a dysfunctional family, one of the most frustrating parts of it is that your family never sees you as a mature, independent adult.  If you have done your best to escape the dysfunction & live in a healthier way &/or have decided to live your life for Jesus, this is especially common & frustrating.  The dysfunctional family never will see you as a healthy, God fearing adult.  Instead they only see you as the dysfunctional child you once were.

This is so incredibly frustrating!  Even when you know that they’re content remaining in their dysfunction, it seems like they could at least acknowledge that you have changed.  Even if they disagree with your changes, that doesn’t seem like to much to ask, yet sadly it really is for the most dysfunctional of people. 

People who are content living their dysfunctional lives hate those who are a threat to it in any way.  Anyone who doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction obviously is a problem.  Anyone who is a part of this toxic family & doesn’t condone or enable the dysfunction is especially problematic for such people.

A member of such a family who dares to live their life in such a way as to be different from the family or the family’s expectations for them is absolutely a problem for these people.  That behavior is seen as being rebellious or even betraying the family.  It’s as if they think, how dare someone be so arrogant & think that they’re so much better than the family as to live life on their own terms rather than fit onto the mold the family has made for them!

Even Jesus faced this problem.  His own family didn’t take Him or His work seriously.  Imagine that.  The family of Jesus didn’t take Him seriously!  Isn’t that amazing?!  In Matthew 13:57-58 in the Amplified Bible, Jesus says, “And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief.”

If you’re from a dysfunctional family & they treat you as they always have in spite of you growing up, getting healthier & even turning to God, then you are truly not alone!  Even Jesus experienced this.

I know it hurts when your own family treats you so poorly.  It can seem like the best choice would be to return to your old, dysfunctional ways so they stop mistreating you, but I promise you, that isn’t best!  I have been in this position since my family never saw me as anyone but the dysfunctional, blindly obedient & foolish child I once was.  Returning to those behaviors may have made them tolerate me, but I would have been miserable!  What is best is to keep walking the path that you know God has for you.

It also helps to remember that when people treat you in such a manner, it isn’t personal.  It literally has nothing to do with you, even though it certainly feels personal.  It has everything to do with the person behaving this way, their toxicity & their desire to avoid becoming healthier at all costs.  They are so truly toxic that they have zero problem with hurting another person if that will protect their dysfunctional ways & help them to avoid facing what made them this way.  That is pretty terrible!  There is no shame in being dysfunctional of course, so long as you are willing to work on it & improve yourself!  Being determined to live that way forever, no matter how much pain it causes other people, however, is absolutely toxic.

If at all possible, your best bet it to avoid such people.  If that isn’t possible, then do your best to minimize contact with them, stay true to yourself & your beliefs, & never forget to ask God to help you find creative & effective ways of dealing with such people.

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Why Children Of Narcissists Find Themselves In Many Toxic Relationships

Many people who were raised by narcissistic parents find themselves in other relationships with narcissists.  They work with them, they become friends with them & worst of all, they become romantically involved with them.  I am no exception.  I grew up with an overtly narcissistic mother & covertly narcissistic father.  There are a lot of narcissists in my family on both sides.  I married a covert narcissist that I divorced six years later.  I have lost count of how many covertly narcissistic friends I have had over my lifetime.

For a long time I wondered why this happened to me.  I thought maybe somehow I put out some sort of “vibe” that told people it was ok to abuse me.  Or, maybe narcissists just have some sort of sense for people that make good victims.  I think I have some ideas though & I hope they can help answer this question for you.

For those of us who grew up with narcissistic parents, we were born with a job.  That job was to take care of our narcissistic parents.  For some, it meant doing household chores well before an appropriate age such as cooking dinner or caring for younger siblings.  For others, it meant being a parent’s therapist of sort, listening to all of their woes, & comforting them when they were upset.  For still others, it meant protecting a covertly narcissistic parent from the rages & even physical assaults of the overtly narcissistic parent.  Whatever the scenario, the fact is being born with the job of caring for a narcissistic parent means you are used to caring for dysfunctional people.  This makes you gravitate to continuing that role in other relationships. 

This role often means getting into relationships with other narcissists.  If there is a narcissist in your vicinity, you will be drawn to that person like bees to honey.  You may feel sorry for this person because he or she has few or even no friends.  After some time passes, you see why that person had no friends!  Who wants to be friends with a narcissist?! 

Or this role could mean that you get involved with another child of narcissistic parents that isn’t facing that pain.  Maybe you fall in love with someone who seems great.  You’re comfortable together, & get along great.  They might even tell you they have this awesome family & can’t wait for you to meet them.  Then you meet his or her family & see the truth.  That awesome family is anything but.  There are narcissists everywhere!  If you say anything about the toxicity of this family, you are told you’re wrong, oversensitive, & more.  They are defended fiercely & you are left wondering how to help this person you love see the truth. 

If you have been in such situations, I know it can be frustrating.  Once you realize that you keep getting into dysfunctional relationships, you probably are going to beat yourself up a lot & question what is wrong with you.  That is normal!  It also is a waste of time & energy.  Instead, try to focus on healing from the abuse.  Healing naturally helps you to develop healthier boundaries, so when you meet someone without friends, you won’t try to befriend them immediately.  The more you heal too, the more healthy people will seem attractive to you & the more you’ll want to avoid the toxic ones.  As a bonus, the healthier you become, the more toxic people will leave you alone.  Toxic people want someone dysfunctional because that is someone they can use & manipulate.  Healthy people don’t tolerate such things.

