God Always Takes You In

6 Mar

There are many ways to be abandoned by a parent. A friend of mine lost both of his parents when he was seventeen in a car accident. They died immediately, while he ended up in a coma for days with a head injury only to wake up and discover they were gone. Life as he knew it no longer existed. I am not sure how people find strength to live through such tragic events, but he shared Psalm 27 with me one day and told me it had helped him.

Perhaps it is even sadder to lose your parents while they are still alive. When Jenny was 43, she hung up the phone and told her husband that her father had no interest in her unless she gave him money. She had spent decades trying to have a relationship with him, but he only wanted her money.  Her mother didn’t have time for a relationship either–unless she agreed with everything she said. When her sister got married Jenny wasn’t invited because her parents had decided she was no longer in the family. I didn’t ask if they were Christians, but what a sad example of how NOT to love your daughter.

These stories are not rare, everyone you meet can tell you similar stories. In ACON* support groups the stories are universal. Parents who discover their adult children are no longer meeting their needs often discard them like yesterday’s trash. But we aren’t trash: we are loving and empathetic human beings who have a lot to give to the world. Narc parents just have such narrow vision; they can’t recognize the value of the children they have thrown away–partially because they don’t want their adult children to give their resources to anyone but them.

God Took Me In, Cherilyn Clough, LittleRedSurvivor.com

Print and Accessories Available Here

One of the obvious issues when dealing with a narcissistic parent is the lack of relationship. Most narcs only care about us when we give them their currency–otherwise known as narcissistic feed. Currency is what makes people tick or motivates them–this could be quality time, money, praise or work. Some people’s currency is all about them being right all the time. For others, it’s using the time, energy and resources of other people. Everyone has a currency of some kind. Healthy people consider the currency of others in the relationship and they don’t just take without giving back. The narcissist only cares about people when they meet her needs.

It hurts to be used, it’s hard to stand up when you realize what is happening and then it hurts to be abandoned when the narcissist discards you. However you look at it it hurts, but then you have to consider if you really wanted a relationship with someone who only uses you. Whether it’s your parent or a friend, being used is not love and it has no place in a relationship. Many ACONs have walked away from their parents when they discovered all they wanted to do was control them. Those who go no contact have discovered it is better to be an orphan than a slave. They are accused of shutting out their parents, but the truth is the parent abandoned their child emotionally years ago.

There is one person who will never abandon you and that’s Jesus. Whether you believe in Him or not, He has promised He will never leave you. If you think God doesn’t care about your problems, or maybe He can’t take your tears and despair, just read a few Psalms and you will see that even when all he had to do was find food and water for the sheep, David was carrying a lot of pain inside his heart. Apparently his mother and father walked out on him–maybe he had narcissistic parents too. Or maybe they just died–either way, David realized he was not alone and cried out to God to re-parent him and we can too.

And David was not the only Bible writer who shows us this side of God, Isaiah speaking for God says–

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you.
-Isaiah 49:15

Wherever you are on the relationship merry go round–whether you are still trying to please a narc parent so you can feel good enough, whether you are still trying to find your voice so you can stand up for yourself or whether you have been shunned as the black sheep for not meeting the narc’s needs, just remember that God loves you with an everlasting love. Even when your own parents lie about you and shun you, God will always take you in.

*ACON-Adult Children of Narcissists

2. The Valley of the Shadow–Little Red 23rd

27 Feb

The Valley of the Shadow seems like a very dangerous place. I remember camping in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming as a newly wed. There was not another soul for miles around. We found a little valley way high up in the mountains and at night you could hear a cougar scream or at least my mind kept playing cougar tapes–so much that I required my husband to hold the outhouse door open. As I tried to sleep that night all I could do was repeat Psalm 23 and I kept thinking about the Valley of the Shadow of Death and I wondered why I was camping in it.

