No More **** To Give

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This is apparently my new theme song…

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The No Contact Rule

So after all the research I’ve done I still don’t understand what to do next…

How can we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from our abusive parents, siblings, or other relatives?

After we have tried rebuking, confronting, reasoning, pleading, and setting limits for years-only to find that nothing works with abusers-what choice is left? And after we disown our abusers, or they disown us for setting limits on their behavior, how can we stay safe from their drama, schemes, manipulations, and attempts to draw us back in?

The surest way I have found to protect ourselves and live healthy, peaceful lives is to do something called No Contact.

No Contact is exactly what it sounds like NO Contact. Think Witness Protection Program. Nothing! Nada, Zilch, Zip, Zero. As if your ex-abusers were total strangers who also happen to be dangerous, psychopathic stalkers. Which they pretty much are. So why would you not protect yourself and your family from them? It is a basic human right of every person to be left alone if they want to be.

But abusers do not respect any of our rights. They will find any excuse to come and disrupt our lives. Even going so far as to demand you take responsibility for a child who you know isn’t yours—because, well, math. It’s just another tactic. A way in which to get into your life and toss everything around another time.

Narcissists do not understand limits, maintaining a comfortable distance, taking it slow, or being cordial while still keeping someone at arm’s length. They only deal in extremes, and must be totally enmeshed with you, with no boundaries or restrictions.

No Contact is THE END. You have already wasted your entire life trying everything possible to have a nice peaceful relationship, and nothing has worked. That is why you’ve reached this crossroad. There is nothing left to try. It’s over. It’s time to put a period on it, walk away, and never look back. Time to finally live your life. Time to do what you must to protect yourself and your loved ones from evil people who would do you harm. If you break No Contact, you will wind up getting sucked back in.

Have you ever stopped talking to someone? Maybe in high school? It’s very possible you haven’t…We have been brainwashed into thinking we always have to try and “work it out,” no matter what, or we wouldn’t be “nice.” To do that, we’d have to talk it out, compromise, and come to an agreement. Problem is, there is no such thing as talking it out, compromising, or coming to an agreement with a narcissist, psychopath or bully. The more you let them know they’re hurting or upsetting you, the more they’ll do it. They have no problem with being the one who stops talking to us, but we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to be the one who stops talking to them. And that’s exactly the brainwashing that we have to overcome to go No Contact. Because basically, that’s all No Contact is.

I have struggled with this in my own life because I have never been the one to back down from a fight. Especially if it involves someone I love. I’ve spent my whole life unable to defend myself, so not that I can it is REALLY hard to turn a blind eye. But sometimes that is the only answer. As much as I want to jump in and save the day, it’s not always possible. Putting a final end to it is the only way when dealing with these types of people.

Honoring Your Abusive Mother and Father

I grew up in a fairly conservative, religious household. Members of my family for generations back were proud members of the Lutheran Church. My dad being the son of a Missionary Pastor. So, the chances that I could have been subjected to some sort of spiritual abuse was fairly high, but the truth is that my parents were always a little bit different.

Many of us who grew up in Christian households unknowingly experienced emotional abuse. We just didn’t realize this at the time because in our culture some forms of emotional abuse pass for good parenting.  A lot of us even believed we had good childhoods, and could not understand why we spent so many years struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. 

And if you ask anyone who knew me then, they will tell you I was a great kid, I was happy, I had a good childhood, and I had great parents who loved me. So, you know, shut the fuck up about abuse, because it did not happen, do not rock the boat.

Narcissistic family systems will make this clear:  We will not change…the problem is you. As my father would say on a number of occasions: “there are things in this family we just don’t talk about.”

“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” Exodus 20: 12 KJV

 
This verse has always rubbed me the wrong way. I guess it’s because I’ve heard it probably hundreds of times. Whenever I needed to be put back into my place, even as an adult, this was the verse that would be pulled out and used against me.

But just like anything, the Bible can be used in a lot of ways in order to manipulate someone. And the more I looked into what this verse actually meant, I began to see that it was just another tool in the toolbox of manipulation and humiliation.
Because to me, this verse meant, ‘do whatever your parents say because you have to‘. The problem I now have with that message is that this command is contrary to the very nature of God.
Because honoring your parents is not synonymous with obeying your parents. As adults, we do not obey other adults. We have become children of God and we only obey God. 