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15% Off My Print Books Until October 7, 2022

My publisher is having yet another sale! 15% off all print books when you use code PUMPKIN15 at checkout.

My print books can be found at the following link:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Feeling Burdened By Others After Growing Up With An Emotionally Incestuous/Enmeshed/Parentalizing Parent

Growing up with a parent who treats you more as their romantic partner rather than their child is extremely traumatic.  It is referred to as emotional incest, enmeshment, covert incest, parentalizing & parentification, & it’s a form of sexual abuse whether or not sexual contact is a part of this abuse.  It creates a LOT of serious problems in the lives of victims.  Today, we will focus on only one of those problems – feeling burdened by other people.

The person who grows up with an emotionally incestuous parent has spent their entire life focused on their parent.  Their parent is their top priority in childhood, & even into adulthood until they recognize this is a problem.  They listen to their parent’s woes (in particular about their marriage or relationship), they try to cheer them up when they are sad, fix their problems, protect them if the other parent is abusive, & basically anything else their parent wants them to do no matter the personal cost.  After a lifetime of this dysfunctional caregiving, it is natural to feel burned out on doing for other people.  The problem is that natural or not, it is damaging to other relationships.

No one wants to be in a relationship with another person that is totally one sided.  Whatever type of relationship this is, whether it is romantic, family or friendship, this type of relationship is miserable & dysfunctional.  Doing with receiving nothing in return is fine once in a while, but when it is the norm, it is depressing, will lead to a lot of resentment & most likely the relationship will end.

Similarly, no one wants to be married to someone knowing that their parent always will be more important to them, that the demanding parent’s needs always come first, that they are looked at as an intruder & feeling like anything they want from their spouse is a huge burden while anything the parent wants is done without complaint.  It is a miserable way to live, & the majority of people will divorce a spouse like this.

If you are a victim of emotional incest, please know that by continuing to tolerate this abuse from your parent, this is what you are doing to those people in relationships with you.  I am not telling you this to hurt you, only to open your eyes of the damage being done & the unfairness of it all.  People who love you don’t deserve to feel this way.  It’s not fair to them.  It also is not fair to you for your parent to treat you so badly & for that parent to do so much harm to you that you are damaging relationships with people you love. 

And, if you are still in this situation with your parent, please do your best to put an end to it.  Start setting limits & boundaries on what you will & won’t tolerate from your parent.  It can be intimidating to do this at first so start small.  Don’t take their call or reply to their text right away.  It’s a baby step that helps you to take back some of your power.  Do more & bigger things as you feel able to do them.  It may take some time, but you will become able to stop tolerating their behavior.  The more you do this, the less burdened you will feel in general, which means the more you will be able to give back in your relationships.

Get to know yourself better.  Chances are, you didn’t have much time for that because caring for your parent took up too much of your time.  It’s long overdue.  Get to know the real you, not the person your parent wants you to be.  It’ll help you in many ways, including learning what you are willing & unwilling to tolerate in the relationship with your parent.

Get angry about what your parent has done to you.  You have every reason to be angry, because treating anyone this way is simply cruel & wrong!  You never deserved it!  Allow yourself to feel that anger & vent it in healthy ways like prayer, talking to someone close to you, journaling, or even talking to a therapist.

And never forget that you do have one loving parent.  God is the most loving parent you could hope to have.  Talk to Him about what is going on.  Lean on him to help you heal, figure out the best way to handle this relationship with your abusive parent, & to help heal damaged relationships.  He absolutely will do it.

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Save 10% On All My Print Books Until Sept. 2, 2022!

My publisher is having another sale. 10% off all print books until September 2, 2022 when you use code INNOVATION10 at checkout.

My print books can be found at this link:

https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cynthiabaileyrug

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Admitting Your Relationship Is Abusive

People often struggle with admitting a relationship they are in is abusive.  They may say they don’t get along with someone, or that person is difficult, but the word “abusive” may be too hard for them to say. 

Although it may sound strange, I certainly understand it.  Admitting something makes it more real in the mind, & sometimes that thing is so painful, you don’t want it to be real.  When my granddad died, for a year after his death, I couldn’t say the words that he had died.  It hurt too much, & I didn’t want that to be real.  I wanted things as they had been, when we had such a loving & close relationship.  Losing what had been hurt tremendously, & felt like it was too painful to face.  Admitting a relationship you are in is abusive is very similar.  You want things to be like they once were, when things were good.  It hurts so much to admit that now, things aren’t like that anymore & in fact, they are really bad. 

I want you to know today that it’s ok to admit you are in an abusive relationship.  In fact, it is a good thing.  It is your first step to freedom from the abuse.

Being in an abusive relationship or even several abusive relationships doesn’t mean there is something terribly wrong with you.  Many other people have been in abusive relationships in their life.  It’s perfectly ok to admit that someone you love abuses you.  It is not a bad reflection on you!

