Signs of Codependency

Signs of Codependency

Are you wondering if you might have codependent tendencies? Are you constantly doing for others and have no time or energy for yourself? Are you the only one that makes sacrifices in your relationships? 

 One thing to remember is C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse syndrome can look like what people call codependency.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is enabling behavior of one person towards another person’s addiction, abusive/poor mental health, lack of accountability and immaturity. The traits of codependency show extreme reliance on other people for approval and sense of self-worth. Codependent people rely on others for emotional needs in excess as well. Usually the person with codependent tendencies spends so much of their life doing for others and trying to meet the needs of others they can not see that they are not meeting their own emotional needs for themselves. 

Some signs of codependency:

  • Low self-esteem. This seems to be the main trait that both creates codependent traits as well as solidifies the need for those traits within a relationship.  Having a lack of trust in yourself can also be a part of low self-esteem.
  • Poor or no boundaries. The invisible line between yourself and others. This can be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual or any other way in which you interact with others. Even taking the emotional responsibility for others as can happen in a relationship with a narcissist is lacking boundaries. 
  • People-pleasing as well as feeling used and under-appreciated. Likely if you are constantly people pleasing it is true that you are not being appreciated for all you are doing. This can look like ‘keeping the peace” or making sure no one is upset in a situation. It usually creates a feeling of fear of others not liking you or being displeased if you do not do the people-pleasing behaviors. 
  • Caretaking, feeling compelled to caretake others. This can look like anything from physically caretaking to time managing others’ lives or offering unasked for advice to situations often.
  • Dependency and the need for others to like you in order to feel okay about yourself. Feeling like you can’t function on your own and fearing abandonment and rejection because of that fear.
  • Denial. Denying the abuses of others or downplaying abuse can be one form of denial. Another codependent denial is the denial of any of the traits listed being an issue. Because the focus of codependent people is on the needs of others they can deny their own needs as well as deny the problem of not knowing their own needs, 
  • Difficulty saying no. This is a form of lack of boundaries but difficulty saying “no” deserves its own mention. With the difficulty, there is also a feeling of fear of rejection. Fearing the reaction of others if “no ” is said fills codependent people with anxiety. 
  • Fixating on mistakes (perfectionism). Feeling like if you make a mistake you are bad, wrong, unlovable. 
  • Trouble honestly communicating needs. Difficulty identifying feelings and needs and fear of rejection or devaluing if any needs are expressed. 
  • Feeling the need to be liked by everyone/fear of displeasing others
  • The constant need for being in a  relationship. It can feel very uncomfortable for people with codependent traits to be alone. Because of the lack of knowing their own needs and lack of self-care skills anxiety can become overwhelming when not in a relationship. This is one reason most people suggest waiting a year after narcissistic abuse, take the time to get to know your needs as well as how to meet and nurture them.
  • Intimacy issues. Feeling judged, rejected, abandoned, as well as difficulty knowing one’s own needs can leave it difficult for people with codependent traits to struggle with vulnerability and emotional intimacy. 
  • Fear of abandonment. The thought of being left creates extreme anxiety. 
  • Emotional reactivity, taking things personally. Because of the constant caregiving and need meeting through people-pleasing of others, codependent thinking can make you hyper-reactive to everyone else’s thoughts or feelings and how they are expressed. 
  • Need to control, expecting others to do what you suggest or say. Control feels safe. It is the main way a person with codependent traits feels like safety in a relationship.  Even things like people-pleasing and caregiving can be forms of control. 

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Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

Healing the Inner Child After Narcissistic Abuse

I’m not enough.

I don’t fit in.

I can’t seem to be heard, no one listens.

No one really knows me or wants to.

Nothing I do is right.

No one will love me, I’m unlovable.  

Who taught you these were truths? Why can’t you think differently even if you know they are not true? Why do you believe these limiting statements? How can you move past these beliefs? I’m sure you can see how gaining perspective and changing these beliefs could improve your life. Let’s talk about a few ways to understand and begin making that change. 

