Speak The Truth–Even When Your Voice Shakes

23 Jan

I can still feel the tightness in my throat. It felt like my heart was in my throat choking out my words. Trembling because I knew if I spoke my truth, the “Persuader” would come out and my legs would pay the price. It seemed too much to ask to go to school. To have friends. To know my relatives. To not move again. To not be hit because someone was in a bad mood. Narcissism has many moods and one of them is violence.

Domestic violence does not always look like a man hitting a woman. Sometimes it just looks like discipline on the end of a belt or stick, but physical scars might fade, but the the scars on the heart linger. This is why I often say, “What happens in childhood never stays in childhood.”

I received my first spanking when I was one week old. My parents didn’t beat me at the time, but they felt they needed to control me. I was lying alone in my crib and crying for attention and they decided to hit me so I wouldn’t get spoiled.

Speak the Truth Even When Your Voice Shakes Meme

Speak the Truth Even When Your Voice Shakes Meme

As I grew into what they called “the terrible twos,” I was spanked until I could no longer cry. While I don’t remember these early events my parents told these stories to me to reinforce the fact that they were in control. As I grew, I was an eyewitness to them belting the terrible twos out of my three siblings.

Each time we moved there were two things that went into my parents’ bedroom—my mother’s hope chest and the belt on the back of their bedroom door that they affectionately called, “The Persuader.”

My entire childhood was ruled by the Persuader. I did everything I could to please people and be a good girl to avoid an encounter with the Persuader and my father’s temper. This meant not complaining about moving every six months or asking about going to school. This resulted in four kids not having an education. The last year of education for my youngest two siblings was first grade in an accredited school and third grade if you count a loopy, religious child labor curriculum in a non accredited church school.

Throughout my childhood and teen years the Persuader never left my mind. It influenced every decision I made. Decades after I left home, I still felt unsafe to mention what happened to anyone. Even with my own friends and husband in my own home, the Persuader had almost convinced to remain silent.

In my forties, I began to blog about the painful secrets and tried to make sense of my life. I wrote about a pivotal beating I received for whispering in church. A belting that left my legs covered with bruises and caused me to distrust God and hate church for most of my life. Even though I used a pseudonym, my family members thought it was out of line. I tried to explain how I needed to share my story and help others and I have to say my relationship with them has never been the same.

This is where narcissism comes into play. Even if people are not full blown narcs, to lack empathy and to ignore their children’s pain—first in childhood and second in adulthood, fundamentally breaks the relationship. Jesus said two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. When a parents ignores their child’s pain at any age it only deepens the wounds.

The last time I saw my parents, they quizzed me on my theology for three hours. I came in love, hoping to patch things up. I wished we were equals and they would recognize we all make mistakes, but most importantly, we all have a right to our feelings and memories. When I mentioned the lack of schooling and the beltings–how we could never talk about it even as adults and how their choices forced on me, affected way too many days of my adult life. I was told “If you had not jerked around so much, Daddy wouldn’t have had to hit you with both sides of the belt.”

They’ve accused me of not forgiving, but it’s not true; I forgave them over and over. Forgiveness is not the missing ingredient, empathy is the missing ingredient and until they can respect my right to use my voice and tell my story, we will continue to have a gulf between us. It’s not the way I want it, but I can no longer ignore who I am to be who they want me to be. I can no longer allow the fear of the Persuader to choke out my voice.

I haven’t always enjoyed reliving the painful moments of my life, but what I do know is that speaking them out loud helps. Realizing God not only sees all the days of my life, but allows me to speak of all the days of my life has brought profound healing to me.

In June, a program was launched through HopeLine called “Because Voices Have Power,” a national campaign designed to increase awareness of domestic violence and provide a platform for the public to send messages of hope to victims and survivors. For each message of hope shared, Verizon has committed to donating $3 to local and national domestic violence prevention organizations across the country.

They have already collected over 10 million phones nationwide, while donating over $18 million dollars to domestic violence organizations. A great explanation of the program can be found here: http://www.verizonwireless.com/aboutus/hopeline/index.html

Today, I add my voice to the Voices of Hope because our voices do have power. Please feel free to share this blog and retweet or make your own tweets with the hashtag #voiceshavepower

And no matter where you are or what has been done to you, you CAN speak the truth–even when your voice shakes.

