Tag Archives: toxic

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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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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How Narcissists Use Shame To Abuse, part 1

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About Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Since my last post was about red flags in those who write about narcissism, I thought I’d make today’s post about fellow survivors.

Most people who have survived narcissistic abuse are good people who are trying hard to recover. Naturally they have issues, but at least they’re working on them & working on getting healthier. They also are willing to share what they learn to help others in similar situations, & do so without any arrogance. They’re also open to input from other people, because they realize they don’t know it all- there is always more to learn on this topic.

Not every victim is this way, however. Some turn abusive.

I don’t know why some victims try to heal & why some become abusive but it does happen sometimes. If you’re going to interact with other victims through online support groups, reading blogs or on social media, you need to be aware of some red flags.

The biggest red flag to watch out for is narcissism. Many of you know the signs already so I won’t repeat them here. I’ll just share a link to the page on my website where I wrote about it if you care to check it out: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Narcissistic-Personality-Disorder.php

There are other red flags, too. If a person gives advice too freely, for example. While most victims want to help others, they also realize how rude it is to give unasked for advice. They also realize sometimes a person just needs to speak things out loud to help them work through a situation, & that doesn’t mean they’re looking for advice.

If a person is bossy or demanding with their advice, that’s another red flag. Most people realize that all people are individuals. What worked for them may not work for another. They realize it’s not a good idea to try to force someone to follow their advice & let the other person decide for themselves whether or not to follow it.

Your average victim of narcissistic abuse also isn’t judgmental or critical. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged & criticized so harshly, so they don’t inflict that on anyone else. Some victims turned abusers, however, can be extremely judgmental & critical.

Some victims also become very arrogant. They seem to think because they found success in doing something that helped them, that everyone should follow in their footsteps & if they don’t, they’re foolish.

These same people are also usually the first ones to shame people who, “don’t just go no contact.” They make it clear they don’t believe there is any reason not to go no contact, & they offer no compassion to anyone who wants to but it unable to or is trying to find another option.

Abusive victims also make excuses. If they are short with someone, it’s always for a reason like they’re having a bad da, as one example. They don’t apologize or accept responsibility for the hurtful things they do.

And, if you call a person like this out on their actions, they WILL be furious. They may offer a non apology. They may offer lame excuses for their behavior. They also may get mad at you. That in particular is a big red flag, because most victims of narcissistic abuse apologize easily & often. They don’t get mad when called out on their bad behavior. They usually get mad only when someone is accusing them of something they didn’t do.

One other red flag is a smear campaign. This is very common on social media. If someone feels the online support group they participated in wasn’t a good environment for example, social media is an easy way to let the world know how you feel about it. That is pretty normal behavior, I think, but if a person posts about that group in a way that really trashes it, that is a red flag.

The last red flag is stalking or harassing another person online. With your average victim of narcissistic abuse, they may have a dispute with someone then either stop speaking with them or even block them entirely. A victim who is also abusive however, may harass or stalk someone who disagreed with them. They may leave nasty comments on their page or join groups the other person is in & harass them in the group. This nonsense can go on for a very long time, especially with narcissists.

The best advice I can give in these situations is the Gray Rock method. Don’t react to their outrageous behavior or show them that what they do bothers you. Remain calm & ignore their behavior. Don’t defend yourself to their smear campaigns. Instead, simply block them wherever you can. Most people like this will get bored easily & leave you alone at this point. Narcissists may not be so simple to get rid of however. They may bother you for a long time. Never, ever respond to them- instead keep blocking them & their flying monkeys.

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Some Ways Narcissists Use Shame

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

 

There are various ways narcissists use shame.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Believing All Parents Love Their Children Can Harm You

Children need to believe that their parents love them.  Normally, this is a very good thing, since most parents do love their children.  When the child’s parent is a narcissist, however, this is NOT a good thing!

 

Because of this need, abused children will make excuses for their parent abusing them.  I did – I told myself my mother loved me which is why she was “overprotective” rather than admitting she controlled my every move.

 

Children also will come up with reasons why the abuse was their fault, not the parent’s, taking all the blame while the parent gets away with abusing the child.  The child will think that she needs to get better grades in school, be better behaved, etc. to please the parent, so the parent doesn’t have to abuse her anymore.  Children don’t realize that narcissists are impossible to please, & will abuse their child even if the child is 100% perfect.

 

Some parents are actively abusive – they mentally, physically &/or sexually abuse their child – while others are more passive in their abuse, standing by quietly while the other parent obviously abuses the child.  Passive abusers also do not care about the child’s pain, & often will turn the active abuser onto the child if that person is mad at the passive abuser, simply to distract them.  If a child has one actively abusive parent & one passively abusive one, the need to believe that her parents love her will cloud her discernment greatly.  Even if she comes to realize that the actively abusive parent is abusive, it will take much longer to realize the passively abusive one is equally abusive.  The desperation to believe that at least one parent loves her will make the child think that the passive abusive parent loves her because at least that parent isn’t verbally, physically or sexually abusing her.  The child also may make excuses for that parent, saying that parent just didn’t know what to do or had no power to stop the abuse.  In fact, the child may feel pity for that parent, offering comfort after the child has been abused.  This happened with my father.  My mother would abuse me, & my father would tell me how he couldn’t do anything to stop it,  & how hard it was for him knowing how mean she was to me.  I would comfort him rather than him comforting & protecting me.

 

This need to believe parents love their children can cause many problems for adult children of narcissists, as you can see.  So I urge you today, Dear Reader, to look at your situation.  Are you harboring any beliefs that stem from that need?  Are you making excuses for your parent(s) because you think it’s easier than admitting your narcissistic parent never loved you?  If so, you’re only hurting yourself.

 

John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV)  This Scripture is absolutely true!  As difficult as facing the truth about your parents is, it is worth it.  Clinging to the childish belief that your parent loves you only hurts you.  It’s a domino effect of dysfunction, really.  You make more & more excuses for your parent’s abuse because you want to believe she loves you.  This only serves to keep you tolerating more & more abuse.  Facing the truth is the only thing that will set you free.

 

Admitting that your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you & never has is painful.  I understand this all too well.  It causes you to grieve your loss of not having a loving parent.  However, doing so will enable you to see things much more clearly & objectively, which helps you to find ways to become healthier.  You’ll be able to think more about ways to set & enforce healthy boundaries instead of tolerating abuse so you don’t hurt your parent’s feelings.  You may limit your contact with your parent or go full no contact with that parent because you realize that your parent only wants you in her life to provide her with narcissistic supply, & you deserve better than that.

 

I know admitting your parent doesn’t love you is painful, but I can promise you that it is well worth the pain.  And, it’s much less painful than clinging to that false belief!

 

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Are You Ashamed Of Past Mistakes?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Mother’s Day, 2017

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

 

What are you doing today, Dear Reader?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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When People Tell You What To Feel & How To Heal

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Narcissists & Their Dysfunctional Coping Skills

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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When Narcissists Ignore You

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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