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.

Speak the Truth, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13762555-speak-the-truth-healing-flowers?c=540575-healing-flowers

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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?”

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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.

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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.

F the Trauma Bond

17 Apr

While she was growing up, Macy’s parents used her as their slave and beat her whenever she didn’t do what they wanted. Her three brothers lived like kings compared to her.

When Macy became an adult, her parents wanted her to be an accountant and even though she wanted to be a nurse, she took accounting to please her parents. Even after Macy was married, she was expected to come to her parents’ home and do some of their house work.

When Macy had a daughter of her own, she realized her parents had not loved her the way she loved her little girl. She couldn’t treat her child like a slave. She decided to be a different kind of parent who doted on her daughter instead of using her, but whenever she went to her parents’ house, she still endured their put downs. One day she had a big argument with them over how she was raising her daughter.

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That was the day Macy realized if she continued seeing them, they would keep treating her daughter like they had treated her. She wanted her daughter to grow up in freedom without beltings and expectations. For the sake of her daughter, Macy felt she had no choice but to go no contact with her parents.

This would seem to give Macy’s story a happy ending where she could close the book on past abuse, but Macy isn’t happy. Her husband is very supportive and her little girl is having the childhood Macy never had, but Macy is deeply depressed and misses her parents.

Macy feels a nostalgia for her family that her husband and friends can’t understand. Some days just an ad or mention of the word mother or father makes her cry and binge on chocolate. Sometimes she can barely get out of bed. Macy misses her abusers so much she even makes self-depreciating jokes to put herself down.

Macy has a trauma bond with her parents. A trauma bond is where a person keeps going back to be used and abused because of an emotional connection. Macy has tried for years to fix the relationship with her parents, but they have zero interest in fixing the relationship.

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Can you relate to Macy’s situation? If so, you might be locked into a dysfunctional cycle. Here are five clues you might be dealing with a trauma bond:

1. You Feel Emotionally Connected
to Someone Who Keeps Hurting You
Healthy relationships are always a two-way street. If you’re the only one working on it or you find yourself pining away for the good ol’ days when you were used as a slave, belted or given just a ration of food, you probably have a trauma bond with your abuser.

If the person who keeps hurting you makes no attempt to apologize, you might want to analyze why you keep going back. What are you getting out of this relationship besides pain? Do you like pain? What will it take for you to value yourself enough to take care of yourself?

2. You Keep Explaining Yourself
If you’re in the position of proving yourself all the time, and you keep going back to argue and suggest how to fix what you believe is broken in this relationship, but the other party ignores your pain and expects you to carry on life as usual, you probably have a trauma bond.

Any time you need to grovel for love, you surely must know it’s not love you will be receiving. Love cannot be earned. Real love can only grow if it is free and unconditional. If you grew up trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations, you might have a trauma bond that keeps you going back like a dog to his vomit.

3. You Spend Hours Analyzing
What You Might Have Done Wrong

Perhaps you didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe you have been asked to play a game you can never win. Perhaps you are a peach trying to win someone who only likes bananas. (Or maybe the other person is totally bananas and you are the only sane one in the relationship). Go gentle on yourself. Forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be abused. Look for a true peach lover. Once you meet up with someone who loves who you for who you are, you will have a much better chance at a good relationship.

4. You Keep Forgiving Someone
Who Never Apologizes
The commandment states we should honor our parents, but this simple rule leaves room for a wide misunderstanding of the fifth commandment and allows abuse to continue. When betrayal happens–even by a parent, there’s no way for the relationship to continue without an apology and a complete renegotiation. In Religious Narcia, we find abusers wielding the Bible to justify their abusive behavior.

5. You Feel Sorry For Your Abuser
If you’ve gone no contact with your abuser, and you feel depressed to the point you can’t enjoy your own life because you miss them and worry about them regardless of what they have done, you very likely have a trauma bond.

This trauma bond allows people to use you. Unless people are wearing diapers and unable to speak, you are not responsible for them. We all sow what we reap. Do you believe God wants you to sow so another can reap? That goes against the natural order of life on this planet. Understanding this might be the first step to accepting the apology you never had so you can move on with your life.

It takes courage to let go of the trauma bonded relationship, but it’s worth it. Even if this relationship is with a parent and you can’t imagine your life without them. You might not realize the toll this twisted and dysfunctional bond is taking on your health and other relationships.

When someone lies about you and to you,
When someone has not apologized,
When you explain yourself all the time,
When someone doesn’t respect you.
When you feel the feelings of your abuser
before you feel your own feelings,
When you have continued to be abused,
When the relationship is one-sided,
When you struggle to sleep or eat
or get out of bed in the morning
because you feel sorry for your abuser,
you most definitely have a trauma bond.

A trauma bond is a relationship fallacy.
It’s NOT a real relationship,
but for some reason the bond makes it seem real.
All the judgmental Christians can leave now–
pardon my french,
but FUCK the trauma bond!