Also, nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to continue in relationships with people who have damaged us, or are still damaging us. In fact, the scriptures are full of teachings which tell us not to cast our pearls before swine and instruct us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. The Bible teaches us about our true Father’s unfailing love for us, and encourages us to lean on him for all our needs.

“If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing to do with that person. For people like that have turned away from the truth, they are sinning, and they condemn themselves…” Titus 3:10-11

Some people are not worthy of honor, first of all, even if they happen to be our parents. Let’s give ourselves permission to be the ones to define “honor”, and not let evil people or judgement holier-than-thous define it for us, and them force us to live by their definition.

Honoring someone doesn’t mean, be a doormat to them. Or allow them power over you, when that power is meant to harm and not to protect.

I believe that it is possible to honor your parents, and even forgive them for prior hurt, without subjecting yourself to their authority.

In a truly toxic environment, where you are the prey, honor your parents by breaking the cycle of abuse.

If we set boundaries on our parents’ behavior towards us, how is it “dishonoring” to them? All we are doing is giving up trying to change them, honoring their choice to be the kind of person they want.

Even if you must divorce your parents and never see them again, it doesn’t mean that you’re dishonoring them. It just means that you accept that they are the way they are and that they’ll never change, which in truth is honoring them as people whose right it is to be everything they want to be,  that you’re ok with it, and even that you still feel love for them, but you just can’t stick around for it anymore.

Walking away from a family relationship, or an old friend, is never easy. It has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. It is indeed a heartache and very painful. Often, we still love our abusers, even after many years of mistreatment. We know that we will miss them and that it will hurt to let them go. It is so difficult to admit that we can love someone but not be able to have them in our lives. Many of us struggle and suffer for years, or even for our entire lifetimes, desperately trying every possible alternative to make leaving unnecessary. Some of us wait until our mental and physical health is failing from the stress, and it literally becomes a matter of survival. Eventually we will have no choice. It will be either them or us.

Deciding when a relationship is never going to be healthy and understanding that you are never going to be treated with love or respect is the key to getting out before things become so extreme.

I felt very strongly that the Lord had removed me from a very toxic situation, of which he no longer wanted me to be a part. When my parents decided to cut contact with me I was devastated. The idea that the people who are supposed to love me more than anyone else in the world could simply push me aside, broke my heart. But after a certain amount of time, I’ve come to see that it was actually a blessing in disguise because it meant that I wouldn’t have to be the one to end it.

People who have never experienced this type of abuse just don’t understand how a family relationship could be so toxic that we might have no choice but to leave. Even those who have been abused themselves may criticize us for saying, “Enough!” and ending it.

For some reason, we are under the misconception that we would not be good Christians if we did not stick it out and continue tolerating just about anything the other person says or does. Both non-believers and fellow Christians alike fuel this notion, telling us that we must always forgive, even though the Bible never tells us to forgive unrepentant people.

But even if we have forgiven our abuser, the Bible does not instruct us to continue on in an abusive relationship. Even the most godly and righteous Christians do not have to keep going back for more. Apparently this rocks some people’s worlds to the point where they resist accepting it. But no one has the right to expect us to live our lives with abuse, or to judge us for leaving. God tells us not to associate with the wicked at all.

Because of the wrongful teachings of men and indoctrination since childhood, many may find it hard to believe, but we can protect ourselves while still adhering to biblical teachings. Sometimes the only way to do that is to walk away. The Bible is full of scriptures instructing us, and in some cases, ordering us, to do just that-but they don’t seem to be very well known.

**Keep in mind that your abuser and her Flying Monkeys will do everything in their power to isolate you and turn people against you, precisely to keep you from having the support system you need and deserve.**

But yes, we are allowed to talk about it to our supporters and seek their comfort and advice. We are allowed to “let the family skeletons out of the closet.” We are allowed to stand up and speak the truth.

