Parental narcissism-Maternal narcissism is the deepest wound

The bond between a mother and her child is such a special one, that people wonder how it is possible for a mother to be abusive towards her child.How can a mother want her child to suffer? How can a mother feel so envious of her daughter’s happiness, that she tries to sabotage it? How can a mother dismiss her child’s successes? This is something that unfortunately happens all the time and more and more survivors of maternal narcissistic abuse are coming to terms with the reality of who their mother really was and unfortunately still is.

In this video, I go through the traits of a narcissistic mother which are identified in a very useful book written by Karyl McBride, a renowned psychologist who has extensively researched narcissistic abuse.

Love Athina ♥

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Believe in your ability to heal & thrive!

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Healing is possible..Having better mental health is possible..I am living proof..Years ago I was struggling so much with everything from anxiety, depression, flashbacks, constantly being triggered, feeling extremely worthless, unloved and found it very hard to trust people..I couldn’t even relax in my marriage, even though my husband is the most caring and loving person I have ever met..

Having 2 parents that are abusive and no other healthy role-models to turn to, means that you grow up without that feeling of safety & love that most people experience..

I have made huge leaps in my recovery and so can you!

I will always have Complex PTSD, as my brain was ultimately ”damaged” with the constant stress of the first 30 years of my life..Now I am 34 and I feel much more stable..

Where are you on your recovery journey? Do you feel hopeful? or does everything feel hopeless?

I am hoping that this post will give you hope!

Love Athina ❤

Behind the mask

 

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How do you find your deepest reality,

so buried inside the walls of your ignorance?

You fight so hard to run, to hide,

to quench your thirst, you cover your eyes.

How do you create such chaotic confusion?

You change masks like an expert performer,

your audience fooled by your perfect demeanour.

Behind the veil of your fake vulnerability,

there is silent suffering

from your relentless hoovering..

The kindest souls

play your gruelling game.

Hope & denial makes them keen to play,

desperation for love makes them easy prey.

But how do you deal with an end to your game?

When players become warriors

and they escape all the blame?

Your emptiness guides you

to others’ despair,

you soon find new sources

to fool & ensnare..

 

 

 

..

 

People with intellectual disabilities are even more likely to be abused..

It is very close to my heart to talk about people with special needs, as my brother is one of them.

It is important to raise awareness of how much more prevalent abuse is amongst those with intellectual disabilities or special needs.

One in three children with an identified disability for which they receive special education services are victims of some type of maltreatment (i.e., either neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse) whereas one in 10 non-disabled children experience abuse. Children with any type of disability are 3.44 times more likely to be a victim of some type of abuse compared to children without disabilities. (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000).

Looking specifically at individuals with intellectual disability, they are 4 to 10 more times as likely to be victims of crime than others without disabilities (Sobsey, et al., 1995). One study found that children with intellectual disability were at twice the risk of physical and sexual abuse compared to children without disabilities (Crosse et. al., 1993).

Children may not report abuse because they don’t understand what abuse is or what acts are abusive. Communication problems that are part of many disabilities also make it difficult for children to understand and or verbalize episodes of abuse.If there is very limited communication, then these children are even more prone to abuse as they can’t even speak.

Another thing to consider is that disability can increase vulnerability to abuse, mainly because of the way society views disabled or special needs individuals.

We have to protect those more vulnerable children as well as all others..They deserve equal protection!

Love Athina ♥

Progress in healing. Don’t allow your abusers to steal your inner light!

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Hi everyone,

I am back from my holiday in Greece which was extremely hot and I must admit a lot of the time was spent indoors trying to keep cool during the day. My pale skin was always protected with factor 50 sun lotion when we were out and I only went to the beach once. I am not very Greek at all in regards to sun bathing anymore, as I am very conscious of the possibility of skin cancer, after having been burnt a lot as a teenager. I was also ill with a cold and achey body for the first 4 days of my holiday, so was a little grumpy!

Apart from that, it was lovely to see my husband’s family as always, as they are always so welcoming and generous. I managed to see a couple of friends too, but due to the fact that we didn’t have a car, we missed out on a lot of things we could have done. We always used to borrow my father’s business van when we would visit but now that we are estranged, this isn’t a possibility anymore.