Narcissism 101

14 Jan

After feeling alone for decades and wondering what was wrong with me, I began to hear story after story from members of the ACON* group that sounded exactly like my own. Many times I was blown away by the similarities and I am not the only one who has had this experience.

We all have a little narc in us or we wouldn’t even groom ourselves. Narcissism is a spectrum–and while we all fit on the scale at some point, toxic narcissism has a cycle or a pattern that seems to repeat itself in home after home.

Boundaries, Be True to Self Meme

Boundaries–know self, be true to self, own choices, practice self-care and honor all.

 

I realize some people think that by calling our parents narcissistic, we are calling them names, but most of us didn’t go looking to label our parents. Many of us struggled with self worth for decades because of the labels and criticism our parents gave us. Calling the mystery narcissism was not a gut reaction, but a calming balm of relief to a third degree emotional burn that has plagued many of us for years.

We didn’t diagnose our parents, we simply gathered facts and realized there is no other explanation for the mystery we have been trying to solve. It’s sort of like finding out that striped horse is actually called a zebra.

So what are the stripes we now recognize as narcissism?

1. A Violation of Boundaries.
The narcissistic mother sees the child as an extension of herself. She wants the child to reflect her at all times and she also views all resources of the child as hers. In such a world of no boundaries, it’s difficult for the child raised by such parents to stand up for himself. He or she doesn’t know how to take responsibility for themselves because they’ve been raised to let their parents tell them what to do. If they vary from the parent’s wishes, they will experience shunning or abandonment so younger ACONs often try to stay close to the parent to please them.

2. Lack of Empathy for How They Affect Others
This violation of boundaries is often made possible due to lack of empathy. If a parent truly imagined what it is like to be their child, they would treat their children with more respect from childhood. Empathy allows a parent to imagine how it feels to have the belt stinging their legs or what it is like to go to bed without supper while the scent of popcorn drifts down the hallway. As their children grow into adulthood, empathy reminds them to own and apologize for their mistakes and love their grown children unconditionally. Lack of empathy is often manifested by a parent who talks about their adult children when they can’t control them. There is research that says many narcissistic parents recruit their most empathetic child to do their bidding. So while narcissists are low on the empathy scale, they definitely have a use for it in other people. For more on this topic read The Empathy Trap Book.

3. A Desire to see Their Own Reflection in Their Child

Like Narcissus who stared at his own reflection in the pond, a narcissistic parent stares into their child looking for their own image and doing all they can to mold their child into a mini me. This does not end when the child becomes an adult. It often continues until the parent dies.

When the parent fails to see what they are looking for, they will keep trying to teach and remake their child into their own image for their entire lifetime which results in the adult child never feeling good enough.

I have to wonder how many new parents hold their precious new born and whisper, “You’d better meet my needs or I will ruin your life and reputation.” No, they say doesn’t he or she look like me? And while all parents look to see what this baby will look like, the extreme is the narc parent who never grows past that stage to view their child as an individual. By never acknowledging their child’s individuality, they are ignoring healthy boundaries.

Perhaps narcissism grows out of selfishness and a survival of the fittest mentality where people feel they need to destroy their enemies and sadly, with the parent’s lack of empathy, their children become their imagined enemies because they failed to meet their expectations.

4. The Not-So-Fun Circus of Manipulation
All of these add up to a cycle of patterned behavior:

A sense of entitlement and refusal to follow the law
Manipulation by lies, mind games and gaslighting
Recruitment of flying monkeys
Playing the victim,
Seeking revenge and
Ostracizing the scapegoat

These behaviors might happen in stages or at different times, but eventually patterns will emerge.These are all are part of the narcissistic agenda or better known as the narcissistic circus. A polish proverb has it right:

Not my monkeys, not my circus.

If only it were that easy, but most narcissistic parents will do all they can to ruin their child’s reputation when they won’t go along with their plans. Many ACONs will tell you their narc parents have spent hours taking notes about their enemies and researching how to win their case in court and sadly many of them have been sued by their own parents. Having a narcissist for a parent can be a continual abuse–first in childhood, then in adulthood and even after discovery of the problem it seems like the wounds never really heal.