Telling the TRUTH is NOT dishonoring someone. I have always believed that if you don’t want anyone to know what you did, then just DON’T DO IT! If an abuser is so sure that he’s right and that his behavior is justified, then he should have no problem telling everyone, or having YOU tell everyone, what he did, and still holding his head up high. He should WANT you to tell the truth about him to everyone you meet, since it will only make him look good! But if he’s ashamed for others to hear about the things he’s said and done, then maybe he needs to reassess how he acts. If you hide what someone does or cover up the truth, THAT would be dishonoring him, because it would mean that you were ashamed of him or embarrassed by him.  An abuser has no right to become angry when you rebuke him, or to accuse you of “dishonoring” him, if you are speaking the truth. HE is the one who did what he did, YOU only told the truth about it.

So, how can we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from our abusive parents, siblings, or other relatives? After we have tried rebuking, confronting, reasoning, pleading, and setting limits for years-only to find that nothing works with abusers-what choice is left? And after we disown our abusers, or they disown us for setting limits on their behavior, how can we stay safe from their drama, schemes, manipulations, and attempts to draw us back in?

The surest way to protect ourselves and live healthy, peaceful lives is to go No Contact

The Narcissist’s Fan Club: Flying Monkeys

How much do we care what others think about us?

Personally, this is one of my bigger weaknesses, because what people think of me has always been a major consideration in my life. It dictates what I wear, what I do and who I spend time with. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, I think that most of us would agree that the opinions of other people don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. But in the small schemes, in our families, our friend circles, it absolutely matters how people see us. It’s weakness that is constantly waiting to be exploited.

Toxic people will always have a loyal following of fans cheering for everything they do. In mental health circles these people are known as Flying Monkeys.

Flying monkeys – adapted from the Wizard of Oz story refers to the monkeys that did the witches bidding to inflict torment on Dorothy. This common narcissistic tactic uses friends and family of the victim to spy on them and spread gossip about them while painting the narcissist as the victim and their target as the perpetrator.

Flying monkeys can be your best friend, family members, church people or your next-door neighbor. The narcissist has hand selected your friends from day one and created bonds with them, all along secretly accessing the relationship you have and looking for vulnerabilities where they can make their story sound believable to the monkeys.

Use extreme caution when approaching a flying monkey, they are the narcissist’s enablers! Never give any information that they could use as feedback to the narcissist, it may be better to unfriend or block them on social media rather than allow them to give spy intel to the narcissist. In reality, I don’t think the flying monkeys realize what they are doing. I trust that these people actually believe in the righteousness and the “cause” of the narcissist.

Narcissists are master manipulators.  They have limited insight, so they actually hold to the opinion that their behaviors toward you are justified. They are on the spectrum of delusion, and adhere to their pathological opinions. They believe, as they abuse you, that they are, in fact, the true victims. When you do anything, either real or imagined, that upsets the narcissist, he will target you as a scapegoat, and will align himself with flying monkeys.

The truth is that this behavior, while it can have devastating consequences in someone’s life, is really just a grown up version of the same thing we see in elementary school children. One girl gets mad at another girl or envies her for some reason, so she spreads rumors and tells lies to get the other kids to dislike that girl. What makes it so hard to understand with narcissists is that these are not children. They are adults, and they are messing around with another person’s life. The type of lies narcissists tell have gotten people assaulted, arrested and even killed. People have lost their jobs, their homes, their families… Because of the severity of the consequences, we tend to see the behavior itself as evil and horrible, but the truth is, it’s more childish than anything. You’re dealing with a child.

Narcissists engage in smear campaigns for the same reasons children do. They are angry, jealous, envious or afraid. They may not want other people to like this person because this person overshadows them. Maybe they feel slighted by that person in some way and feel that the person needs to be punished. They may resent the idea that other people like this person and want to ruin that because they feel no one likes them. They may see this person as a rival for something and are trying to destroy other people’s perception of the person.

There are people like that in the world. There are grown adults who try to destroy other people’s lives for no real reason. I know at least two of them doing this exact thing in my life right now! These people do exist. Too many don’t understand that, and because of that, victims are not believed.

