Tag Archives: toxic

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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Facts About Toxic Shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Dysfunctional Family Members Side With Your Abuser

Living through narcissistic abuse is a horrific experience that no one should have to endure.  As if that isn’t bad enough, many victims open up to their family about their experiences & are met with unbelief, blame, shaming comments, denial & more.  Their family members say that they should forgive & forget, get over it, & other invalidating comments.  It’s so shocking when you expect support & love & are met with these terrible reactions.  As if this wasn’t enough, many families offer unconditional love & support to the abuser while shunning the victim.

The vast majority of my family never cared that my parents were abusive to me.  They ignored signs when I was a child.  As an adult, they told me things like I needed to get over my childhood hurts, I only get one set of parents & I needed to fix the relationship with my parents.  No doubt many of you can relate.

Victims often wonder why their family acts this way.  I have some ideas why.  By explaining the behavior, I am certainly NOT excusing it.  There is no valid reason to treat a victim this way.  I am simply trying to show victims that the people who say such comments are incredibly dysfunctional & should be ignored not believed.

Denial is the main reason families reject victims & support abusers.  Who wants to accept the fact that someone they love in their own family is capable of horrible acts?!  No one.  Many people do it anyway.  Many other people lack the courage to face that ugly truth.  Also, by denying the abuse, they can have a clear conscience when it comes to failing to help or protect the victim.  If the abuse didn’t happen, even only in their mind, then they did nothing wrong.  Lastly, many of these people care a great deal about the abuser.  Narcissists can be quite charming & likeable.  These people believe this act is the real person & become so enchanted with that false persona, they will reject anything that threatens it which includes someone claiming that person isn’t the perfect person they present themselves as.

Many of these abuse defenders have abuse in their own past.  For every victim of abuse who confronts their pain & works on healing, there are other victims who don’t have the courage to do the same.  They pretend they weren’t abused, pushing all memories as far away from them as they can so as to avoid their pain.  When you face your pain, those people are reminded of theirs, especially if the abuse had similarities.  Facing your pain makes them feel badly for not facing theirs as well as reminds them of their own pain.  Since they don’t want to be reminded of their own pain, they will do their best to shut you down quickly. 

Some abuse defenders are also abusive narcissists.  Abusers don’t want to admit any behavior is abusive.  It means admitting to themselves that they too are abusers, & what they are doing is wrong.  While narcissists lack the empathy to care about the pain & suffering they cause their victims, they do care about what others think of them.  To be known as an abuser tarnishes their reputation, which is something they wish to avoid at all costs.

Many abuse defenders benefit from befriending the narcissist.  Immediately after my mother died, I learned she sent one of my aunts money monthly.  I was stunned!  They never got along & my mother often had complained of my aunt’s lack of money management skills as well as her expectations of others to bail her out every time she got herself into trouble.  I can only assume her benefiting from my mother is why she was such a staunch defender of my parents.  There are many others in similar situations who like my aunt, refuse to chance losing their benefits from the narcissist & prefer to throw their victims under the bus.

When you are in such a situation, I hope you keep this information in mind.  When your family dismisses your valid claims of abuse, the problem definitely isn’t you.  It’s them!

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Things A Mother In-Law Wants From Her Daughter In-Law

I came across this really interesting article about what a mother in-law wants in her daughter in-law.  My curiosity was piqued, so I read it.  It got me to thinking just how different a narcissistic mother in-law is from a functional one.  I thought I’d do a side by side comparison of the two based on the article in case anyone reading this is wondering if their mother in-law is a narcissist.

