Changes are high that if you were abused as a child, that person is or was a narcissist. Understand what you’re dealing with in order to to stop the cycle.
- After you’ve been in therapy and with the advice of a good trauma therapist and your partner on board, tell your children the truth when you all agree they can handle it. If you decide to let them know before they are adults, above all things, keep it age appropriate. It can be as simple as “Grandma was mean to me when I was a kid” and leave it at that. It could be when the abuser demonstrates bad behavior, leaning over and whispering to your kids, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to grow up with her?” as a therapist suggested to me when my kids were still in elementary school. That had the added benefit of keeping them safe from ever becoming her “flying monkeys.” Never sexualize children by detailing incest or any other sexual details and don’t let anyone else sexualize children. Full stop. This is most often discussed as the sexualization of girls, It can also apply to boys.
- Let your children feel their feelings and learn that it’s okay. Please have rules (boundaries!) on how they are allowed to express those feelings so that happens in healthy, appropriate, and non-destructive ways. Don’t let even tiny kids hit you. It’s not cute or harmless. It’s setting the stage for bad behavior. Have resources in the form of books, self-defense classes, team sports, and so on to teach them (and you!) how to deal with difficult or overwhelming emotions.
- Learn what triggers are – the most basic definition are reminders of trauma – and what yours are. Triggers take various forms – they may be physical, emotional, or psychological. Think back to your family members for a pattern on what aggravates or sets them off.
- Learn about narcissists, gaslighting (abuse that makes you doubt your own perceptions, memory, etc), flying monkeys, who are allies of the narcissist, love bombing, and dark triads. There are lots of books, YouTube videos and articles online. Love-bombing, in particular, feels great – don’t fall for it! It will come to an end and leave you devastated. Self-love and self-compassion will help inoculate you to love-bombing.
- Learn the Grey Rock Method. Becoming a “grey rock” allows you to step back and observe instead of engaging with a narcissist or someone with narcissistic tendencies. When you respond with the dull, boring and mundane, there’s nothing for the N to feed on and they move on to another supply.