The only solution for healing is love. But the narcissistic parent doesn’t seem able to love their child. If they did, they might not have abused them in the first place. They wouldn’t be angry if their adult child remembers the abuse and they would apologize, rebuild the relationship to show their child unconditional love.

All of these things could happen, but don’t hold your breath. By it’s very nature extreme narc behavior focuses on self and cannot bear to be wrong, so if your parent is a true toxic narcissist, these symptoms of love will never happen–they will simply go on talking about you until the day they die.

So to recap, we are not name calling, we are identifying a chain of symptoms that can only be described as narcissism. These four possible identifiers are all based on selfishness–

1. Violation of Boundaries and Using Others

2. Lack of Empathy for How They Affect Others 

3. A Desire to see Their Own Reflection in Their Child

4. The not-so-fun Manipulative Circus 

If you have been treated in these ways, if you have been feeling not good enough and alone most of your life, If you feel you cannot be yourself with your family, just say no to narcissism. There is a world full of people who DO have empathy and people just like you who are worthy of love, go out and find them.

*ACON — Adult Children of Narcissists

The Mystery of Narcissism

13 Jan

Have you ever try to solve a mystery? What if that mystery involved your life and relationships? What if that mystery interfered with your ability to do self-care because you had this feeling you were not good enough? While no one likes to discover narcissism, understanding narcissism solved my mystery and gave me peace.

I’d had warning signs for years but I never quite connected the dots. Like the time I was going to stay with family and my brother recommended I read M. Scott Peck’s “The People of the Lie.” As I read it, I began to recognize patterns from my teen years and decided to stay in a hotel, but once I read the book I moved on and forgot about what I discovered. Perhaps I was just in denial. I caught a glimpse, but I wanted my parents’ love so badly I just couldn’t admit it.

Self-Care is Not Selfish Meme

Pansies Self-care Meme

 

A few years later, I was reading Henry Cloud’s book, “Changes That Heal,” in another hotel room and I let out a primal scream at 4:00 am because Bible verses quoted in that book suddenly made sense. Once again, an epiphany occurred–that I have a right to spend my own money, vote for my choice of candidate and worship however I choose, but I still rationalized my parents’ behavior.

Then there was the loving father-like church friend who gave me an entire box of tapes by a man many say reflected God’s love more than anyone they know–but I threw the tapes out without listening to them because my father thought he was a false prophet.

I spent fifty years trying to solve this mystery. The path of my life was strewn with warnings and lifelines, but I never quite connected the dots. I believe God was answering my prayers, but I never fully woke up to see it until the day before my fiftieth birthday.

That’s the day two well-meaning friends each invited me to join a group for Adult Children of Narcissists. I really wasn’t interested, but both were good friends, so I accepted.

In my first visit to the group, the scales fell off my eyes. All the years of pain. All the questioning why my parents never loved me enough to call me unless they wanted something. All the years of being told I was too sensitive because I wanted answers to what happened in my childhood and teen years. All the times I felt not good enough because my parents treated me like I was not even good enough to go to high school. All the times I was belted and yelled at and called selfish for simply wanting to stop moving and have friends. All the times I was accused of digging up the past to hurt their feelings because it hurt them to remember how much they hurt me.

For most of my adult life I have tried to be a peacemaker and a good daughter–but it came at the expense of my own self-care. I felt not good enough because no matter how much money I gave or how many family birthday parties I planned, it was never good enough and all these decades I simply thought it was me. When I thought it was my fault, I punished myself by refusing to exercise or eat right. I punished myself by isolating and refusing to do the things that would set me free.

So if you are new to understanding narcissism, I welcome your voice in this dialog. And if you need to find a group I can point you to one. I am not a professional, but I am an avid reader of all books about relationships. I’ve bought hundreds of books trying to solve this mystery in my life of why my once doting parents became critical, judgmental and eventually cold and non-responsive toward me. I thought it was just me, but I finally discovered the answer was narcissism. If you want to read more, I will further explain in my next blog.

Meanwhile, let me just share my cautionary tale, the first step in self-care is to be awake–awake to the signals, awake to the abuse and awake to the answers. Teachers appear when the student is ready. If you wonder if you were raised by a narcissistic parent, don’t put your fears in a box and try to go on without resolving this mystery, because it will only get worse.