Your inner child is crying out to be loved and heard

Many survivors of emotional abuse experienced things in childhood that set belief patterns for their adult life that sound similar to the ones above. Your inner child, a part of your personality that still reacts and feels like the child you were, may be calling out to be validated and loved and when you do this for yourself you can begin to heal. If you were taught you are unlovable by people who can not love, logically you can see it is their shortcoming but a part of you still holds the feelings of being unlovable as your own truth. If you were taught you can only get acceptance for being perfect, even though now you know that’s impossible for anyone to do, you may still feel the “flaws” you have as reasons you don’t deserve love. These feelings may be locked into a part of yourself that relates to your inner child. Getting what you needed and still need is now a journey of self-care

How to find your inner child

There are a lot of ways to seek and experience your inner child. Many tips are unrelated to narcissistic abuse survival so I’ll give you one example of what survivors have told me over and over which helped them find their inner child. Tracing back the beliefs you have about yourself to childhood “programming” by adults in your life and then seeing how the child you were must have experienced that. Being raised by toxic parents, in particular, can lead to many beliefs about yourself that are limiting and even toxic to your healing. The child you were experiencing those beliefs as a reality. 

Ways to heal your inner child

Once you are able to identify what your inner child is, what can you do to help? Most survivors of toxic upbringings have something in common, they never felt validated or heard. Your inner child may really need to be heard and held. We often explain away to old hurts and never really take the time to quietly listen to the needs we had as a child.

Questions to Ask Your Inner Child

Asking yourself questions can give you ideas for how to help yourself.

  • What does this child need?
  • What is this child feeling?
  • What would the child like to have happen right now?
  • What is a source of comfort and safety for this child?

Once an answer to any of these questions arises, simply start giving your inner child what they need. Visualize yourself as a child and listen to all that child needs to tell you. Spend some time asking and giving to yourself in this way then affirm to the child within that you are there, always have been and always will be. Offer a safe adult to turn to when things hurt or get scary. Be that for yourself with intention and love. 

Write to Your Inner Child

Writing a letter or journaling to your inner child is another technique suggested and used by many people. This can give you a safe way to not only express what you need to say but to also receive words of kindness and nurturing directly from the person that knows what you need best – you. In being there for yourself in this way include words and phrases that you would tell a child who is experiencing the things you experienced. 

Treat your inner child with THIS kind of love

Consider what you would tell your own child or a child you know personally. What would you tell your own son or daughter who was in the kind of pain you once experienced? Tell that to yourself. Every time you hear negative self talk use the words you would give to your own child towards yourself. 

Check in with your inner child

Check-ins with your inner child when situations in life cause you pain or grief may also help you to honor and nurture your inner child. You may also find benefit by checking in with your inner child when you have successes as well. Talking to, writing to, or just thinking about the child within during times in your life where you feel a lot of emotion can help by adding validation both to your current situation as well as your past. 

Get therapy or coaching to heal your inner child

Seeking the help of a therapist can be another approach to doing inner child work. Having the therapist there to guide and help you with the issues that come up for many people is invaluable to their healing. Coaching with a narcissistic abuse recovery coach can offer ways to begin to question the beliefs set up in your childhood and to shift perspective on those beliefs. Some people combine both to really begin a self-discovery journey while healing from abuse. Finding a trauma-focused and knowledgeable person to help is highly recommended.

Get more information on inner child healing in this playlist.

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Narcissistic Friends

Narcissistic Friends

The sad truth is I have had to let go of a lot of people in my life in order to be free from abusive situations and toxic relationships. Narcissistic friends can be so hard to see and very challenging to remove from your life. I know I doubted the narcissism I so blatantly saw and wrote it off as “just how they are” in an effort to let people be themselves and be a friend anyway. Once I saw the patterns I was repeating with similar people to the narcissistic abusers I had as partners it became clear that the only way to truly be free from abuse was to be very discerning with whom I keep and nurture as friends. 

Narcissistic friends can look like someone that has your interest at heart, who would have your back, someone that even though they are difficult to others seems to be ok with you. They will groom you to need them and push your boundaries ever so slowly until you are no longer able to say no to them. They will set you up to fail with the illusion of being your biggest fan. The narcissistic friend will lie to you and go behind your back to smear you. They will find ways to destroy other relationships you have and make you reliant upon their friendship as the only true support you have in your life. Eventually, they will turn on you, knocking you off the pedestal they had you on down to a devalued position. If there is conflict because of this devaluing they will cut you out and give the silent treatment likely while smearing your name to anyone that will listen,  The problem then becomes the issue of no one else knowing or believing that person is a personality-disordered abusive friend. You are left with losing more than one friend in the process often and can feel quite alone. 

