Why Spanking is Bad for YOU

1 Jul

This post was inspired by the way a neighbor treated his little girl this week. 

Hey Struggling Parent,

It doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do, this is about you. For whatever reason, your blood pressure is up, your blood is boiling and you want the release of making your child feel pain so they will do exactly as you tell them in the future. But hold on a minute, lay your weapon down and consider the long term impact of what you are about to do. This violence you are about to commit will not only affect your child, but it will affect you too.

Maybe no one ever told you, but spanking is not good for your health. Hitting your child in anger–whether with your hand, a wooden spoon or a belt is going to affect you both for the rest of your life. Take a moment to breathe and count the cost.

When you punish in anger, you release an inflammatory cascade in your child and in your own body. Science has shown how anger brings out dangerous hormones that could make you sick. When you hurt your child in this rage, you are hurting yourself as well.

Your child is connected to you through a bond of trust, but what you are about to do will break that trust. Do you really believe you can afford to lose their faith in you just because you want to feel the release of your anger?

If your child is not adopted, your child carries your genes. When you beat your child, you are in a way beating a part of yourself. Do you feel you deserve this?

Have you ever been bullied by someone bigger than you? What are your feelings toward that bully today?  Do you want your child to have those same feelings toward you for the rest of their life? Your child will never forget the way you made them feel.

Have you thought about the impact your violence will have on this impressionistic soul? Do you realize if you pursue this course both of you will be change forever? Once you do this, the person God created your child to be will be forever altered and your relationship will never be what it could’ve been.

Let me repeat this just so you understand, the child you hit will be forever changed and you will never know who they might have become if you had chosen to discipline them in love instead of violence. The world and your family will suffer the loss of some of your child’s potential because you had a need to punish them instead of disciple them.

Yes, that’s the truth–discipline is to make a disciple out of someone. If you use violence to do this, you will make your child twice the child of hell that you are now. Do you want to disciple your child to bully and harm others? Statistics show children who are hit, will hit others and the cycle will continue to the third and fourth generations. Have you thought about how insane it is to hit your child for hitting others? Children grow up to do what you do–not what you say.

And the ultimate price for you might be the loss of relationship with your adult child. Because when your child reaches middle age and wakes up to all their pain and addictions and traces the root of their lifetime of fear and never feeling good enough to the way you made them feel, you will find yourself shut out.

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If in your anger and passion you think you can just take the easy way out and slap them around until they jump when you say jump, think again. You will simply be teaching your child to be afraid of you. And ultimately afraid of God. Do you want to ruin the precious faith of your own child? Can you really risk losing them in this life and for all eternity?

In the future, you might wonder why your child can’t get over it or why they won’t forget. You might feel they are blaming you for all their problems or playing the victim. Let’s get this straight. A child you choose to hit, who is smaller than you IS a victim. They might choose to overcome this evil done to them and become a survivor. They may even thrive, but once you’ve made them a victim of your violence, that damaged little child might live on inside of them for the rest of their life.

Perhaps you too were once a victim. Do you really want to continue this pattern? If your child is young, it’s not too late. Right now, you can take them by the hand and teach them a better way in love.

You have all the power because right now you are much bigger than them. You have all the power and you can stop it now before this violence damages both of you.

Just. Lay. Your. Weapon. Down.

And hug your child with unconditional love.

Thank you.

PS If it is already too late and your child has been damaged and grown up and has now shut you out, there is one way that might open the door to a relationship again. It involves humility, honesty and empathy. If you can offer these three things to your adult child and treat them with the respect you wish for yourself, you might be able to reconcile. It won’t be easy, but it could be healing for both of you.

On the other hand, if you only care about being right, then you are a selfish narc and don’t deserve a relationship with your child.

What the Bible Really Says About Honoring Our Parents

15 Jun

About a year ago one of my relatives took offense in my belief that women should be treated with equality in the church and after spouting all her venom on my FaceBook wall, I removed her as a friend. I sent her an email explaining why and suggested we talk in private through email rather than on my wall. She sent back a long diatribe and ended with the words “And besides, the Bible says we are to honor our parents, so when are you going to start doing that?”

By then I realized this was not a conversation, it was an indictment. I could only guess her last remark was in reference to my blog. The ripples of narcissism echo far and wide in my family tree. I’m not saying she’s a narcissist, but possibly a flying monkey because she’s bought into the lies of the narcs.

It’s sad because I’ve had to remove more than one person I love from my FB because we grew up with a lack of respect and messy boundaries. If there is one criticism we ACoNs keep hearing, it’s about honoring our parents. I think it’s time to take a look at what the Bible actually says about this.

For starters these comments are a reference to the fifth commandment which states:

Honor your father and your mother,
so that you may live long in the land
the Lord your God is giving you.
-Exodus 20:12

Does this mean God will shorten our lives if we don’t comply? This is the only commandment with a promise and it simply promises a long life for honoring our parents, but it doesn’t threaten any kind of vengeance from God.

One of the most dangerous things in Christian fundamentalism is proof texting where one verse is used by itself as a weapon to refute the common sense that comes with comparing other verses. This verse has the capacity for abuse when it’s used without empathy for hurting people. When we compare this with other verses about relationships, we find a much bigger picture.

Problem of Evil
On one forum someone wrote: “Because of the Decalogue, Christians have this flawed idea that you can’t have issues with a parent, but some people are dealing with parents that are more than flawed, they’ve done evil.”

Yet even in the face of such evil, there will be people who accuse us of judging our parents, they seem to forget Jesus taught us to test the fruit of people’s lives.

A good tree can’t produce bad fruit,
and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.
A tree is identified by its fruit.
Figs are never gathered from thornbushes,
and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.
A good person produces good things
from the treasury of a good heart,
and an evil person produces evil things
from the treasury of an evil heart.
What you say flows from what is in your heart.
-Luke 6:43-45

Some believe when our parents gave us life, we became obligated to obey them for as long as they live, but the verse in the Bible that says this, specifically states:

Children obey your parents in the Lord.
-Ephesians 6:1

When confronted with such black and white thinking, we can take courage from the wisdom of Jesus.