The first step to self-care is awareness, without waking up, we’ll continue to sleep on having nightmares about our pain, wondering what possibly could be wrong without fully waking up to do something about it.

Everything Shapes Us

9 Jan

Some people disagree with the saying, “What happens in childhood never stays in childhood.” They want us to forget about the past and move on, but what they don’t realize is we are affected by the past every day. It affects how we eat, sleep and do business. It grooms our relationships and influences our careers. The past determines how we pray to God or if we even pray at all. We carry it with us every day.

 I am all the ages I have ever been.
-Anne Lamott

Peach Rose, Everything Shapes Us Meme

Peach Rose, Everything Shapes Us Meme

 

If we’ve had years of negative shaping, it might take some time to turn things around, but don’t let the past get you down. We are no longer victims, we get to decide what will shape us this year.

The natural law of sowing and reaping gives us the power of incremental change. It’s not a myth, it’s a given–just like gravity brings us back to earth and the flowers bloom in the spring, we all reap exactly what we sow. This not only comes true in the garden, but in our relationships and all other pursuits.

Everything we eat, every move we make, every song we listen to is shaping us—either in positive or negative ways. The people we hang out with or even keep on our newsfeed have a part in shaping us, so it’s important to make sure they are in alignment with what matters to us. Want a better spiritual life? Invest where it matters. Now is the time to dream and shape how you will be feeling a year from now.

If we want to make more art, we can sow a little paint on canvas. If we want to make more music, we can plant a few notes before we go to bed. God created natural laws to reward our behavior. The past is never completely in the past, but the good news is everything shapes us and we get to start over today.

As long as you’re breathing,
it’s never too late to do some good.
-Maya Angelou

We can never forget the past, hopefully we can learn our lessons from it.

Woman who SURVIVED Auschwitz because Nazis ran out of gas turns 101

New cards! If you share this blog on FB or comment below, I’ll put you in the drawing for next Friday. Here’s a sneak preview:

Sneaky-preview

The winner of the last drawing is Lisa Henton. If you send your address to cherilynclough.com, and I will get those out to you.

No Contact–Until Further Notice

7 Jan

“No Contact” comes about because the narcissist has been such a jerk to you they don’t deserve to be in in your life anymore. When it comes to going no contact, it seems oxymoronic or just plain moronic to say, “How can you be so cruel as to shut someone out of your life who has lied to you and about you and used you?”

It’s not cruel, it’s the only sane option. No Contact has nothing to do with lack of forgiveness. I find it amusing when Christians are quick to tell victims to forgive and forget. No Contact is NOT about revenge or lack of a forgiving spirit–it’s about protection for those who have been injured. There is no reason to put up with repeated abuse. We can forgive people from a distance, but we can’t let them continue to use and abuse us.

Little Red Riding Hood No Contact

Little Red says, “No contact.”

 

The only relationship worth having is one based on mutual respect. If your narc parent or narc ex cannot accept you as an equal and treat you with respect you have no real choice but to go no contact. This is not a lack of forgiveness on your part, it’s simply the state of the union between you.

A narcissist won’t change and to further engage with them will only bring more damage to yourself. So for those just realizing their own pain and recognizing how their toxic narcissistic relationships have been sabotaging their health, I suggest you go no contact until further notice–a notice that only the Narc can give and a notice that says at least one of the following and preferably all–

  1. I accept you as you are and will stop trying to mold you into my image.
  1. I am sorry for the way my choices have influenced and affected your childhood and life.
  1. I am sorry for the lies I told to you and about you. I promise to be honest in the future.

Chances are if you are dealing with a true narcissist, none of the above will ever come to pass. However this check list will stand as a reminder to you that you deserve honesty and respect in your relationships. If any person–your parents, boss, ex or relatives cannot respect you, going no contact will be necessary until further notice.

PS If you want a phone case with this picture on it, you can find it on my etsy. I also do custom orders so you can order it for any type of phone.

Little Red Riding Hood No Contact Case

Little Red No Contact Case

 

Gratitude and a New Word for 2015!

29 Dec

It’s the end of the year and I’ve updated my Facebook picture for the first time in five years. It wasn’t easy to do, but I appreciate all of my friends who liked it—friends who love me despite the fact that I am not skinny or perfect or beautiful. Friends who understand with Maya Angelou, that I too, am a phenomenal woman.