Abusive people are known for making themselves irresistible to those they lure into romantic relationships.  They can appear charming, kind, & caring.  They can appear to share your beliefs, morals, likes & dislikes.  They claim their chosen victim is the one they’ve been waiting for their entire life, they have never met anyone as wonderful as their victim, & generally sweep their victim off their feet quickly, leaving them little or no time to recognize signs pointing to how toxic they truly are.  They are extremely skilled at just how to make themselves the most appealing to their victims & hiding their true selves.  By the time the abuser reveals his or her true self to the victim, the victim is head over heals in love with the abuser.  The victim doesn’t want to see that horrible true self or admit their abuser is truly abusive rather than the wonderful person he or she was at first.  Feeling that way is completely normal.  It still doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with or bad about admitting this relationship you are in is abusive, though.

Abusers also are extremely skilled at convincing their victims that they are the true problem in the relationship, not the abuser.  Abusers work very hard to get their victims to believe this so they can continue being abusive & their victims won’t protest.  Victims often believe that this is the case, that somehow they make the abuser hurt them.  That is never true however!  No one can force anyone to abuse them.  The choice to abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of abusers, never on victims.  Since you have nothing to be ashamed of, this means it’s perfectly ok to admit your relationship is abusive.

If you are in a bad relationship that you are hesitant to admit is abusive in spite of evidence of abuse, I want you to know it’s ok to admit it is abusive.  I know it will hurt by making that fact seem more real, but it will be worth it.  Once you accept that reality, you can decide what to do about the relationship from there & begin to heal.  The truth really does set us free in so many ways, & this is one of those ways.  Set yourself free & admit that your relationship is abusive. 

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When A Toxic Relationship Shifts

In various relationships with the narcissists in my life, I remember a shift in their attitude with me.  It was always subtle, but I noticed it anyway.

My ex husband & I started dating during the second semester of eleventh grade.  By the end of the first semester of twelfth grade, he had become a bit distant.  We wrote notes often as many kids in the 80’s did, & suddenly his went from at least one or two a day to one every few days before suddenly stopping entirely.

Later in life, when I began pulling away from my parents & setting some boundaries, their attitudes became different.  My mother was obviously furious with me, but didn’t admit to it.  My father became controlling for the first time. 

I met my late mother in-law some months before my husband & I began dating, when we were just friends.  One day I was going to drive him to pick up a car he was buying.  I picked him up at his parents’ home, & although I could tell his mother didn’t particularly like me, she seemed somewhat friendly.  Once she realized we were dating, she became ice cold.  After we got married almost 4 years later, she became extremely vicious with me.

This sort of behavior is very common with narcissists.  No matter the type of relationship, at some point, there is a change in their attitude with the victim.  That change often comes about when the narcissist realizes the victim doesn’t want to lose the narcissist.  It also can happen when the victim starts to set boundaries or the narcissist sees the victim as a threat in some way.  Either way, narcissists want to make sure their victim behaves as they want.  What better way to do this than to abuse that victim?  They may make their victim feel so insecure, as if the relationship is bad & it’s all the victim’s fault.  They also may become controlling & manipulative, trying to make the victim feel as if they need to earn the narcissist’s affections.  They may make the victim feel as if it’s best to do whatever the narcissist wants rather than displease the narcissist & face their wrath.  The type of wrath naturally varies between overt & covert narcissists, but in either case it’s best not to face it, so many victims will do absolutely anything to avoid it.

The really horrible part of this is while this abuse happens behind closed doors, the narcissist continues to wear their mask to convince everyone else they are a wonderful person.  When a victim looks for advice & support, those who also know the narcissist often tell the victim how lucky they are to have such a wonderful person in their life.  That person loves the victim so much!  It must be nice having someone so loving in their life.  They’re lucky to have a parent or significant other care so much about them.  Such responses can leave a victim baffled & feeling as if they are the problem in the relationship. 

The result is the victim often stays in the relationship.  The victim feels utterly alone because no one believes them.  They believe the narcissist’s good guy/good girl act instead.  Victims learn quickly there isn’t any point in discussing the abuse because no one believes them.  Meanwhile, the abuse gets worse & worse.

Have you been in this situation?  Are you in it now?  If so, you’re not alone!  This is typical of relationships with narcissists. 

Don’t beat yourself up for getting yourself into this situation or tolerating too much from the narcissist.  Narcissists are experts at psychological warfare.  They can manipulate even the most brilliant of people because they are just that good at what they do. 

You also need to pray a lot.  God willingly gives wisdom to anyone who asks for it according to James 1:5, so ask for it!  He can help you to cope if you’re still in the situation or find ways to help yourself heal if you have escaped it.

Always remember that the treatment from the narcissist isn’t your fault.  Their actions are 100% their responsibility.  Don’t accept the blame for their behavior.  Don’t carry their shame for their actions.  Learn all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, healing from narcissistic abuse & about how to have healthy boundaries.  Take care of & protect yourself.

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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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The Value Of Detoxing From Emotionally Incestuous (Enmeshed) Family

When someone grows up in an enmeshed, emotionally incestuous family, they naturally have many issues stemming from this.  One of those many issues is that they need time away from their toxic family to detox.