The first 2 days we were there, I was thinking a lot about my father, especially due to the recent phonecalls he made to me but just as I have in the last year, I stayed strong and didn’t make any contact.

On the last day of our trip, I was also a little emotional thinking about him as I knew that it would be at least a year until we would next visit Greece. There is always the possibility of him dying and since I haven’t experienced death in close family yet, I don’t know how to feel about it. A lot of the time, I know that my parents’ death would bring me relief on some level, due to the drama and abuse I have endured most of my life. On the other hand, there is still unconditional love there and there would definetely be a certain amount of grief. The fact that I already feel like an orphan however means that whatever happens, I know that I will be ok.

I am shining my inner light & love, as I continue on this journey of life and no matter how many moments of darkness sometimes creep in, I have faith and acceptance in what will come in the future.

I also know that there are so many of you survivors out there, who are also shining your own light & love, by sharing your story and healing those wounds. You are connecting with so many other survivors of abuse and there is a huge support network of people who are cheering each other on!

Much love Athina ♥

Anticipatory anxiety

I’ve had a bit of a tough few days with an unexpected wave of anxiety taking over me..

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The lows of being subjected to the silent treatment by a parent is cruel. Deciding to go ‘NO CONTACT’ is practicing self-care..1 whole year of the silent treatment and then suddenly your parent re-emerges hoovering you in by acting as if they care about you, is soul destroying!It is soul destroying because they aren’t capable of true caring and have a hidden agenda.

Yesterday was a tough day as I was tense pretty much the whole day and night..It’s been awhile since I have felt this anxious! I wish I could have cried to release the tension somehow, but nothing..I couldn’t do anything but try to distract myself watching films, tv shows etc..

My narc father attempted contact again on Sunday and I obviously didn’t pick up the phone..He left a voicemail once again asking me how I am..Why on earth after a whole year of avoiding me, would he now want to know how I am? It is simple..Narcs always want something..It’s always about them than it is about you..Allowing yourself a moment of thinking differently is just pointless, as they aren’t capable of loving you..

On the day he called, the anxiety kicked in because I left a whole hour pass before listening to the voicemail..The anxiety kicked in because I was imagining all sorts of horrible scenarios again of him attempting suicide a 2nd time and that the message he left was to say goodbye again….The 1st time was so traumatic for me that I needed EMDR therapy to reduce the intensity of my trauma..and in all honesty, I am still traumatised..because it is still so raw, so recent..The EMDR reduced the symptoms to a more manageable level..

The deep hurt isn’t so easy to reduce though..I am part of this man, he is my father..and yet I can’t talk to him..cos he is a manipulative bully..and chooses to remain in a toxic relationship which has alienated him from all the people in his life who love him the most..The mask has fallen for my father..He isn’t the man he had so easily fooled everyone into believing..The older narcissists get, the worse they become..Once their good looks deteriorate, their opportunities to work lessen and their general health goes down hill, they become even more nasty in their bullying..because they are losing control of the very things that put them in the spotlight..

Yesterday was a bad day..I nearly had a panic attack at 1am after finding it incredibly hard to get to sleep..I managed to calm my breathing and stop the frightening thoughts..

I know that continuing ‘NO CONTACT’ is the way to go but the phonecalls and msgs are still unsettling..Instead of listening to them, I should really delete them..but I am always filled with the dread that he will attempt suicide again..What a nasty thing to control someone with..your own child..

On Friday my husband and I are going to Athens for one last time until we get our new puppy in the autumn..I need to sort out some tax paperwork which has been a real hassle. It isn’t the same anymore being 5 mins away from my father’s home and place of work and the place I grew up in, if I am on edge worried about bumping into him..He doesn’t know we are there (thank goodness) but it is still uncomfortable..From next year, we have decided to just take holidays to the greek islands instead..Somewhere more neutral might be a good solution for awhile..The last time I saw my father he was even skinnier and frailer looking..It is heartbreaking to witness someone you love in such a bad way..

Today is a better day..I am determined to go to Athens and enjoy my time there with my husband and his family, go and swim in the sea and see my friends..I can’t let him take everything away from me. I have to put myself first..

x

”Being the other one” by Kate Strohm

May I just start this post off by saying that this is a title of an incredible book that made me cry when I first read it.