I was taught to hide while I was growing up. Hide if you didn’t look good enough. Hide in the house and not answer the door to bill collectors. Hide and not answer the door if your friends come over and your house is not perfect. I was taught to hide how many times I moved and how little education I had. I was taught to never mention weight around my mom or moving and our life of instability to my dad.

I have hid in sheds, cabins, houses and in cars—below the window, watching the trees whip by in the sky because I was of school age, but I didn’t go to school. And I was taught to lie to church members and say I was doing home study when I never took one course and my parents never bought one school book.

How do you overcome a life of hiding behind little lies that glue and hold your family together like one big spider web? And how do you overcome when your parents lie about you to a judge to discredit you for telling the truth and laugh when you confront them? This happened over five years ago, but still I’ve been hiding. Until I learned what narcissism is, before I couldn’t connect the dots so I continued to hide.

I think we can stop hiding when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect. I’ve decided to forgive myself for not being the weight I wish I was, not writing the books I wish I had written, not making art years ago and not being assertive enough in my past. When we forgive ourselves, we can release the old and get on with the new.

Pink Lotus Forgive Yourself Meme, Mixed Media Art

Pink Lotus, Forgive Yourself Meme

 

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story,
the light side and the dark.
In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am
and what God’s grace means.
– Brennan Manning

Last year my word was motion. I think I was trying to find a way to make some sort of motion to stop hiding, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen. I made some moves–first by publishing a book of my great grandparents’ love letters. Then I came out of hiding by making art and oh, wait for it—walking in public which literally terrifies me. I think I’ve made some progress, but I still have much to do in all of these areas.

This year I am choosing a very intentional word—RELEASE!


RELEASE:

re·lease
rəˈlēs/
verb
 
1. Allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free. 
“the prisoners would be released” to set free, let go/out, allow to leave, liberate, set at liberty

2. Allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely.

 

My first RELEASE is Gratitude:

Gratitude for the joy of making art and getting paid for it.

Gratitude for my artist friends from Art 101 who cheered me on and challenged me to make better art.

Gratitude for my husband who is my number one patron, best friend, lover and partner in the crime of tearing down the masks and freeing others to do the same.

Gratitude for my family members–whether we see eye to eye is irrelevant to love.

Gratitude for my Christian friends both in the blogging community and in person. I am thrilled that I belong to an active and very loving church–the value of which cannot be over stated.

Gratitude for the ACoN Community who also supports me and encourages me. By telling our stories we are healing each other!

Gratitude to God for energy and health to make it through another year.

Gratitude for my sweet feline muses Kitteh Coon Cosette Evangeline and Minkah Mhotep.

RELEASE

As I look forward to 2015, I plan to stay out of hiding and RELEASE some things I have been holding onto for years.

Release anxiety and fear and ban them from my life.

Release unwanted pounds (we’ll see how this goes).

Release more art–Artist Kelly Rae Roberts calls this unleashing our joy—It is a sweet release!

Release my story—It’s time to own my story. I’ve been working on a couple memoirs for a few years and I believe 2015 is the year to finish them.

Release those family members who do not choose to walk with me in authenticity and integrity to do as they choose with no hard feelings.

Release myself from the expectations of others. I will listen to and answer to God–not any human being.

Perhaps you too, are choosing a word instead of a resolution. Words are not only freeing, they empower us to dream of the good we can do in this new year. You know that famous quote from Gladiator? Well it’s true, so dream of the good you can do!

What we do now (in this life) echoes in eternity.
-Marcus Aurelius

PS If you share your word in the comments below or share my blog on Facebook, I will enter you into a new drawing–this time for a pack of Little Red Survivor Cards. The winner of the last drawing for a pack of Healing Flowers cards is Barbara from HomesteadHillFarm.

And here is a little reminder for all the phenomenal women who read my blog–let’s come out of hiding and own and claim it!
(RIP Dear Maya!)

Time to Remember and Release

26 Dec

So last year you discovered you were raised by a narcissist. You also discovered the narcissist will never see it, will never agree with you about this and of course will never change. Knowing this brought a sense of peace because now you no longer need to jump through hoops to play a game you can never win. You’ve survived the holidays with your loving spouse, a good friend and a couple of pets, but now what?