My mother and brothers are those
who hear God’s word and put it into practice.
-Jesus, Luke 8:21

Jesus seems to define family ties by those who obey God. Now to be honest we have all disobeyed God at some time.  I don’t think Jesus means for us to belittle our parents and hold their mistakes against them, but when it comes to how far we do what they ask, we have a commitment to honor our Heavenly Father first.

To put God’s word into practice is to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. To do justly is to be honest and fair. Most narcs don’t follow this rule 90 percent of the time. To love mercy is to manifest love and empathy for those who have wronged us and those who are hurting. And to walk humbly with God requires introspection and asking for forgiveness as we try to live out God’s lifestyle of other-centered love.

Another verse in the Bible mentions being unequally yoked together.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness
and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
-2 Corinthians 6:14

This illustration is a reference to the way oxen are hooked together to pull a plow. When they both wear the yoke, they need to work together while traveling in the same direction to succeed at the task.

Many pastors and counselors refer to this verse for those who are marrying unbelievers, but I would say it could be just as much a problem for two Christians who have opposing views on how to live the Christian life. In the same way, if we are trying to come together with family members who see things differently and belittle us for our political views or religious convictions, it will be very hard to get along. In many cases the narcissistic parent or sibling can be very abusive.

A prophet in the Bible put it this way:

Can two walk together,
except they are agreed?
-Amos 3:3

Before we realized what narcissism is and how it operates, most of us tried many times to reach out in love to our parents. Like a little kid who keeps going back to the broken bubble gum machine to get a gumball and loses his quarter, we kept repeating the patterns over and over. But what we didn’t realize back then is we can never fix a narcissist no matter how nice we are and how hard we try.

The narcissist is fundamentally broken in the love department. He or she is stuck in survival of the fittest mindset and is willing to kill you (or at least your reputation) to save self. This lack of agreement is obvious when we try to refute the narcissist’s lies. Anyone who has ever been gaslighted, will confirm it’s impossible for two to even talk together unless they are agreed.

The Problem of Further Abuse

If we continue putting ourselves in such destructive situations, it will impede our healing. It can be very traumatic to keep dealing with angry and disappointed parents. Such fighting is bad for the health of everyone involved.

I find it interesting when people quote the fifth commandment and I like to offer them a couple Bible verses which most of them have never heard of before:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger
by the way you treat them.
-Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not aggravate your children,
or they will become discouraged.
-Colossians 3:21

Do you think it would be fair to say that a father or mother who angers and exasperates their child to the point of discouragement is unequally yoked with their child? And as we know narcissism can be cruel enough to drive some to suicide and self-wounding because they feel no self-worth. These verses speak to the wounding that occurs from growing up with narcissistic parents.

Even worse, such parents have broken the third commandment by taking God’s name in vain and misrepresenting him to their children. In turn these children grow into adults who imagine God is like their abusive parents, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Jesus Loves Children of all Ages

Many of us endured beltings and emotional abuse as children of narcissistic parents. Back then we were powerless and true victims because we had no power over our own lives. We were completely reliant on our parents for food and shelter, so we had no choice. Today we are adults and we are no longer victims because we can choose to separate from those who abuse us.

Jesus saw how we were treated as little children. He is fully aware of our wounding and scars. He shows great compassion and affection for little children and he has no less compassion for us today:

If anyone causes one of these little ones–
those who believe in me–to stumble,
it would be better for them to have a large millstone
hung around their neck and to be
drowned in the depths of the sea.
– Matthew 18:6

Why does Jesus make such a statement? If we believe Jesus lives out the non-violence he taught in the Sermon on the Mount, he is not threatening the abusers, but proclaiming the natural result of reaping what they’ve done.

When the narcissist has gone so far they have no remorse, Jesus is describing the futility of their existence because they have lost their capacity for love. I’ve heard people joke that when Jesus says “Suffer little children,” there are narcissists who make it their mission to make this happen.

The True Meaning of Honor

Yes, we can love those who do not love us, but love is manifested in many forms. Love is not indulgent and does not reward abuse. Love stands up for good things like right doing and honest living. And love most certainly stands up to bullies, but even more important love cannot be faked, but must be honest and honorable.

The word honor is married to honesty. They go hand in hand. There can be no honor without honesty. They are one and the same. So ultimately to honor our parents and especially our heavenly Parent, we must be honest.

Honor includes saying I will no longer allow you to threaten me or shame me or belittle my life choices because I sense no love in your attitude toward me. If you want to tell the truth and apologize for your lies and abuse, we have a starting point where we might agree and that would be a wonderful thing. But if you insist on your lies and abuse, the only way I can honor you is to let you go and honor my heavenly Parent.

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How Do We Love?

14 Jun

How do we love?
Do we love with picket signs and judgment?
Or with silence and shunning for the people
who look, speak, think, live and believe differently than us?

How do we love?
Do we protect ourselves with weapons made of metal
or use hate-filled words of steel
to threaten those who see things differently?

How can we love?
When we wore colors for Paris and Umpqua,
yet shudder to wear a rainbow for a fallen child of God?

Did we love Umpqua
because we have all gone to class?
Did we love Paris
because it was the city of light?

Do we see Pulse as different
because we imagine we are right?
And believe angels left these at the door?
So we feel less need to mourn
figuring they got what they were looking for?

How can we love?
When most of our lives we have been building walls
between us and those we think unclean?
Where do we start on the bridge between? 

Where is our love?
Love that has failed over and over and over again?
When will we learn to admit we are sinners too?

How does He love?
The one whose blood was shed for all?
The one who mourns and sits with the hurting?
The one whose name we bear
while we try to put a distance
between ourselves and other sinners?
Are we not separating ourselves from him in the process?