Little Red 23rd Montage, cherilynclough.com

Print Available Here

Most of us go up and down with our emotions all the time and if you have lived a few decades on this earth you know what it is to “be in the Valley.” When I was a kid and I read the 23rd Psalm, the “Valley of the Shadow of Death was such an ominous and scary thought that I wondered to myself who wants to repeat a Psalm about dying? Many people find comfort in Psalm 23 when someone dies, so I am not saying it’s inappropriate–just that there is more to dying than giving up physical life–for starters there is dying spiritually.

Dying spiritually and being spiritually dead are two different things. Spiritual death is when we lose all desire to love. Dying spiritually, on the other hand, actually brings resurrection and new life. It matters what we die to–dying to love kills us spiritually, while dying to self allows the Shepherd to heal us. Now I realize there are a thousand ways to die–or imagine you are dying and many of them happen while you are still alive. This is why we need the Shepherd–we need Him to guide us through all of our dark valleys.

So what does it mean for Little Red to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and be rescued by the Shepherd?

She’s been neglected, but the Shepherd supplies her needs (Philippians 4:19).

She’s been used and abused until the Shepherd shows her He invented boundaries (Genesis 1:4).

She’s been called hurtful names, but the Shepherd calls her “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

She’s been lied to and cruelly gaslighted, but the Shepherd says He is the Truth and honors all truth (John 14:6).

She’s been judged for her mistakes, but the Shepherd says neither do I condemn you (John 8:11).

She’s been excluded and ostracized from others, but the Shepherd says He will never leave her alone (Hebrews 13:5).

She’s wondered if her enemies will prevail, but the Shepherd serves her a meal in front of her enemies (Psalm 23:5).

The Valley might seem dark and scary, but when we are traveling with the Good Shepherd we have nothing to fear–not from spiritually dying or physically dying. We have a Shepherd whose love is stronger than even physical death (Romans 8:38).

Child's Starry Night, cherilynclough.com

Print Available Here

The love of the Good Shepherd takes away our fears (1 John 4:8). No weapon formed against you will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). And because the Good Shepherd is also the Light (John 8:12), darkness isn’t dark to Him, so we never need to feel scared or alone again.

Rest well Little Reds, the Good Shepherd is watching over you.

1. Supplies All My Needs–Little Red 23rd

19 Feb

Last summer while I was trying to make a piece of art every day, I began a series with Little Red Riding Hood in the setting of Psalm 23. I realize some people thought I was losing my spirituality by mixing the revered and sacred Psalm 23 with a fairy tale. If they thought this, they probably haven’t read why I use Little Red for a symbol of all who were used and abused in the name of love.

Little Red is every ACON* and abused child. When the Psalmist wrote the 23rd, I fully believe he had all of us in mind. Little Red, by invitation from the Shepherd has every right to the benefits of the Psalm regardless of where she has been or how others view her. If you have ever felt like Little Red, them welcome, Psalm 23rd is your invitation to thrive!

I’ll admit as a child growing up with a religious instruction, I memorized the 23rd Psalm and recited it like a chant, but I never applied it to my own situation. Why? I am not sure. For one thing, much of my religious instruction was about defending my denominational faith so I wasn’t encouraged to focus on a relationship with God as much as I was taught to prove the neighbors wrong. All I can say today is such proof-texting might be helpful in a seminary, but for me as a child, it was the antithesis to knowing God.

And when I did try to apply the 23rd in relationship terms, I imagined it was about David. This is because there was one telltale verse that made it NOT about me. I was a girl and everyone knew girls could NOT be pastors and it says in verse five, “You anoint my head with oil.” The only person not nearly dead that I had ever heard of being anointed was a pastor. I imagined the context of this verse was about David being anointed to be king and well that left me out almost as much as being a pastor–except I knew I was a child of the King–it says so in the hymn.

Also as a child who was not encouraged to discuss poverty or our homeless state, I had no hope of the Shepherd supplying my needs. My experience was when I even earned my own money, it would be taken away because my parents needed it for groceries or the next move. No, I was pretty sure Psalm 23 didn’t apply to me.