It’s the end of the year–time to remember and release. It’s time to clean out the closets and give back everything you don’t need. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need more guilt trips, shame or arguments about who I am and what I believe and how I choose to live my life.

Of course we are speaking of all the non-material junk dumped on us by critical, judgmental, narcissistic people. It’s not like taking a sweater the wrong size back to the store. At first it seems there is nowhere to take it, so we hold it all inside wondering how to absorb the pain.

Freedom-Lemons-WM

Remember those twin towers on 911? They imploded because they could only hold so much stress. People implode differently, we can only hold in so much heartbreak and stress and if we don’t figure out how to let go, we will eventually crash. Many have paid with their health, but narcissistic relationships are not worth paying for with your health, so it’s time to remember and release.

You can call up the narc and complain or demand an apology, but if you are dealing with a bonafide narc, you already know that won’t happen.

You can play the victim and whine to your friends and spouse (whining and telling your messy story are two completely different things) and be depressed, but then you’d be giving that narc even more power to ruin your life.

You can defend yourself and try to correct all the lies the narc spread about you to friends and family, but the truth is your true friends already know the truth and the others don’t care.

You can also join the narc in beating yourself up and giving negative messages to yourself, but ouch, why even go there?

So where is the line for narc returns? Where in the world do we give all this crap back? Not to a store. Not to a friend or spouse, and certainly not to the narc. A few Christians will say give it to Jesus, but to date no one has actually shown me what that looks like. (My pastor friend Sarah Dickerson taught me to invite Jesus into the mess. I like that much better.)

We remember and release. It’s a lot like catch and release if you like fishing. Don’t be scared of what you will find in the past. If you invite Jesus into the past, He will sort through this mess with you. If you don’t do religious stuff, you can still go through the spiritual practice of remember and release.

Maybe it’s been awhile since you cleaned out your closets, if so, you might need to go back to 1999. But no matter how far you need to go back, remember and release will make room for a better year in 2015.

  • You can journal. Last year, I took an art journaling course from Brene Brown that was really fun and healing. This opened me up to taking more art classes on line and I found profound healing through art.
  • You can write a letter to the narc and tell them how much they hurt you and mail it in a bonfire. Remember the narc doesn’t care how you feel so this part of release is important, but don’t mail it to your narc parents or ex-lover. This is so you can acknowledge what happened and forgive yourself for letting them do this to you.
  • You can also write out your messy story—telling our stories heals us and it also heals others. It’s good to know we are not alone.

Whether you tell your story, journal or make art, if you are a Christian, Jesus can show you how He is different from the narcs and where He was leading you all along. If you are not religious, you can still find gratitude for your journey with different signs along the way where the universe or karma was bringing you to a better place. Someone is watching out for you despite the pain. Open your eyes to the journey.

Remember and Release has nothing to do with forgetting. As a matter of fact when we journal, make art or tell our stories, it helps us remember better and re-frame so the healing can begin.

After you clean out the closet of your heart from all the junk the narc dumped on you, chances are there will be a big empty hole left where the hopes and dreams you had once resided. That’s okay, it just leaves more room for new people and better dreams.

It’s time to start dreaming now how to make 2015 a better year. What have you always dreamed of doing? How can you live a better story?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
-Mary Oliver

I also think it’s time for a new drawing. If you leave a comment or share this blog on FB, I will add you to a drawing for a set of Healing Flowers cards to give you some encouragement in the new year. Happy dreaming!

What Does Jesus Say to the ACoN Soul?

23 Dec

Many Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, but some have misrepresented God by abusing others. What does Jesus actually say to the ACoN* soul?

1. I Never Planned for You to be Hurt
I have given everyone freedom of choice but some have used their freedom to harm others (Matthew 18:6). The abuse you have suffered is the result of sin damaged people living in a damaged world where my enemy is the father of lies.

2. I Came to Bring You Peace
In a world where you have been bullied and threatened nearly from birth, I came in the form of a baby (Isaiah 9:6) to bring peace and show you that as God, I am a non-threat. (What’s dangerous about a helpless baby?) As God-Man, I modeled a life of non-violence (Matthew 5:44) and the way I choose to use my power is to serve you (John 13:3-5).