  1. A woman who will consider her a friend.  A daughter in-law is nothing more than competition to the narcissistic mother in-law.  Friendship is NOT gonna happen!
  2. A woman who makes her son’s life easier.  Seems to me, the narcissistic version of this one is “a woman who has no needs or wants of her own, who waits on her son hand & foot, expects nothing in return & is blindly obedient to the mother in-law.”
  3. A woman who shows how much she loves her husband by the way she talks about him.  Never seen or heard anything of the sort from a narcissistic mother in-law.  Seems to me it’s more about actions, like those I mentioned in the last point.  It also seems that in their eyes, their daughters in-law should be seen & not heard.
  4. A woman who will be a good listener.  A functional mother in-law & a narcissistic one both want this, I believe, but the difference is the functional mother in-law gladly will return the favor.  Narcissists only return the favor when they think they can learn something to use as ammunition against the daughter in-law at some point.
  5. A woman whose faith in Jesus is evident.  I would guess that the only narcissistic mothers in-law who have any interest in their daughter in-law’s faith is those who are concerned about looking good to their church.  And, she won’t hesitate to twist Scripture around to manipulate her daughter in-law.
  6. A woman who forgives her past mistakes.  What narcissist admits to past mistakes?  This obviously isn’t important to the narcissistic mother in-law because she doesn’t make mistakes & if by some chance she did, they were the fault of someone else.
  7. A woman who helps her navigate the technology-driven, social media-frenzied world today.  I can’t really imagine any narcissistic mother in-law who may want to learn more about technology looking for help from her daughter in-law.  Viewing her daughter in-law as beneath her, why would she ask her for help in any area?
  8. A woman who resolves not to see differences of opinions, interference, or interruptions as an intentional dig.  This one may depend on the narcissist.  Some no doubt want blind obedience from their daughters in-law, including never speaking back to them & assuming the best about them.  But there are many others that want their daughters in-law to be angry with them.  That works out very well for the narcissist in question, because she can use this in several ways.  She can use it to prove her daughter in-law is unappreciative, crazy, irrational, or over sensitive.  She also can use this to prove she is the innocent victim of her daughter in-law’s abuse.
  9. A woman who gives her credit for the incredible son she raised.  The one area that functional mothers in-law & narcissistic mothers in-law are alike to some degree.  Who wouldn’t want to hear she did a great job raising her son?  Narcissists take it to the extreme though, pretty much expecting to be worshiped for her amazing mothering skills.
  10. A woman who doesn’t compete for her children’s love.  If you know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you know that narcissistic parents become narcissistic grandparents.  Unlike a nice, normal, functional grandparent, the narcissistic one will expect to be first place in their grandchild’s life.  They also may lie to the grandchild about the child’s parent(s) or tell the child there is no reason to listen to Mom & Dad.  Many even bribe the grandchild with money or gifts to gain that child’s favor.

As you can see, there are many differences between healthy, functional mothers in-law & narcissistic ones.  I hope you aren’t dealing with the narcissistic variety because they are incredibly difficult to deal with at best!

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About Toxic In-Laws, part 2



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About Toxic In-Laws, part 1

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My Latest Book Is Now Available!

My latest book, “Regrettably Related: A Guide to Toxic In-laws” is now available in both print & ebook versions.

The print version is available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/regrettably-related-a-guide-to-toxic-in-laws/paperback/product-24225183.html

The ebook version is available here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/955631

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Ways Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warning Signs Of Those Who You Shouldn’t Tell About The Abuse In Your Past

Finding the courage to set boundaries on being abused & even to end a toxic relationship isn’t easy.  It takes a tremendous amount of courage & strength to do such things.  One of the few things that is even more difficult is to tell other people your story.  Part of the reason for this is the victim blaming & shaming that is so common in society.

Many people simply don’t want to hear anything negative.  They are so obscenely positive it’s just ridiculous.  If something is less than positive, they don’t want to hear it, & will shut that person down quickly when they can.

Even more common is those who have been abused themselves, yet refuse to face their pain.  When they see someone facing their pain & conquering it, it makes them feel uncomfortable for two reasons.  First, it reminds them of what they are trying so hard to forget.  Second, it makes them feel inferior for not doing the same thing.

There are also those who enable abusers.  For whatever bizarre reasons, they pity abusers & hate victims instead of the other way around.  They have no tolerance for anyone who dares to speak out against abuse.  They label these people troublemakers, liars, attention seekers, drama queens & more.

Often, people like this are easy to spot.  They are the loud ones who call victims names, harass them & even send them vicious hate emails, texts & voicemails.  The one plus about these people is you can have no doubt about what kind of awful person you’re dealing with when they act this way.  The problem is when people are much more subtle in the way they try to shame & shut down victims.  Below are some warning signs that someone is not safe to tell your story to.