Narcissists are playing to an audience. They believe all eyes are on them, that everyone sees everything they do and is constantly looking for ways to screw them up or watching them in breathless anticipation of what they will do next. 

If you find yourself dealing with flying monkeys, you can try to show them the error of their ways but this is more than likely hopeless. They have to find out on their own, just as you did. The best way to deal with these people is not to. No contact is best with narcissists and their flying monkeys. One day you may find a former flying monkey coming to you to say they are sorry, or that you were right. It’s up to you whether to forgive them or not, but don’t forget, it took time for you to figure it out, too.

Gaslighting / The Narcissist’s Favorite Tool

Now let’s talk a little about Gaslighting. This is one of my personal favorites when it comes to the Narcissists tactics because it feeds on one of our most primal fears: rejection.

According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, emotional abuse can take many different forms. In an effort to control and manipulate you, the abuser might constantly monitor your whereabouts, insult you, threaten you, isolate you from family and friends, withhold affection, cheat on you (and blame you for it), say that you’re lucky to be with them, and generally make you feel worthless and dependent on them.

There’s a great book out there called The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout. She interviewed a lot of incarcerated sociopaths and then asked them about gaslighting. While most of them didn’t know the term gaslighting, when she explained it to them they all said that they loved to do this.

Gaslighters will say things like “I didn’t say that, that didn’t happen, it’s not a big deal, or you said…” and then they’ll fill that in with something that you never said.

They’ll tell you you’re crazy or you’re paranoid when you start to question things.

The good news is that gaslighting only works if you don’t realize what’s happening. But once you catch on it doesn’t work anymore.

You have to watch for inconsistencies between what a person says and what they do or what they say one day and what they say another day. Use your ability to feel, to sense if something feels off or not quite right. Validate your intuition first before comparing versions of reality with someone else. Don’t just automatically defer to what someone else says with their perception of reality.

Write things down so you don’t forget. That’s why I started my notebook journals! Record conversations if you need to. If too many of these kinds of conversations are going on, where the person’s denying what they said or did, or there always seems to be an excuse or diversion from it when it happens, then maybe you need to start recording those conversations.

When you’re really certain what happened, own your reality. Speak up with conviction about your perception of reality and notice the other person’s response.

Don’t try to rationalize with the person once you realize they’re gaslighting you. You can’t rationalize with a person like that.

Don’t try to get a gaslighter to take responsibility for what they’re doing. The whole reason they’re doing it is to avoid responsibility. Spend even ten minutes arguing with a toxic narcissist and you’ll find yourself wondering how the argument even began at all. You simply disagreed with them about their absurd claim that the sky is red and now your entire childhood, family, friends, career and lifestyle choices have come under attack.

Each and every time you attempt to gain leverage with the truth, you feed them supply. Don’t feed the narcissists supply – rather, supply yourself with the confirmation that their abusive behavior is the problem, not you. Cut the interaction short as soon as you anticipate it escalating and use your energy on some decadent self-care instead.

Exposing the Narcissist / The Smear Champaign

Everyone has horror stories about their exes. That’s perfectly normal. What’s not normal is when an ex’s name comes up so frequently in a new relationship that it feels like they’re sill there…

Psychopaths talk about their ex’s a lot- more than any healthy individual with new romantic partner should. A normal partner may be understandably hurt by a break-up that was sudden and not mutual, but eventually, that partner would understand if you needed to end a relationship because it was causing you much more pain than happiness. At the very least, that partner would find some way to move forward with his or her life, knowing that you were not the one for them.

But what happens when that isn’t the case? Someone unhealthy enough in the relationship takes it to such personal extremes as to intentionally create a champaign to devastate their partner simply because it “didn’t work out”.

Abusive relationships with a narcissist rely on an idealization-devaluation-discard cycle which enables the narcissist to degrade their victims and discard their victims without any accountability whatsoever. This cycle confirms the narcissist’s distorted sense of being superior to their victims. If the victim ‘discards’ the narcissist first, he or she upsets the power dynamic that bolsters the abuser’s desire for power and validation.