One example of this that comes to mind is a good friend of mine.  Around me, he’s usually kind, caring, fun loving & laid back.  I always can tell when he has dealt with his toxic immediate family in the recent past however, because that great guy disappears.  The person who replaces him is impatient, irritable, & quick to judge & criticize.  In other words, nothing like who he usually is.  It takes some time away from them for the hard to deal with person to go away & the good guy he usually is to come back.  I’ve started referring to this as his detox.

Sadly, this need to detox after being around an emotionally incestuous family is normal for the adult who grew up in this situation.  Also sadly, it makes sense if you think about it.

Someone who doesn’t understand the extreme toxicity that is emotional incest wants to fit in with their family, even if they hate the dynamic.  They will behave however they need to in order to fit in.  On some level however, they know this isn’t normal so they are dealing with cognitive dissonance.  In other words, they grew up thinking this is normal & anything that threatens that belief makes them extremely uncomfortable & confused.  Time away from their toxic family is their detox, & it relieves them of that uncomfortable feeling, at least until the next time they deal with their family.

Even if someone is aware of what is happening & just how dysfunctional their family is, being around such people can bring old habits back to the surface disturbingly easily.  It’s a lot like drug addicts.  They can stay clean much easier when they avoid people who are still addicts & are around people who don’t do drugs.  Getting around those who are still actively addicted makes it very hard for them to stay on their healthier path.  When they backslide, they may get clean again but they are NOT going to be happy with themselves for backsliding.  The same goes for those with emotionally incestuous families.  If a person has worked hard to get healthier, then slides back into old habits, they are going to be pretty upset with themselves when they recognize their bad behavior.  They need time away from their family so they can detox to get back on the right path.

Another problem is the emotionally incestuous family encourages the dysfunctional behavior.  They reward bad behavior, throwing some breadcrumbs of affection or praise to their family members who follow the rules of the family & don’t try to make any healthy changes.  No matter how much someone may want to break free of this to live in a healthier way, the pressure to “behave” & get those crumbs of affection can be very great, which also can account for the need to detox after leaving.  Distance from these highly dysfunctional people helps them to recognize what is happening, & to get back on the right path.

Emotionally incestuous family members also despise anyone who doesn’t enable & encourage their toxic behavior.  They will talk badly about anyone who encourages someone in the emotionally incestuous family to distance themselves from the toxicity.  If someone in such a family has a friend or spouse that speaks against this behavior, the family is not going to tolerate this quietly.  They will tell everyone just how awful that person is, how they’re trying to tear apart the family or even steal their family member away from the family.  If someone hears this enough from their family, they may believe it in time, & return to the dysfunctional fold.  Time away from them, time to detox from the dysfunction, can clear their head.

If your family is emotionally incestuous, then please, do yourself a huge favor & take the time to detox from them as frequently as you can!  It will be good for your mental health!  Or, if someone you know is in such a situation, encourage them to do the same.  Be willing to listen to them without judgment & speak the truth to them about what their family is really like (gently of course!). 

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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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Another Good Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering 10% off my print books when you use code INFLUENCE10 at checkout until May 27, 2022.

Print versions of my books can be found at the link below..

Cynthia Bailey-Rug’s spotlight on Lulu

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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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People Who See Things A Bit Differently

I am one of those people who sees things differently than the majority of people.  I believe this different perception comes from not only my natural personality but also surviving narcissistic abuse.  One way this perception manifests is I often can spot problems quicker than most people.  Some time ago, I noticed one of my cats was acting a little bit standoffish.  I mentioned this on Facebook & said that I was concerned about her.  A friend said, “She probably is just having an off day.  Don’t worry about it.”  I ignored this comment because I just knew something was wrong.  When my cat saw the vet, he diagnosed her with an over active thyroid.  If left untreated, it could have caused her serious problems or potentially even killed her.

This also happens with people.  If someone I’m close to introduces me to their new boyfriend or girlfriend, I almost immediately pick up on whether or not this person is a good person or not & in time, I’m usually proven right.  One former friend of mine married a guy who I didn’t particularly like on first sight.  I couldn’t put my finger on it that day, but something felt off to me even though the guy said & did all the right things.  It didn’t take long & I realized this guy wanted to isolate my friend.  I knew he was going to end our friendship soon.  In less than one year after we met, my friend married him & only two weeks after the wedding, the new husband started an argument with me that caused me to lose my friend of over 20 years. 

To me, this different way of looking at things is a gift.  In those two examples I provided, I was able to get my beautiful kitty the help she needed before her thyroid caused her more serious problems & I also wasn’t blindsided by the dissolution of my friendship because I could see it coming long before it happened.  Good stuff if you ask me!  However, other people don’t share that opinion.  Many people can be critical of people like me who can spot things easily.  I want to help you today.

One thing people have said to me is I’m just looking for problems.  Spotting problems easily isn’t “just looking for problems.”  It’s being aware, which is not a bad thing at all!  Being aware helps you to know how to deal with people & situations. 

Similarly is a comment about trying to start drama.  So much no to this one.  Nothing about the truth is starting drama.  The truth really does set you free like nothing else & it is a very wonderful thing!