If someone refers to your relationship as one where both you & your abuser are at fault for its demise, this person isn’t safe.  We all know that no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  However, when a person is abusive, it’s not an innocent mistake.  It’s a deliberate choice to harm another person.  Any functional person should recognize that!

All victims need understanding & empathy.  Even if a person hasn’t been in an abusive relationship, anyone should be able to grasp that it’s not a pleasant experience & feel badly that anyone experienced that.  Someone who can’t clearly lacks empathy & is a toxic person.

Avoid anyone who trivializes the abuse.  One of my aunts once referred to the abuse I experienced as, “childhood hurts.”  That truly hurt me & it destroyed our relationship.  Luckily, it happened well into my healing journey.  If it happens to someone new to their healing, an invalidating comment like this can be devastating!

Those who make excuses for abusers should be avoided.  People who do this are as toxic as the abuser!  They invalidate the victim’s pain & suffering, & even make the victim feel ashamed for not being understanding, or being too sensitive & such.  The truth is there is NO good reason to abuse, period.

People who judge a person’s healing are toxic.  Everyone heals differently & at a different pace.  Many toxic people try to rush a victim along with comments like, “You need to let this go.”  “It’s been how many months since you left him?”  “You told me this already.”  This does no good!  To process & heal from abuse, it takes a lot of time, energy & sometimes even telling the same story over & over in an attempt to make some sense of it.  A person who doesn’t understand that is toxic.

Anyone who uses a person’s faith as a reason they should tolerate abuse is incredibly toxic & should be avoided at all costs.  While God didn’t promise this life would be easy, He never said anywhere in the Bible that tolerating abuse is good & holy.  Yet, there are many who think it is the “good Christian” thing to do, tolerating abuse.  I’m no theologian, but I do recognize that tolerating & enabling abuse is not only wrong, it’s not God’s will.

If you come across these kinds of people, remember, not everyone needs to know your story.  Refuse to discuss it with them.  You don’t need to be abused even more than you already have been!

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Stop Beating Yourself Up For Making Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Toxic In-Laws

I’ve been working on a book for a while now about toxic/narcissistic in-laws.  I’m struggling to write it for a few reasons.  I’ve been really distracted by things going on in my life since I started this book 2 years ago.  I also felt that I needed to put it on the back burner to write other books.  The topic is such a hard one for me to write about too, because I honestly have been through hell because of some of my husband’s family, & I’m still healing.  And, in spite of taking frequent breaks, I’m pretty burned out on all things narcissism.  These issues make this one tough book to write.  That being said, I believe the topic is an important one so I will finish it.  It just may take some time.

Since my book is delayed, here is a post to help identify whether or not your in-laws are toxic.  I will write from the perspective of a daughter in-law with a toxic mother in-law, since that is the bulk of my experience as well as the bulk of the experiences of people I’ve spoken with.  The information is good for toxic sisters in-law, fathers in-law, etc. though.

Does your mother in-law ignore you?  The purpose of this behavior is to show you that you mean nothing to her.

Does she refuse to accept responsibility for treating you badly?  Rather than say something like, “I shouldn’t have said that.. I’m sorry,” does she make excuses for her words or actions or deny them completely?  This is a big red flag.  Functional people accept responsibility for what they say & do.

Does your mother in-law have a different personality depending on whether or not you are alone with her or others are around?  Another big red flag!  Any abuser will behave differently to their victim depending on whether or not there are witnesses.  They want to hide their abuse from other people.

Does she expect you to be blindly devoted to her family, even to the point of rejecting your own family & friends?  Many toxic mothers in-law remind me of the Borg from the tv show “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”   They expect their son’s or daughter’s new spouse to become completely enmeshed in their new in-law family.

Like the Borg, toxic mothers in-law expect their new sons or daughters in-law to adapt to their opinions, religion, way of life, etc.  Individuality is highly discouraged by toxic mothers in-law.  I once told my late mother in-law I hate to cook.  I do it, but hate it.  For Christmas a few months later, she & her 2 daughters gave me nothing but cookbooks, utensils, food & other cooking paraphernalia.

