Jaci told the truth, but the narcissist didn’t like it.
When she said she remembered the event and didn’t agree with him, the narc said, “You must be mentally ill.”
Then he called in the flying monkeys
and before long, Jaci began to doubt herself.
The narcissist gaslights you because they don’t want you to remind them or anyone else about what they are lying about. The term gaslighting comes from an old 1944 movie where a husband tries to play with his wife’s mind until she doesn’t believe her own instincts and memory.
Once the narc calls in the flying monkeys, they will accuse you of making up stuff too. A flying monkey could be anyone–a parent or sibling, maybe a church member or neighbor, possibly someone that wasn’t even old enough to remember the incident, there might be no sense in the accusations because all the narc really cares about is confusing you.
When the narcissist gaslights you, it really hurts because you feel misunderstood by the people you love the most. There is one a weird mind-twist for the person raised as a Christian. Your parents were the ones who told you about God and made you memorize that Bible verse about lying lips being an abomination to the Lord, so how could they be twisting the truth? This is where the truth might be stranger than fiction. Even worse, they might claim to have God on their side. Some narcs will even try to use God as their flying monkey.
There comes a time when you have to use all your mental resources to remember and remember well. Look through old pictures and write down everything you can remember from your childhood. Look at old diaries. Read the school annuals. Visit the places of your childhood. When you have written down your memories, you can interview safe family members like aunts or uncles or grandparents to find out their take on the situation.
Documenting your childhood is not living in the past, it’s remembering your own stories. Sometimes, it’s only by looking at where we’ve been, that we can move forward. Those who refuse to examine their past are often stuck in addictions.
You don’t need to put up with gaslighting and mind-twists anymore. You are the grown up now and you’ve been given a sound mind. Stand tall in your truth and dignity. Don’t let people lie to you.
Skipping along the path of life, Little Red’s heart was full of joy as she whistled with the birds and inhaled the fragrance of the wildflowers
on the way to her grandmother’s house. Her mother had warned her not to dally, but it was such a glorious day she couldn’t help but stop to pick some wildflowers.
When she found a patch of Huckleberries, she stopped to fill her basket. It takes time to pick berries but all Little Red thought about was how excited Grandmother would be to enjoy them. As the shadows fell around her, Little Red lost track of time. She didn’t see the wolf watching her behind a large tree and she had no idea of the tragedy about to befall her.
It was almost dark by the time Little Red skipped up to Grandmother’s door and knocked. A quivery voice called for her to come inside. For just a moment Little Red felt a flutter in her stomach. Something seemed a little different, but she was caught off guard because she trusted grandmother and she was eager to share her surprise.
When she unlatched the door and entered, she was surprised to see Grandmother lying in bed. She had not realized she was unwell. Little Red quickly put the flowers in water and rushed to Grandmother’s side.
“Oh Grandmother, what sad eyes you have!”
This was true, Grandmother’s eyes always twinkled with love toward her but today they seemed hard and cold. A cold chill passed over Little Red’s back as she wondered what had happened to her precious grandmother’s spirit.
Then she noticed that Grandmother seemed to be hiding something.
“Oh Grandmother, what strange gloves you are wearing? Are you cold?”
“Yes, my darling, I can’t get warm. Can you get in bed with me to warm me up?”
Little Red was not opposed to snuggling with her grandmother so she thought nothing of pulling back the covers, but it was at that moment she noticed a slight twitch. She grabbed the corner of the quilt and when she pulled it back she discovered the tail of a wolf and gasped.
The wolf laughed. “I see my surprise is over, now hop into the bed so I can eat you like I ate your grandmother.”
Little Red thought for a moment as she tried to stall.
“They won’t let you live when they find out. Please think about this and let me go.”
The wolf laughed fiendishly. “No, my darling, they may never know.”
Little Red screamed as loud as she could.
The wolf laughed again. “Do you really think your voice is that strong and anyone can hear you?”
Little Red was desperate to save her life, but she was running out of ideas.
She looked at Grandmother’s freshly starched sheets and an idea came to her.
“I have to pee. If I get on the bed right now I will go all over you and the sheets. Can I just run to the outhouse first?”
The Wolf laughed again. “You think I am a fool to let you go out of my sight? Here, I know, I will tie this string to your finger and if you pull too hard, I will know you are trying to escape me and I shall catch you. This might be fun.”
Little Red did a little dance as if she was serious, so the wolf tied a string to her finger and she headed to the outhouse. As soon as she got out of the wolf’s sight, she untied the string from her finger and slipped it onto the outhouse latch, then she ran for her life.
There are many endings to the story of Little Red throughout history and across cultures. Some say she was rescued by the woodsman. Others say she and grandmother were both eaten by the wolf but survived after his stomach was cut open.
My favorite version of the story is based on one of the most ancient versions of this tale which dates back centuries. I love this quaint version of Little Red because she didn’t suffer as a victim, nor did she require a prince or woodsman to rescue her-–she rescued herself. You and I can rescue ourselves too.