Another comment people have said is that it’s too negative to be like this, because I only see the bad.  This is another thing that is not true!  People who are highly in tune with potential problems also are equally in tune with good things.  I spot red flags in people just as quickly as I spot “green flags”, those things that show someone is a good person.  The green flags cause me to relax, unlike the red flags that get my guard up.  On the outside it can look as if I’m ignoring the good & focusing on the bad.  This isn’t the case though, as those of you reading this know since you probably do the exact same thing!

If you are someone who sees things differently, then ignore the nay sayers.  Enjoy this quality about yourself & use it no matter who disapproves of it!  God has given you a great gift, so use it & use it well!  It will help you time & time again & also enable you to have good relationships, so why shouldn’t you use it?

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When Families Are Too Close

Most people consider close knit families to be a good thing.  And they really can be a blessing!  They obviously love & support each other through everything life throws their way, yet everyone still has their own life & a healthy amount of individuality & privacy.  Sometimes however, families become too close.  These families are known as enmeshed, & they are truly toxic.  Families like this have very lax or non existent boundaries, dysfunctional patterns in relationships & they discourage any independence.  Children who grow up with such families end up as dysfunctional adults until they break the chains of enmeshment.

Enmeshed parents are overly dependent on their children.  They rely on their children for emotional support while offering nothing in return.  They also expect their children to share their beliefs, values, to meet their expectations even into adulthood all while ignoring their own & they also expect their children to keep their parents as their top priority during their entire lifetime above anyone else including a spouse, children & even God.  These parents believe their children need nothing from the world beyond their family, & looking to that world is discouraged.  Parents like this also expect their children to maintain the status quo of dysfunction, & are chastised severely if they don’t.  Privacy doesn’t happen between parents & children, meaning any topic is suitable for discussion, any item is considered appropriate for the parents to snoop through (purses, dressers, closets, laundry, etc).  Families like this remind me of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The children are supposed to be concerned of nothing beyond the Collective, in other words the enmeshing parent.  And, if those children opt to marry, their spouse is supposed to be assimilated, also focusing on the Collective.  Any hint of not behaving in this manner is seriously frowned upon & results in shunning, shaming & treating the spouse terribly.

Children who grow up in these dysfunctional enmeshed families have plenty of issues.  They have virtually no knowledge of their own needs, often minimizing or completely ignoring them.  Their goals aren’t their own, but their parents’.  These children never learn how to say no in a healthy way.  They have serious trust issues with other people, & a fear of abandonment in relationships.  They also feel overly responsible, in particular for taking care of their parents.  Possibly the saddest part is children who grow up like this never have the opportunity to make their own choices & mistakes, which are needed to form their own identity.  Without this, these children grow up with low or even non existent self esteem. 

If you recognize yourself in this information, rest assured you can heal from the damage done.  I can’t tell you it will be quick & easy, but I can tell you it is very possible.

I always recommend a close relationship with God because it is of the utmost importance in every area of life.  It is also incredibly helpful with healing from abuse.  (And, make no mistake about it – enmeshment IS abuse!)  Allowing God to help you heal & show you what to do is going to be vital to healing.  He knows best what you need to do & how you need to do it, so let Him show you & give you whatever you need to do these things.

There are some basic things that everyone needs to do to break this enmeshment with family.  You will need to start by setting boundaries.  There is information about this on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com, so you can start there.  Learning what is & is not your responsibility will be extremely helpful for you.  And, start small, such as not answering a text immediately.  Starting small will help you to gain the confidence to set more & more challenging boundaries in time.

Get to know yourself.  Learn who God made you to be, what you truly like & dislike,  & how to identify your feelings over what your enmeshed parent told you to feel.  To do this, start paying attention to how you really feel about things & don’t judge your feelings. 

Accept that there is no shame in not having your parents as your top priority as an adult.  People need to have God as their top priority, period.  If you are married, your spouse should be your second priority, followed by your children, then your parents. 

Your enmeshed parent isn’t going to like these behaviors, & that is your parent’s right.  You also have rights, including doing what you need to do to be a healthy, functional person!  Don’t let your parent’s disapproval take you off that path!

Do what you need to do to break free of this enmeshment.  It won’t be easy but it absolutely will be worth it!

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When People Try To Shut Down Other People’s Anger

Many people can’t handle anger in people other than themselves.  As a result, they try to stop people from displaying their anger by invalidating them, dismissing them or even shaming them for being angry.  Clearly that is wrong in many ways.  While anger isn’t pleasant, it also isn’t a bad thing when handled properly.  People should be allowed to express it in reasonable ways without fear of being invalidated, dismissed or shamed.  And, no one should be so horrified by reasonable displays of anger that they try to stop them

I’m sure there are countless reasons people try to shut down healthy displays of anger.  Rather than try to guess them all, I’ll only deal with a few here today.

Narcissists can’t handle any emotions in people, but anger in particular bothers them.  Anyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has seen this first hand.  They will do whatever it takes to stop someone who is angry, in particular angry with them.  If they can prevent someone from feeling anger, their chances of getting away with abuse are much greater.

Many people were raised with angry parents.  Their parents did everything to display their anger in unhealthy ways such as guilt trips, invalidating, dismissing, screaming, & hitting.  Even years after the last abusive episode, these people are still terrified by anger in anyone.  They will do anything to avoid it, including trying anything they can to shut down someone who is angry in their presence. 