Little Red 23rd Art  Montage,  Cherliyn Clough, Little Red Survivor Art

Print Available Here

It wasn’t until I was grown up and destitute and feeling unworthy that I began to realize this Psalm was for me. It happened after my husband graduated from college. We had very little money and barely made it across the country to his first job. We had no one to help us. Our parents were not able to help at all. We had no savings and we landed in a town where no one knew us. We were not part of the regular churchy crowd, so it was humiliating to think we would have to go begging to the church to help us make it to my husband’s first paycheck. Even worse, we had just enough money to stay in the hotel where we were for two more weeks then we would be homeless. As a girl growing up living out of tents and trailers and cabins without running water, I began to panic.

We finally found a house to rent with a kind landlord who was willing to wait on the deposit until my husband’s first check, but to stay in the house we were expected to pay the first month’s rent. If we paid the rent we would have a roof over our heads for the next month, but it would leave us with only twenty dollars for food and gas and without any food to put in the cupboards until the first paycheck in three weeks. We decided living in a house with nothing was better than sleeping on the street with food, but once the landlord pulled out of the driveway we sat there for a couple of hours trying to figure out what to do.

Finally we decided to pray. After we prayed I felt thirsty. I wanted grape juice. My husband thought I was crazy. He said I could drink water because it was free. I agreed in my mind, but in my mouth I could almost taste the grape juice. We prayed again–this time for me to be satisfied, but I only craved it more. I said what I really wanted was Welch’s. My husband found this incredulous. He said if we even considered buying some grape juice, then it would have to be the cheapest brand we could find. I argued what difference would a few cents make if all we had was twenty dollars? Then we both fell silent, wondering how we got ourselves into this desperate situation.

Finally my husband told me I could get some grape juice because twenty dollars wasn’t going to cut it anyway and we would have to beg the church for help. At the mention of this I started to cry. I had moved so many times and I knew the best foot forward was not begging for money or food, but what could we do? I asked if we could pray again before we went to the store.

In the store, we split up. My husband went to look for the cheap brand, while I went straight for the Welch’s. We were going to compare prices. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live. My heavy heart, my tear swollen eyes, the florescent flicker of the lights and the hum of the freezer case as I looked down into the frozen juices. Then my heart stopped for a second. There lying on top of the frozen Welch’s were two neatly rolled up $100 bills. I looked around the empty store and put that money on my pocket.

As we met in the middle of the store, I held out the Welch’s frozen grape juice to my husband and told him to buy it. Then I opened my hand so he could see what I had found. His eyes grew huge. We told the cashier we had found some money and where we were staying, but we never said how much because as a former cashier I knew the amount is part of the identity of the cash. No one ever claimed that money, but it got us through the next three weeks until we had a paycheck.

That night, for the first time in my life, I felt loved by God. I felt like anything was possible as long as I trusted the Shepherd because now I realized He really did want to supply my needs. I don’t find money in stores or anywhere else these days, but then I am not in financial need like I was that day.

What I have learned since that day twenty years ago, is how the Shepherd supplies ALL of my needs–my needs for strength through pain and disappointment, my needs through love when I am rejected by people I love, my needs for refreshment when life seems dry and rough and hard and my need for meaning through all the trials of my life. Yes, even the anointing is mine to claim–and it’s just as true for you!

Finding Boundaries

18 Feb

Many ACONs* work hard to meet the needs of other people–probably due to the empathy factor. Because ACONs are high in empathy, they often try to rescue their boyfriends, husbands, parents, siblings and grown children. Grown children is a good term for many of the people we try to rescue. It’s not wrong to care or show compassion, but it’s wrong when we do it over and over again to the very people who are abusive to us.

Have you ever had someone rage and yell at you in anger–only to look for a way to calm them down? Has it ever occurred to you that it was never your responsibility to calm them down or pay their bills or make them happy? No matter who this rageaholic is in relationship to you, other people’s emotions and behavior are NOT within your jurisdiction.