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Congratulations, It’s a Narc

3 Jun

Think of that moment in a movie or real life when a laboring mother is panting and pushing, while the father is offering her words of encouragement, then finally the moment comes when they hear a cry and the doctor announces those magical words, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” Or “Congratulations, it’s a girl!” Everyone cries happy tears in this very emotional moment. Well let’s consider this moment from the baby’s point of view:

He’s being ushered into a harshly bright and scary world where he will soon be asked to live up to his mother’s expectations and bear his father’s judgment and criticism. He might even be beaten or starved or isolated from society–all because his parents’ needs will come before his. If only he were able to understand this at birth, the doctor might greet him by saying, “Congratulations, it’s a narc!”

And if the baby has siblings, the doctor could just as well say, “Congratulations, you’ve got flying monkeys!” What a family lottery to win! If only we knew what we were dealing with from birth. It might not hurt so much when they fail to love and respect us. Some people think babies should come with instructions, but I think narc parents should too. “Congratulations, it’s a narc! Go ahead and crush the eggshells, because when all is said and done, it won’t make any difference.”

Most children of narcissistic parents grow up wondering what’s wrong with them. Why do I feel so sad or angry? Why do I feel shame to be sick or have needs or share how I’m feeling? Why can’t I be like normal people? All of these questions and so much pain could be avoided if only we could recognize narcissism by scabs like we do chicken pox.

A man once told me to stop calling my parents names and encouraging other people to call their parents names. By names, he was referring to the noun narcissist. He simply didn’t have empathy for those who were raised differently than him. He was apathetic. I am not close to this person so I was able to see through him and walk away. Lack of empathy is another sign of narcissism, but I really don’t like calling people names.

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So why do we refer to our abusive parents as narcs? And how do we know this is not a lack of empathy? Because most ACoNs have spent their entire lives empathizing with the narcissist. As a matter of fact some studies have shown narcissistic people often target empathetic people. So if you were the most empathetic child in a family, chances are you were targeted by your narc parent to provide their narcissistic feed. For more information on this check out the Empathy Trap book.

We use the term narcissist loosely because we have to name it to claim it–otherwise we might never realize what we are dealing with. How is this helpful? Because for most of our lives we had no name for what was happening in our homes and lives. We were yelled at, beaten, shut out, belittled, scorned, made fun of and told we were the problem. As children, many of us going through such physical and emotional abuse blamed ourselves.

We thought we were responsible to make our parents happy, but the truth is children–young or old, are not responsible for their parent’s feelings. If you are not trying to hurt people, you can’t be held responsible for their moods and tempers and dark thoughts. Each person is responsible for themselves, but children of narcissists don’t realize this while growing up because narcissistic families don’t have proper boundaries.

Many ACoNs spent years believing we were the problem because we were told to “get over it,” “forget the past” and “stop causing trouble.” How little did we know these phrases might be the very symptoms of narcissism.

It was only by learning the traits of narcissistic personality disorder and hearing the stories of other victims, that many of us realized we are not responsible for the insanity in our families. Having a name and recognizing the symptoms of narcissism brings peace.

If you’re in doubt, and question if by some chance your parent is not actually a narc, then just watch and wait. See if they contact you. Listen for loving words that say, “I am sorry for your pain, I am sorry I hurt you.” My friend Mary Lou showed me what unconditional love from a loving parent looks like. I highly recommend you get to know people who are great parents of all ages and watch them and learn from them. Then, learn to give the little child inside of you this same unconditional love.

So how do we move on from being victims to survivors? The moment we say, “Thus far and no more.” We have stepped through the threshold into another possibility. It’s not enough to say, “I survived beatings and lies and mind warps and gaslighting.” It’s not enough to say, “My parents didn’t love me.” It’s not even enough to say, “My parents are still mad at me for making my own choices.”

Until you understand narcissistic personality disorder and realize it’s not you, it’s the narc, you can’t walk through this threshold of healing. If you’re still blaming yourself or hanging out with people who blame you, then you remain a victim, but if you can name it and move on, you will become a survivor. And if you can name and claim what you want without allowing the narc’s interference, if you have learned to go where you are celebrated, if you can suck the marrow out of life, then you have begun to thrive!

Every woman that finally figured out her worth,
has picked up her suitcases of pride
and boarded a flight to freedom,
which landed in the valley of change.
-Shannon L. Alder 

 

Daring Greatly–The Courage of the Roosevelts

29 May

Jeri grew up with a narcissist mother who put her down and told her she was stupid and ugly. She has now come to a place where her marriage has failed, her family seems to do nothing but criticize her and her health is of some concern. The other day, she explained how the prospect of surviving a lonely existence on her own terrifies her to the point she wonders if the world even needs her. Jeri represents thousands of ACONs who lack confidence from narcissistic parents and are still reeling from the pain of betrayal, but it might surprise her to know she is not alone– she stands beside some great people who have overcome similar abuses and some of them bear the name Roosevelt.

I’ve recently watched the PBS documentary by Ken Burns about the Roosevelts which is now on Netflix. It is titled “The Roosevelts, an Intimate History.” I have often heard people refer to the “good Roosevelt” and the “bad Roosevelt” meaning whichever political party they ascribed to, but I have been greatly inspired by both President Theodore Roosevelt and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as Teddy’s niece and Franklin’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt (who ironically never had to change her name.)

These presidents were fifth cousins and both were supportive of each other. Their family tree though intermingled, was not a very compatible one. Eleanor was the strong link between the two of these men because she was Teddy’s niece and FDR’s wife and both empowered her to live out her own life of service to others.

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Teddy Roosevelt was older and born sickly with such bad asthma that no one expected him to grow up. His younger brother was stronger and more popular than he was and because Teddy was bullied and picked on because of his size, he was afraid to go places without his brother when he was a child. He overcame his illnesses and grew up to become a very strong figure both physically and mentally.

After falling in love with a beautiful woman and marrying her, he lost his wife two days after childbirth as well as his mother to Typhoid fever in the same night. He was left with a baby girl named after his wife, but he never spoke of the loss of his wife again it was such a tragic event for him.

Despite his personal pain, Teddy Roosevelt worked hard against unfair working conditions among the factories and mines to limit the power of big industry over the average worker and in American politics. He was well loved and very popular and did much good for our country. His famous speech “The Man in the Arena,” aptly describes his own journey and has inspired millions to get up and try again.