There are others who are excessively positive, & can’t handle any negativity whatsoever.  Rather than allow someone to feel valid, even righteous anger, they try to get that person to “cheer up” so they don’t have to deal with their “negativity”.

There are also people who naturally internalize their feelings.  It’s just a part of their personality.  Logical type personalities often do this.  They may come across as cold & unfeeling, but the simple fact is they don’t need to verbalize any feelings to process them.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t feel emotions, even anger.  They just don’t often feel the need to show those feelings to other people. They may look down on someone who is comfortable with expressing their feelings, especially anger, because they feel that is something that should be kept to oneself.

Some people are also very insecure & dysfunctional.  People like this try to make themselves into what they think other people would like them to be.  They seem to lack respect for people who don’t do the same, & people who show their anger clearly don’t do the same.  They are more concerned with authenticity than other people liking them.

There are also others who misunderstand what the Bible says about anger, & think it is always bad or sinful instead of realizing it is the behavior based on anger that can be bad.  They will try to shut down someone who is angry in an attempt to help them to stop “sinning”. 

When you understand reasons why someone could try to shut you down when you’re angry, it can be helpful because it shows you that there isn’t something wrong with you.  Every normal person feels anger sometimes & there is nothing wrong with showing that anger in a healthy way.

If someone clearly can’t handle your anger, it’s best if you don’t let them see your anger.  Venting to someone like this only will add to your anger because of their behavior.  Or, if they are the reason for your anger, them trying to get you to stop being angry at them will make things worse.  It’s far better to vent to someone who can handle all of your emotions, not only the good ones.  

If you do opt to talk to this person about why they insist on trying to shut you down when you’re angry, do so when you’re calmer.  State your case calmly & logically.  Statements like, “I feel like you can’t tolerate when I get angry, even when it’s not directed at you.  Why is that?”  “What do you think is going to happen when I get angry?”  Get the other person thinking & identifying their feelings.  It truly will help both of you to find a solution to this situation.  Obviously if the person in question is a narcissist, this won’t help, because they don’t want to change or have a healthy relationship.  Instead, try not to show the narcissist when you’re angry & when you do, don’t let them make you believe something is wrong with you for what you feel!

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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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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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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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When Healthy People Vent vs When Toxic People “Vent”

I have had more people come to me with their problems during my lifetime than I can remember.  It just seems to be a fact of my life.  Most of the time, I find people usually just want someone to validate them & say things like, “I understand” or, “I’m sorry that happened to you!”  It can be draining, but I can handle that. 

Then there are the emotional vampires like narcissists who only want a listening ear.  Unlike other more functional people, they don’t want validation.  They don’t want advice.  They want to treat someone as their emotional trash can, dumping all of their negativity onto that person in order to make themselves feel better with no regard to that person’s feelings.

For a long time, I didn’t realize one of these two types of people was just using me & being toxic.  Eventually I figured out some ways to tell the difference & I hope sharing them will help you.

If someone needs to vent, often they have respect for your time.  They will ask if you have a few minutes because they need to vent.  You are free to say not now & their feelings won’t be hurt.  The more toxic the person, the less likely they will do this & the more likely they also will take up a LOT of your time.  As an added “bonus”- they won’t apologize for taking up your time when they realize they have been talking for hours.

Someone who is venting wants a solution.  If there isn’t one, they are frustrated about that fact.  A person who is toxic has no desire for a solution.  Instead, they simply ramble on & on about their issue, & every time a possible solution is offered, they offer reasons why that solution won’t work. 

Similarly, the toxic person also isn’t open to constructive criticism.  If they have done something wrong in the scenario they are discussing, they don’t want to hear about it.  They get defensive or make up excuses as to why what they did was ok & the other person was all wrong.  Healthy people are open to constructive criticism & will own up to any mistakes they have made.

If you are the listener & you try to show the speaker in this situation the perspective of someone else, a healthy person is willing to consider that.  A toxic person isn’t.  They don’t care about the other person’s perspective in the slightest, only about their own.

When the speaking person was clearly wronged, you can see the difference easily between a toxic person & a healthy one.  The toxic person will not only be upset about what happened, but will play the victim.  In other words, they will accept no responsibility for any wrong they have contributed to the situation, they will claim life is so hard & unfair for them, claim they had no other option but to be in this painful situation & more.

Toxic people in these situations also are notorious for dumping a barrage of issues at once on their listeners.  They don’t seem to notice that the listener has become overwhelmed, either.  They just keep on talking.  Healthy people don’t do this.  They vent about one issue, sometimes two, but that is all.  They also notice if their listener is feeling overwhelmed.

If you have the misfortune of one of these toxic types treating you as their trash can, my heart goes out to you!  Just remember, you have every right to set boundaries.  You can leave the room or hang up the phone.  You can refuse to take their calls if they call you often.  And yes, you even have the right to end the relationship.  Protect your mental health!

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For The People Pleasers

Those abused by narcissists, in particular raised by narcissistic parents, tend to be people pleasers to an extreme.  Under the abusive influence, you learn that you are to have no needs & never to burden anyone with your so called “trivial” wants, needs & feelings. You also learn that love is conditional & if you want love, you must do everything right.  It’s the perfect recipe for becoming a people pleaser.