Seeing Toxic Truths

After you leave an abusive relationship it often happens that you begin to see other toxic relationships in your life. This happens to many survivors because once your eyes are open to what a toxic relationship really is and especially once you start researching what a healthy or emotionally safe relationship is you begin to see truths about those around you. When your only pattern of relationship is one that has you as an abused survivor, it’s all you know of relating even if it never feels quite right. As you heal you begin to need healthy interactions and hopefully become less tolerant of anyone pushing your boundaries or gaslighting you or any other toxic behavior a narcissist will throw at you. Seeing the truths, while painful, is necessary for many of us in our healing. Narcissistic friends keep you in the abuse cycle that you are trying to free yourself from. There is no way to “manage” those relationships in a healthy and constructive way just as there is no way to do so in a romantic relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists make terrible friends. 

Letting go and making room for healthy friendships

One very positive thing is that letting go of toxic friendships makes a lot of room in your life for healthy ones. Toxic people take time, a lot of time. They take your energy and focus in order to keep them happily full of your supply so being free from that means being free to welcome in positive friendships. It may feel like you have no one after abuse because of how many people it seems you have to let go of. Use this time to focus on your own wants, wishes and

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50 Red Flags That Should Make You Run the Other Direction: Narcissists and Toxic People

50 Red Flags That Should Make You Run the Other Direction: Narcissists and Toxic People

How can you avoid letting a narcissist (or other toxic person) get close to you? What are some things you can watch for when you meet someone new? And what if you’re already dealing with someone who makes you wonder? You start by learning the red flags and watching for them.

First: Trust Your Gut

Before we get to the list of some of the red flags to look for, one thing to learn about yourself is how to trust your gut. Your gut, your instinct, intuition, ability to discern will often guide you away from toxic situations if you learn to listen to it, even when what you may want is presenting itself to you. For example, the charm of a narcissist, in the beginning, may show you all the things you feel you want like attention, focus, even what feels like connection but under it all you may have a sense something is really not right. You may feel anxiety or drained around this person. When you are not with the person you may feel uneasy about them or like their energy is “stuck”  to you and it just feels wrong, depleting, or as some describe it “icky”. Learning to listen to your gut over being swept away by any person can help you not only to see the red flags but to listen to their warning and take action to stay away from the potentially toxic person. 

50 Red Flags That Mean You’re Dealing with a Narcissist

There are many lists of red flags to watch out for. This list includes a few less talked about things that may be useful to help keep you from toxic relationships. Red flags are only a part of the picture and many of them can exist without a person being entirely toxic in a relationship. It is the combination of many red flags as well as your gut feeling that can help you determine if a relationship is healthy and right for your life. What can be learned from watching for red flags might be areas in your life to learn to have less tolerance for so that you are not engaging in relationships that do not create a happy, healthy life.  After narcissistic abuse, learning to trust yourself and your own judgment of others is ultimately what keeps you safe, red flags are one piece of that awareness. 