3. I Won’t Condemn You
No matter what you’ve done, my middle name is forgiveness (Exodus 34:6) I didn’t come into the world to condemn you (John 3:17).  You may have other accusers, but I am not one of them (John 8:10,11).

Baby-Jesus-WM

4. I Designed You to be Free
My first gift to you is freedom of choice. Unfortunately some people use their freedom to harm others, but that’s not how I intend them to use it. I came to remove your oppression from others using their power over you (Luke 4:18) and even more to help you be free from your own mistakes. It is my will for you to have self-governance.

5. I Won’t Threaten You With Fire
Despite what many Christians believe, that’s not my style (Luke 9:54-55). Remember I am the one who teaches you to turn the other cheek and I am not a hypocrite, I will not ask you to do one thing and do another.

6. Gaslighting Never Comes From Me
I only embrace truth and I do not support lies. My enemy is a liar from the beginning (John 8:44), but the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

7. Flying Monkeys Don’t Come From Me
I always speak truth and encourage people to speak directly to each other and not through a third party (Matthew 18:15-18).

8. Your Heavenly Father Looks and Acts Just Like Me
The Father and I are one (John 10:30) and I am the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3). If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father (John 14:9-11).

9. Please Don’t Worry About Your Future
I have good plans for you, but each day has its own trouble (Matthew 6:34). I will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5) and I am here to supply all of your needs (Philippians 4:19) and I will help you with the future.

10. I Will Never Stop Loving You
I am on your side (Romans 8:31). I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). My love is not self-seeking like a narcissistic parent (1 Corinthians 13:5), I am here for you and I will win you with kindness (Romans 2:4).

*ACoN – Adult Children of Narcissists

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Anyway

18 Dec

Do you have happy memories of Christmas or sad? Which do you pull out of the past?

Many ACONs have sad memories of Christmas and despite what people might think they are usually not sad over not having enough gifts–more like sadness over raging parents and family fights and emotional abuse. My own sad memories are related to Christmas music classics.

I remember the December when I was ten. It was getting close to Christmas, we were poor, but we never realized it because we were young enough to just love all the music, treats and lights of the season. The song “We need a Little Christmas” was playing on the record player and we kids were dancing and hopping around the room on sofa cushions scattered across the floor.

Have-Yourself-WM

My mom was making pancakes and dancing while she waited to flip her pancake. We rarely saw her dance. With a spatula in one hand, to four kids under eleven, it looked hilarious. It was a happy moment until my dad came crashing through the door and yelled, “Turn that down.”

My siblings immediately ran to the bedroom and I ran over and lifted the needle on the record player. The silence was only broken by him looking for a screwdriver. Then he went back to the garage and the house remained silent. That moment defines my saddest Christmas memory. And believe me there were many years we went without presents or a tree. I have decided one can live without trees and presents, but living without joy is heart wrenching.

Every year, no matter where I am, when I hear Christmas Classics like Bing Crosby or Nate King Cole–it doesn’t matter that I can acknowledge the music as beautiful, if I listen for long, a deep melancholy settles over my soul. It all goes back to my bubble of joy that burst that December day in 1974.

Some people might say, “Wow! Get over it already!” And I truly wish I could. I have no animosity toward my father for this–to be fair this was the first Christmas after his mother died. Who knows all the struggles he felt as a young father. No, I don’t hold grudges and I never blame him, but what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood. The memories of other times he punished me for listening to music are all echoes of that one moment in time. My legs stinging from the belt only added fear to my depression.

I’ve been told to re-frame the sad stuff and that helps. Re-framing can take a number of turns; it might be new traditions, new family and friends or new music. For me, part of re-framing is accepting my parents have different tastes and ways to look at life than I do. I don’t think it makes either of us bad–just different. I have had to re-frame nearly everything I once thought about Christmas.

A few years ago, I re-framed one of the most beautiful Christmas songs by rewriting it with words that mean something to me. I’m excited to have one of the most amazing singers in town to sing it this week at church. (Thanks Whitney!)

If your parents don’t embrace who you are or still try to form you into their mold, re-frame the pain and have yourself a merry little Christmas anyway!