Toxic in-laws show no respect.  Toxic in-laws show no respect for personal space, choices, likes/dislikes, parenting, & even boundaries.

And speaking of a lack of respect, your mother in-law makes it clear to you that she doesn’t like you.  Unless you abuse your mother in-law’s adult child or your children, if your mother in-law had any respect whatsoever for her child, she would be civil to you no matter how much she disliked you.  The inability to be civil even only for the sake of her adult child proves she is toxic.

Is she manipulative & controlling?  Toxic people, in particular narcissists, must be in charge.  Chances are, your mother in-law controls her spouse & children.  Since you married one of her children, she expects you to be as control-able & easily manipulated as everyone else.  When you say no, she is NOT happy.

If your toxic mother in-law is nice to you, it’s short lived & in front of others only.  Very few people are cruel 100% of the time.  Toxic people bring out their nice side when it can be advantageous to them.  Being nice sometimes will make their victim want to see it more, so they work harder to please the toxic person.  Also, being nice to a victim in front of others helps the toxic person prove to others that if you complain about the relationship, you are obviously the problem.

Mothers in-law like this care nothing of their adult child beyond what he can do for her.  They clearly have no respect for him either, since they treat the person he chose to spend his life with so badly.  His marriage is nothing more to this kind of mother than an embarrassment, & she would like it simply to go away.  Since she can’t file for divorce on his behalf, she becomes extremely destructive to the adult child’s marriage with her abusive ways.

Your spouse no doubt suffers greatly from his mother’s abusive behavior, yet tolerates it anyway.  This is because he is accustomed to how his mother behaves.  This is his norm & many adults in this situation have accepted this as their permanent reality.  By complaining about his mother’s behavior or even confronting her, this threatens his norm.  Facing the truth can be incredibly painful for many in this position, which is why many refuse to face the truth.  This feeling is known as cognitive dissonance.  Rather than face this miserable feeling, many people in this situation will do their best to shut down their spouse.  They don’t want to hear about the bad things their mother is doing, so they will tell their wife they don’t believe her, she is over sensitive, she just doesn’t understand Mom, that’s her problem so she needs to leave him out of it & more.  They refuse to confront their mother on behalf of their wife.

Naturally, the wife in this position feels rejected, unloved & hurt.  She wants to fight for her marriage, but it seems whatever she does is wrong, & whatever his mother does is right.  Her trying to save her marriage only causes more problems.  The reason for this is she doesn’t know that when you’re dealing with a narcissist, normal ways to cope don’t work.

For anyone in this position, you need to think of this situation more like a game of strategy than a relationship.

As always pray.  Ask God to help you to know what to do & to give you whatever you need to enable you to do it.  Pray for your husband to see the truth & for God to enable him to be able to cope with it, too.

Cope with your emotions as best you can by journaling, talking to a safe friend, pray.. whatever works for you.  Whatever you do, don’t hold in your emotions!

Don’t focus on your mother in-law’s bad behavior when it can be avoided.  Instead, focus on being the loving wife that you are.  Don’t neglect to remind your husband how much you love him.  If he complains about his mother to you for any reason, don’t join in.  Listen quietly to him & give him objective advice if he asks for it.  The reason being, the mindset of many people in this situation is they can complain about Mom, but if anyone else does, they jump to her defense.  This would only cause more problems in your marriage.

Along those lines, if you discuss his mother’s behavior with him, stay calm.  State your issues in a matter of fact way, lacking emotion.  If you rant & rave, that too will make him feel he must defend his mother, which only will hurt you & possibly your marriage.

Limit your exposure to your mother in-law as much as possible, but especially alone.  No narcissist wants to abuse their victim in front of the person they want to think well of them, so stay glued to your husband’s side as much as possible.

Keep your emotions in check around your mother in-law.  Narcissists love to twist a victim’s normal reaction around to prove how mentally unstable or even abusive the victim is to other people.  In her presence, stay calm.  Vent later when you’re away from her as needed though, so you don’t hold in all the bad emotions.

Having to deal with toxic, narcissistic in-laws is tough.  I know, I’ve been there.  But, with prayer, love, patience & wisdom, you can survive it with your marriage in tact.

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