A man who views the world
the same at fifty 
as he did at twenty
has wasted thirty years of his life.

-Muhammad Ali

Why the Narc Can’t Steal Your Courage

15 Apr

According to her mother, Heidi is the black sheep of the family, but she wasn’t always the black sheep. She used to be her narc mother’s extension. If her mother wanted the rest of family to do something, Heidi was the flying monkey golden child who passed on her messages when her mother was upset. If her mother despised anyone, Heidi was expected to hate them too.

One day her mother had a big blowout with her sister. Heidi loved her aunt and refused to take sides–plus she knew her mom was the narc who was only thinking about herself. And that’s how Heidi became the black sheep because she decided to walk away from all the drama.

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One of the biggest misconceptions about Adult Children of Narcissists is that they lack the courage to move on in life. Just because we are still affected by the events of our childhood, it doesn’t mean we haven’t moved on.

The truth is most ACONs* accepted their childhood for what it was–after all most of us knew of nothing else at the time. We thought our family life (strange as it was) was normal. No, it was the events in adulthood which finally woke most of us up.

It was only after we discovered how aftermath of narcissistic abuse has taken its toll on our health, finances and relationships.

Whatever we might think about ACONs, we can’t call them cowards. If you are reading this because of your past or current situation, just pause here and give yourself a hand for getting this far.

You are a survivor–whether the narcissistic abuse was physical, mental, emotional, sexual or spiritual–just the fact you are reading this means you are seeking awareness.

It takes courage to wake up and discover things are not right, but it takes greater courage to speak of this truth and alienate our family members.

It takes courage to get off the superficial merry-go-round and throw the mask away, but it takes greater courage to forge a new path where no one in the family has gone before.

It takes courage to decipher our childhood mysteries and try to make sense of it and it takes greater courage to forgive ourselves for sleep walking through life and not seeing it before.

It takes courage to discover the people we love are unhealthy for us, but it takes greater courage to walk away from codependency and have tough love.

It takes courage to stand up for the truth against the onslaught of flying monkeys, but it takes greater courage to forgive them for they know not what they do.

It takes courage to do self-care when our parents raised us to put them first in everything, but it takes greater courage to get up in the morning and go out into the world and take control of our own destiny.

It takes courage to walk away from dead and false religion because it sucked the life out of our souls, but it takes greater courage to continue seeking truth in all things.

It takes courage to carry love in our hearts for parents who never put us first in childhood and now treat us with contempt, but it takes even greater courage to admit the fact they will never change.

It takes courage to go no contact and separate from our abusers, but it takes greater courage to reach out and form new family.

It takes courage to walk away from the hate and expectations of the narcissist, but it takes greater courage to find our own value and values and choose to fly.

It takes courage to say no to to the things that steal life, but greater courage to say yes to the possibilities that might bring a better life.

So don’t let the narc and the flying monkeys get you down. They can’t steal your courage–you are a courageous soul!

The paradox of having a courageous heart
is that it requires you to name things
that are not kind, not loving and not restored.
We need honesty.
-Dan Allender

Courage, dear heart!
-C.S. Lewis

*ACON – Adult Children of Narcissists

A Game You Can Never Win

6 Apr

Have you ever been asked to play a game you can never win? If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you already know what I’m talking about. For the malignant narcissist, relationships are not about love, affection or mutual interests because the narc views human relationships as if they were a game.

A game where whoever shouts the loudest wins. A game where the narc has to outsmart and outrun the competition. A game where whoever collects the most of whatever the narc values—whether it’s money, property or people, wins. A game where the narc feels no obligation to play fairly by anyone’s rules but his own and every play is a means to an end.

It’s a game where the rules can change at any time, but there are three fairly consistent rules to the narc’s game.  If you can spot how the narc plays out these moves, it might help you see it coming so you can avoid playing such a game. So here are the narc’s general rules which may or may not change at any given time.


Narc Rule #1: Get More Narcissistic Feed

Every narc has their own currency. Some narcs are concerned primarily with politics and climbing a social ladder. Some narcs are all about collecting people to do their dirty work. Some crave people who flatter them and others just want to make money. Narcissism might appear differently with different personalities, but there is one thing they all have in common, they use people for narcissistic feed.

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Chances are if you are dealing with a narcissist, you might already sense what they want. This narc rule states as long as you give up your money, your time, your needs, your blood—whatever it is the narc craves, then your relationship with the narc will appear to be fine. However, if you start to claim your own boundaries, he will feel threatened and up the ante because you just moved up to a more difficult level in the game.

Narc Rule #2: Be the King or Queen of Right

Narcs make a game out of being right. If you know someone who stays up late online arguing with strangers, this person probably rates on the high end of the narcissistic scale. Proving she is right and others are dead wrong is always a game to the narcissist–whether it’s about politics or religion or which kind of car to buy.