The full title is Being the other one – Growing up with a brother or sister who has special needs by Kate Strohm

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The reason this book touched me so deeply when I first read it, was because it was the first time I had felt validated for being the sister of a special needs brother. That someone out there finally acknowledged that I mattered too even though I wasn’t the one with special needs growing up.That even though I wasn’t the one that demanded as much attention as my brother, I deserved to at least have my frustration, my anger and my sadness acknowledged. This is something I never had validated as a child. It was near my 30th birthday that I finally understood a whole other side of my childhood that also lead to my CPTSD diagnosis.

Too much responsibility on a child can interfere with normal social development and the establishment of independence. From a very young age, I became a ‘mini mother’ to my brother and my mum and dad just allowed this, as it was easier for them. This and the addition of both of them suffering with NPD, made things extremely difficult for me and of course my brother. It was an abusive & neglectful environment and I was told repeatedly by many kids my age that I was always too serious growing up.I always resented that and thought there was something wrong with me. On the other hand however, I also realised how much the grief of having a disabled child or sibling, is unsupported and unknown by normal families.

Siblings of children with special needs are usually expected to grow up faster than their peers.While parents have to focus so much attention on the child with special needs, many siblings learn to look after themselves.

Another big problem for siblings is that they end up feeling very isolated, because nobody understands how tough it is, to always put their needs aside for their special needs brother or sister.They also tend to feel a range of emotions that they never get a chance to discuss, such as anger, depression, embarassment, fear & guilt.

Siblings miss out on attention from parents, learn to put the needs of others first before their own and at times they may also wish they had special needs so they would have the same attention from their parents. They may at times feel pressure to be perfect to make up for their sibling’s special needs and also may have built up resentment towards the brother/sister with special needs, because they get treated with more leniency in all regards.

I love my older brother very much and would do anything to protect him. It isn’t his fault that he has these special needs and even though I will always wonder what it would have been like to have a ‘normal’ 36 year old brother now, I am still glad he is in my life and that we can share our feelings and fears.

The sad reality for me is that if my parents were healthier and better able to offer unconditional love, then both my brother and I would have been allowed to be ‘our true selves’. We both would have been allowed to make mistakes and not get punished for them, we both would have been allowed to express our likes and dislikes without being rejected and we both would have been able to better deal with our sadness. Him for the fact that he knew he wasn’t normal and felt rejected because of this and me for the fact that I never felt important enough, because I didn’t have any special needs. It is a sad reality that, even though our family was never balanced due to my brother’s special needs, I greatly believe that it was MORE my parents’ NPD that caused the greatest harm. The reason I say this is because since meeting my husband and his family, I have finally witnessed a healthier family dynamic where there was is one disabled child and one healthy child.These 2 boys are now my nephews but when I was living in Greece I started nannying for my now sister in law and looked after the youngest of the 2 boys.

For privacy purposes, lets assume that the youngest of the 2 boys is called ‘Peter’ and the eldest is called ‘Adam’. Peter was the youngest of the two boys and was around 8 years old when I started looking after him whereas Adam was 12. Peter unfortunately suffered a stroke at the tender age of 3 and ended up with special needs and semi-paralysis in both his right arm and leg. This meant that he wouldn’t be able to use his right arm and leg as he once used to. Also the older he got, the growth in his right arm & leg were also compromised, which resulted in him limping and not being able to use his right arm properly. His special needs aside from this, were also in regards to his learning and attention span. I was employed as a nanny, to play with him and help him after school, whilst his mother worked. I was also asked to make sure that both boys didn’t get into too many arguments or aggressive play fighting as brothers sometimes do.

The difference I noticed in this family, was the fact that both boys were allowed to be individuals and most importantly were allowed to be kids. Neither of them had to help around the house, be ordered around or asked to do too much for the mother. Peter and his brother were both treated fairly when it came to discipline and Adam was allowed to have a sense of freedom in his own life to pursue many hobbies, have time to himself and grow in confidence. He was never asked to help with his brother, he was never asked to stop what he loved doing, was never asked to be someone he was not. The only thing I would have maybe done differently as a parent,  is given Peter a different type of attention, as unfortunately despite his disabilities and unlucky path in life, I can see that he acts in a very attention seeking way, in an almost narcissistic way. His mother never appropriately grieved the loss of her healthy child and has since always talked about how good he is at everything, when the reality is that this poor kid is unable to really do anything.