Teddy’s brother, who had been so physically strong, was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt. He became an alcoholic and ended up in an asylum before he died. After his death, Teddy took Eleanor under his wing as his favorite niece.

Eleanor, who never quite got over losing her father, did not find love in her mother who hated her overbite and called her “granny” because she was so ugly. Eleanor never felt loved by anyone until she met her distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but even before he married her, his mother was over-protective of her son and tried to dissuade him from marrying her. She was never a friend to Eleanor. She considered her grandchildren as if she were the mother and Eleanor was a house-guest. In every pursuit, she seemed to work against Eleanor. After Eleanor bore him five children, she discovered her husband had been cheating on her for years with his secretary. She was devastated, but he agreed to never see her again and they moved on.

Without any power in her family and feeling powerless since her mother in law seemed to be raising her children, Eleanor began to help with those who were struggling during the depression and found her own life work in public service. Later, when her husband contracted polio, she and FDR must have struggled with depression, but they both tried to be positive for the sake of their children.

For two years FDR worked on walking, but he never really walked again. He moved his legs in a very painful manner with braces on his legs to hold him up. In all of his speeches where he looked like he was standing, he was more like propped up and leaning on something. This all happened before he even ran for president. Most people would have given up, but Roosevelt did all he could to be as strong as possible by swimming and strengthening his upper body.

He must’ve done something right because he was our longest serving president and was elected four times, bringing our country through the great depression and WWII. Some criticized his New Deal and later others would criticize the Manhattan Project which was started under his watch, but helped end the war with Japan. Whether we agree with his politics or not, FDR was trying to serve the people in the best way he knew how. He believed Hitler was evil long before he could get us into the war and he did his best to end Hitler’s reign.

Despite all the good Roosevelt did, he was scandalized by relatives and Teddy Roosevelt’s oldest daughter Alice, publicly said she would vote for Hitler over her cousin FDR. FDR said he didn’t care if he ever heard from that evil woman again. This documentary could well be titled, “Roosevelts, a Triumph Over Narcissistic Relatives.”

While FDR worked on his New Deal policies, Eleanor became more and more popular by writing a column every week. The nation respected her opinion and when her husband was criticized, she spoke out to support him. This couple could very easily have given up. FDR had a lifetime struggle with his illness and Eleanor was often dealt blows about her own self-worth, but they were united in service for a love of the American people.

On the day FDR died, he was working on a speech to encourage our country’s involvement in the formation of the United Nations. His last words, written in his own handwriting read:

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow
will be our doubts of today.
Let us move forward with strong and active faith.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

When Eleanor went to bring FDR’s body home after he died, she was devastated to be told he was still entertaining his old flame and one time secretary. She could have given up after he died. She could have floated on a river of tears for her losses of not having a loving and supportive family from her mother and father to her husband and mother in law, it seemed most people betrayed her. The one exception was her uncle Teddy Roosevelt. He was one person who had a great influence on her character and life because of the love he instilled in her for the common person.

After FDR’s death, a reporter approached Eleanor but she told him to go away because it was over. She spoke too soon. She continued to serve people of all backgrounds and nations–even winning over her critics by helping to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations.

Despite all the narcissistic people who let her down, despite her own fears and doubts about her worth, Eleanor declared she found a way to love by loving other people. Her advice is helpful for those of us who have judgmental and unloving parents and who wonder if we will ever be able to do something of value to contribute in this world. If you are afraid, take hope in her words:

Courage is more exhilarating than fear,
and in the long run, it is easier.
We do not have to become heroes overnight–
just a step at a time, meeting each thing as it comes,
seeing it’s not as dreadful as it seems.
Discovering we have the strength to stare it down.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Watching this documentary has greatly encouraged me to try harder to bless others despite my own struggles. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with narcissistic relatives, self-doubts and fear of failure. The truth is each of these courageous people either dealt with narc parents or some sort of health issues and adversity, they also made many mistakes themselves, but they never gave up. As a matter of fact, it seems their trials only made them stronger.

The world breaks everyone
and afterward
many are strong in the broken places.
-Ernest Hemingway

The Double Bind on the ACoN Soul

27 May

Alisa was the scapegoat while her sister was the golden child. She grew up feeling like she didn’t belong and often wondered if she was adopted. It was hard to grow up feeling like she was on the outside of her family’s inner circle.

A few years ago her father asked her to come to work for him. Alisa was shocked he considered her. She and her father had never been close, but Alisa saw this as a chance to do such a good job her father might finally be proud of her. The new job went well for a couple weeks–until her father asked her to lie and cheat on some financial forms. Alisa didn’t know what to do.

For the first time in her life, her father had praised Alisa for her hard work and she felt their relationship was better than ever. On the other hand, Alisa felt rotten to go along with the sham. Alisa was caught in a double bind–her desire to maintain her integrity was at odds with her desire to win her father’s love. Alisa is not alone. Double binds are a very common problem for the ACoN soul.

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You’ve probably been in a bind yourself. Have you felt the pull to gossip or triangulate with others so you can be part of the inner crowd and keep the narcissist from talking about you? Have you wanted your parents love so much you were willing to say things you didn’t mean or do things you resented to win their love? Have you tried to speak your truth only to discover it will drastically change your family dynamics? Have you struggled with going along with all the family drama to avoid getting shunned? If so, you’ve been in a double bind and been asked to play a game you can never win.

So how do we live in a world full of double binds and maintain our integrity? How do we share our stories authentically and remain in relationship with the people we love?