Fixing others might be a long term habit and you might even do it without thinking, so it’s important to ask yourself the question, did you grow up feeling responsible for your parent’s feelings? If so, you are not alone. Many ACONs did.

What we didn’t realize while we were growing up is that our narcissistic parents were stealing our boundaries before we were old enough to claim them. Boundaries help us differentiate where we end and our parents begin. And no one–not even a parent owns another person. I was in my forties before I understand boundaries. If you were not taught boundaries, it’s worth reading up on them, so let me say it again:

Boundaries separate what we own from what we don’t.

Boundaries help us differentiate between what we are responsible for and what we are NOT responsible for. If you grew up in a family with messy boundaries, it might be hard as an adult to find your boundaries.

Little Red and Wolf No Contact, Little Red Survivor Art

No Contact accessories available in Etsy Shop. Click on picture.

Sometimes people misuse the term boundaries to issue more control. I heard of a reader whose parents always talked about boundaries and used the term to say they were not going to help him with anything. They were negligent and self-centered parents and his understanding of boundaries was confused because he thought of boundaries as walls that shut other people out. What his parents modeled was not healthy boundaries–but a wall of self-protection.

For years, I avoided reading about boundaries because I too, mistakenly thought of them as a wall. After I read Henry Cloud’s book, I realized boundaries are more like a gate. A gate is a device that either blocks or opens allowing us to decide who and what we let into our lives.

There were times as a young adult that I felt responsible for my family members. I made the mistake of paying their bills before I paid my own. My boundaries were totally confused because I felt responsible for what belonged to others. I wasn’t using the gate to determine where my responsibilities begin and end.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with helping someone, but we first need to take responsibility for our own bills–otherwise we might fail to pay our bills and end up with our money problems affecting someone else’s boundaries. We might even find ourselves out on the street because we were too nice to pay our own bills and paid someone else’s bills. Sometimes being nice is not a virtue–not if you fail to pay your own bills and help someone else. Finding our boundaries helps us utilize our time and resources. The protocol for using an oxygen mask on an airplane demonstrates basic boundaries–if we don’t breathe, we can’t help anyone else.

There is a fallacy called ad misericodiam where a person cries for someone to give him money–not because he is willing to work, but because he needs the money. Most people who need someone else to pay for them or expect others to make them happy are not talking responsibility for their own boundaries.

There is a proverb that says:

A short-tempered man must bear his own penalty;
you can’t do much to help him.
If you try once, you must try a dozen times!
-Proverbs 19:19

In a narcissistic family, the boundaries were scrambled. You were probably taught to feel responsible for your parent’s feelings–while they ignored yours. And you were probably blamed for making them sad, while they didn’t want you to express your own sadness. Sometimes all you had to do to make them sad was tell the truth. Do you realize how unfair this is? If telling the truth made your parents sad, this was not your fault–it was their fault for not living better lives.

Many ACONs were told, “If you would just stop complaining, everything could be fine.” IOW–It doesn’t matter if you were taken out of school and moved for the fifteenth time. If you are crying about it, then you are ruining the family spirit. This concept is a not only a gaslighting technique, but it’s a fallacy. First of all, you were never responsible for the feelings and reactions of your family members and second, you have a right to your feelings and you don’t need to justify why it hurt you to be hit with a belt or say goodbye to your friends every time you moved.

Because the blurred boundaries in an enmeshed family create all kinds of false shame and emotions that were not even yours to begin with, it’s important to understand boundaries to differentiate where your parent ends and you begin. Your parents are not living in your body, so only you can decide how to take care of yourself. They are not earning your money, so only you can spend it. They were not given your vote, that is yours to cast as you believe.

When people blow up or shun you because they are disappointed with your choices, they are asking you to give them something that was never theirs in the first place. Your individuality, your dreams, your beliefs and your vote are your God-given birthright and no one has the right to take them from you. You cannot give these things away and remain whole. You are the only one responsible to God for your choices.