Arguing with the narc is no fun no matter how delusional they are and as you might have discovered by now, it’s not much fun to play games of any sort with the narc. But here’s the thing, you might end up arguing with the narc over real life issues if you are living in the same house. And these might be issues that really matter to you like which school your child should attend or if you can run to the store to buy medicine for a sick child while the narc wants sex. These are the kind of games most people never dream of playing, but welcome to narc world!

Narc Rule #3: Whoever Gets the Most People Wins

We all know this is a lame childish game, but watch out if you are breaking up with a narc. He will call up every one you know to make sure they realize how terrible you are. Although the narc wants to collect all these people, he offers them no substance in relationship because the only thing he has to offer them is talking about you. The narc wants to get all your mutual friends to take their side so they can win them as pawns and flying monkeys. And most of these pawns and flying monkeys have no clue what’s happening or that they are even entered into the narc’s game. While it might seem the narc is winning  for a while, your true friends will eventually see through the narc’s lame game.

Now that you realize what kind of game you are playing, the only way to win is to stop playing by the narc’s rules. If only it were as easy as leaving the circus, but first you will need to take some action to protect your interests and redeem your own points in this game.

Healthy Rule #1: Realize Your Own Worth

Without self-worth, you might continue to play the game hoping to get the carrot the narc keeps dangling in front of your nose. Narcs are notorious for promising to do better or pay their debts next time. And if you have no sense of how to get your own healthy needs met, you will be relying on a tyrant to supply whatever you need. If you are struggling with self-worth, this is a great time to find a counselor or have a long talk with a good friend you can trust.

Healthy Rule #2: Stop Feeding the Narc

You will need to decide if you can allow yourself to compromise any longer. Of course this depends on what’s at stake. If there are small children involved, you might have to play your cards very carefully until they are securely out of harm’s way. Once you realize what kind of feed the narc is using you for, you will need to protect yourself from the narc’s games. You might want to talk to professional counsel before you make any big moves depending on your situation.

Healthy Rule #3: Secure Your Boundaries

It’s time to identify and reinforce your boundaries. If the narc is taking your time or money, reclaim it. If the narc is abusing your body, protect it. If the narc is messing with your mind through gaslighting, stop giving him access to what you think.

Setting and maintaining strong boundaries is hard work–especially if you grew up in an enmeshed family without boundaries. That old family saying “whatever is mine, is yours” has been twisted by the narc to give him a license to steal your life. Don’t let him.

Even though you’ve been asked to play a game you can never win, winning is still possible. Your best option is to leave the narc to play his game with someone else. While the world is full of narcs, there are also many loving people who will love and give love in return.

When you put the narc and all his rules back into the box he came from, you automatically win because the narc will lose all power in your life. When you find real friends who care about you with no strings attached, you will win this game.

You will experience a delicious feeling when you quit playing the narc’s game. It’s like having a pocket full of sunshine. Oh yeah!

Things We Never Discussed on Easter

26 Mar

My family never celebrated Easter. Well we hid some candy-filled eggs a few times, but we never talked about the deep grief this planet suffered while Jesus slept in the tomb.

We never discussed how Jesus humbly washed the feet of Judas as tenderly as he did Peter–or how both betrayed him and both could be forgiven, but one chose not to be.

We never discussed how Jesus suffered in Gethsemane because the thought of separating from the Father nearly killed him.

We never discussed how Jesus who had been a hero for healing people and providing food for thousands was shamed and shunned publicly.

We never discussed how when Jesus was captured, Peter chopped off some guy’s ear, but Jesus put it back with no scars.

 

We never discussed how Jesus was brought before the authorities and refused to fight because His kingdom is not of this world.

We never discussed how Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and win us back to God. Or how the Father was in Jesus reconciling the world back to God and not the force that murdered Jesus.

We never discussed how Jesus hung in the darkness and cried out because he felt abandoned and yet the Father never turned his face away, but was veiled in darkness because Jesus suffered the results of sin. Or how he who was not a sinner became sin. Or how he came to show us how God treats his enemies.

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We never discussed how the world’s best Sabbath keepers speared Jesus–the Lord of the Sabbath, to make sure He was dead so they could go home and get ready for Sabbath.

We never discussed how Jesus conquered sin and death and set each of us free from sin and death.

We never discussed how the women loved Jesus so much that even when he was dead they risked being known as his friends to bring burial spices to his grave.

We never discussed how Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener until he called out her name.

We never discussed the wonder in her eyes when she recognized her teacher, Savior and friend and ran to tell the world that Jesus is alive!

We never discussed how Thomas doubted, but Jesus gave him proof. Or how Peter was forgiven and reinstated. Or how Jesus made breakfast for his disciples.

There is so much more we could have discussed, but we never talked about it because Easter was discounted as a pagan holiday so we ignored all of this–except for the candy.

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