Finally comes a time when you realize you are exhausted & depressed.  This people pleasing thing is extremely hard work & incredibly unrewarding.  Instead of people loving you & appreciating all that you do for them, they expect more & more from you.  They also expect you to do for them no matter what is happening with you.  You could be sad or busy or sick, & they still expect you to do whatever pleases them with no regard to you.  The unfairness of it all makes you mad.

You also realize that no matter how hard you try, pleasing people is impossible to do all of the time.  Being a mere human being, you will fail sometimes.  You will miss the mark.  Those who expect you to please them have little patience for your failures, & can be very cruel.  This adds to your anger & depression.

You also realize you can’t spend all of your life trying to make other people comfortable & happy.  It’s not your job!  Besides, many of the people you worry about making comfortable & happy don’t care about making you comfortable in return, so the relationship is very one-sided.  This unfair burden is maddening.

You also reach a time of being fed up with other people’s expectations.  You will become very angry that people expect so much of you while giving you little or even nothing in return.  You finally realize that it’s detrimental to your mental & emotional health to make pleasing others a priority while ignoring yourself. 

One day you are going to be furious that you lost your identity while trying to please other people.  You will realize that you have no idea who the real you is & that too will make you angry.  That realization is scary & painful.  It leaves you feeling completely lost. 

You also will become fed up with constantly having to defend yourself.  When you can’t do something that is expected of you by the ungrateful, using types, they get angry & say & do the cruelest things as a way of punishing you for not doing what they think you’re supposed to do.  That gets old!

The life of a people pleaser is not an easy one.  It also isn’t the one that God wants anyone to live!  The purpose of this post today is to help inspire you to break free of that extremely dysfunctional role!

Stop worrying about pleasing everyone!  It’s impossible anyway.  Instead, worry about pleasing God, yourself, & those safe & wonderful people closest to you!

Learn who you are, & embrace that person.  Psalm 139:14 says that you are fearfully & wonderfully made.  In other words, God doesn’t make trash.  He made you into the special, wonderful person that you are.

You deserve the same happiness you’re trying to give other people.  Don’t be afraid to help yourself to some happiness for a change!

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When Gratitude Can Be Toxic

Gratitude is a topic that is presented as of the utmost importance in society.  And, gratitude is a wonderful thing.  Life is much happier when you are grateful for the good things in your life.  I feel so much joy when I focus on appreciating little things, like going for a drive with some good music playing in the car.

There are times though that gratitude isn’t the best solution.  It may even be impossible. 

If you have lost a loved one, for example, you will get to the point where you are grateful they’re no longer suffering & that you had them in your life for however long the time was.  To get to that point though, you first will need to go through the grief process.  That is going to take time, & involve some unpleasant emotions like feeling lost & alone, anger & intense depression.  To get to the grateful place is messy, & shouldn’t be skipped over.  Focusing only on gratitude for that person while not properly grieving means you’re ignoring pain that needs your attention in order to heal.  Ignored pain finds alternative ways to get your attention, & those ways aren’t healthy.  It can manifest as unhealthy relationships, addictions, physical & mental health problems.

This is also true when it comes to dealing with abuse in your past. 

There are people who tell victims that they need to be grateful for the trauma because it supposedly made them strong or it made them who they are today.  This can be so harmful for victims!  It’s invalidating & also can create a great deal of shame in a victim who is struggling & unable to feel any gratitude.  It is so cruel to tell someone this & make their struggle even harder than it needs to be!

This post is for people who have hurt such comments about how they need to be grateful for what they have been through.  There is nothing wrong with you for not feeling grateful.  Healing is ugly.  It involves a lot of terrible feeling emotions.  It also is a grief process, because you have to accept that some pretty terrible things were done to you, & that caused you to lose precious time in your life, maybe even your whole childhood if your abuser was your parent.  How can any human feel gratitude during such a process?!  It takes a long time & a lot of healing first before you can feel any gratitude related to your situation.

Rather than try to create a grateful heart at this time, forget that.  Not necessarily forever, but for the near future at least until you are further along in your healing journey.  Focus on your healing instead of gratitude.  Feel all the ugly emotions & process them fully.  Then, maybe you can be grateful for some aspects of your experiences.  There are a few things to be grateful for after all.

You can be grateful the trauma & abuse didn’t destroy you, that you have a lot of inner strength that enabled you to survive it, that the abusers are no longer in your life & that God has found some purpose in your pain such as writing about it to help other people.  You also can be grateful for having the courage to face your struggles, because that courage isn’t something everyone has.  Please remember that gratitude can be a good thing to help a person add joy to their life, but it isn’t a cure all.  It isn’t a healthy alternative to pain.  It isn’t like an ointment that will soothe your pain either.  You can feel gratitude while also facing painful, even traumatic things have happened to you.  Just remember not to try to rush yourself into feeling gratitude.

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Regarding Those Who Justify Narcissistic Behavior While Blaming Victims

Proverbs 17:15 states, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (KJV)  All verses in the Bible are important of course, but this one strikes me as being especially important in these days where Narcissistic Personality Disorder is so prevalent.