If you just discovered boundaries and have been giving your parents your power, it’s never too late to take it back. A simple rule of thumb is to let others decide for themselves and insist on making your own choices.

In the video below, Dr. Henry Cloud gives a short intro to Boundaries and what they are, if you have never read his books you will be blessed.

*ACON Adult Children of Narcissists

Sharing Love and Hope Because of Maddy

15 Feb

This last week, I woke up saddened by the death of an innocent college student and started writing on my phone from bed and posted it. At the time I felt my feelings were so raw and personal, I almost didn’t post. It’s turned out to be my most read blog ever with over 1222 reads and 168 shares as of this posting! But anyone can write about their thoughts of doubt and pain about death, it must be so much harder to live through such an experience. Even though I don’t know Maddy’s mom personally (I go to church with her Grandma) I am deeply touched by the way she has handled this most devastating event.

Maddy’s service will be held today at 6:00 pm, at the Walla Walla University Church. I’m sure it will be a well attended and well thought out event. If you would like to see how a loving mother deals with her faith in a time of greatest pain, you can follow the progression of her loving care for her daughter’s memory on the Facebook page Share Love for Maddy. (I will included the link below.) Here is an except:

“I look in the mirror I see a different women. One that is strange, altered and a unsure. One that is so brave, strong and loved. One that understands deeply Gods great love and incredible sacrifice. One that is over joyed to have complete assurance that Madison my daughter is safe, free from pain and that she lived her life out loud, wild and free.”

And the post that touched me the most and brought fresh tears to my eyes was this one–

“National Donor Day!! My Maddy gave her heart away…. Happy real Valentines Day!!!”

What faith does it take for a mom to rejoice that her beautiful daughter’s death will give the gift of life to someone else?

It can only be her strong faith in God that is sustaining her.

Someone wrote to me and said, “How beautiful is this mother’s faith throughout her pain! I want to know God and have a faith like that! How precious she and her daughter must be to Jesus!”

I would definitely call her brave.

I heard a speaker once say God has an honor guard–a group of people who will stand for His character though the heavens fall around them and I believe this mother is showing the world what this looks like. The honor guard knows God did not do this–that an enemy exists who causes pain and death. When other people shake their fists at God, there will be a group of people who regardless of what happens to them will continue to say–

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away,
but my heart will choose to say
Blessed be Your name

RIP Maddy! Thank you for sharing your strong faith Maddy’s Mom! The day is coming soon when you will hold your daughter again!

Share Love for Maddy on Facebook

Not Safe, but Good

12 Feb

It’s happened again. Someone beautiful and young has died way too young. A young college student going for a bike ride on a beautiful day was hit by a truck and has died. It was the worst kind of accident because the person who hit her wasn’t drunk or breaking any traffic laws. The sun was in his eyes and there is no person to blame. And when there is no person to blame, I don’t know about you, but I want to blame God.

I want to blame God because He has all power and He could of stopped this horrible event, but He didn’t.

I want to blame God because even after the event happened, He could still have healed her, but He didn’t.

I want to blame God because even after death, He could of brought her back to life, but He didn’t.

Thousands of people shared a picture over a prayer request, so it seems the least God could do was answer all those prayers of faith and heal her, but He didn’t.

Tears in a Bottle, Little Red Survivor Art, Cherilyn Clough

Click on picture to buy print.

Our expectations of God are leaving a lot of broken-hearted people with a question on their minds even if they don’t say it out loud (and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind too) what is up with God?

And more specifically with Jesus–the same Jesus who woke up a little girl already dead, the same Jesus who called Lazarus out of the grave and raised Himself from the tomb.

For me, it’s never been a question of can God heal?–but will God heal?

I was taught to always specify that God’s will would be done, but that has always seemed like an out so we have an excuse to explain to unbelievers when the answer is no.

And I hate no answers. At times like this I to want to scream and pound on God’s chest because it feels like we’ve been snubbed in our darkest hour.

But then I am left with the rest of life in this world where beauty and kindness still exist–although less so when good people die–and people echo back and forth to each other that “God is good all the time.”