  1. You just feel “off” or on edge around someone.
  2. Seduction and charm. A narcissist will often have an allure that also feels empty and without true vulnerability on their part.
  3. Idealization. The creation of a role you are to play being set up by the narcissist that idealizes you or themselves instead of seeing you as a whole and authentic person. 
  4. The feeling of this person is familiar as if you know how to “understand” it. If you are a survivor of narcissistic abuse and especially if you grew up with toxic parents there may be a familiarity you feel that gets you to overlook the uneasy feelings your gut may be trying to warn you of.
  5. Self-centered talk. The narcissist may listen to you in order to gain information but the conversation feels like it revolves around them. They may even make it seem like they are relating to you so they can mirror and groom you.
  6. You may feel anxious around them like you are seeking approval or walking on eggshells. Try setting a boundary not only to see how they respond, but to test how you feel as well. 
  7. Boundaries are pushed and disregarded.
  8. You may feel manipulated
  9. Arrogance 
  10. Love bombing and over the top attention is a big red flag. 
  11. What empathy you may see seems lacking or not genuine.
  12. The situation seems too good to be true. You are unable to see the flaws in a person or they are only allowing you to see their “good” side.
  13. They want to know everything about you.
  14. They are not long out of a relationship and/or no time between relationships. Someone that moves on very fast, if they are even really single, generally is not a safe choice for a potential partner. 
  15. Makes friends easily but has no real long term friends. The friends they do have are activity-based only and their personality changes around each different group of friends
  16. They show you off, you may feel like a trophy.
  17. Sexually forceful
  18. Job stability issues
  19. Makes excuses, everyone else is to blame.
  20. All of their exes are crazy.
  21. They claim to be the ones who have to hold everything together.
  22. Far fetched stories of glory.
  23. You can’t imagine the “bad” side or their shortcomings.
  24. May appear helpless or to  need you.
  25. Things feel out of balance such as you like them more than they do you.
  26. Overtly meeting all of your vulnerability “needs” rapidly and early on in a relationship.
  27. Future Faking
  28. They do  things to secure a position in your life. They may buy you things, fix things or otherwise set up a sort of dependency on them. 
  29. When the truth is revealed early on, the little warning words of truth are quickly glossed over or made to look like a joke.
  30. You find yourself doing more for them than seems or feels right to you.
  31. They make you feel uniquely special to the point of idealization.
  32. They set up situations or use words which make you feel insecure.
  33. Lies are explained away.
  34. Pet names when you first meet them.
  35.  You overlook a lot because you see their “potential” and feel like you could help them meet that potential.
  36. They want every second of your time.
  37. Constant texting.
  38. They make you feel bad about being with others.
  39. They take everything personally.
  40. They are jealous of your kids or family. 
  41. They lack accountability.
  42. They are judgemental and punitive.
  43. They treat others like possessions
  44. The relationship feels like a roller coaster.
  45.  They have sex addictions. Be cautious of fetishes and how they are with control.
  46. They ruin special occasions.
  47.  You are kept in limbo over events, time and other things that require commitment.
  48. You are isolated from friends and family.
  49. They need extreme amounts of praise.
  50. Your accomplishments and achievements are undermined.

This video playlist offers more red flags you can watch for in various situations.

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How Long Does It Take to Heal From Narcissistic Abuse?

How Long Does It Take to Heal From Narcissistic Abuse?

There is no set time frame for healing from narcissistic abuse. It is important to be patient with yourself when healing from toxic abuse and understand that healing is not a linear thing that can be measured.

Narcissistic abuse recovery takes time and effort at regaining self-love as well as focusing back onto yourself and your life. Recovery is a process, it is going to be different for each person and each situation.

Comparing your own healing with another survivor is really not an effective way of seeing your own growth and recovery. What often helps instead is seeing where you personally have made changes and grown as a person through the recovery process. 

Healing is not linear

We heal in layers, just as we experienced the abuse in many parts of our lives we heal bit by bit in layers in each part of our life that was affected. I think of it as a tangled ball of yarm that takes time to unravel rather than a straight climb up a hill. The thing is it is not just one ball of yarn but many as the narcissist created pain in many parts of your life.

They hurt us emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, financially, sexually and to the core of how we view ourselves and our worth.  Remember, trauma bonds can make healing feel slow or impossible in the beginning. For some, it may feel like you were never yet able to break the trauma bonds even after longer periods of time. Patience is needed to heal all of this. It is possible and with active participation in your own healing, you can recover greatly. 

Can healing be sped up?

There are many ways healing takes place after narcissistic abuse. The complexity of the abuse also means there can be the complexity of healing for survivors.

One way healing happens is when we gain understanding and acceptance of what a narcissist really is. It can begin to feel like healing when you begin seeing the truth of how the narcissist is in a relationship with others. The lack of empathy and accountability they have can be difficult for empathic people to really accept. Once this is seen and accepted as the narcissist’s truth, your healing can begin to change from focus on the narcissist to focus on your own life.

As you learn to focus on your needs and life, healing accelerates because you begin to break trauma bonds. Actively participating in your healing by working to shift the perspectives the abuse programmed you to believe about yourself can begin to speed up the healing process. 

Healing is not just about “getting over” your ex or your toxic parent, it is about discovering self and creating a thriving mindset. No matter which path for healing you choose, self-healing, life coaching, therapy or any other method it takes to be your own friend and champion.

Being patient, open and kind to yourself will help you speed the healing up. You can’t get far if you stand in your own way with negative self-talk. You can accelerate healing through willingness to change your perspective that was taught to you by toxicity. 

The short answer is there is no answer. You can and will heal in your own time. The more focus you put towards positive parts of your life the more you will feel the healing as it happens.  

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Want more?

This playlist offers more help with healing from narcissistic abuse.

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