Remember: even if you left the relationship for legitimate reasons – such as for your own emotional and physical safety, your abuser still views the relationship as a competition. For you, the seemingly helpless and powerless victim, to leave first, sends them into a tailspin of fury and devastation. After all, how dare their victims forge the path to freedom, when they essentially ‘belong’ to the narcissist? That is how the narcissist thinks and believes: they truly see their victims as objects to be owned, controlled, mistreated and used as emotional punching bags, not as independent agents with free will.

Sadly what can happen when these toxic types can’t control the way you see yourself, they start to control how others see you; they play the martyr while you’re labeled the toxic one. A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation and slander your name so that you won’t have a support network to fall back on lest you decide to detach and cut ties with this toxic person. They may even stalk and harass you or the people you know as a way to supposedly “expose” the truth about you; this exposure acts as a way to hide their own abusive behavior while projecting it onto you.

It is no wonder, then, that narcissistic abusers are known to stalk their former victims months, sometimes even years, after the ending of the relationship, especially if their victims discarded them first. They might harass and stalk you in person, through e-mail, texting, phone calls, voicemails, or third-party contact. They may stalk you on your social media platforms and even engage in cyberbullying or threats. Their messages can range from threatening to love-bombing, and may vacillate between rage and tenderness, causing a confusing cocktail of emotions for their victims who simultaneously may want to be left alone but may also be concerned about whether the narcissist’s performances of remorse, pity ploys, or apologies are in any way authentic attempts at accountability.

How a narcissist appears to other people is ‘everything’. When there is no True Self available to know self and feel whole within the self, all supply is required from others. Therefore, it is unthinkable to the narcissist to be exposed for being pathological, defective and ‘wrong’. If people were to disown the narcissist and turn away in droves, this means the narcissist can no longer extract narcissistic supply (attention and acclaim) or ‘stuff’ from these people.

A victim in an abusive relationship with a narcissist often doesn’t know what’s being said about them during the relationship, but they eventually find out the falsehoods shortly after they’ve been discarded.

They will gossip behind your back (and in front of your face), slander you to your loved ones or their loved ones, create stories that depict you as the aggressor while they play the victim, and claim that you engaged in the same behaviors that they are afraid you will accuse them of engaging in. They will also methodically, covertly and deliberately abuse you so they can use your reactions as a way to prove that they are the so-called “victims” of your abuse.

Of course, people believe this! Even people who have known you for a long time. They see how depressed, angry and fragmented you are whilst the narcissist appears cool, calm and concerned.

The reason this works so well to harm the victim, is: The victim loses trust in all friends and loses their support system, they become isolated, fearful and don’t know where to turn. Think of this as a ‘sorting hat’, from Harry Potter, this will be the weeding out of true friends and people you didn’t need in your life anymore.

The best way to handle a smear campaign is to stay mindful of your reactions and stick to the facts. This is especially pertinent for high-conflict divorces with narcissists who may use your reactions to their provocations against you. Document any form of harassment, cyberbullying or stalking incidents and always speak to your narcissist through a lawyer whenever possible.It might be important to consider taking legal action if you feel the stalking and harassment is getting out of control. Your character and integrity will speak for itself when the narcissist’s false mask begins to slip. When stalking and harassment takes a severe emotional toll and you feel you are being retraumatized, unable to move forward in your journey to healing, it may be time to consider taking legal action (if, and only if, you feel safe doing so) whether by reporting the harassment to the police and/or filing an order of protection.

Make sure you’re taking some steps to document the harassment and stalking in case you ever need proof of it. Let those you trust know about what is occurring as well as your whereabouts. At this time, for your own safety, you need to be able to seek support and ‘check in’ with those who can help you – whether it be with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or all of the above.

These types of threats are not to be taken lightly.

What is a Narcissist? And why should I care?

The story of Narcissus dates back to ancient Greece. It was said that this young man was the son of a nymph named Liriope, and the river deity and personification of the river, Cephissus. Narcissus grew into an extremely handsome youth. However, he never found anyone he thought was as attractive as he was; he left a string of broken-hearted girls (and a few young men) everywhere he went. 