And at times like this, I want to pound and cry at heaven’s door, “Show me your goodness once more! Just throw me something, God!”

Well it’s true, part of God’s goodness is that He is not put off by our fears and tears, doubts and shouts and tantrums. He just stands there while we blame Him and He can take it because He realizes our blaming comes from our pain.

I imagine God is hurting too because maybe His hands were tied. What? Does that sound like crazy talk? I just said maybe He couldn’t stop this stupid accident from happening. Well what kind of God is not able to have complete control? The kind of God who gives away power to humans and angels.

Tragic events will never stop stunning me or you–

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.”

Not everything that happens is God’s will–

Jesus said, “Pray for my will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Even when the unspeakable happens–

Jesus says, “An enemy has done this.”

It’s discouraging to realize we are living in a war zone between God and his enemy–an enemy who never plays fair, but we’ve been given a promise that God will work all things together for good despite brutal attacks from God’s enemy.

My dear friend Amelia has had a bad week. Just a couple weeks ago, she found out she had thyroid cancer and then had surgery and now she has been dealing with all kinds of dizziness and sickness due to hormone and calcium imbalances all week. She has young children and I can only imagine how hard it is to want to be up and about doing things for the kids you love but have to be lying in bed. Today she posted:

“Just suggesting, please, all of you, avoid cancer. Drink green tea, rest a lot, and fill your life with happy. And if you do get cancer, you’ll be OK because God stays close by.” Even in her pain and sickness Amelia is saying God is good.

Jesus says, I will never leave you. Even in our sickness and loss and pain, God is for us and not against us.

As we remember the beautiful life of this beautiful, young college girl, I see how it might have happened–full of joy and love and light–a light so bright that God’s enemy wanted to destroy the influence–but all that really happened is that her short life will shine even brighter now.

She will shine brighter because the enemy cannot snuff out her influence on thousands of people who knew her or read about her. And as she gives life to 8-12 other people because she is an organ donor, she will shine even brighter. Through her sacrifice, Jesus will possibly bring other people back from the brink of death to live a little longer so they too, can know the Jesus she loved. Not that God can’t work miracles alone, but because He has given all freedom of choice, He chooses to work through people and their choices. This young women will have the honor of giving along with God—and this is how God wins the war against His enemy.

Her last words were “I can’t believe what a beautiful day it is!” And by the time she wakes up, she’s going to say those words again with even greater emphasis and joy.

By then we will have gone through our own transformations–perhaps the people she gave life to will be there too. Maybe the life she lived will contribute to someone else living forever. When we consider our short lives on this earth compared to eternity we are all just waiting to go home.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?
Your life is like the morning fog–
It’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
-James 4:14

Scary world we live in, but I love the way C.S. Lewis describes Aslan.

He’s not safe, but he’s good.
-C.S. Lewis

The same can be said of God.

Have courage broken hearts, because eventually we will all say, “God is good all the time.”

Here is a great podcast for those who wonder why God lets bad things happen to good people–

After Collision with Truck, Walla Walla University Student Madison Baird Passes Away

Valentine’s Love Give-Away

8 Feb

Hi ACON Friends!

Over the last year my blog readership has quadrupled and I owe it all to my readers. I am just as grateful for every like and comment as I am for each sale in my Etsy shop. THANK YOU!

To say Thank you I have decided to do some giveaways this week for Valentine’s Day, because you all deserve the love!

Every piece of art and product I carry was designed to help you as an ACONs or victim of abuse to celebrate the steps on your healing journey.

When I send you a prize from a giveaway, I’m excited to send it to you because I know these items are a reminder of how far you have come and they will inspire you to keep moving forward from survivor to thriver.