  1. Keep Options Open
    People might act like the family reunion is the most important even of the summer, but if the only reason you are willing to go is because you are afraid the narc and flying monkeys will be talking about you, is it worth it? Do you really want to spend a weekend babysitting people from backstabbing and lying about you? What kind of life is this?The double bind might not be your only option. Perhaps there are people you would like to see, but just not in these circumstances. Maybe you can invite them to meet up with you on a different occasion without the narc and flying monkeys around.
  2. Realize You Are Not the Only One With Choices
    The fallacy of the double bind happens when you imagine you are the only one responsible for the results. You might feel you are damed if you do and damed if you don’t, but perhaps it is not you who is damed. Maybe the narc is damed if you do and damed if you don’t.If Alisa could see the bigger picture, she might realize her father should be the one in the double bind. On one hand he has a devoted daughter doing a great job, who is unwilling to compromise her values even for her father’s love. He might feel upset because she won’t go along with him, but he also loses if she submits to his plans. If this happens, he has not only chosen to do a criminal act, but he’s raised a daughter following in his slimy footsteps. If he has any conscience left at all, he could be glad for her stand to be honest and follow after her.
  3. To Thine Own Self be True
    Shakespeare wasn’t kidding when he wrote this advice. It’s probably the most important advice ever written. If we fail to be true to ourselves, we will have nothing left to serve others or God. No matter how much we want to go along with the narc, we can’t. Call it karma or the natural law of sowing and reaping, but life rewards our actions. The narc won’t care because most narcs have little to no conscience. It could be your health at stake or your sleep lost because you did something you knew was against everything you stood for.

It seems like one of the most common double binds for ACoNs is speaking their truth and losing the love of their parents. For those of us who grew up in enmeshed families or with emotional incest, it feels like a death. And it is a death of sorts. The double bind comes between choosing your own life or the life of your parents. I had a sibling once tell me that we could never live until our parents were dead. I cried because I didn’t want them to die, but I wanted to live.

Are you willing to kill your own character and personality to please your parents? Or are you willing to let them be unhappy with your choices so you can live? The answer should be logical and obvious. Don’t let mixed emotions steal your power. If you have conflicted feelings, follow the logic of truth and love. If you give up who you are to please others, you will lose yourself and you will never be happy and alive.

If you want to be true to yourself, then F the double bind and speak the truth–even when your voice shakes.

 

 

 

Maybe He Doesn’t Hit You, But It’s Still Abuse

13 May

The new domestic violence hashtag trending on twitter this week #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou
has been informing the world that emotional abuse is just as painful as physical abuse. No one knows this more than survivors of narcissistic abuse. As a matter of fact, I’ve run into lots of ignorant people who don’t recognize narcissistic abuse because they haven’t been educated about it. So in an effort to increase awareness here are six steps in the cycle of narcissistic abuse:

Step One–Control
The narcissist has a need to control the victim. Juliana’s boyfriend liked to control how much she ate and he often expected her to eat off of his plate at restaurants without ordering her own food. Control can be about anything in the relationship. It could be about money or sex or deciding who you can talk to on the phone. This need for control is the bedrock of narcissism.

Step Two–Manipulation
When Juliana decided to order her own plate and took back control, the narc sought other ways to gain control by first manipulating her with gifts and when that didn’t work, he tried threats. The issue was never about food, if she wanted to get her own plate, he had five loads of laundry for her to do before bedtime. Or maybe no sex that night. If there was something that Juliana wanted, the narc found a way to spoil it. Beware anyone who does not take your word at face value, but tries to sweet talk and/or push you into doing something you don’t want to do.

Step Three–Revenge
Once Juliana had enough of the manipulation and control, she decided to leave the narc, but she discovered narcs don’t get mad, they get even. Revenge came in many ways from talking about her to all her friends and to stealing some art she had in storage. Juliana learned the hard way the narc sees everything she owned including her body and money as though it belonged to the narc.

Wolf Story, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/18139482-wolf-story?c=317903-little-red-wisdom

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Step Four–Victimhood
After Juliana left the narc, he played the victim and acted like Juliana was the abusive person in the relationship.  Appearances are very important to most narcs. They want everyone to know what a nice person they were and how terrible the other person was for breaking up with them. Juliana’s ex infiltrated all her social circles and moped around soliciting pity from all her so-called friends who were now his friends. This allowed the narc to groom some flying monkeys.

Step Five–Flying Monkeys
Juliana’s true friends did not believe the narc, but among her acquaintances there were lots of potential flying monkeys. Flying Monkeys are people who listen to the narc and carry shame and guilt messages back to the victim from the narc. Flying monkeys questioned Juliana’s judgment for leaving the narc because they thought he seems like such a nice guy. Others questioned her manner of leaving the narc–could she have possibly stayed longer and paid another month’s rent so he was not left in a lurch?

Obviously these flying monkeys had no clue what Juliana was dealing with. Some of the more pride-filled flying monkeys judged Juliana for being with the narc in the first place. One of the most difficult parts of narcissistic abuse is dealing with flying monkeys, but if you, like Juliana, can remain calm and ignore the flying monkeys they will eventually burn out and go away.

Step Six—Shunning
When Juliana and her true friends no longer paid any attention to the flying monkeys or the narc, she finally got some peace because the narc in a last ditch attempt to manipulate her, shut her out completely and refused to speak to her.

Juliana was now dead to the narc. Ah peace—except this entire cycle will repeat itself all over again if Juliana in any way responds to the narc. Being involved with a narc is like being stuck on the spin cycle with all of the narc’s mood swings and drama.

If you are going through any stage of this cycle, take your cues from Juliana and leave, because this may be your chance for freedom. You are not alone. There are helpers and true people everywhere so look for them.

And I not only have the right to stand up for myself,
but I have the responsibility.
I can’t ask somebody else to stand up for me
if I won’t stand up for myself.
And once you stand up for yourself,
you’d be surprised that people say,
“Can I be of help?”
-Maya Angelou

Five Myths About Motherhood

5 May

If you had a loving mom, it’s a beautiful thing to acknowledge her for whatever she’s done for you, but it’s also important to understand not everyone has such a mother. Here are five myths about motherhood that might make Mother’s Day easier to get through if you are struggling with a broken relationship with your mom.

Myth #1 Giving Birth Makes a Mother

Giving birth doesn’t actually make a mother. It might, but it’s not a guarantee. What makes a mother is a loving relationship manifested through nurturing and empathy.