Here are some lessons we can learn from Little Red Riding Hood–
1. People You Know Can Be Dangerous
Little Red thought Grandma’s house was safe and so did we. Little Red is the symbol of all who were used and abused in the home and church in the name of love. It was a shock to find ourselves lied to and abused by the very people who were supposed to love and protect us. Nothing is more sinister than believing we are loved and safe only to be ravaged by a wolf in the fold. Nothing is more damaging to the psyche than abuse in the name of love. This is the experience of many who have been abused by narcissistic parents and leaders in the church.
2. It’s Not Your Fault Like Little Red, we had no control over what our abusers did to us. As we grow wiser, we discover what they did was never about us, but about them. Our abusers have lied, then they claim it never happened. They accuse us of making things up–which is code for they don’t want anyone else to know what they did so they are trying to discredit us and if they could, some would bury us in the woods. No matter how much we love them, we’ll never be able to fix them. This is where we learn to accept the things we cannot change.
3. Trust Your Gut
Something in Little Red’s gut felt wrong, but in her innocence, she couldn’t figure it out what it was until it was too late. How many times do we find ourselves caught off guard only to look back and remember we had a premonition? Learn to trust your gut. If something feels wrong, your senses are warning you. Listen to your body.
4. Use Your Power Little Red Riding Hood is a both a feminist and a survivor. She didn’t wait to get rescued by a prince but took matters into her own hands. She outsmarts the Wolf by thinking quickly on her feet. She is a survivor who rescues herself because she knows her boundaries and refuses to be a victim.
The wolf might be howling in anger because he’s been locked up or he might threaten to stalk Little Red again, but he can’t shut up her voice. She has told the world what he’s done and now he has no power over her.
5. Keep Enjoying Life Life is about choices and we can choose to live better lives after narcissistic abuse. We can find safe people to help us enjoy the journey. We can walk away from the drama and enjoy our lives. This is how we change the things we can.
Those flowers Little Red was picking along the path of life are still fragrant. The huckleberries still taste just as sweet. The bluebird of happiness is still singing. The sun still shines as warm as ever and the woods are beautiful and full of mystery. Love is in the air, so take the time to enjoy life and imagine the possibilities, but always remember to trust your gut.
There are wolves in the woods. We’ve known it since we were children. Every time we knelt down to pick the berries or smell the roses we felt uneasy.
We sensed we were far from home. On such days something within us begged to find our way back to the safety of the garden wall. Little did we realize we had already lost our way–and so had our parents before us. So we began to claw and scream our way through life until the pain became so great we began to use and abuse and numb our senses. This is what it means to be “chasing Eden”–to try everything, hoping for something or someone to show us the way to paradise so we can finally stop the pain.
The wolves made their marks on us before we were old enough to protect ourselves. Sometimes they howled at us through human voices with put downs, accusations and yelling. Other times we were startled by physical switches, belts and hands which brought the wolves out of the bushes to attack us. The wolves did their worst when we came in for the night believing we were safe–only to discover they were hiding under the bed and in the closet or whatever we thought was our sanctuary.
Most of us realize those wolves were real–and now they live on in our imaginations, still wrecking our peace. Many of us still hide behind fashion, crowds, sex, substances and wealth. We’ve learned to numb out on so many things just trying to escape the wolves.
If you grew up with these wolves, you know it’s not easy to escape them because they damaged our lives before we realized what was happening. And there is no one to blame because those who introduced us were victims too. The wolves had no remorse about who they hurt–they mauled our parents’ psyches before they got to us.
We grew up hoping to escape the wolves–only to discover some wolves grow bigger with time. They wear names like Abandonment, Loss, Inferiority, Rejection and Shame. They are legion. Fear is their family name and there is only one way to escape them.
We were not designed to live in fear. The ancient book says “Fear not” over 365 times. This offers a fearless thought for every day of the year and here is the crowning jewel of them all–
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.
There is still fragrance and color along the path, but some days we get so busy running out from our fear we forget to smell the flowers. We carry our empty baskets full of fear and it seems we leave no room for gratitude and peace.
Perhaps the wolves have ravaged your heart until you can’t even speak of Love out loud. Do you think Love is like the parent who withheld love and affection from you? Or people who judge you in the name of Love and treat you like you were never good enough?
If you’ve been beaten and abused in the name of “love,” you might find it hard to speak the word “Father” without feeling like your mouth is full of wool. You might imagine Love is like those people who hang out with the wolves, but Love’s essence beyond any human interpretation. No human has ever come close to perfect love–not even Mother Teresa.
The wolves hang around damaged people, but they always flee in the presence of Love. They can’t stand Love and they know they’ll never be able to touch your soul if you run to Love for shelter. Even if you can’t stand God or are afraid of God, all you have to do is call out for Perfect Love–because Love is calling out your name.
Love will never abandons you. Love always provides for you. Love makes you whole. Love will never leave you or reject you. Love erases all of your shame.
“Look, I’ve tattooed your name on my arms so your stress is always in front of me. Even if your mother neglects you and forgets you– I will never forget you.”
“My love is everlasting and burns like a fire that can never be put out.”
You can trust Love to protect and shelter you.
Yes, it might seem like a fairy tale to expect Love to rescue you, but for now all you need to know is that Love cares and wants to shelter you from the wolves. You might not realize it yet, but Perfect love is getting ready to cast out your fear—but only if you choose Love.