Everything Shapes Us Travel Mug, Little Red Survivor on Etsy

So here is how to play the Valentine’s Feel the Love game–

Share this blog on FB or comment below on which is your favorite item from my Etsy shop and I will enter you into a drawing for an Everything Shapes Us Travel Mug just like the one above. The mug is ceramic on the outside and stainless steel on the inside. It was made at Red Bubble so you know it is a quality mug and it’s also worth $32. I will make a drawing for everyone who shares this post or comments below telling me what their favorite thing is in my etsy shop. To find the shop just click on the picture. You have until 6:00 PM Tuesday, February 10 for this drawing. I also have some flash drawings on FB, so check in on the Little Red Survivor FB page to win cards, a print, a Kitteh tote and some other cool stuff.

Have a great week and remember love is not love until it’s given away. However, at the same time remember love deserves to be reciprocated in a healthy relationship, so don’t pour all your love into someone who refuses to give back–You are worth a reciprocal love relationship!

Happy Love Week!

My Child, My Mirror

7 Feb

When many people hear the word narcissism, they think of the legend of Narcissus who was so vain he worshiped his image in a pond until he fell in and drowned. I once saw a cartoon of a father staring at his own reflection in a lake while his daughter kept calling out, “Daddy?!” The image suggested she was neglected while he adored himself. This cartoonist understood the neglect that comes from a narcissistic parent, but he only got it half right–because for many narcissistic parents, their child is the mirror.

Like many ACONs, you may have been used like a mirror for your narcissistic parent. Such parents are not satisfied unless they can see their own values and choices displayed in their child. Narcissistic parents see their children as an extension of themselves, they use mind control to shape their children at a young age to become mini versions of themselves. If this is true, you may have been robbed of your ability to shine.

Shine, Little Red Survivor, Cherilyn Clough

This mirroring pattern continues into adulthood and is manifested by parents quizzing their adult children on their religious beliefs, politics and spending habits. Appearances are everything to these narcissistic minds. They want all of their children to be in the church and vote as they would vote and eat what they would eat on holiday dinners. They want us to do as they would do so they can feel satisfied they have raised us to reflect them in the way they want to be portrayed in the world.

By refusing to acknowledge their child’s individuality, such parents are selfish to begin with and nothing you can do will fix this. As you pull away to become yourself, they will become more controlling, then disillusioned and bitter when you fail to live up to their expectations. As you begin to vote differently or leave the church or form your own holiday traditions, the war will intensify.

The battles are subtle at first, a glance of disappointment, the suggestion you might be letting down the whole family because you have chosen differently. But as most ACONs know, the failure to reflect our parents–to vote, marry and worship as they would have us live our lives eventually brings on a cascade of narcissistic behavior from gaslighting and scapegoating to the silent treatment.

There is no better time to reclaim your individuality than now. There is no better way to reclaim your boundaries by standing up to let your voice be heard, but beware the narc parent will accuse you of everything from ruining the party to being ungrateful or disloyal or not honoring your parents. They might use everything from scripture and flying monkeys to lawyers to straighten you out.

When this happens it’s important to ground yourself in these truths–

1. No one–not even a parent owns the choices of another human being. Slavery is defined as controlling another person’s choices.

2. God created you to be yourself–not an extension of your parents. Look in the mirror and recognize your own face.

3. You will never feel at peace until you live authentically.

As you listen to your own voice and the voice of your Maker, you will begin to shine. It might seem a little scary at first, but you can forge a new path from your family of origin. When you reach that fork in the road where the sign reads narc parent vs. your own choices, don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled, step into your individuality and shine.

Valentine’s Flash Sale–10% Through the 10th

5 Feb

Hey ACON Friends,

I’ve been working hard on some products just for you! I’ve made art that speaks to my soul because it’s hard to find good Narc ammunition.

So if you are looking for a novel gift for your self or the special survivors in your life, if you act soon you might still get something delivered in time for Valentine’s Day.

Have you ever just wanted a Flying Monkey Pillow
to set on the sofa as a reminder
for the Monkeys who visit your house?
Me too.