Here are my reframed words:

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Look beyond the lights
Take some time to think about that starry night

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Just in case you’re blue
Whether you’ve been good or bad—God cares for you

Can’t you see that the greatest gift that the world has ever known
Was the gift of Emmanuel—God with us, His love now shown

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Send your cares away
Give your heart and soul to him who hears you pray

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Think what God has done
He loved so much, He sent to us His only Son

He sent Him not to condemn us–but to give us better days
He came to show us the Father and to teach God’s loving ways.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Put your toys away
Stop and think about the awesome price He paid
And give your heart to the Savior of the world today.
-Cherilyn Clough

‘Tis the Season for Cookie Bombing

14 Dec

Are you having trouble finding the joy this season due to lack of love in your narcissistic family? Try doing random acts of kindness and cookie bombing.

Call it karma, intrinsic law or the circle of life, but we all need to give in order to live. Natural laws like gravity are just reality. Think about how the trees give us oxygen and we give carbon dioxide back to the trees. Rain completes the circle from snow to rivers to the ocean and back to the clouds. Autumn leaves give life to the soil and contribute to life in the spring. Electricity even runs on a circuit. We were created to give.

Upclose-cookies
There are many ways to give—encouragement, love, support, acceptance, unconditional love—all of these are free, but missing in a narcissistic relationship. Narcissistic feed disrupts this life-giving cycle because the giving only goes one way. Like the Dead Sea, the narcissist has stopped giving.

It’s easy to get discourage about giving when people you know have been taking from you without giving, but don’t let yourself become like the Dead Sea–give whatever you can and live–just don’t contribute to the dysfunctional cycle by giving to the narcissist.

There will always be some Christians who misunderstand the debilitating nature of serving a narcissist and they will say that Jesus says to love our enemies. Yes, Jesus taught us to our enemies, but when the crowd wanted to crown Jesus king because He gave them food, He disappeared from their sight instead of feeding them everyday. Giving too much creates dysfunctional relationships.

When we give to those who are not expecting it, we often rediscover joy. This is what Christmas is about–giving like Jesus gave to us. So your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to go out cookie bombing.

Cookie-Bombs

What You Need:

    • A few extra dollars for drive through
    • The ingredients and ability to make cookies
    • Curly ribbon and party bags
    • Your favorite Christmas tunes
    • Follow the recipe below to make some bright and fun cookies.
    • Fill party bags with cookies, tie with curly ribbon and crank up the tunes and head out to cookie bomb.
    • Start at your favorite drive through and give away a couple bags of cookies to the cashier while paying for the drinks for the people in the car behind you.
    • Enjoy your drink and head out to your friends’ houses to cookie bomb. Make sure you bomb as many people as you meet along the way–especially strangers! Whether they are a homeless, young or old, rich or poor, working or playing give them a bag of cookies and let the joy begin.

SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

2 sticks butter or margarine

2 C sugar

2 eggs

2 t vanilla

4 C flour (sifted)

1 t baking powder

1/2 salt

PREHEAT: oven to 350

BEAT: butter and sugar in mixer until creamy

ADD: egg and vanilla and beat until smooth

STIR: flour, baking powder and salt in separate container

ADD: flour mixture gradually to butter/sugar mixture

ROLL: dough into a ball and wrap with wax paper

Cookie-Roll

CHILL: dough in fridge for one hour or overnight

 

Cutting-Cookies

ROLL: out dough and form into cookies

Baking-cookies

BAKE: for 10-15 minutes or until very slightly brown—Do NOT over bake—some smaller cookies may only take nine minutes

Cooling-Cookies

ROYAL ICING

1 lb confectioner’s sugar

5 T meringue powder

Scant 1/2 C water

Wilton food coloring pastes of choice

BEAT: all icing ingredients with paddle in electric mixer until mixed—don’t over mix or it will cause bubbles in icing

SPREAD: immediately on cooled cookies with icing spreader or store in airtight container

Icing-and-Cookies
You can get squeeze bottles for the icing at a craft store to flood the cookies. Just  make sure the first layer drys before adding the second.

 

Flooding-Cookies

 Give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over,
will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.
-Jesus (Luke 6:38)

Cookie-Plate

Enjoy this new Christmas song by one of my favorite groups Pentatonix :

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