I am not a parent myself and would never claim to know what it is really like, so I am not judging my sister in law in any way. However, it is a real shame that Peter, who is now 12 is showing more and more signs of narcissism, is feeling more and more ill at ease with his peers and is watching his now 17 year older brother do all the things he will never be able to do. This is a very harsh thing to watch. I have a lot of compassion for both my sister in law and Peter but I must admit, I feel a little jealous of how wonderfully Adam has turned out to be. He is a good looking, smart and talented young man who has values, respect and kindness. He is able to self reflect and one day admitted to me that he is quick to judge people. This came after I talked to him a little bit about my parents and my estrangement to my father. He listened incredibly attentively and was very sensitive in his response. He said that there are a couple of kids at school, which seem very quiet and a little bit strange and at the beginning he thought they were weird. After he got to know them however, he said that they had had a really difficult childhood and were actually lovely boys. When I say that I am a tiny bit jealous of my 17 year old nephew, I mean it in the kindest way possible. The jealousy comes from comparing my own childhood and teenage years, which were incredibly difficult due to neglect I suffered. Unlike my nephew, I didn’t and still don’t have a healthy amount of confidence to live a fulfilling life in the way that I know I could have. I am content but I know I could still make improvements. I also have suffered from depression and Complex PTSD from the age of 15-16..My nephew doesn’t have any mental health problems whatsoever and thank goodness for that! So when I say I am jealous, I still have my moments of feeling grief for how things could have been different for me.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to grieve my lost childhood in many ways. This only happened in the last few years, in a deep enough way and I guess I still have some more grieving to do..It is never too late to start your life from scratch and with my recovery, self-help reading, therapy, blogging & love from my closest friends & husband, I am feeling much happier and more content with my life.

My brother is also happier, as he has also tried to distance himself from our mother (which he knows was abusive) and it is only our parents who are now missing out on quality time with us, as we will no longer tolerate their abuse.

No matter what others say, be true to yourself

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Whenever I have doubts or feel guilty about the way I am currently protecting myself, I remind myself that my health comes first. Whenever I have a moment of happiness and peace with my husband, I remind myself how lucky I am to have found this wonderful man. I am feeling secure and loved for the first time in my life. I also feel like I am finally giving myself enough love and protection. I don’t rely on my parents approval anymore.I don’t need anybody’s approval anymore to be who I am. I have become more self-accepting and more self-compassionate. It hasn’t been an easy road to get here..It has been constant change, commitment, therapy, anxiety & gut wrenching emotional pain..

The reason I am writing this post, is because my father attempted to contact me again from a private number. My heart tells me it was him, as I don’t have anyone else that calls my phone apart from my husband and a friend. Why would someone call me from a private number, if they didn’t want to hide their identity?

I didn’t reply to his first message because I am wary of being sucked into his self-destructive world again. I know that the reason he is contacting me is because he needs me. However, my inner voice is telling me, but ‘You need you Athina”. I need myself more than I need my father anymore. I have been abandoned too many times, hurt too many times to just pick up the phone and talk to him..

I keep reminding myself to stay true to myself, to remember that protecting myself comes first and that even if he is my father, he is a very sick man. My last message to him was one of love before we stopped talking and he ignored it completely. My conscience is clean. I did everything I could. I gave him my unconditional love.

I just called my mother to find out if maybe she spoke to him at all regarding my brother, and I found out (in a sideways sort of manner) that yes, they did speak and that he is back where he was a year ago, with his wife trying to divorce him again. He is moving back down to the basement again, where his deterioration took place last time and he later attempted suicide. The only difference this time is that he is on anti-depressants and he no longer has the support of his friends and family. He pushed everyone away.

As his daughter, my heart will always ache for him. I will wish it were different.

I don’t have the strength anymore to save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.Even if he has finally realised that the inevitable is finally going to happen and that I was the one person who stood by him all these years, it is too late.

I love myself more now. I deserve to love myself more now without feeling guilty.

”I am cherishing the freedom to be myself” after 34 years.

Love Athina ❤

 

Is the silent treatment over?