God’s intentions for mothers (and fathers) was for them to represent him by procreating in their own image and serving their offspring with other-centered love, teaching them to do the same for the next generation.

Narcissistic mothers give birth and serve self. In this case, birth creates a sort of queen mum to be waited on hand and foot—a so called mother who demands her children meet her every need. Sometimes this includes dictating who her children should marry or even if they can marry. If this is the fruit of her so-called motherhood, then giving birth didn’t create a mother, it just provided more narcissistic feed for a narcissist.

That said, we can still honor egg donors. We can thank them for life–without allowing them to control our lives.

Myth #2 Adopting Makes a Mother

Just as with giving birth, adoption is another opportunity to be a mother–but only if a woman chooses to become a mother through giving other-centered love. There are many adoptive mothers who tenderly love a child as much as any who gave birth. But then there are narcissistic mothers who merely wanted to acquire more children as if they were possessions and when the newness wears off they get bored of motherhood. Motherhood is more than the acquisition of a child, it is a relationship for life.

Narcissistic mothers often fail to nurture because they lack empathy. Empathy is the part of love that allows us to see life through the eyes of another. It’s sad how many mothers both through adoption and birth choose to shun their children because they have no empathy for them and resent their adult children who didn’t turn out the way they wanted them too.

Survivor Girl God Took Me In, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/14231063-god-took-me-in?c=541752-inner-child

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If you had such a mother, you probably already know you can’t live out her expectations for you. It’s important to determine where your mother ends and you begin. Such boundaries will separate your mother from yourself and allow you to become yourself.

Myth #3 God Decides Who Gets to Have Children

While I was growing up, some people used to say “There’s a reason God doesn’t give some people children.” Hmmn… If we believe God has withdrawn his blessing from every infertile couple, then we would have to follow this idea through to its logical conclusion and assume God is purposely giving children to every mother who gives birth. Why would God bless crack addicts and abusers with children, while he withholds babies from honest, loving parents?

I have a friend who is a counselor for an adoption agency. She once said, “I think God stepped back from actively deciding who gets to have children a long time ago and left the choices to us. I think the determining factors as to who can give birth is more likely the result of genetics and health from living in a damaged world.”

That said, every child who comes into this world is still a gift from God. God designed the human family to receive love and a give love and a helpless baby offers us one of the most rewarding opportunities to experience love.

Myth #4 You Can’t Understand Parenting Unless You’re a Parent

To be a mother is to love and nurture. Some of us were mothers at an early age. I changed diapers and bottles and dressed my baby siblings since I was four or five. I never actually thought I was their mother and I had no plans to usurp my mother’s place. I knew we all had the same mother, but I still mothered them.

Chances are if you care about children at all, you have mothered in some sense even if you are not called mother. Mothering is the art of giving in a nurturing way. Mothering is planning a birthday party, soothing a wounded knee and sharing encouragement when a friend is discouraged.

When we think of mothering as a verb, it’s obvious anyone can use empathy and love to nurture others. Mothering can describe the behavior of older siblings, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and really anyone who takes the time to invest in the life of a child. Mother Teresa is a grand example of a true mother heart.

Myth #5 God is Our Father, But Not Our Mother

Some people freak out over references to Mother God, but where do they think mothers came from in the first place? The Godhead said, “Let us create humankind in our image.” Male and female were created in God’s image.

God therefore is as much mother as as a father. Those who are invested in patriarchy, might cling to whatever they’ve been told and struggle to see it, but those with open minds, willing to seek truth in all things, can’t deny God is both masculine and feminine. There are verses throughout the Bible describing the feminine face of God.

The kind of mother we find in God, is the opposite of a narcissistic mother.

When the narc mom demands we jump through arbitrary hoops to please her, our Mother God sets us free to be ourselves.

When the narc mom demands control of the relationship, our Mother God leaves us free to choose if we want a relationship.

When a narc mom makes fun of us and demeans us, our Mother God has designed us to be unique and beautiful and she celebrates who we are.

This mother God is not some false concept, nor is she in disagreement with our Father God–they are one and the same God.

To recap, anybody can give birth or adopt a child, but it takes an empathetic, loving person to be a mother. Anyone can answer to mother, but those who empower a child to grow into her true self instead of controlling who she might become, is mothering. To mother is to be like God. God is the ultimate mother of us all. Let’s honor both our heavenly mother and our earthly mothers and let’s release the narcs to take care of themselves.

To Spank or Not to Spank?

29 Apr

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with my parents is because they still feel they have the right to tell me what to do–what kind of music to listen to, how to vote, how to spend my money and how to worship God. For the first twenty years of my life, their will was imposed on me through what they called “The Persuader”—my father’s belt. I received my first spanking when I was one week old and my last on the day I left home at nearly twenty.

No one thought of my parents as mean. They didn’t look like evil parents, but they believed breaking my will was needed for my salvation. No one who knew us realized I was belted because I was isolated from society by not going to school and having visitors to our home was a rare occasion.

I would love to say the spankings I received were because I lied or stole or hit someone, but no, my list of crimes included everything from listening to John Denver and Amy Grant, to wearing tinted chapstick, to rocking back and forth to music. Sometimes I was belted for not moving fast enough when we were moving. And oh yeah, my worst belting occurred when I was seven for whispering to my sister in church.

Don't Shut Up, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13999494-dont-shut-up?c=540504-survivor-girls

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My mother told me her father spanked her only two or three times and he very gently spoke to her about what he was about to do and why. She told me several times in my childhood that she hated when Daddy punished me out of anger, but that was the situation most of the times I was belted.

Despite all of this, I didn’t grow up bitter or hateful toward my parents—I hated myself. I was bad. I was the loser who didn’t live up to their expectations. I spent the first twenty five years of my adulthood, buying groceries and paying power bills and doing whatever I could to help them. The truth was I loved my parents then and I still love them today, but I don’t agree with their methods and I refuse to let them tell me how to live my life any more. If they want to have a relationship with me, they will have to accept me as I am because I am through trying to play a game I could never win.