So many people have similar reactions when someone tells them that they were abused at the hands of a narcissist.  They often defend the narcissist, saying something along the lines of he or she probably didn’t mean what was said THAT way.  They excuse the abuse because the narcissist was abused as a child or some other equally lame excuse.  They also may minimize or even deny the abuse ever happened.  One of my aunts referred to the abuse I endured at the hands of my parents as “childhood hurts”, & told me I needed to get over them. 

As bad as such behaviors are, a person condemning a victim is even worse in my opinion.

According to Merriam- Webster’s online dictionary, to condemn someone means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation/ to pronounce guilty.”  Telling someone who has been subjected to horrific cruelty that they are wrong or evil for the abuse that they had to endure is simply reprehensible!  Subjecting such a person to harsh judgment or blaming the victim for “making” their abuser hurt them are also reprehensible behaviors!

Treating someone in these ways can create a great deal of unnecessary toxic shame in them, adding to the already large amount that the narcissist in their life created.  Anyone who does this, in my opinion, is a sorry excuse for a human being.  However, my opinion isn’t really what matters here.  God also has some very strong feelings on this behavior.

Also according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the word abomination means, “a thing that causes disgust or hatred.”

Can you imagine God, the loving, compassionate, kind & gracious God who created the universe & everything in it, feeling that way towards a person He has created?  It seems impossible, doesn’t it?  But it isn’t impossible!  It happens & probably more often than we care to admit. 

As much as God loves His entire creation, even He has limits & no tolerance for certain things.  The next time you are subjected to someone either defending or excusing the narcissist who has abused you, or blaming you for the abuse, I urge you to remember Proverbs 17:15.  When you do, remember, that people like this need prayer though so if you feel able to do that, then please pray for them & guard your heart against their toxicity getting inside of you.  Remember, what they say is WRONG, so protect yourself against their lies taking root in your heart & mind.

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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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Sale On My Print Books!

My publisher is offering a sale on all of my print books. Use code ORDER15 at checkout.

My books can be found at the link below:

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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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How To Know If No Contact With Your Abusive Parent Is Necessary

Many people have very definite opinions on no contact but especially when it comes to parents.  There are so many who claim no contact is the only option & there is no excuse not to sever ties with toxic parents.  There are probably just as many who claim it’s not God’s will, no contact is dishonorable & there is absolutely no excuse to sever ties with your parents no matter what they have done to you. 

If you are in the position of wondering if no contact is your best solution, no doubt you have read information on both sides of this argument.  It can be truly overwhelming & confusing!

My purpose in this post is to help you decide whether or not no contact is necessary in your particular situation.  Following are some questions you need to consider.  When you answer them, the more honestly you answer, the more clarity you should have about whether or not you need to go no contact with your parent.

Is your parent willing to discuss your relationship?  Narcissistic parents have no desire to discuss the relationship or work towards solutions.  They don’t want to hear their victim’s complaints, & can shut down as soon as the conversation turns to their behavior.  Functional people are open to discussion & are willing to listen, not only talk.

Does your parent deny any responsibility for problems in the relationship?  Functional people admit when they are wrong.  They apologize & try to make appropriate changes.  Dysfunctional people, narcissists in particular, refuse to admit they have made mistakes.  Instead, they refuse to admit any wrong doing, shift all blame to the victim or make lame excuses for their behavior.

When discussing the relationship, does your parent turn the situation around to where you are the abuser, them the victim?  Covert narcissists in particular love to do this.  No matter how valid your complaint about their behavior, they can spin the situation around to make you look abusive, while simultaneously making them look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways.  Functional people do nothing like this.

Is your parent completely inflexible?  For any relationship to work, both parties have to be rather flexible.  One person can’t do all of the compromising & expect the relationship to be a healthy one.  Yet, narcissists aren’t concerned with what is healthy.  They’re only concerned with what they want, & what they want is a one sided relationship where their victim caters to their every whim.  Functional people are willing to bend & compromise if it means the relationship will be better.

Is your parent very entitled?  Functional parents accept that their children are grown with their own life, family & responsibilities.  They don’t expect to be their adult child’s top priority.  Entitled parents are much different.  They think their adult children need to have them as top priority even over their spouse &/or children & are impossible.  No matter how much their adult child does for them, it never will be enough nor will it please this parent.  Even if their adult child does so much for them that their spouse divorces them, it still won’t be enough.  It may please the parent, however, to have that spouse out of the picture so the adult child can focus on them even more. 

Have you tried your best to fix this relationship yet it either didn’t change or got worse?  One person can’t fix a relationship, but by altering their behavior, some change should come naturally to the relationship.  If the relationship stayed the same or got worse, that is not a good sign.  Narcissists don’t like their victims to change unless that change means the victim is more subservient.  If your parent is like the dysfunctional ones I discussed, chances are excellent that no contact is your best solution.  I don’t like to say anyone definitely should go no contact, because each person & each situation is unique.  However, the dysfunctional behaviors I’ve discussed are big signs that there is no working things out with anyone who behaves that way.  From here, I highly recommend lots of prayer & consideration of your unique situation.  And, if you realize no contact is necessary for you, then you can have peace of mind knowing you did all you could & gave it a lot of serious consideration before implementing no contact.

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