Flying Monkeys Green PillowOr perhaps you need a No Contact Travel Mug
for that extra pick me up to remember
how you are footloose and fancy-free!
no contact Mug

Have you ever gone on a trip with narc
and wished you had a Trust Your Gut Tote
so you could’ve remembered to stick with your first impressions?
Oy! Me too!

Trust Your Gut ToteOr perhaps you, like most of us ACONS,
just need permission to Speak the Truth–
even when your voice shakes.

Speak the Truth PillowLet’s honor the words of Maya Angelou:

My mission in life is not merely to survive,
but to thrive;

and to do so with some passion,
some compassion,
some humor, and some style.

Shine Flower Tote

You can find all of these and more at 10% off through the tenth
at Little Red Survivor Art on Etsy.



Heaven’s Flash Mob

30 Jan

Someone posted my favorite flash mob video the other day. And that got me to thinking. What does it feel like to be welcomed? Do you have someone who welcomes you? Someone who is so thrilled to see you they don’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been? I hope so. Sometimes our family members welcome us and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they welcome us until we disagree and then they can’t wait to show us the door, but that’s not unconditional love.

When Petra was a little kid, her dad always came home from work and gave her a big bear hug. To get a hug from him was pure love and affection, but as she grew older and didn’t always agree with him, he hugged her less and less. She told me how it still hurts her heart to this day because there is nothing she would like more than to give her father a big bear hug, but he barely speaks to her.

Religious abuse happens because people misrepresent God’s character. Many of us grew up going to church with fear messages and shame trips. Some of us couldn’t handle the fear and shame so we left these caricatures of God and religious symbols behind and decided to go it alone.

I can’t blame anyone for rejecting a god who threatens to burn you in hell if you don’t do what he wants. Would you marry someone who says, “Love me or I will kill you?” I sure hope not and I hope you don’t worship a god like that either—although that’s what the church has erroneously taught for centuries.

I Stand for Love, Little Red Survivor Art


Many ACONS have been ostracized or scapegoated from our families, so it’s hard to imagine a God who runs out to give us a hug, but that’s how Jesus describes the Father.

The prodigal son has destroyed his own life. He’s used up his father’s money. He’s ruined the family reputation. He’s been so wanton and careless that he has nothing left and now eats with the pigs.

Even though many ACONs have been treated like the black sheep of the family, this prodigal was a true black sheep in every sense of the word. He has no worth in the eyes of the world, but he is as valuable as ever to the heart of his Father.

This is how we can know for sure God is not a narcissistic parent. The Father, who has been used and forgotten by his son, has never forgotten his child. He waits by the window everyday watching for a caravan or a shadow in the distance that might give him hope of his child. And finally, when he recognizes the gait and sees a familiar slouch, he runs out to meet him.

He doesn’t quiz him to check his theology or asked if he’s gotten saved. He doesn’t smell his breath for alcohol or examine him to see if he has any new tattoos. He doesn’t ask him to pay back the money he’s taken. He doesn’t ask if he’s been sleeping with men or women or pigs. He doesn’t do anything but welcome his child with open arms.

Then the Father calls for a party. He gives his son the finest clothes in the house. He restores his status in the family by giving him a ring of authority to represent the family business. The musicians arrive, the dancers dance and the barbecue is set up. No one can be sad when the master is so happy.

I’ve tried to dream of such a homecoming when we all get to heaven. The closest thing I can imagine is a huge family reunion at an airport. What brought it home for me was this flash mob ad at Heathrow Airport in 2010. I love all the songs, but I especially love the last song.

Welcome home, welcome
Come on in, and close the door
You’ve been gone, too long
Welcome, your home once more.

Can you imagine how heaven’s welcome might look like a huge flash mob of angels? As people swarm through the gates, we can finally set all of our baggage down for good and dance with the angels.

Then, at the end of the line, dancing and singing are Jesus and the Father waiting to give you a big ol’ bear hug! And as the Father hugs you, he whispers in your ear–

You are not what you have.
You are not what you do.
You are not what other people say about you.
You are the Beloved!
–Henri Nouwen



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