After a very emotional week and a tearful birthday yesterday, I finally started feeling a little better this morning. I was happy my birthday was over to be honest, as I didn’t have to think about the disappointment of not having caring parents. I survived the fact that my father wasn’t going to contact me after a year of not talking and that from now on my birthdays and holidays were going to feel a little more empty.

Around 15:15pm today when I was having an afternoon nap, my father actually attempted contact. Luckily I was fast asleep so didn’t hear my phone. It was in my bag on a very low volume and since I hardly have anyone calling me on it, I didn’t think to check it. After about 2 hours, my husband and I went out in the car to head to the shops and I wanted to check the time on my phone. There was a txt message and missed call and I already knew this was unusual. First of all, nobody calls my phone. My 2 friends here in Germany always send me Whatssup messages on my phone and the rest of my friends contact me through social media. If I get any coaching clients that is also via email.

It is incredible to think that after a year of no contact, after no effort to acknowledge me when I walked into his place of work, after the fact that he had removed my photos from his work desk and after the fact that he has purposefully tried to punish me from taking money from our shared account for over a year, he now decided to call me, a day after my birthday! Why?

Why would my Narc father call me to send me his wishes after all this? A normal, healthy father might eventually realise his mistakes, put his selfishness aside, apologise for the way he treated his daughter and do everything he could to reconnect. My father isn’t normal or healthy however and he has proven this time and time again.

Like I said, I missed his call when I was asleep however he had also left a voicemail. I was sitting in the car with my husband wondering whether it would be good for me to listen to his voicemail or whether to just delete it. My husband put his hand on my leg and said,” Listen to the voicemail if you like and then we can talk about it. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

I listened to the voicemail and it was a very simple message saying ” Happy birthday, I hope you had a lovely day yesterday, wishing you all the best”.

In all honesty, I felt anxious, I felt confused and I felt like nothing had changed, whilst at the same time worrying that the shit was going to hit the fan all over again.His voice sounded calm, collected and genuine, like it used to be before his suicide attempt, before he discarded me, before he hired a lawyer against me. That calm voice was the Dad I had been missing, the Dad that would drive me to work, the Dad that would play basketball with my friends and I when I was 13, the Dad who would laugh a lot and bring kittens home, so my brother and I could play with them.This ‘nicer’ Dad was waking up this little voice inside me saying ” See, he does love & miss you after all”.

This little voice however, was instantly drowned by common sense. The common sense which says that Narcs have an ulterior motive. That they don’t just forgive unless there is something in it for them. That they don’t go from cruel, hurtful & neglectful to warm and forgiving without a reason.

In my case, the ulterior motive is the money that I still have in my savings account, that my Dad wants back. The money that I am sure my Dad would manipulate me for. That even if I were to thank him for his wishes by sending him a message, he would then wean himself back into my life, maybe even fake an apology or come up with some excuses about health problems, his wife treating him bad etc, just so he could eventually ask for his money back…Because he knows I am kind, because he knows I feel others’ pain, because he knows that he can guilt-trip me and get me to do what he wants, like he always did..because after a year of not talking, his narcissistic supply is low and he needs me..because I always made him feel good as I am his baby girl, the daughter he adores..The daughter with a heart of gold, that he proudly told people about.

The problem is that I WILL NOT FORGET the daily pain I have felt in the last year since his suicide attempt and discard, I WILL NOT FORGET the manipulation, I WILL NOT FORGET the constant lying, I WILL NOT FORGET the angry look in his eyes, I WILL NOT FORGET the day his lawyer called me,  I WILL NOT FORGET the way he ignored me when I was sitting a desk away from him in his office and I WILL NOT FORGET the day I arrived at hospital, when he was lying in a coma because of his wife’s threats!

It is too big, too much, too unsettling, too upsetting and too traumatising to just fall straight back into the way we used to speak, just so he can eventually ask for his money back.

Even though I spent the whole week before my birthday worrying about how I would get through the day without feeling down in the dumps, now that he has actually made contact, I am feeling suspicious and can’t allow myself to think of him as the Dad I remember when I was younger..

The day my Dad attempted suicide was the day everything changed..He is a sick man, whose obsession with money has destroyed nearly all his relationships and whose 2nd marriage has been an early death sentence.