Narcissus’ mother was once warned by a seer, Teiresias, that the young man would live a long life, as long as he never got to know himself. The meaning of this was unclear, until one day Narcissus happened to see his own reflection in the water. He had finally found someone he found truly attractive: himself. He tried to kiss the image, but only created a ripple in the water that hid the reflection. Obsessed with his love for his own image, but never able to touch it, he wasted away and eventually died of hunger and thirst.

Narcissism is definitely not a new concept as it has been noticed as far back as a thousand years but only had gained relevance in psychology as something worth studying in the last century.

In our culture today, the term “narcissistic” is thrown around real loosely, usually referring to vanity and self absorption. Most people display narcissistic traits in a balanced manner, mostly at appropriate times, either as part of a confident yet empathetic character.

Unfortunately, this term reduces narcissism to a common quality that everybody has and downplays what the actual disorder is.

Sorry to say, but there are evil people in this world. Some people are just vicious, depraved, degenerate, sadistic, malicious, and without a decent bone in their bodies. They thrive on chaos and turmoil, live to wreak suffering, pain, and heartache on others. Many of these people live in our prison system but unfortunately many are not. These demonized people marry and have children on their own, just like normal people.

People who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder can operate in extremely manipulative ways within their relationships due to their lack of empathy, deceitfulness, and exploitative tendencies. There are a number of traits that clinicians and health professionals measure against the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to make a formal diagnosis of the mental health condition Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Grandiosity: Narcissists often believe they are superior to all others and may exaggerate their abilities and importance.

Attention seeking: Narcissists love attention and are often charismatic speakers and storytellers. They love being the center of attention.

Manipulation: Narcissists are often very manipulative. People with a narcissistic personality disorder may use and take advantage of other people to get what they want, and what they want in life. This is known as narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic people tend to have a lack of empathy, with little thought or regard for other people’s feelings. 

That is the clinical definition, but the way a narcissist operates in relationships is stealthier and more complex than the visible signs.

Narcissistic abuse is one of the worse types of psychological abuse that one person can do to another. These individuals employ very covert and insidious methods to abuse their partners. Due to the very nature of their abuse, they’re able to escape accountability for the abuse because of a false personality present to the outside world- which is usually a charming mask that hides their cruelty.

One common tactic often employed by abusers is the deliberate practice of making their victim look bad to everyone else. Put downs aside, there are other more creative ways to turn someone else into the villain, and even make themselves look good in the process.

Lies and gossip expertly sandwiched between words of compassion & concern used to cast doubt on someone’s character. To exercise power over an individual even when they are not physically present in the room is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

For example, in an abusive relationship, the narcissist may be physically violent with their partner. But the true story doesn’t benefit them to be seen as a potential abuser, so they become the victim in order to place blame on their partner.

Getting an abuser to admit their faults is almost always going to be impossible, because to admit their behavior is wrong means to accept responsibility.

The first thing to know about a narcissist is that you will never truly known anything about them. This is because the narcissist works exptemely hard to protect an image they have constructed to present to the world. Someone who is successful, generous, kind, well-liked, and charming. However, behind closed doors, they are selfish, cruel, exploitative, vengeful, abusive, lacking in empathy, and prone to being unfaithful.

This is because narcissists understand the art of manipulation more than most, and can convince even the most abused partners that the fault of every fight is on their hands.

Narcissistic Tactics

  • Extreme Affection
    • This approach is generally implemented at the beginning of the relationship and involves grand gestures of love and adoration in bursts.
  • Strategic Grooming
    • As the relationship progresses, narcissists progressively isolate their partner by emphasizing a unique and powerful connection that his or her partner lacks in other relationships
  • Lying
    • This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Narcissists are often pathological liars, both consciously and subconsciously. They will go to any extent to isolate their partners from their family and friends by lying and manipulating them so that they begin to mistrust everyone.
  • Hoovering
    • A narcissist absorbs all of their partner’s time while often controlling every aspect of their lives, up to when they eat and sleep.

Narcissists do not understand limits, boundaries, or keeping someone at arms length. They only deal in extremes and therefore makes them an extremely dangerous people. So how do we deal with these kinds of people in order to keep ourselves safe?

I’ll deal with this question in my next entry.

Ariel Diane