One day when I was forty-five, I was still telling a lie they taught me—that I was home schooled. It wasn’t a conscious lie, it came so naturally to say it, I said without thinking and then I screamed. I told someone I had been home schooled because this is what I had been taught to say. As a teenager, I had to say it or I would be belted. As an adult I had to say to protect their reputation and stay in good rapport with them.

That day I went home and screamed at myself in the mirror. I realized I had been trying to please them for over 45 years and a lot of was because I was taught to submit to their will. Even my issues with God came from these beltings. If the biggest person can bully others to do what they want, then why would I trust God who has all power in the universe?

The last time I saw my parents, I tried to explain how much these beltings have affected my life. My words fell on deaf ears because they believe they are right and I am wrong and they back it up with scripture because according to Christian tradition, the Bible says we should spank children. I know I’m not the only one who has childhood post traumatic shock because of beltings. People write me every week to tell me their stories and most of them include being beaten into submission in the name of God. One reader says she ended up in a fetal position on the floor with family members yelling at her. All of this was done in the name of religion and love.

Recently a landmark study about spanking has shown spankings are not as effective as people once thought. This study covered fifty years and 160,000 people. The term spanking in the article was not referring to beatings, but a swat on the butt.

This study has incited arguments all over social media with lots of people who didn’t even bother to read the study saying, “I was spanked and I turned out just fine.” The truth is if they said this without reading the study, they didn’t turn out fine. They are mere sheep following the crowd because the spankings they had in their formative years, taught them not to question and think for themselves.

One guy said he was spanked and he turned out just fine. I didn’t say anything because I’ve known him for years. I have seen him punish his little children in an anger fit and yell that they deserve a spanking. I also know his temper and anger are part of the reason his wife left him. He thinks he turned out all right, but why is he still trying to control his adult son? It’s a sad thing to see the damage done to this father son relationship because this man feels he still needs to wield power over his children.

There are two groups of people who will argue for spankings–narcissistic parents and religious parents and heaven forbid they meet up in Religious Narcia. The first narcissistic group of parents have to be right. They used physical violence over their children to bully and control them. Narcs feel justified in hitting their kids into submission because the world revolves around them and they feel they shouldn’t be bothered to take time to patiently discipline their children.

The second group are religious people who were spanked and taught to spank and feel it is God’s requirement to spank their child. Despite the fact it’s a misunderstood quote, despite the fact that Jesus never modeled spanking children, many of us have been spanked in God’s name. Even angry and abusive parents have justified beating their children supposedly for their children’s salvation. So what is this misquoted verse?

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children
is careful to discipline them.
-Proverbs 12:24

This verse definitely supports discipline but there is a marked difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline teaches and corrects, while punishment gets even for a behavior. If all the parents who used spanking to discipline thought about it, they might realize there are much better ways to train and get a point across than hitting their child. But it’s easier to hit them than reason with them. Being a parent is hard work and many feel they don’t have time to reason to they hit their children into submission.

The most important thing to note about this bible verse is to realize what a rod actually is–it’s not a switch it a belt. It’s a shepherd’s rod. To fully understand the meaning if this verse we need to consider how a shepherd guides his sheep. He leads and prods them and rescues them with the rod, but he doesn’t hit them with it. If he started hitting every wayward sheep, he would have chaos. Sheep are followers and not very smart. They need rescuing and guidance, but beatings won’t help with either of those goals.

This rod is NOT used for spanking.

What is used for? To guide, to prod, to rescue and lead. The fact that so many parents defend spanking with this verse and ignore the non-violent words and lifestyle of Jesus, reveals their Christianity is not about Christ, but human tradition. Using power over small children to hurt them because they don’t do what the parent wants is not only cruel, but it’s unchristian–as in unChrist-like.

There is another well quoted verse which mentions the rod from the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Apparently this comforting rod of the great shepherd is not to beat us when we are in fear of death. It’s very obvious this rod is not used for spanking. There is no comfort in a beating or a spanking.

Probably one of the worst arguments for spanking is the one that we can reason with older kids, but the youngest and most fragile in our families should be spanked. This argument takes the stance that babies who can’t talk or reason need spankings to communicate to them. Intelligent parents must surely contemplate what they communicating to their helpless baby by hitting them. They are saying, “I am the boss. Your needs are to be put on hold for my comfort. You are to conform to my request for quiet or whatever the spanking has provoked.

Someone shared a story with me from Astrid Lingren who wrote Pippi Longstocking. It was about a pastor’s wife who felt her little boy needed a switching. She told him to go out and pick a switch for her to use. He was gone a long time, then he came back crying with a rock. He said he couldn’t find any good switches, but she could throw this rock at him.

I cried when I read that story because it doesn’t matter if you hit with a stick or a rock, it hurts and it hurts deep inside the child’s psyche. Please don’t say that hitting is okay as long as you don’t beat them, you never know what is happening to their heart. And it only takes anger to go from a gentle spanking to a horrible beating. It does damage to children to realize their parent who they trust and adore intends to hurt them. That is the part of many of us that is broken. As the child grows up and leaves home, it will come out in all forms of violence against self through addictions.

Jesus is very fond of young children. He says to let them come to him–not so he can hit them, but so he can bless them. Jesus also has very strong words for anyone who harms a little child.

While he was dying on the cross, Jesus spoke of his abusers and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” but he has much harsher words for those who harm children. Jesus said it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck.

This millstone is not retributive justice as some might mistakenly think–this is Jesus describing the terrible condition and lack of conscience it takes to harm a child. Jesus is basically saying if you stoop this low, there is very little hope for your salvation–not because God wants to kill you, but because the act of harming others changes you and it could make you contemplate suicide and/or lose your salvation.

We can’t take these words of Jesus lightly. They’ve been used against all kinds of evil, but perhaps our Christian tradition of justifying hitting God’s most vulnerable and precious children has seared the consciences of many to imagine they are doing the work of God–when in fact they are doing the work of the enemy and harming their children.

If you are still reading this, you must surely understand by now that the rod is not used for hitting. That God does not ask us to spank children. That Jesus wants us to discipline and teach children to live non-violent lives, but that won’t happen unless it starts at home. We now have a very large, long term study which shows the long term effects of hitting children is not a viable option. It doesn’t work. It only damages them far into their adult lives. We now have no more excuses for ignorance and continued spanking of children.

One thing most ACoNs know for sure is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood, but according to Jesus, what happens on earth never stays on earth. Jesus says the angels of all little children look into the Father’s face in heaven–which means that all of heaven is watching and fully aware of those who choose to hurt children. If the Father sees a sparrow fall, then how much more does he see a child spanked?

Jesus also said whatever we do to the least of these, we’ve done to him.

Love and Logic has great ideas on non-violent parenting

Here is information about that Spanking Study

How to Talk to a Flying Monkey

22 Apr

Most of us are familiar with the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” If only we could reverse these monkeys and send the flying monkeys back with a message to the narc. Can you imagine how much healthier our families would be? I know, it’s a fantasy, but we all need a good fantasy every once in a while. This post could go on forever because we all know the list of lies put out by the narc is a bottomless pit, but I’ll just reverse five things flying monkeys use to shame us.

CAUTION: Read this fantasy at your own risk. Don’t allow hope to suck away the reality that the narc or flying monkeys rarely change. Keep your logic hat on.

1. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #1: “Why do you always have to remember the past?

Oh if only I had mocha for every time a flying monkey said this. For starters, who doesn’t remember the past? This flying monkey knows they remember the past and we all know the narc’s memory is selective. The narc hasn’t forgotten the past because he has a long list of people he wants to get even with, so why all this fuss about remembering?

It’s not remembering the past that’s the problem for the narc, it’s remembering the past and acknowledging it. It’s remembering that exact point on the glass where we were cut last time. It’s saying that since I remember the past, I don’t wish to repeat the past. But the narc doesn’t want me to remember where he stabbed me in the back, because if I remember it will never happen again.

My question for the flying monkey is do you really want me to forget the past?  ‘Cause that would make it much more difficult for me to remember things like how to drive and I would definitely forget your birthday. Maybe you should fly back to the narc and give him this message:

“Why don’t you forget the past? Why don’t you stop holding it against your designated scapegoat for not playing along with all your dirty little games?”

More Heart Flying Monkey, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/14022129-need-less-flying-monkeys?c=543167-flying-monkeys

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2. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #2: “Why do you have to break up the family by skipping the family drama–er dinner?”

Ha! As if not attending one dinner could wreck an entire dynasty and possibly end civilization as we know it. I’d love to tie a little note to the clutches of this flying monkey and send him back with:

“Hey Narc, your lies and triangulating have literally sucked the joy out of our family gatherings. So why don’t you stop the drama and let everyone be themselves? Then maybe family members will want to hang out with you again.”

3. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #3: “The narc’s never gonna change, so why don’t you just forgive and forget?”

Hmmn… Nearly everything that stinks needs changing like garbage and diapers. Personally I can’t think of anything that stinks more than narcissism. It tears down the family through lies and division. The main problem with the narc is it’s always gotta be his way or the highway. I’d decorate this flying monkey with old diapers for brown nosing and maybe give him a flat tire and see how far he goes before deciding change is necessary. Oh! And I’d send this message back to the narc:

“The reason people are avoiding you oh great narc is because you refuse to change. All relationships come up for renegotiation. Like an old fish rotting in the sink, people have lost all taste for your control freaking ways and hostile attempts to divide and conquer. Why don’t you change? Why don’t you play the game of forgive and forget?

4. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #4: What Would Jesus Do?

A few flying monkey spies just fell off their seats when they read this. Sorry monkey friends, but it’s a stupid question if it relates to narcissistic abuse because Jesus never advocated that we become doormats. Most flying monkeys can be brushed off with a fly swatter, but there is no flying monkey like the monkey sent from the throne of Religious Narcia. The aura of oppression they wield while they try to shame you with your ultimate hope–your faith in God–is unconscionable. And all because they like ring of that little mantra “What would Jesus do?”

What Jesus would do is support freedom. Jesus never stands with liars and abusers. He does not support narcissistic abuse and never uses such tactics himself. I’d send this spiritually manipulative flying monkey back as soon as he opens his mouth—with a message to smash all the false kingdoms in Religious Narcia.

Keep-Calm and Ignore the Flying Monkeys, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleRedSurvivorArt

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“Hey narc, let’s just forget what Jesus would do and let’s remember what Jesus did. Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers? He who does the will of my father.” If you aren’t doing the will of the Father, then get off my back.”

5. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #5: What if the Narc Dies?

Many flying monkey discussions end with the ultimate countdown–the final countdown in all of our lives when he says: “Well you never know how long the narc will live, so why not try to get along with them.”

What does this flying monkey even mean? Does he think we should allow ourselves to be abuse by the narc because he has a shorter life expectancy than other people? The fact is we don’t know how long any of us will live. Car accidents steal young lives every day.

My message is not intended to make light of how short life is–but rather BECAUSE life is short. If only all these flying monkey suggestions worked, if only it were that easy to reverse all the damage done by the narc to others by hanging out with the narc. Sadly, when we are in a relationship with a narc it’s like they are already dead–not because we wish it–-heaven knows how much we love them and have cried over the narc, but because life is short and hanging out with the narc could make our lives even shorter.

It’s a solemn message to send back, but it’s the truth and it must be said:

“I don’t know how long I will live. None of us do. Since we don’t know this, why do you assume others should tiptoe around you Narc? Why not make things right with your children before they or you die? And If you really want a relationship, why not put some love and kindness into it? Shame and guilt don’t work on me anymore.”

Well, that was nice fantasy while it lasted, but the mountains are calling and I must go! Hopefully this worked like flying monkey repellent, cause modern science still hasn’t found a cure for the narc or his flying monkeys. But you will be ok because you know how to recognize a flying monkey and you won’t let the narc steal your joy.

Please feel free to add your own fantasies in the comment section.